A Complete Classical Guitar Tuning Guide For Beginners

guitar tuning guide for beginners

If you’re starting to learn how to play classical guitar, you may be wondering how to tune your instrument.

There’s no one “right” way, but a few methods are more popular than others.

This guide will go over the basics of classical guitar tuning and give you a few tips on doing it yourself to keep your instrument in tune. By the end, you’ll know how to tune your guitar using both electronic and manual methods.

Read on for everything about tuning your classical guitar!


The Basics
Reference Pitch
Common Methods to Tune Classical Guitars
Tune by ear
Tune with a digital tuner
Tune all guitar strings to a reference string

The Basics

The tone of your guitar is determined by the strings you’re using. The thicker, sharper-sounding nylon strings will produce lower notes, while lighter gauge counterparts offer higher-pitched tones.

When tuning your guitar, you adjust each guitar string to the correct pitch (frequency). The tone is determined by how much tension is on that particular string. The higher that you turn up those tuning pegs, the louder it will be. If it has too little or no pressure, you will hear an off-key sound.

Once the string is in contact with a fret, you use your fingers (usually of the left hand) to adjust its length. Press down on each note until it reaches how much melody or rhythm you want. It is not about pressing all the strings too hard, but rather pressing one or all six strings just hard enough to get the right tone.

Reference Pitch

Before you can start tuning, you’ll need to find a reference pitch from some external source. Once you have your reference pitch set, it’s simply a matter of tuning each guitar string to get the same pitch. Make sure to check the tuning several times throughout your practice or performance so that you can spot any changes in tone right away and adjust accordingly. With a little bit of patience and some focused attention, tuning your classical guitar will just be a piece of cake.

Your reference pitch could be anything from the following sources:

● Tuning fork – Many people find tuning with a tuning fork much easier than any other device. It is highly accurate, inexpensive, and easy to carry around. Thanks to its pure tone color and distinctive sound, using a tuning fork is an intuitive process that can be done accurately.

● Pitch pipe – This is a great tool for beginners because it’s easy to use and fun. However, the inaccurate nature of this device makes users question its utility as an overall tuning reference.

● Metronomes – They provide a steady beat so you can work on precision, timing, or speed without worrying about your arms getting tired from swinging too much! The most common type of metronome is an electronic one that generates A=440 Hz, but some also have the ability to generate different frequencies from 435-445Hz. Some consider this device difficult because it’s very precise, while others enjoy how challenging it can be.

Common Methods to Tune Classical Guitars

While there are many methods to tune a classical guitar, some have been scientifically proven, and others give better results than the more mathematically correct ones. For beginners who just want an easy method, here are some of the standard guitar tuning methods you can try.

Tune by ear

Tuning by ear is a useful skill to have, and there are many ways you can do it. The string-to-string method or tuning forks or pianos are a great start for beginners.

String-to-string method

This is the old-fashioned way of tuning an instrument. It can be easy for beginners, and it’s correct in principle since only unison intervals are used.
However, this method isn’t the best when you want your notes perfectly tuned. As soon as any slight error occurs with one pair of strings (or even both), then that same mistake will continue to grow throughout all subsequent pairs. And this could potentially make a song sound incorrect if not done correctly.

Using a tuning fork

The tuning fork is a simple and effective way to tune your instrument without the need for batteries or electronics. The metal rod vibrates at exactly the pitch you wish, making it easy for newbies looking up how their instruments should sound.

All you need is one tuning fork, which will provide the pitch A 440hz (the standard). Strike it against something like a desk or wall while holding down strings, then simply listen for when they match their respective notes.

Using a piano

A piano will work as long as its own soundboard has been properly tuned. Otherwise, your instrument might be out-of-tune when played with another one that isn’t at exactly concert pitch (or whatever else).

Tune with a digital tuner

An electronic tuner can tune your classical guitar more accurately without relying on natural senses. A classical guitar tuner is inexpensive, easy to operate, and will result in better-sounding music.

Guitar tuners can be a bit of a puzzle at first, but they’re not as difficult to use or understand. Simply position the tuning peg correctly according to instructions on your device. Then, tune one string until you get a green light – this means it’s in perfect pitch! Repeat this tuning process on all other strings.

Tune all guitar strings to a reference string

The best way to tune guitars is by reference or master string. This method of tuning eliminates cumulative errors. Also, it keeps all strings in tune because it tunes each pair independently. It prevents fluctuation when you make a mistake on one specific pair and ensures accuracy across the board.

Though you can use any string as the master string, the 1st, 5th, and 6th strings are preferred because it is more convenient to tune them to a reference pitch.


In this article, we’ve walked you through the basics of classical guitar tuning. Now that you understand how to tune a classical guitar, it’s time to put your new skills into practice!

Grab your classical guitar and try to tune it with any of the methods we provided. Once you have tuned your guitar to your preferred technique, practice regularly to master this skill.


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