Guitar News

Zane Forshee and Gene Koshinski Play Clockwork by Koshinski

This is Classical Guitar - Tue, 01/25/2022 - 12:06

Zane Forshee (guitar) and Gene Koshinski (percussion) play Killjoy – III. “Clockwork” by Gene Koshinski (b.1980), scored for amplified guitar and percussion. This comes via Koshinski’s Youtube. Great interactive composition with excellent writing for the guitar. Fantastic playing by Forshee with a demanding and precise rhythmic part to execute in tight coordination with Koshinski. The guitar writing is very pitch oriented even with all the percussive and glissando effects; very effective soundscapes that mix well with the percussion.

Programme Notes

When I was approached by Zane Forshee to compose this piece, he asked me to base the work on material or an idea(s) drawn from a book or other form of literature. I found it appropriate to choose a children’s story due to his new found role as a parent himself. This led me to the story of Cinderella, which has stood the test of time, entertaining children and adults alike, generation after generation. At the heart of the story is the clock tower. As the clock strikes midnight, it ends Cinderella’s time at the Prince’s ball and her fairy Godmother’s magical spell. In the story, the clock assumes the role of an antagonist (which, in real life, is something we can all relate to).

The title is derived from the Disney film adaptation of the story. In this version, Cinderella is awaked by the clock – foreshadowing the role of this antagonist. At this moment Cinderella exclaims:

Oh, that clock! Old killjoy.
I hear you. Come on, get up, you say.
Time to start another day.
Even he orders me around.
Well, there’s one thing.
They can’t order me to stop dreaming.

Killjoy explores the sounds of clocks, utilizing their musical value as a starting point. In essence, the work is a collection of variations on themes provided by various clocks where, in many cases, the “theme” is never actually stated. The first movement focuses on the stereotypical “tick-tock” of the clock. The second movement depicts a sweet lullaby that plays at the top of every hour. The final movement brings the listener inside the clock. When I was writing this, I had the vision of a mouse scampering from “room” to “room” inside a massive clock, the music magnifying the mechanical sounds of the inner workings of such a precise device.

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Categories: Guitar News

Grazioso, No.4, Op.50 by Mauro Giuliani

This is Classical Guitar - Fri, 01/21/2022 - 13:10

Grazioso, No.4, Op.50 by Mauro Giuliani (1781-1829) – Lesson and Performance. This is from my PDF or hardcopy sheet music edition for classical guitar: Le Papillon, No. 1-32, Op.50 by Mauro Giuliani. Grades 1-7 and includes both a notation-only edition and a tab edition.

Le Papillon (The Butterfly), Op. 50 by Mauro Giuliani consists of 32 pieces published by Giuliani in Vienna in 1815. The works are presented progressively from easy to mid-intermediate depending on the tempo. Le Papillon is a beautiful set of works which are perfect for students, professionals playing gigs, or players looking for nice easy pieces to practice or perform.

I would place this study at approximately the grade 4 level depending on your tempo. The right hand pattern makes this work a little bit more challenging but otherwise it would be grade 2 or 3. That said, once you have the pattern locked into the right hand it is fairly easy. Here’s the YouTube Link for this lesson if you want to watch it there.

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Categories: Guitar News

Allegretto, No.3, Op.50 by Mauro Giuliani

This is Classical Guitar - Wed, 01/19/2022 - 13:40

Performance and Lesson for Allegretto, No.3, Op.50 by Mauro Giuliani (1781-1829). This is from my PDF or hardcopy sheet music edition for classical guitar: Le Papillon, No. 1-32, Op.50 by Mauro Giuliani. Grades 1-7 and includes both a notation-only edition and a tab edition.

Le Papillon (The Butterfly), Op. 50 by Mauro Giuliani consists of 32 pieces published by Giuliani in Vienna in 1815. The works are presented progressively from easy to mid-intermediate depending on the tempo. Le Papillon is a beautiful set of works which are perfect for students, professionals playing gigs, or players looking for nice easy pieces to practice or perform.

I would place this study at approximately the grade 3 level depending on your tempo. Here’s the YouTube Link for this lesson if you want to watch it there.

