Why Do You Need to Tune a Guitar Every Time You Use It? Exploring the Importance of Perfect Pitch 

Whether you’re a seasoned guitarist or just starting, you likely know that you must ensure your guitar is in tune before you strum the first chord. But you might wonder why this tuning process is vital every time you play. Like almost all stringed instruments, guitars are sensitive to various factors that can make them fall out of tune, even when it’s not being used.

The guitar has to be in the perfect pitch for the music to sound right. Otherwise, the notes can sound dissonant or just wrong.  Being in tune is essential for playing music that is melodic and harmonious.

Ifs like temperature and humidity changes affect the tension and flexibility of guitar strings, causing them to stretch or shrink slightly. So guitar strings go out of tune even when not played, so the tuning process is crucial each time before you play it.

Understanding the Basics of Guitar Tuning

Before I dive into the details, it’s essential to know that accurately tuning your guitar is crucial for playing the correct pitch and maintaining the quality of your chords and notes.

Factors Affecting Guitar Tuning

Several factors can impact the tuning stability of a guitar:

  • Temperature: Guitar strings are made of steel or nickel, which are heavily affected by temperature. Heat causes the strings to expand, so they go flat, while cold stretches the strings, which means they go sharp. Depending on the string gauge, temperature will affect all strings differently.
  • Humidity: Humidity affects the wood of the guitar. High humidity can cause the wood to swell, and low humidity can shrink, leading to a shift in pitch.
  • New Strings: New strings need a little time to stretch and may require frequent adjustments until they settle. Worn strings can also be problematic as they may need to hold their tuning better.
  • Playing Style: The force with which I play can detune strings over time, especially for more aggressive playing styles. Bends, vibratos, or tremolo arm movements can make some guitar strings go out of tune.

The Importance of Regular Tuning

Let me emphasize the importance of keeping your guitar in tune. Regular tuning ensures perfect pitch. Pitch is fundamental to music; tuning ensures each string is at the correct frequency. This way, your chords, melodies, and riffs will sound as they should. Otherwise, they can sound dull and wrong, disturbing you and your audience.

To tune my guitar, I often use a tuner, a clip-on device, a pedal, or an app to identify the pitch of each string and guide me to the correct tuning, usually ‘standard tuning’ (E A D G B E). Tuning a guitar before every practice or performance is not just beneficial—it’s necessary for the best musical experience.

Steps for Tuning Your Guitar

To maintain the quality of sound and to protect the integrity of performance and the instrument itself, it is crucial to tune the guitar before playing. Let’s go right into what you need for the tuning process and how to execute it properly.

Choosing the Right Tools

The easiest way to tune your guitar is by using a tuner. The tuner detects the strings’ vibrations and shows whether each is in tune. In a pinch, I also use a tuning app on a smartphone. It serves the same purpose by using the phone’s microphone to detect the pitch. I’ve learned to choose a tuner suitable to the surroundings—if it’s noisy, a vibration-based tuner is a go-to.

Training your ears to tune by ear with a tuning fork or another reference instrument can be a worthwhile skill for those developing their skills. However, an electronic tuner is invaluable for speedy and precise tuning, especially in a live setting.

The Tuning Process

Tuning a guitar is a step-by-step operation that starts with the low E string, the thickest string. You pluck the string, check the tuner, and adjust the tuning peg until the tuner indicates the pitch is correct. Being gentle with the pegs is vital to avoid breaking the strings. Once the low E is set, you can proceed with the A string, D string, G string, B string, and then the high E string, which is the thinnest.

I ensure that humidity and temperature are stable for an electric guitar or even an acoustic guitar in a more controlled environment, as these can affect the guitar’s tuning and intonation. I always check the intonation by playing the 12th-fret harmonics and comparing them to the fretted notes.

As someone who is serious about their sound, using high-quality strings can make a significant difference in maintaining tune and overall tonal quality. Moreover, with new strings, especially, they must be stretched and retuned several times before they hold tune well. 

Remember, a well-tuned guitar can make your playing experience more enjoyable and help refine your ear for music. Whether it’s an acoustic or an electric guitar, mastering the tuning process is fundamental to becoming a proficient guitarist.


For every guitarist, regularly tuning their guitar is essential. It’s a straightforward process that ensures the best sound quality and protects the instrument. Consistent tuning keeps your guitar in top condition, and it helps you to sound your best. It’s a small habit that makes a big difference.

If you found this article useful, you may want to save this pin below to your Guitar board.


I have been playing guitar since 2004. As long as I can remember I always had a huge passion for rock music and I extremely enjoy playing it. Helping people on their rock journey is what drives me to keep on playing. Read More About Me

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