Quick Answer: Not all guitars are tuned when you buy them. In fact, most guitars don’t have proper tuning when they arrived. This is because it’s necessary to detune the strings when shipping the guitar. Yet, it’s very easy to tune a guitar and it’s a skill that all guitarists should know.
Why Are New Guitars Not Tuned?
To secure the guitar when shipping, the strings should be loosened. Although it’s not necessarily mean to detune or remove the strings, lowering the pitch about one whole setup is fine. This is to relieve the tension on the headstock to allow bending without breaking or snapping.
Are There Tuned Guitars Available?
Some say that a Carvin or Kiesel guitar arrived with good tuning. However, they still need to be tuned properly. Orangewood Oliver Jr. Mahogany is another guitar that has a professional setup before shipping. Still, it’s better to check the tuning before using.
How Do You Know if the Guitar is Tuned?
A guitar string corresponds to a note — EADGBE from low to high. For you to easily remember this, just memorize the statement: “Eddie Ate Dynamite Good Bye Eddie.” A normally tuned guitar should have a concert pitch or the A440 or A=440 Hz.
You can check the pitch of each string through a chromatic tuner or a tuning fork. Strings are relative to each other (from low to high). Start with the low E (the thickest string).
Aside from the tuning fork or a guitar tuner, you can check it manually. Fret the 6th string or the low E at the fifth fret. This note should be the same as the open A string or the 5th string. You’re good to go if they have the same pitch.
Repeat the process for D and G. The open D is the same as the fret A and the open G is the same as the fret D at the fifth fret. To get the pitch of the B string, you should fret the G at the fourth fret. Lastly, fret the B on the fifth fret to get the high E.
If everything is okay, your guitar is tuned. Otherwise, you need to tweak the tuning pegs to get the right pitch and the right tuning for each string.
Can You Tune the Guitar Yourself?
Yes, there are a lot of ways to tune the guitar yourself. Some guitars, especially acoustic-electric guitars have built-tuners, so you can easily get the right tuning. There are free guitar tuning apps downloaded on your mobile and there are also clip-on tuners available at less than $20.
Clip-on and digital tuners will capture the vibration of the strings. So, to tune the guitar, simply pluck the string one at a time from low E to the high E. The tuners will display the current pitch of the string and you know that the string is tuned once it displays the note of that particular string with the needle at the center.
Using tuners is very easy and straightforward. However, some players learned to tune by ears. Also, if you want to challenge yourself, the manual method mentioned above is also very useful.
You don’t have to get the right pitch on the low E, because all strings will be in tune relative to each other. But, this would be a problem if you play with a group. You may have a lower or higher pitch than the rest.
Most of the time, you don’t necessarily get a tuned guitar when you buy it. But, the good news is, you can easily tune it manually, with tuning fork or with a chromatic tuner. What you need to know is the note corresponding to each string — EADGBE from the low E (thickest) to the high E (thinnest) string.