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Categories: Guitar News

Fabrizio Proietti Plays Tedesco Sonata Op.77

This is Classical Guitar - Tue, 01/18/2022 - 11:27

Italian guitarist Fabrizio Proietti plays Sonata (Omaggio a Boccherini), Op. 77 (1934) by Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco (1895–1968). This comes via the excellent Siccas Guitars and their YouTube and Proietti’s Youtube. I’ve always loved this sonata so usually share it whenever I get the chance. Nice playing by Proietti with wonderful phrasing and motivic attention. Excellent pacing and articulations in the Minuetto.

I found this nice little paragraph about the work by Graham Wade via this Naxos album:

In 1932 Andrés Segovia travelled with Manuel de Falla to the International Festival of Music in Venice. At the Festival, Segovia was introduced to Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco, the great Italian composer from Florence, who became enchanted and fascinated by the guitar and decided to explore its possibilities. Between 1932 and his death in 1968 he wrote over a hundred works for the instrument, including sets of variations, concertos, duos, impressionistic pieces of various kinds, and, among his finest solo compositions, the Sonata, Op. 77, ‘Omaggio a Boccherini’, written at Segovia’s request in 1934 for ‘a Sonata in four movements’.

Castelnuovo-Tedesco described this work as follows: ‘The Sonata is in four movements, but it is mainly in the first movement, Allegro con spirito, and in the Minuetto, that one can find the graciousness which was so characteristic of Boccherini. The Andantino, quasi canzone, on the other hand, refers to Boccherini’s ‘romantic’ mood, while the Finale: Vivo ed energico, highlights the bravura elements always present in his music.’

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Categories: Guitar News

Andrea De Vitis Plays Tellur by Tristan Murail

This is Classical Guitar - Mon, 01/17/2022 - 12:44

Andrea De Vitis plays Tellur (1977) by Tristan Murail (b.1947). This comes via his YouTube channel. Great to hear this piece which I heard live a few years back. Excellent performance by Andrea De Vitis with very focused pacing, dramatic gestures, and sense of space. For those who don’t know Murail’s work he’s a French composer associated with the spectral technique of composition that uses the acoustic properties of sound to compose and create soundscapes. He’s composed two solo works, one for electric (Vampyr !) and Tellar but also has a number of chamber music works with electric.

Here’s the programme note for the piece from Murail’s site:

Tellur starts off as a kind of wager: how can one produce the long sound continua necessary for my work on procedures, transitions and evolutions, on an instrument that produces brief, plucked sounds ? I found the answer by using the flamenco rasgueado technique and even, more generally, by employing the style and sound of flamenco. The way attacks on the strings, for example, are dealt with is particularly delicate and careful: two textures can be produced on one string simultaneously that evolve in different ways (by disassociating the percussive sound caused by the nails on the strings – a sound that has an exact and controllable frequency – and the sound produced by the resonance of the strings themselves). I also used passages that move progressively from sound to noise (gradual dampening of the strings), the progressive appearance of harmonics, of harmonic resonances of flat chords, unusual fingerings for harmonics, multiple trills using both hands… etc. Tellur is a typical example of a score whose content is derived essentially from sound material provided by the instrument itself – even if the instrument is stretched and used in such a way as to subject it to requirements of style. There is thus, total interaction between basic material and material style. The instrument is tuned in a special way, enabling chords or rasgueado formulae to be used that avoid the guitar’s inevitable E-A-D-G-B-E layout.

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Categories: Guitar News

Anton Baranov Plays Prelude No.5, Op.11 by Scriabin

This is Classical Guitar - Wed, 01/12/2022 - 17:37

Russian guitarist Anton Baranov plays Prelude No.5, Op.11 by Alexander Scriabin (1871-1915), originally for piano. This comes via his amazing YouTube Channel. Scriabin was a Russian composer and pianist with a whole range of fascinating biographical tidbits (read Baranov’s description below or visit the Wiki). Beautiful playing and arranging here a lush and full sound and flowing lines. I’ve heard lots of Scriabin arranged for guitar but this one feels more at home than usual. Bonus points for the thumb-over stretch. Here’s Baranov’s write-up:

Happy 150th birthday dear Alexander Scriabin!

