​Become a more creative guitar player!

Guitar Basics &

Tuning​

​The guitar is a beautiful instrument as it can provide rhythm, percussive elements, melody, and everything in between. This article is a perfect guide for all beginners who want to dive deeper into understanding how the guitar works​.

​The fact that you've picked up the guitar to become your main instrument is a beautiful thing. This guide will provide you with all the information you need to jumpstart your musical journey. So, let's get right to it!

​​"I've always wanted to smash a guitar over someone's head. You just can't do that with a piano." ​- Elton John​​​


Source: Brainy Quotes


​The Elements of the Guitar

​The guitar consists of various parts. You actually don't have to know all of them, but it will make your life easier if you do. To keep things short, here's a quick list of the elements you should know.

  • ​the tuners
  • ​six strings (nylon or steel)
  • ​the nut
  • ​the frets on the neck (and position dots)
  • ​the bridge
  • ​the body

​In the video below, TC goes into these elements and explains where to find them on the guitar. It's good to develop a basic understanding of how the guitar is built, although nobody expects you to become an expert on this.


​Why do you want to learn the guitar?

Many beginners think that it's cool to play the guitar, but they don't have an actual reason why they want to learn it properly. Usually, those guys will lose interest quickly and quit after a few weeks (which is fine).

It will serve you well if you didn't step into that trap, though. So, let's go into some of the reasons why learning the guitar is a good idea and maybe you'll recognize that some of them are true for you as well.

  1. You want to express your musical self. This probably is the most substantial reason as it comes down to a self-driven motivation. If you feel this desire in you that you want to be musical, play, and write songs, then this is almost a perfect starting point to become successful.
  2. You want to connect with others. Music is a universal emotional language that everybody understands, no matter the culture or the background. Music opens the doors to collaborations, friendships, or even relationships.
  3. You want to find a new hobby to balance your work life. Jobs can be stressful and often put you under lots of stress. Playing the guitar as a hobby is perfect for recharging your batteries. Having the creative side balance everything else in your life will give you more harmony and less stress.
  4. You want to make money from your playing. Undoubtedly, the music industry is changing a lot these days, and the path to making money with music is not so straightforward anymore as it used to be in the 20th century. However, it's still very doable, as lots of examples show.

Whatever your main reason is, we encourage you to spend a few minutes to think about that before you hustle into all the materials. At some point, you'll ask this question. Usually, it comes up before people quit since they don't find a proper answer to why they are going through this work of learning something new. Be smart and answer this before the question comes up!

​​"​Puberty was very vague. I literally locked myself in a room and played guitar." ​- Johnny Depp​​​


Source: Brainy Quotes


How to Tune the Guitar​

​There are several ways how to tune the guitar, and we'll get into all of them. But before we do, we highly recommend you get a tuner. It will save you lots of time, especially if you are a beginner, and your ears are not developed yet to pick up the correct pitches of the strings.

But you want to be able to tune your guitar without a tuner also. First, you have to know that guitar players number the strings numerically from 1 (the thinnest) to 6 (the thickest).

By using numbers for the strings, we can be very specific about which string we want to target. That is important for the following explanations.


"Using the Same Pitch"​

​So, here's your first way to tune a guitar without a tuner! We are calling it "the same pitch" because we are going to tune the guitar by hitting the same pitch on two neighboring strings. TC explains this process in the video below.

  1. For the 5th string (A): Play the 5th fret on the 6th string. This should be the same pitch as the open A-string. Tune your A-string so that it matches the pitch from the lowest E-string.
  2. For the 4th string (D): Continue the same process.
  3. For the 3rd string (G): Continue the same process.
  4. For the 2nd string (B): This is different. Play the 4th fret on the 3rd string. This should equal the pitch from the 2nd open string.
  5. For the 1st string (E): This string follows the regular process. Play the 5th fret on the 2nd string and hit it together with the 1st string. It should be the same tone.

​​"​I honestly believe that you have to be able to play the guitar hard if you want to be able to get the whole spectrum of tones out of it. Since I normally play so hard, when I start picking a bit softer my tone changes completely, and that's really useful sometimes for creating a more laid-back feel." ​- Angus Young​​​


Source: Brainy Quotes


"Using the Octaves"

​Another method to tune the guitar is by using the octaves. When you play in bands, this method probably will be your default way of tuning your instrument. It starts on the lowest E-string (that's string number 6). Make sure that this string is in good tune before you go through the other strings.

  1. For the 5th string (A): Play the 7th fret on the A-string, and it should be the octave of your open E-string below.
  2. For the 4th string (D): Continue the same process.
  3. For the 3rd string (G): Continue the same process.
  4. For the 2nd string (B): Play the 8th fret on the B-string, and it should be the octave of the open G-string below.
  5. For the 1st string (E): The same process using the 7th fret of the B-string.

"Using the Harmonics"

​This method is excellent because it enables you to hear all the tones one octave up, which makes it easier to tune them properly. It works exceptionally well on the electric guitar with distortion.

The great advantage of using the (natural) harmonics is that you don't have to hold down the fret. Hence, both of your hands or free after the harmonics ring. TC explains how to do it in the video below.

​Again, make sure that your lowest E-string is in good tune before you go through the other strings.

  1. For the 5th string (A): Play the 7th fret on the A-string, and it should be the octave of your open E-string below.
  2. For the 4th string (D): Continue the same process.
  3. For the 3rd string (G): Continue the same process.
  4. For the 2nd string (B): Play the 8th fret on the B-string, and it should be the octave of the open G-string below.
  5. For the 1st string (E): The same process using the 7th fret of the B-string.

​​"​I'm on this eternal quest to get the best guitar sound in the world, but my vision of what is 'the best' changes every time I go into the studio. Sometimes my goal is to make my guitar jump out, and sometimes I want it to lay back." ​- James Hetfield​​​


Source: Brainy Quotes

​Now you should be ready to start playing! In case you haven't seen those before, we recommend you look into our other articles like "What you should know about Chord Progressions" or "The Magic of Power Chords". There's plenty of stuff for you to explore!


Summary​

Getting a basic understanding of your instrument is crucial and we hope that we clear up the picture for you a little bit more. Below, we give a short summary of what you've learned in this article:​

  • ​You know the basic elements of the guitar, including the numbering of the strings​
  • ​You know how to tune the guitar "using the same pitch"​
  • ​You know how to tune the guitar "using the octaves"
  • ​You know how to tune the guitar "using the harmonics"
  • BONUS: Here's the downloadable PDF about all the three tuning methods described above. Have fun and happy tuning!​

​Advice

​Harmonics are not only great for tuning the guitar but they are also very musical and can become a bigger and more substantial element of your playing. 


If you want to look more into that, start by watching "Bell's Harmonic" by Alan Gogoll.


Thomas Chase Jones​

​​​TC is one of the most successful composers in the area of animation and has a great passion for the guitar. ​He co-founded the Music Interval Theory Academy in 2016. Since then, he dedicates all of his time to helping other musicians and composers grow!