How to Tune an Electric Guitar for Free

Photograph of an electric guitar superimposed on a blurred photograph of the same electric guitar, with a gradiated grey background

Electric guitars are easy to tune when you know the right pitch to aim for.

When you are just starting out, knowing when your guitar is out of tune can be difficult. If you have yet to develop “an ear” for the instrument, it is easy to play out of tune. There are many devices available that will tell you when your guitar is out of tune but these can be expensive. Knowing how to tune an electric guitar for free using your computer will solve your problems.

Things You Will Need

  • Internet connection
  • Sound card
  • Speakers
  • Electric Guitar

How to Tune a Guitar

  1. Visit an online guitar tuner website such as “Gieson Guitar Tuner” or “Electric Guitars Guide”.
  2. Click on the sound effect for Top E. Play an open note on Top E (the string furthest from you when looking down) on your guitar.
    1. If your string is too highly-pitched compared to the computer, loosen the string by turning its tuning key toward you.
    2. If lower, turn the key away from you to tighten the string.
  3. Compare Top E on your guitar with Top E on the computer.
  4. Keep adjusting the tuning key until your guitar sounds like the computer. Play the sound file for A (the next string up from Top E).
  5. Play an open note on A on your guitar.
  6. Adjust the tuning key for the A string until the guitar sounds like the computer.
  7. Compare the sound file for D with your guitar and adjust the string accordingly.
  8. Keep referring back to the sound file for guidance as you go.
  9. Compare G with its corresponding sound file, and adjust the string to match.
  10. Repeat for the B string.
  11. Finally, move on to Bottom E and compare that with its corresponding sound file; adjusting as necessary.

Your guitar is now tuned.

Top Tip
Many websites allow you to download the sound files they use to help you tune your guitar. This will allow you to keep them readily at hand for use whenever you need them, or even burn the files out to a CD so you can take the sounds with you wherever you travel.

Please Note

The exact sound you hear when using a computer sound file will depend on many variables, including: the quality of the original recording; the compression algorithm used to produce the sound file; and the quality of your speakers. It is therefore possible to tune your guitar incorrectly if you are using a bad set of files. Compare sounds from different websites to make sure you hit the right notes.

Further Reading
Electric Guitars Guide: How to tune electric guitars
Gieson: Online Guitar Tuner