Guitar Tuning And Intonation

Every guitarist wants to sound amazing. There's no doubt about that. The only way he/she can sound their best is by having their guitar tuned perfectly before playing. Professional guitarists have their guitars tuned minutes before they play them by someone behind the scenes at concerts to ensure that they sound amazing the very first note they play live.

Guitar Tuning and Intonation

Tuning your guitar is a fundamental process that every guitarist needs to master. There are two basic ways that we can accomplish having a tuned guitar. The first is called tuning "by ear". This means that the guitarist hears the proper note played on some form of output that can be heard, and then matches each string's sound to the corresponding sound that is heard. This method is not as perfect because it relies on the player's ability to hear the pitch perfectly, and could be skewed. The second sure fire way to tune a guitar is to use a digital tuner. A digital tuner plugs into the guitar and reads the pitch of eachstring as its played and displays whether the note is too high (sharp) or too low (flat). Most digital tuners also come equipped with a microphone so that it can "hear" the notes played by a guitar if it cannot be plugged in, which is the case with some acoustic guitars. There is another method of tuning that is believed to be a way to tune the guitar, but it does not guarantee that the guitar strings will be the correct pitch. This is called relative tuning, where the strings are all tuned "relative" to each other.

Intonation is another aspect of a guitar's tuning that is absolutely critical to the guitar to sound in tune. If your guitars intonation is not correct, even if you tune all the strings, when a chord is played, the guitar will seem "out of tune" because the strings vibrations are not even with each other. The concept of intonation is that just as when you move up a fret, the pitch changes by 1 semi-tone and the string vibrates at a certain even frequency of that tone, the guitar strings should also vibrate at an even frequency when they are played without fretting the string. Intonation modifies the length of the vibrating area of the string between the bridge saddle, and the nut. When all of the strings vibrate evenly at their respective pitch when played openly (without fretting) then their intonation is correct with each other no matter if certain strings are fretted or not. It is a good idea to learn the process of Intonation for yourself so you can keep your own guitar sounding its best. This will save you some money since you do not have to take your guitar into a place to have it done.

As long as both the intonation and tuning of your guitar is correct, it will sound great. It then leaves you to work on your technique and perfect your talent without having to worry about the mechanical aspects of the guitar.

Owner of, an informational website that teaches aspiring guitarists many useful tips, techniques and playing styles among other interesting information on guitar related topics.

by Christopher A Collins; Tuesday, March 13, 2012 @ 09:43 AM [1831]

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