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How To Tune Your Guitar By Ear April 12, 2007

Posted by rgordon83 in Ear Training, Guitar Lessons, Tips, Tuning.
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Here is a good article I saw online about how to tube your guitar by ear. This should be helpful:

How To Tune Your Guitar By Ear
by: Mike Hayes

1. The very first thing you need to know is that learning to tune your guitar takes time.

Some things on guitar can be learned in minutes, some in days, and others in weeks, but tuning will sometimes take even longer, because you have to train your ears. If results come slowly or don’t seem to be making any progress, don’t be discouraged, just keep working at it.


2. It will help you to know that the ear is a very skilled instrument for taking in sound. Your ear hears four things in each sound: Pitch, Duration, Volume and Tone Quality.

Pitch is how high or low the sound is. Duration is how long it lasts. Volume is how loud it is. Tone quality is the “character” of the sound. If we were to play the same pitch, at the same volume, for the same length of time on piano, clarinet, flute, violin, guitar, doorbell, or car horn, your ear could tell one instrument (or car horn) from another because of the tone quality. That’s because each instrument has a different “character” or “personality” of sound. You can prove you have this ability to tell one sound from another by listening to sounds without looking where they come from.

The point I want to emphasize is that you already hear very well. Learning to tune your guitar is learning a new way of using your hearing.

3.The next thing to know is that when you are tuning your guitar you want to listen only to the pitch of the strings. The quality of the pitch will differ between two strings, and this may at first confuse your ear. You’ll mistake the difference in quality as a difference in pitch. For example when playing the first string open and the second string at the fifth fret, you may notice that the first string may sound ‘crisper’, while the second string will sound a little “darker” in quality. The darker quality of the string at first can be misunderstood to sound lower in pitch. (You may use different words to explain how the strings sound to you, but the idea is that the tone quality of each string will sound different). If you understand that the ear hears a combination of pitch, volume, duration and quality all at the same time, it will help you to filter out the quality from the pitch and overcome the basic problem of tuning.

4. The steps involved in tuning your guitar: The first step is to tune one string to a note from another source. You could use another guitar (one that has already been tuned), a piano, or somebody that know how to tune could guide you along.(click here to use my free online guitar tuner)

A better source is a tuning fork. (It’s better because you don’t need anybody else around or any other instrument. If, for example you learn to tune to a piano, you’re going to have a problem if ever you need to tune and there’s no piano handy).

A tuning fork is a U shaped piece of metal with a stem on it. The fork is designed to vibrate at a particular pitch. You can get one that gives you the pitch of the first string on the guitar. (Look for one that has the letter E and the number 329.6 stamped on the stem).

To use the tuning fork you hold it by the stem, tap the U shaped fork against something solid, and place the stem (not the tip of the fork) on either the body, or the bridge of your guitar. (For electric guitars can place it on the pickup). You should hear the note which the vibrating fork produced. The note is the correct “source”.

You now adjust the first string to match the pitch of the tuning fork. You do this by finding the correct tuning gear for this string and then turning the gear slowly in one direction or the other. After about half a turn you should hear the string change pitch either up or down. This will tell you which way you have to turn the gear to tighten the string (to raise the pitch) and which way to loosen the string (to lower the pitch).

Now compare the sound of the string with the sound of the tuning fork. If the string is lower than the tuning fork, tighten the string to raise the pitch. If the string is higher than the tuning fork, loosen the string to lower the pitch.

Go slowly. Do not turn the gear rapidly. Turn about a quarter of a turn and then compare the string to the tuning fork again. (You’ll have to strike them both again). You’ll probably have to repeat this process several times. When the string sounds close to the fork make smaller turns.

When you think the first string is in tune, use the following steps (one to five) to tune the rest of the strings. (Remember, you can only tune as well as your ears hear now. With practice, you can become a better tuner). The following steps repeat the process of matching one pitch with another. The difference is that instead of using a tuning fork you will listen to the string you have just tuned, and try to match the next string to this one.

