Having trouble tuning my guitar


So I am a complete beginner and I’m already struggling to get started because I’m having trouble tuning my guitar.

I’ve tried the built-in, various apps (including Justin’s) and I even bought a TC Electronics UniTune. None of them seem to actually find the same tune when I try to tune each string.

I assume the TC E Unitune would be the most reliable one, but after tuning with that, all apps just show issues with 2 of the strings - D and G.

I am using a left-handed guitar, but I assume that wouldn’t cause any issues.

So what is the way forward? It really is discouraging that I’m struggling already.


Ones thing I’ve noticed when tuning is sometimes giving the string to be tuned a decent pick will get harmonics going in other strings. A clip on tuner which is picking up the vibrations from the headstock is probably going to a better job of dealing with that than an app which relies on the actual sound coming out.

I’d settle on the UniTune myself, and mute the other strings before making a second pick.

I’ve been very careful only to do one string at a time. I do one string and then rest my finger on the next string, so it won’t resonate as well.

I’ll try and tune it with the clip on and see if I can record it.

how much are they off? just a hair makes no difference, especially when you are a complete beginner. first 6 months or so are more finger mechanics than anything else. you are going to sound like crap until your fingers get adjusted anyway… press on and worry about the small stuff later.

:point_up: what he said… :wink:

They are like WAY off. The app doesn’t even recognize it and ask if I’m playing the right string.

Something not right with either your method or the guitar. Both my clip-on tuners and iPhone app are within a bull’s roar of each other.

Edit: Have you got the app selected to Guitar and not some other instrument?

That is why it is so strange.
I don’t think you can select other instruments in the “Justin Guitar” app ?

When I get the chance, I’ll try and record it.

Hi Mikael,

Just a thought did you get the guitar 2nd hand or new and has somebody replaced the stings? and left them detuned?
Something like guitar tuna app will tell you when you pluck the sting which string it is and even if it is Shap or flat and tell you to tune up or down and has a visual display you can get it as a free app levee it on auto also one you get it in the ball park you can use your better tuners to get it better.
If this still does not work I would find somebody who you know plays the guitar or a local shop if possible.
Or do a zoom call for help.
PS not tried Justin’s so that may also be visual

I bought it brand new, all though 2 years ago and haven’t been used yet. I struggled with tuning it back then and life just got in the way.
I’ve tried GuitarTuna, PanoTuner and “Guitar Tuner”. I also bought the guitar specifically with a built-in one because I thought it would make tuning easier, but it didn’t.

I was please how “Justin Guitar” tuner works because it shows it more basically, but that didn’t really do the trick either.

I’ve considered dropping by a shop to have them look at it. Perhaps something is wrong with the guitar…

agreed….all my tuners show within a pubic hair of each other……is it a microphone issue?

That could well be all though it’s strange it can detect 4 strings perfectly, but just not G and D.

Just a thought ware have you stored the guitar in in what condition it might be your neck is out but you mentioned it was like it from new I would pop it back to the shop if your having this much trouble it might not have been set up or have other problems sorry could not suggest anything else.
Good luck getting it sorted let us know how you get on and don’t let this put you off.

Hi Mikael, tuning shouldn’t be that difficult.
What type of guitar do you have? Acoustic, Electric?
What type of strings? Nylon, Steel?
Is tuning out on the open strings or just fretted notes?
A bit more info might make it easier to determine the issue.
Electric guitars are a bit easier to sort out intonation wise.
Acoustic, make sure the bridge pins are seated firmly and check the tuners are not slipping, strings wound on properly so they don’t slip when tightened.

Acoustic. It’s a Harley Benton
Steel strings according to the page.
Not sure what you mean by “is tuning out on the open string or just fretted notes” ?
I’ll do a check on the guitar, just to make sure nothing has been pushed out of place.

The strings will stretch for a while and then settle down. Do you keep having to tune up in pitch or both up and down?

Apologies if I’m asking the obvious, but are your D and G strings roughly in tune before you finetune them with the tuner? Most tuners I’ve used fail or struggle to identify the correct string when it’s way off to start with. With way off, I mean an octave or more from the target note.

You want to get the string under a reasonable amount of tension and within a few semitones under the target note before using the tuner. Do this carefully, don’t overdo it or the string will snap. :slight_smile:

Also, and I don’t mean to offend, but are the D and G strings in the correct order? I remember in my early days I once put them on in the wrong order. That would definitely make things harder for a tuner.

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When tuning initially you do the open strings (nothing fretted). Pick E gently, tighten or loosen the tuner as needed. You need to make sure you tune to the correct octave too or some apps won’t recognize the note. Some tuners show the Octave number. E2 A2 for strings 6 and 5. D3 G3 B3 for strings 4, 3 and 2. E4 for the low e string (thinnest).

Once open strings are in tune, you can fret a note (finger on string near fret) and pick string. So finger at 12 fret on thickest string should show E on tuner when picked. Or on 5th fret, same string should show A when picked.

Be sure to check that the strings where they go into the guitar holes behind the bridge (body end) , are securely fastened by the pins. Most strings have a ring on the bottom held down by the pin. If these are loose and let the string slip, you will never get it in tune.

The other end of strings wrap around the post and if incorrectly wound on, can slip there too.

Finally, if the issue is one or two strings, and all else is fine, it could be the nut slot is too tight for the string. Harder to fix as you need special gauged width files to create the correct slot size. At that point, I’d suggest a trip to a music store and ask assistant to tune it for you. They should be able to identify any issue.:slightly_smiling_face:

Try loosening off the strings and rubbing a pencil in the nut groove. The graphite might help things.

Try tuning the D and G strings to D# and G# when you fret them on the first fret. If you can do that but they don’t show D and G when checking the open strings, then it’s most likely to be a problem with the nut.