Learning how to tune a 12 string guitar can seem intimidating at first, but in truth it isn't a great deal more difficult than tuning a standard six string guitar. Keeping the guitar in tune can be more of a challenge, since there are twice as many strings and twice as many opportunities to fall out of tune. But once you've had a bit of practice and studied how to tune a 12 string guitar, you'll find it becoming second nature.
To tune your 12 string guitar, you will need one of the following:
- Standard guitar tuner
- 12 string guitar tuner
- Pitch pipe
- Tuning fork
- Another instrument that is already in tune
- Tune the lowest E strings. The bass strings of a 12 string guitar are tuned slightly differently than the treble strings. Each set of bass strings has a thicker string and a thinner string. The two strings are tuned an octave apart. For example, the thicker of the two lowest strings is tuned to the E below middle C, while the thinner string is tuned to the E just above middle C.
- Tune the A, D and G sets. These sets also consist of two strings tuned an octave apart. Tune the larger string to the same note that would be used on a six-string guitar, then tune the thinner string an octave higher.
- Tune the treble strings. The top two string sets, the B and E strings, are tuned to the same note for each pair. The B strings are tuned to the B above middle C, and the E strings are tuned two octaves above the lowest E string.
Using an electronic tuner is the most accurate way to tune your guitar, since it does not rely upon your ability to discern pitches. You can use a standard guitar tuner to tune a 12 string guitar, or find a stand alone or online tuner specifically made for the 12 string guitar.
If you tune the guitar to itself, or to another instrument, the guitar will be in tune relative to that instrument or relative to itself, but might not be adjusted to standard tuning. To ensure your guitar is set to standard tuning, use an electric tuner or another tuning reference that is set to standard pitches.