5 Times to Tune Your Guitar You Might Miss
You probably didn't think about these.
By Mike Duffy
No matter what level of player you are - beginner to expert - properly tuning your guitar or bass is an essential task.
Luckily, in addition to Fender’s selection of digital tuners, the handy-dandy Fender Tune app offers the ability to achieve any tuning you desire with pristine accuracy. And with the all-in-one Player Pack available for in-app purchase here, you'll have chords, scales, built-in beats, advanced tuning capabilities and a metronome at the tips of your fingers.
It’s pretty obvious that you should tune before taking a lesson or when slapping on a fresh set of strings. However, there are definitely some times to tune that you might not realize. Consider the following situations:
You’ve Dropped Your Guitar
Unfortunately, a rowdy dog, gust of air, or the laws of gravity decide to intervene and - bonk! - your beloved instrument hits the floor.
Now, even though you just tuned it to perfection, you’ve simply got to do it again. That perilous fall can easily knock your strings out of whack, so pull out your iPhone and call up the Fender Tune app. You’ll be back in business in no time, and you’ll be happy you did.
Leaving Los Angeles to visit a friend in Denver? If you brought your guitar along for some jam sessions, that’s great! But no matter how diligent you were at keeping it tuned in the Rocky Mountain air, it’s important to tune it again once you get back to California.
Changes in humidity can really affect your tuning. And it doesn’t even have to be a drastic shift. Leaving your instrument in your trunk on a summer day and then taking it into an air-conditioned venue can also cause slight de-tuning.
As a rule, high humidity will often mean you’re a little sharp, while low humidity means you’ll be slightly flat.
You’re Using a Capo
So, there are two ways a capo affects your tuning. One, it pulls the strings down towards the fingerboard when you attach it to your neck. In addition, it tweaks the strings when you put it on or take it off.
To minimize that movement, try to keep the capo off the strings when you’re sliding it down the fretboard. But really, you should tune once before you put the capo on, then again when it’s in place to get your instrument where you want it.
Of course, you’ll have to retune after taking the capo off, but you knew that already.
You’re a String-Bending Monster
If you’ve worked your way up to playing some string-bending Eric Clapton solos - or even if you’re just working on your basic string-bending technique - you can easily throw off your tuning.
Pulling a string on the fretboard increases the tension behind the nut, and when it’s released, not all of that tension will return, making the string sound flat. Similarly, bending a string behind the nut causes the opposite to occur, making your string sound sharp.
While it’s fun to achieve that serious vibrato, excessively bending the strings on one song calls for you to - you guessed it - retune.
You’re Not Playing Regularly
Even if you have your instrument tuned to just where you like it after practicing, once that guitar goes back in the case, it’s a race against time before it goes out of tune.
Think about it: the tuning pegs on guitars and basses are mechanical, and the tension in the strings can cause them to turn ever so slightly over time. The longer you take between sessions, the more likely it is that you’ll have to break out your tuner upon returning to the instrument.
At the end of the day, just as a general rule, you should tune your guitar every time you play. No matter how trained your ear is, a tuner will help your sound immensely.