The guitar is one of the most popular instruments in all of music.
Electric, acoustic, classical – there are many variants of the guitar that exist, and the instrument has become a staple across many different genres.
But even if a person knows their scales forwards and backwards and has mastered music theory, there is one practice that must be performed before any playing or recording session – tuning.
Tuning the instrument isn’t that hard of a task, but it can be time-consuming if the strings are way off or the instrument doesn’t hold tune well because of its design or age. Standalone digital tuners and even non-electronic pitch pipes have been used for decades to help guitarists tune up, but the mobile age has presented a new option.
Using a guitar tuning app, a person may get their instrument on point in a matter of seconds. This makes it easy to get ready for a jam session, prepare for a recording, or even set up for a live performance. Turning to a guitar tuner on a phone may seem a little futuristic for some, but it can also help musicians make their lives a little easier.
Why Guitar Tuning Is So Important and How It Works
There are few things rougher to listen to than a musician who doesn’t have a firm grasp of their instrument. But even the most talented musician can make noise instead of music if their instrument is out of tune.
For guitars, the standard tuning format is as follows – the lowest string (meaning the lowest in pitch) is tuned to E. The term “lower” can be confusing, since the low E strin, in this case,e is the one closest to the ceiling when the guitar is held – not the one closest to the floor.
The next string is tuned to A. On a standard 6-string guitar, the low E is considered the sixth string, and the A is considered the fifth string. The fourth string is tuned to D and the third to G. All of these first four strings are an interval of a perfect fourth apart. If the E, A, or D strings are in tune, players can use the tone played on the fifth fret of a string to see how the next string should sound.
The second string is tuned to B, meaning it’s a major third away from the string above it and should be in tune with the fourth fret on the G string. The first string (the highest in pitch but closest to the floor) should be tuned to E as well. This is also a perfect fourth interval from the string above and should sound like the B string’s (second string) fifth fret.
If a guitar’s strings are out of tune with one another, intervals and chords will sound dissonant and lower the quality of the sound. This is especially problematic if the guitarist is playing along with other musicians, as the tonal differences will become much more noticeable.
Does Everyone Need a Guitar Tuning App?
For many guitarists, they’re so used to tuning up and knowing how strings should sound that they rarely have to rely on a tuner.
In the case where their ear does fail them and they’re having trouble getting strings where they need to be, they may use a tuner. Digital tuners come in the form of standalone devices about the size of a mobile phone, but there are also variants that can be clipped on headstocks for easy access and hands-free use.
Many beginning guitarists are encouraged to use a tuner at the start. Until their ear develops and they are able to recognize the sound of proper pitches, it can be hard to get the tuning right without help.
Tuning apps can be especially useful when a person is playing live and they need to tune quickly. Tuning apps can also be handy when guitarists want to go between different non-standard tunings in the same session. A guitar tuning app can detect the sound of the string through the phone’s mic, while some can be plugged into the phone with the proper adapter.
What Is the Best Guitar Tuning App?
There are many different apps a user can get from the Google Play store download option. GuitarTuna is one of the most popular free options available and works with guitar, bass, mandolin, ukulele, and many other common stringed instruments.
Pro Guitar Tuner is another highly rated option with settings for multiple instruments and even multiple common guitar tunings such as C standard (one-and-a half semitones lower than standard) and open A for playing slide guitar.
Using a guitar tuning app can help any musician ensure they are tuned up and ready to go before they begin playing, whether they’re doing a solo jam at home or a public gig with friends.