In music, standard tuning refers to the typical tuning of a string instrument. This notion is contrary to that of scordatura, i.e. an alternate tuning designated to modify either the timbre or technical capabilities of the desired instrument.
The standard tuning is E-A-D-G-B-E, with the low E string tuned to E and the high E string tuned to E. The standard tuning is used by both lead and rhythm guitarists in virtually all genres of popular music. It’s used so often because it’s a great starting point for any song and works for both lead and rhythm guitarists.
Let’s look at what the standard tuning is, how it came to be, and why it’s used by so many guitarists.
Standard Tuning: The Most Common Tuning for Guitars
Standard tuning is the most common tuning for guitars and is typically used for playing Western music. In this tuning, the guitar is tuned to the pitches E, A, D, G, B, and E, starting from the lowest to the highest string. The thickest string is tuned to E, followed by A, D, G, B, and the thinnest string is also tuned to E.
How to Tune a Guitar to Standard Tuning?
To tune a guitar to standard tuning, you can use an electronic tuner or tune by ear. Here’s a quick guide on how to tune a guitar to standard tuning:
- Start by tuning the lowest string (thickest) to E.
- Move on to the A string and tune it to the fourth interval above the E string, which is A.
- Tune the D string to the fourth interval above the A string, which is D.
- Tune the G string to the fourth interval above the D string, which is G.
- Tune the B string to the fourth interval above the G string, which is B.
- Finally, tune the thinnest string to the fourth interval above the B string, which is E.
Remember, the process of tuning a guitar to standard tuning progresses in ascending fourths, except for the interval between the G and B strings, which is a major third.
Other Common Tunings
While standard tuning is the most common tuning for guitars, there are other tunings that guitarists use for particular songs or styles of music. Here are some other common tunings:
- Drop D tuning: In this tuning, the lowest string is tuned down one whole step to D, while the other strings remain in standard tuning.
- Open G tuning: In this tuning, the guitar is tuned to the pitches D, G, D, G, B, and D, starting from the lowest to the highest string.
- Open D tuning: In this tuning, the guitar is tuned to the pitches D, A, D, F#, A, and D, starting from the lowest to the highest string.
- Half-step down tuning: In this tuning, all the strings are tuned down one half-step from standard tuning.
Standard Tuning for Acoustic vs. Electric Guitars
Standard tuning is the same for both acoustic and electric guitars. However, the placement of the strings and the sound produced may differ slightly due to the different construction of the two instruments.
Standard Tuning in Other Languages
Standard tuning is referred to as “Standardstimmung” in German, “Standardstemming” in Dutch, “표준 조율” in Korean, “Tuning Standar” in Indonesian, “Penalaan Standard” in Malay, “Standard stemming” in Norwegian Bokmål, “Стандартная настройка” in Russian, and “标准调音” in Chinese.
Guitar Tuning in 3 Easy Steps
Step 1: Start with the lowest string
The standard tuning of a guitar starts with the lowest string, which is the thickest one. This string is tuned to E, which is exactly two octaves lower than the highest string. To tune this string, follow these steps:
- Remember the phrase “Eddie Ate Dynamite Good Bye Eddie” to help you remember the notes of the open strings.
- Use a good quality tuner to help you tune the string. Electronic tuners are excellent for this purpose and there are hundreds of smartphone apps available for free or for a cheap price.
- Pluck the string and watch the tuner. The tuner will tell you if the note is too high or too low. Adjust the tuning peg until the tuner shows that the note is in tune.
Step 2: Progressing to the Middle Strings
Once the lowest string is in tune, it’s time to progress to the middle strings. These strings are tuned to A, D, and G. To tune these strings, follow these steps:
- Pluck the lowest string and the next string together. This will help you hear the difference in pitch between the two strings.
- Adjust the tuning peg of the next string until it matches the pitch of the lowest string.
- Repeat this process with the remaining middle strings.
Step 3: Tuning the Highest String
The highest string is the thinnest string and is tuned to E, which is exactly two octaves higher than the lowest string. To tune this string, follow these steps:
- Pluck the highest string and watch the tuner. The tuner will tell you if the note is too high or too low.
- Adjust the tuning peg until the tuner shows that the note is in tune.
- Remember that guitar tuning is a sensitive process and even small changes can make a big difference in the sound of the guitar.
- Modern electronic tuners are great for getting your guitar in tune fast and accurately.
- If you’re new to guitar and learning to tune by ear, it can help to use a reference pitch from a piano or another instrument.
- There are many different languages for guitar tuning, such as dansk, deutsch, 한국어, bahasa indonesia, bahasa melayu, norsk bokmål, русский, and 中文. Make sure to choose the language that you’re most comfortable with.
- There are many different apps available to help with guitar tuning, both free and paid. Make sure to choose one that is easy to operate and not bloated with unnecessary features.
- Electronic tuners can also be used to tune other stringed instruments, such as ukuleles and bass guitars.
By following these simple steps, you’ll be well on your way to getting your guitar in tune and sounding great!
The standard tuning of a guitar is a tuning used by a majority of guitarists for the playing of Western music.
The standard tuning of a guitar is E, A, D, G, B, E. It’s a tuning used by a majority of guitarists for the playing of Western music. I hope this guide has helped you understand the standard tuning of a guitar a little better.
I'm Joost Nusselder, the founder of Neaera and a content marketer, dad, and love trying out new equipment with guitar at the heart of my passion, and together with my team, I've been creating in-depth blog articles since 2020 to help loyal readers with recording and guitar tips.
Check me out on Youtube where I try out all of this gear:Subscribe