Born on Jan 6, 1872. Yoga practising and mysticism, sinestesia and discoveries in the area of harmony that’s not the full ID of Scriabin! His early piano works influenced by Chopin and playable on guitar! Here is my spontaneous transcription of his prelude op 11 n 5. Dispite the low quality of this vid (shooted with my phone and old recorder) decided to share with you anyway! Stay healthy and enjoy New Year and Xmas time!

via his YouTube Channel.

Here’s a video of Greek pianist Vassilis Tsabropoulos playing the work on piano. I’m guessing the strange egg on the piano is recording light from the booth!

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Categories: Guitar News

Grazioso, No.2, Op.50 by Mauro Giuliani

This is Classical Guitar - Wed, 01/12/2022 - 14:00

Performance and Lesson for Grazioso, No.2, Op.50 by Mauro Giuliani (1781-1829). This is from my PDF or hardcopy sheet music edition for classical guitar: Le Papillon, No. 1-32, Op.50 by Mauro Giuliani. Grades 1-7 and includes both a notation-only edition and a tab edition.

Le Papillon (The Butterfly), Op. 50 by Mauro Giuliani consists of 32 pieces published by Giuliani in Vienna in 1815. The works are presented progressively from easy to mid-intermediate depending on the tempo. Le Papillon is a beautiful set of works which are perfect for students, professionals playing gigs, or players looking for nice easy pieces to practice or perform.

I would place this study at approximately the grade 2 level depending on your tempo. Here’s the YouTube Link for this lesson if you want to watch it there.

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Categories: Guitar News

Andantino, No.1, Op.50 by Mauro Giuliani

This is Classical Guitar - Wed, 01/12/2022 - 13:55

Performance and Lesson for Andantino, No. 1, Op.50 by Mauro Giuliani (1781-1829). This is from my PDF or hardcopy sheet music edition for classical guitar: Le Papillon, No. 1-32, Op.50 by Mauro Giuliani. Grades 1-7 and includes both a notation-only edition and a tab edition.

Le Papillon (The Butterfly), Op. 50 by Mauro Giuliani consists of 32 pieces published by Giuliani in Vienna in 1815. The works are presented progressively from easy to mid-intermediate depending on the tempo. Le Papillon is a beautiful set of works which are perfect for students, professionals playing gigs, or players looking for nice easy pieces to practice or perform.

I would place this study at approximately the grade 1 level depending on your tempo. Here’s the YouTube Link for this lesson if you want to watch it there.

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Categories: Guitar News

Le Papillon, Op.50 by Mauro Giuliani

This is Classical Guitar - Wed, 01/12/2022 - 13:36

Le Papillon, No. 1-32, Op.50 by Mauro Giuliani (1781-1829) – PDF Sheet Music for Classical Guitar. Includes both a notation-only edition and tab edition. Easy to mid-intermediate level, approximately grades 1-7 with the majority of the works in the grade 3 -5 range. 116 pages. PDF download. 

My PDF Sheet Music Edition

Hardcopies via Amazon: Coming Next Month

Le Papillon (The Butterfly), Op. 50 by Mauro Giuliani consists of 32 pieces published by Giuliani in Vienna in 1815. The works are presented progressively from easy to mid-intermediate depending on the tempo. Le Papillon is a beautiful set of works which are perfect for students, professionals playing gigs, or players looking for nice easy pieces to practice or perform.

Video Performances and Lessons

I’ll be completing these video gradually throughout 2022. Grading is very flexible depending on your tempo.

