Skip to main content

Fender PlayThe #1 guitar learning platformTRY FOR FREE


Tuning is the first thing you do every time you pick up your guitar. If your guitar isn't in tune, even the best players will simply sound off.

But it's one thing to know you're in tune because a tuner told you so. It's entirely another to know you're in tune because your ears actually recognize it.

That's a skill that takes some practice. Luckily, there are a few simple tips for working on your ear that will help you notice when your guitar is and isn't in tune. These exercises will help you to build the ability to hear slight changes in pitch in both directions, and ultimately make you a better player.

What you will need: Start with a tuner. This can either be a tuning app like Fender Tune or a digital clip-on tuner. Keep it handy to check your work.

Tuning Lower and Back

  • Starting with tuning your guitar using a tuner.

  • Locate the guitar's physical tuner for the first string and note its physical location.

  • Play the note and listen carefully to the pitch.

  • Let it ring and slowly move the tuner a quarter turn lower in pitch (clockwise) and then return to the original spot.

  • Listen to the sound and how it changes as you move away and back to the pitch.

  • Check the returned note with a tuner for accuracy.

  • Repeat this procedure for each string.

Tuning Higher and Back

By tuning higher and back, you'll further expand your ability to hear if you're properly in tune or not.

  • Perform the same process as above, but this time move a quarter turn higher in pitch (counter clockwise).

  • When you are tuning a note from high to low, make sure to tune the note a little lower in pitch than you need to and then return back up to pitch.

  • Do this procedure for every string and remember to check the tuner for accuracy.

Developing your ear is a skill that slowly develops over time, but this exercise will help speed up this process. You will further develop your ear's ability to hear a note change slightly in pitch which is essential for learning to play at a more sophisticated level.

After all, there are a lot of times a lesser-trained ear won't even know when a guitar is out of tune. It's true that you should tune every time you pick up a guitar to practice, but things like changes in humidity, the use of a capo, accidental knocks agains a piece of furniture or a mic stand, string bending, or simple lack of regular use can put your strings out of whack.

Want to watch a guide on how to tune your guitar? Check out this Fender Play video. And if you're not a member of Fender Play yet, click here for a free trial.

Don’t miss out!

Be the first to know about new products, featured content, exclusive offers and giveaways.