How to tune your guitar using Harmonics

Author: Ian-Bush  Date Posted:11 November 2011 

So we have all been there, you’re at a friend’s house and they have a guitar and it’s terribly out of tune - but they don’t have a tuner.

So what is the best way to tune a guitar using harmonics and how does it all work?

I learnt this great little trick about 20 years ago, one of the guys I was working with showed it to me and I have never tuned a guitar the "old way" since.

So a lot of you will have learnt how to play using harmonics

The basic way you do it is as follows

First your low E (6th string) has to be reasonably close to tune. If not your whole guitar will be tuned to a different note (which as long as its relatively in tune will sound OK)

Low E, 6th String, 5th fret harmonic = A, 5th string, 7th fret harmonic
A, 5th String, 5th fret harmonic = D, 4th string, 7th fret harmonic
D, 4th String, 5th fret harmonic = G, 3rd string, 7th fret harmonic

So that’s pretty standard, everyone has done that. Here is the secret trick -

Low E, 6th String , 7th fret harmonic = B, 2nd string, open
A, 5th String , 7th fret harmonic = High E,4th string, open

When you tune using harmonics, there are 2 frequencies to listen to. As an example if you tune an A at 440 Hz. and your matching it with an A that is slight out of tune at 442hz, when you play these together you will hear a beat note of 2hz. The closer in tune you get the slower that beat note will be till hopefully you get no beat at all (if it sounds a little chorusy that means you have a very close match but you could get the chorus effect to be as slow as possible)

I will be making up a short video for our YouTube channel tomorrow so you can see how it’s done

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