  • No.1, Op.50 – Andantino – Grade 1
  • No.2, Op.50 – Grazioso – Grade 2
  • No.3 – Allegretto
  • No.4 – Grazioso
  • No.5 – Allegretto
  • No.6 – Allegro
  • No.7 – Andantino
  • No.8 – Allegretto
  • No.9 – Andantino
  • No.10 – Allegro
  • No.11 – Grazioso
  • No.12 – Allegretto
  • No.13 – Allegro – Grade 2
  • No.14 – Andantino
  • No.15 – Allegretto
  • No.16 – Vivace
  • No.17 – Allegretto – Grade 4
  • No.18 – Allegretto
  • No.19 – Tempo di polacca
  • No.20 – Allegretto
  • No.21 – Andantino
  • No.22 – Allegretto – Grade 4
  • No.23 – Grazioso – Grade 5
  • No.24 – Allegro
  • No.25 – Andantino grazioso – Grade 7
  • No.26 – Allegro – Grade 7
  • No.27 – Andantino
  • No.28 – Andantino
  • No.29 – Allegretto
  • No.30 – Andantino
  • No.31 – Allegretto
  • No.32 – Allegro

Promo Images and Samples

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Categories: Guitar News

Q&A Lesson: Rest and Free Stroke on Classical Guitar

This is Classical Guitar - Tue, 01/11/2022 - 16:25

Q&A Lesson: Rest Stroke (Apoyando) and Free Stroke (Tirando) on Classical Guitar: Thanks to all my Patreon supporters who submitted questions. You can visit my Support Page if you enjoy these and want to help out. Here’s the YouTube link if you want to watch the video there.

My main advice is to include both rest and free strokes in your technique routine so that the skill and technique is available to you to use or experiment with during repertoire. There is so much debate about when to use rest or free stroke but the the debate itself doesn’t interest me much, I’m more concerned about students having the technique at their disposal for use either right now or down the road.

Times & Questions

  • 00:00 – Intro & Advice
  • 2:01 – Position and movement for rest & free Stroke
  • 7:51 – When to use rest stroke, forte playing, indications
  • 13:48 – Sagreras, arpeggio rest stroke, melody accents
  • 16:14 – Rest stroke with the thumb, exercises
  • 19:40 – Single finger repeated rest stroke, tone
  • 21:57 – Playing without nails and end results
  • 25:50 – Are nails necessary?
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Categories: Guitar News

Study No.25, Op.60 by Fernando Sor

This is Classical Guitar - Sun, 01/09/2022 - 17:41

Performance and Lesson for Study No.25 in D Major (Andante Cantabile), Op.60 by Fernando Sor (1778–1839). This is from my PDF or hardcopy sheet music or tab edition for classical guitar: 25 Progressive Studies, Op.60 by Fernando Sor.

Fernando Sor’s Op.60 is one of the most famous etude collections in the classical guitar repertoire. Each study covers a different pedagogical concept but the primary goal of the collection as a whole is the ability to play legato across various textures.

Here’s a lesson on harmonics in general from my technique book.

I still place this study at approximately the grade 7 level depending on your experiences with harmonics. Here’s the YouTube Link for this lesson if you want to watch it there.

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The Guitar Sonatas of Reginald Smith Brindle by Joel Sharbaugh

This is Classical Guitar - Thu, 01/06/2022 - 13:03

The Guitar Sonatas of Reginald Smith Brindle
Joel Sharbaugh, Guitar
2021

Find the album on Spotify, Amazon, Apple, and more.

I’m very pleased to feature guitarist Joel Sharbaugh for his impressive collection of the five sonatas of British composer Reginald Smith Brindle (1917-2003). Brindle played guitar throughout his life and composed numerous guitar works from solos to chamber music. It’s great to have all the sonatas on one album and I’d be curious to know if Sharbaugh will be recording more Brindle works in the future. You can learn more about Brindle and the guitar at this Brindle site and if search the database of works for “guitar” you’ll see all his compositions for the instrument.

As Sharbaugh writes “Smith Brindle’s contributions to art through instruction, writing, and composition are profound. It’s my earnest hope that this first recording of his collected guitar sonatas aids in elevating him to a level of greater prominence amongst the composers of the previous century. ”

The Guitar Sonatas of Reginald Smith Brindle by Joel Sharbaugh is an important collection of Brindle’s five sonatas for guitar and is filled with thoughtful and articulate performances. Sharbaugh’s playing encompasses a wide range of colour, clean articulation, and motivic attention. Highly recommended.

