Standard tuning is used by all guitarists, whether they are beginner or advanced. The strings are tuned, from the low 6th string up E- A-D-G-B-E. A good way to remember this is by using the mnemonic ‘Eddy Ate Dynamite Good Bye Eddie’. If your guitar is in standard tuning you will be able to play all the chords and scales without running into transposition problems. Also, most guitar music and tabulature is based on standard tuning so you’ll be able to start playing your favorite songs right away.
The easiest way to get into standard guitar tuning is by using a guitar tuner. You can easily find these online, listen to the sound and try and match it on your guitar. But by far the easiest way is to use a guitar tuner that clips on to the guitar head and picks up vibrations from the guitar. They instantly tell you how close your string is to being in tune. Clip-on guitar tuners are incredibly easy to use and very cheap to buy - often less than $20. An absolute must for any guitarist.
Another way is to use a relative tuning method, such as the 5th fret method. This first requires a well tune 6th string - you can do this with a piano, tuning fork or online tuner. You then produce the sound of the 5th string on the 6th string and match the sound. For example, on the 6th string you make an ‘A’ note (5th fret) and then match the 5th string to this sound. You can easily find instructions and information about this by searching google.
Besides standard guitar tuning there are numerous alternate tunings. These are used for many reasons and create all kinds of different sounds and fingering systems. If you experiment with just a few of these alternate tunings you’ll soon realise how versatile the guitar is. It has an enormous amount of potential that can easily be tapped by talented musicians or hobby guitarists.
One style of alternate tuning is called ‘Open Tuning’. When in open tuning strumming your guitar will produce a major or minor chord. So without putting any fingers on the frets and just strumming you have a nice open chord sound. You can create some great effects with this as its a great benefit to let the open strings ring out when playing a solo, for example.
Some guitar training methods even use Open Tuning for beginner guitarists to introduce them to playing chords without a lot of left hand fingering. It also gives beginners the chance to work on picking techniques without worrying about chord positions. This is particularly useful for beginners wanting to learn in a “folk” style. This should never be a substitute for learning how to play in standard guitar tuning however, and is only used as an introductory tool to build confidence.
Standard guitar tuning is THE tuning for beginner guitarists and will help build chord and scale knowledge, left hand flexibility and the name of the notes on the guitar neck.
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