Tuning The Classical Guitar

Standard guitars are built to the principals of equal temperament. This means that the interval between each adjacent note is the same size.

The size of the intervals is measured in cents, a logarithmic measure obtained by dividing an octave into twelve equal steps. Each of these 12 semitones is equal to 100 cents.

In order to maintain the equal tempered tuning of the guitar, we must use only unisons, octaves and fifths to tune the guitar.

The most accurate equal-tempered tuning is obtained by tuning one string to a reference note, then tuning the other strings from this first sting.

Tuning Fork

Here is one method using a tuning fork. A reference tone can also be taken from a piano or any other instrument.

  • Using a standard A440 tuning fork, tune the harmonic on the 5th fret of the 5th string (unison).
  • Use this harmonic to tune the first string at the 5th fret (unison).
  • Use the B on the 5th string (2nd fret) to tune the open 2nd string (octave).
  • Use the G on the 5th string (10th fret) to tune the open 3rd sting (unison).
  • Use the D on the 5th sting (5th fret) to tune the open 4th string (unison).
  • Use the E on the first sting (open string) to tune the 6th sting (double octave), or the harmonic on the 5th fret of the 6th string (unison).

Check the tuning by playing a 5th chord at the 7th fret, and again at the 2nd fret.

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