RECORDING Katara Studios in Doha, Qatar, 2021
ENGINEERS Ateek Chima, Zainah Loulou, Dani Rajan, Mazen Murad, and Mario Bertodo
ARTWORK Arsineh Valladian
SLEEVE NOTES Joel Sharbaugh
PRODUCED BY SMC Records

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Categories: Guitar News

Yair Avidor Plays Charles Mouton on Lute

This is Classical Guitar - Fri, 12/31/2021 - 14:40

Yair Avidor performs Prelude in A minor by Charles Mouton (c.1617-1699) from his first book, entitled Pièces de luth sur différents modes. Played on an 11-course lute by Paul Thomson. This comes via his YouTube channel. Avidor has a growing collection of works on his YouTube so go subscribe and check it out. Beautiful pacing and presentation of the flowing lines by Avidor.

Also listen to him playing la belle homicide, a courante originally written by Denis Gautier (c.1597-1672), followed by Charles Mouton’s Double (an embellished version) of the same piece.

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Study No.24, Op.60 by Fernando Sor

This is Classical Guitar - Thu, 12/30/2021 - 09:40

Performance and Lesson for Study No.24 in D Minor, Op.60 by Fernando Sor (1778–1839). This is from my PDF or hardcopy sheet music or tab edition for classical guitar: 25 Progressive Studies, Op.60 by Fernando Sor.

Fernando Sor’s Op.60 is one of the most famous etude collections in the classical guitar repertoire. Each study covers a different pedagogical concept but the primary goal of the collection as a whole is the ability to play legato across various textures.

Here’s the link to the lesson on planting mentioned in the video.

I still place this study at approximately the grade 6 level depending on your tempo. Here’s the YouTube Link for this lesson if you want to watch it there.

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Categories: Guitar News

Sanel Redzic Plays Five Preludes by Villa-Lobos

This is Classical Guitar - Tue, 12/21/2021 - 16:04

Sanel Redžić plays Five Preludes by Heitor Villa-Lobos (1887-1959). This comes via Redžić’s fantastic YouTube channel. Recorded in Schottenkirche Erfurt, Germany. Great to have all five preludes performed by one of my favourite guitarists. Redzic’s direct style and balanced musical sensibilities highlight the excellent compositional elements contained in these works.

Five Preludes (1940)

0:00 Prelude No. 1 in E minor (“Melodia lírica”): Andantino espressivo Più mosso

4:51 Prelude No. 2 in E major (“Melodia capadócia”): Andantino—Più mosso

8:21 Prelude No. 3 in A minor (“Homenagem a Bach”): Andante—Molto adagio e dolorido

12:33 Prelude No. 4 in E minor (“Homenagem ao índio brasileiro”): Lento—Animato—Moderato

16:46 Prelude No. 5 in D major (“Homenagem à Vida Social”): Poco animato—Meno—Più mosso

Sheet Music: Villa-Lobos Collected Guitar Solos (Eshig) via Amazon. I also encourage you to look up the facsimile in his hand which is floating around online. That said, the Eshig edition is how the piece is generally played so it’s always good to have a copy of that. After close inspection the Zigante edition fingering is just not doing it for me. There is very little fingering in the Eshig, which is great actually but students might find the video helpful in this regard.

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Categories: Guitar News

Rebeca Oliveira Plays Fandango Varié, Op. 16 by Aguado

This is Classical Guitar - Tue, 12/21/2021 - 11:55

Rebeca Oliveira performs Fandango Varié, Op. 16 by Dionisio Aguado (1784-1849). This comes via her YouTube channel. Excellent playing as usually from Oliveira, I always look forward to her videos. I really appreciate the textural clarity, intricate articulations, and rhythmic drive of her playing all within nicely directional phrasing. Here’s her YouTube description about the composer:

Dionisio Aguado y García (1784 –1849) was a Spanish classical guitarist and composer of the late Classical and early Romantic periods. The fandango, a Spanish dance from the 17th century, originally emerged from a dance accompaniment by guitar and castanets – but then became one of the most important and popular rhythms of Spanish music. In the style of Antonio Soler and Luigi Boccherini, Aguado produces a transcription of an improvisation in a fandango rhythm that expresses the closeness and mutual influence of classical and popular music.

