How To Tune A Guitar Without A Tuner

Learning to tune your guitar without needing an actual tuner is an excellent way of training your ear to the specific notes and getting more of a feel of how the notes relate to each other. Even if you don’t have a designated tuner, there are different ways that you can get the notes that you need, from using a piano to an app on your phone. 

Keep reading to learn how to tune an acoustic guitar and electric guitar using different methods from using the notes on a piano, a tuning fork, panpipes, and getting a tuning app on your phone. Soon you will be a pro at how to tune a guitar without a tuner!

How To Tune A Guitar Without A Tuner

How to Tune an Acoustic Without a Tuner

There are three main ways that you can tune a guitar. It doesn’t make much of a difference if you are tuning an acoustic guitar as opposed to an electric guitar, other than there are a few other components involved with an electric guitar that may change how the sound reaches the tuner, especially an application or how to train your ear to the notes.e

The first method of tuning your guitar is to tune it to itself. You can use some basic scales on the guitar to help you to tune each string correctly. It’ll take a good ear, though, so it may take some practice before you get it all sorted out.

To tune by ear:

  1. Get your low E string or the 6th string as close to being in tune as possible. Don’t worry, up isn’t exactly in tune since it doesn’t need to have perfect pitch for you to tune the rest of the strings. 
  2. Press down on the 5th fret of the low E string. The 5th fret of the low E string will give you the same note as the open A string.
  3. Try and match the open A string to the sound coming from the 5th fret of the low E string. If the open A string is higher than the 5th fret on the E string, you need to tune down and vice versa.
  4. Repeat the same process to tune the open D & G strings. Placing your finger on the 5th fret of the string closer to you will give you the right note for the open strings.
  5. Put your finger on the 4th fret of the g-string to help you tune the open B string. 
  6. Return to using the 5th fret to tune the high open E string.

Strum some chords to test how your tuning is doing. If anything seems not quite sound and right, you can always go back through the process and try to match the notes better. You’ll get better with practice, so don’t stress yourself out about it too much.

How To Tune An Electric Without A Tuner

While you can tune an electric guitar to itself like an acoustic, you can also tune using harmonics. Natural harmonics are on the 12th, 7th, and 5th frets. You can get natural harmonics from touching the string above the fret without pressure. Strike the note with your picking hand, then release the string at the fret at the same time as plucking it.

Tuning using harmonics can be a relatively quiet method of tuning, so it helps to use it on an electric guitar where you can turn up the app to help you hear the harmonics.

To Tune with harmonics:

  1. Play a harmonic with the 11th fret to check your guitar’s intonation. You want the pitch to match with the actual note from the 12th fret when you apply pressure.
  2. Compare the harmonics of the A string to the low E string. You will play the harmonica on the 5th fret of the low E string, then play a harmonic on the seventh fret of the A string. 
  3. Repeat this process for the D & G strings using the string closest to you above the string you’re trying to tune. 
  4. Play the harmonica on the 7th fret of the low E string to tune the B string. You will use the see picture of streaming the open B string, not a harmonic on the B string. 
  5. Tune the high E string by using the harmonic of the 7th fret of the A string. You will again be playing an open high E string and not in harmonic on the E string. 

If you’re not used to harmonics, it might take you a while to get used to this method, but it can help out if you don’t have a tuner and you’re not quite sure if you can get the low E string in tune as a reference for the rest of your notes. 

Tuning Fork

Using a tuning fork is a great way to help you tune your strings. If you want to get the correct pitch, but you don’t have a tuner, then you need a reference note to help you. Match the note to the tuning fork, and you can on the appropriate string. You can then use the above methods to tune the other strings.


If you have a piano nearby, that can also help you get a reference note to tune your strings. You can tune one of the strings and then to the rest by tuning the guitar to itself or using harmonics, or you can go through all of the notes and try to match the strings as close to the keys as possible. Ensure you are using the correct octave.


Pan pipes are a lot easier to carry around with you hit a piano, so it can be a great way of getting a reference note to match one of your strings and proceeding to use the other methods to tune the rest of your guitar.

Tuning Apps

Getting an application on your phone that works as a tuner is an excellent way of always having a tuner with you without getting a specific piece of equipment. They’re plenty of free tuners out there that you can get on your phone. Just make sure that your phone’s microphone is as close to your guitar as possible, especially somewhere with background noise.


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