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How to Tune a Tenor Guitar

The popularity of the tenor guitar is on the rise. Many used models can be found quite cheaply, and several guitar builders have started producing new models that are quite affordable as well. If you have a tenor guitar, an important first step toward getting a good sound is to make sure your instrument is in tune. In this article we will look at how to tune your tenor guitar to the common CGDA tuning using an electronic chromatic tuner.

Things You'll Need:

  • Electronic Chromatic Tuner
  • Tenor Guitar

Hold the tenor guitar in your lap in playing position. Your right arm should be draped over the guitar, leaving your right hand at the strings.

Turn on the tuner and place it on your leg or a flat surface close to the front of the guitar.

Pluck the top string with your right hand. Let the note ring out so that the tuner has time to analyze it.

Look at the tuner to see what pitch the string is sounding. If the pitch is below C, turn the tuning key so that the pitch rises. If the pitch is above C, turn the tuning key so that the pitch falls.

Lower or raise the pitch of the string until it reads as C on your tuner. Be sure that the needle is centered on the tuner so that your C note is not sharp or flat.

Repeat steps 3 to 5 for each of the remaining three strings, tuning each one to its respective pitch.


Another common tuning for the tenor guitar is GDAE, the same tuning as mandolins and violins.

If a tuner is not available, you can also tune your tenor guitar by matching pitches with a piano, pitch pipe, or another string instrument that you know is in tune.

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