How to Tune a Half Size Guitar

By Matt McKay
Tuning a Half-Size Guitar

Tuning a half-size guitar is tuned in the same fashion as a 3/4 or full-size guitar, but may use different notes than the standard guitar tuning used on larger guitars (depending on the make and model). While many half-size guitars (also called short-scale or student guitars) can be tuned to standard tuning (thickest to thinnest string: E6, A5, D4, 3G, B2 and 1E), your owner's manual will provide specific information if tuning notes are different. regardless of the tuning notes, the tuning procedures are the same as with standard tuning of other guitars. A chromatic pitch pipe or electronic tuner with audible tones is highly recommended.

Determine the guitar's tunings notes by consulting your guitar's owners manual. Aside from standard tuning, common tuning notes for half-size guitars are either G6, C5, F4, Bb3, D2, G1, or A6, D5, G4, C3, E2, A1, from the thickest to thinnest (low to high) strings.

Blow into the pitch pipe section marked with the name of the note of the 6th (thickest or lowest) string. If using an electronic tuner, press the sound button repeatedly until the note name appears on the display, and the tuner will play the note continuously.

Tune the 6th string tuning key up or down to match the note to that of the pitch pipe or tuner. Repeated blowing into the pitch pipe will probably be necessary.

Blow into the pitch pipe into the section marked with the note name for the 5th string, or press the sound button on the tuner until the 5th string note appears on the display.

Tune the 5th string to match the pitch pipe or tuner note, and repeat the procedure for the remaining 4th, 3rd, 2nd and 1st strings.


When shopping for a half-size guitar, try to choose one that will accommodate standard tuning. This will prevent re-learning of standard tuning guitar notes in the future, especially if the player is taking lessons. It is possible to install a higher tension string (thicker diameter) to tune the guitar to standard tuning.

Always purchase the best instrument you can afford. It will play and keep in tune more easily and will retain more resale value when it's time to upgrade. Your guitar retailer can recommend quality makes and models, and it pays to shop around for the best price.

Half-size guitars are recommended for children aged 8 to 12 of average size. Your guitar teacher or experienced guitar-playing friend can properly fit the guitar to your child, and make buying recommendations. Many music schools insist on students using "teacher approved" guitars. Details are available by contacting your local music school or guitar teacher.


Always use the guitar tuner when tuning, as tuning too high will cause string breakage.

Keep face away from the guitar when tuning, as strings are under high tension can recoil if broken, and can cause eye or face lacerations.

About the Author

Matt McKay began his writing career in 1999, writing training programs and articles for a national corporation. His work has appeared in various online publications and materials for private companies. McKay has experience in entrepreneurship, corporate training, human resources, technology and the music business.