How to Tune a Lap Steel Guitar

By Contributing Writer
Tune a Lap Steel Guitar

While it is important to learn how to play chords and scales on the lap steel guitar, it is almost as important to first know which tuning you are going to use, and how to get your instrument into that tuning. There are different tunings for the lap steel guitar, but three of the most popular are the High G, High A and the C6 tuning. All three are relatively easy to achieve and can be applied quickly to your instrument.

Using the guitar tuner tune the sixth string to the note G.

Tune the fifth string to the note B.

Tune the fourth string to the note D.

Tune the third string to the note G, the same as the sixth string but one octave higher.

Tune the second string to the note B, the same note as the fifth string but one octave higher.

Tune the first string to the note D. This is the same note as the fourth string but one octave higher.

Strum all open six open strings to sound the high G tuning. This tuning produces an open G chord, hence the name. The high G tuning is used mostly by country and bluegrass players.

Tune the sixth string to the note C.

Tune the fifth string to the note E.

Tune the fourth string to the note G.

Tune the third string to the note A.

Tune the second string to the note C. This is the same note as the sixth string, though two octaves higher.

Tune the first string to the note E, the same note as the fifth string but two octaves higher.

Strum all six open strings to sound the C6 tuning. The open-string notes spell out a C6 chord, hence the name. This tuning is preferred by Western Swing and old-time country lap top musicians.

Tune the sixth string to the note A.

Tune the fifth string to the note C-sharp.

Tune the fourth string to the note E.

Tune the third string to the note A, the same note as the sixth string though one octave higher.

Tune the second string to the note C-sharp which is the same as the fifth string but one octave higher.

Tune the first string to the note E. This is the same as the fourth string but one octave higher.

Strum all six strings to sound the high A tuning. This tuning is used mostly by bluegrass and country players and the open strings spell out an A chord, which gives the tuning its name.

Tip

It is good to pluck each string when tuning so you are sure you are tuning in the right direction. Tuning in the wrong direction could result in a broken string.