If you want to know how to tune a guitar with a tuning fork, don't worry anymore. Although tuning forks can seem like these strange items from the distant past, they are very easy to use. They are great for tuning a guitar if you don't have a digital tuner but don't want to guess on pitches tuning by ear. If you know how to tune a guitar with a tuning fork and have one lying around, you can have a nicely-tuned guitar without the need for a digital tuner.
- Identify the tuning fork note and match it to a guitar string. Remember, the six guitar strings from top to bottom are EADGBE, so if you have a tuning fork that sounds any of those notes, all you have to do is match it to the corresponding open string. For example, if you have a tuning fork that sounds the pitch "A," tune the open fifth string of the guitar with the tuning fork.
- Hold the tuning fork by the stem. Hold the tuning fork by the stem, not the fork part! The two tines are what will make the sound, so you can't be holding them when you play the fork.
- Smack the tuning fork against the outstretched palm of your hand. Obviously, this seems a little silly, as we all know you can't tune a guitar with a tuning fork if you can't hear the tuning fork itself! Smacking the tuning fork against your palm will make the fork ring out its note. You want to make sure you've stretched your palm out so that the tuning fork is hitting a relatively hard surface. Don't smack a closed or relaxed hand, or the padding of your hand will dampen the sound of the tuning fork, and you won't be able to tune your guitar. Basically, any hard surface will do, but a hand or your knee are good options.
- Tune the corresponding string to the note from the tuning fork. If we use the A as an example, we'd tune the fifth string. If we had a B tuning fork, we'd tune the open second string. Whatever note you have, try to tune the proper string to the sound of the tuning fork as exactly as you can. After this first string is finished, you have two options on how to continue tuning your guitar with the tuning fork.
- Tune the rest of the guitar based off of that string. You now have a string that is perfectly tuned, so you can tune the rest of the strings by ear. This is the preferred way if you have a basic understanding of how to tune a guitar by ear, because it is faster and the notes are more precise. If you really don't want to do that, you can follow step six.
- Tune the rest of the guitar by fretting each string up to the tuning fork note. For example, if you have an A tuning fork, you'd tune the sixth string by pressing down on the fifth fret, and tuning the string pressed down at the fifth fret to the tuning fork. This is because the sixth string (an E) fretted to the fifth fret is an A, which you can then tune to the tuning fork. Do this for each string, finding which fret you should press down at. This is not as reliable a way to tune a guitar with a tuning fork, as fretted notes aren't exactly the same as open strings (For example, an open E string, and an E played by pressing the E string twelve frets above sound slightly different from each other).