1. Place the finger behind the fifth fret of the 6th string. This will give you the tone of the 5th sting. (A)

2. Place the finger behind the 5th fret of the 5th string to get the pitch of the 4th string. (D)

3. Place the finger behind the 5th fret of the 4th string to get the pitch of the 3rd string. (G)

4. Place the finger behind the FOURTH FRET of the 3rd string to get the pitch of the 2nd string. (B)

5. Place the finger behind the 5th fret of the 2nd string to get the pitch of the 1st string. (E)

About The Author

Mike Hayes is a guitar teacher, author, performing musician and session guitarist with over 30 years of professional experience. Mike’s methods are legendary and have earned the praise of top authorities in guitar instruction. He reveals his guitar secrets at http://www.GuitarCoaching.com

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Intervals March 23, 2007

Posted by rgordon83 in Beginner, Ear Training, Guitar Lessons, Intervals, Music Theory, Notes.
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An interval is the distance between two notes and it is calculated from the lower note. Different intervals have different sound qualities. Learning intervals will help you develop your ear and it is a great ear training exercise. For instance, if you can recognize the sound of a Minor 3rd interval then you will be able to hear when a melody you like uses it, thus you will be able to play it back.

There are two types of Intervals: harmonic intervals and melodic intervals. A harmonic interval is the distance between two notes played in unison. A melodic interval is the distance between two notes played in succession.

Here are some tabbed examples:

Harmonic Interval Melodic Interval
——————– ———————-
——————– ———————–
——————– ———————-
———–2——– —————-2——
———–3——— ——-3—————-
———————- ———————–

There are two characters for every interval: size and quality. Size refers to the distance between the two notes and quality describes the type of sound that interval has.

There are 13 common interval distances (numbers), intervals higher than 13 are rarely used. The first 8 intervals are called “simple intervals” because they are within an octave. Intervals 9-13 are called “compound intervals”. Interval distance is always counted from the 1st note of the scale:

interval distances on guitar (since that is hard to read, here are the numbers for each interval. the first number is the lower number, the 2nd is the one above it: Unison: 8, 3. 2nd: 3, 0. 3rd: 3, 2. 4th: 3, 3. 5th: 3, 5. 6th: 3, 2. 7th: 3, 4. 8th: 3, 5. 9th: 3, 3. 10th: 3, 5. 11th: 3, 1. 12th: 3, 3. 13th: 3, 5.)
There are 5 terms that describe the quality of intervals: perfect, major, minor, diminished, and augmented. These are the same types of sounds that are used to describe chords.

To figure out the quality of intervals we need to look at the interval numbers and qualities in the major scale.

The major scale has two qualities of intervals: perfect and major. The perfect intervals occur on the unison (1st), 4th, 5th, and octave. The major intervals are the 2nd, 3rd, 6th, and 7th. The compound intervals are the same as the simple intervals.
Interval qualities on guitar (since that is hard to read, here are the numbers for each interval. the first number is the lower number, the 2nd is the one above it: Unison: 8, 3. 2nd: 3, 0. 3rd: 3, 2. 4th: 3, 3. 5th: 3, 5. 6th: 3, 2. 7th: 3, 4. 8th: 3, 5. 9th: 3, 3. 10th: 3, 5. 11th: 3, 1. 12th: 3, 3. 13th: 3, 5.)

Minor, Diminished, and Augmented intervals are made by altering a perfect or major interval either by moving the second note a half step sharp or a half step flat (if you do not know what this means see my post on notes). By altering an interval you do not change the number, just the quality.

Whenever a perfect interval is raised a half-step it becomes augmented. So if we raise a P1st (perfect first) one half-step it becomes an A1st (augmented 1st).

Whenever a perfect interval is lowered by one half-step it becomes diminished. So a P5th lowered by a half-step becomes a d5th (diminished 5th).

When a major interval is raised a half-step it becomes augmented (just like a perfect interval). So a M2nd (major 2nd) raised by a half step becomes a P2nd.

When a Major interval is lowered by a half-step it becomes minor. So a M3rd lowered by a half-step becomes a m3rd (minor 3rd. Major gets a capital M miner gets a lower case m).

When a minor interval is lowered a half-step it becomes diminished. So a m3rd lowered a half-step it becomes a d3rd.

I know this is a lot to digest. I would say start with the intervals of the major scale and play those. Get your ear familiar with them. Once you are comfortable, have a friend play and interval from the major scale and try to guess what it is (no peeking). This is a good ear training exercise.

If you have questions please post them to the comments.