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Categories: Guitar News

Study No.23, Op.60 by Fernando Sor

This is Classical Guitar - Mon, 12/20/2021 - 12:51

Performance and Lesson for Study No.23 in A Major, Op.60 by Fernando Sor (1778–1839). This is from my PDF or hardcopy sheet music or tab edition for classical guitar: 25 Progressive Studies, Op.60 by Fernando Sor.

Fernando Sor’s Op.60 is one of the most famous etude collections in the classical guitar repertoire. Each study covers a different pedagogical concept but the primary goal of the collection as a whole is the ability to play legato across various textures.

I still place this study at approximately the grade 7 level depending on your tempo. There is nothing specifically difficult but the initial reading and learning can be a challenge. Here’s the YouTube Link for this lesson if you want to watch it there.

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Categories: Guitar News

Stefan Koim Plays Fandango by Santiago de Murcia

This is Classical Guitar - Sat, 12/18/2021 - 18:03

Stefan Koim performs Fandango by Santiago de Murcia (1673-1739) on a Baroque guitar replica made in 2015 by Sebastian Kneffel. This comes via Koim’s YouTube channel. Fantastic playing by Koim on Baroque guitar which brings Santiago de Murcia to life. Love the figuration, melodic lines in the strumming, and idiomatic embellishments. Whenever I hear de Murcia on the modern classical guitar I always feel it missed out on the percussive pluckiness of the Baroque guitar.

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Sonata No.4 in E Minor, Op.31 by Matiegka

This is Classical Guitar - Sat, 12/18/2021 - 13:02

Sonata No.4 in E minor, Op.31 by Wenzel Thomas Matiegka (1773-1830). PDF Sheet music for classical guitar. Three movements: I. Allegro Moderato, II. Schezo and Trio, III. Capricio. Mainly open position playing. Intermediate or advanced depending on the tempo. Approximately grade 8 due to length and a few sections. 

My PDF Sheet Music Edition

Wenzel Thomas Matiegka (Václav Tomáš Matějka, Wenzeslav, or Wenzeslaus) was a Czech composer, guitarist, and pianist. After studying and practicing law for a short period, Matiegka moved to Vienna where he became well known as a guitarist, composer and teacher of the piano. He was included and respected in the musical circles of Vienna. A young Schubert added a cello part to his Notturno Op. 21 (originally for flute, viola and guitar; Schubert arrangement D.96). His guitar opus includes 33 guitar works including solo works, transcriptions, chamber music, and lieder. Here’s my YouTube Performance Link if you want to watch it there.

More videos for each movements coming soon.

Cover and Sample

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Tuning the Classical Guitar

This is Classical Guitar - Tue, 12/14/2021 - 18:30

How to tune a classical guitar by ear or with an electronic tuner – In this lesson I’ll cover various ways to tune your guitar as well as outline tuning priorities for beginners to more advanced players. It is essential that you learn to tune by ear but having a good electronic tuner will ensure that you get pretty close to the correct pitch very quickly as you develop your tuning skills. More advanced students can also do research on equal temperament, just tuning, and early music tunings.

Go to the bottom of the article to see how I personally tune my guitar.

Practice Tuning Every Day – Learning to tune accurately is a skill that must be developed and practiced daily. I highly recommend you tune by ear every time you play the guitar but beginners can also have an electronic tuner around for accuracy after they try tuning by ear. It’s important to develop skills but I don’t my students playing way out of tune all week.

Tips: Always listen to the sound when tuning, never turn the tuning peg without the sound ringing if possible. You want to hear the sound go into tune. I recommend always tuning up into the correct pitch. If you have trouble zeroing in on the tuning, start from a much lower pitch and tune up into the correct one. I find this is much easier than doing micro adjustments up and down.

Stages/Levels – Because beginner guitarists don’t know the guitar fretboard very well they usually learn to tune in different ways at different stages of their development.

Stage 1 – Tune by ear using a piano or tuning fork, the string-to-string method, but also have an electric tuner or app around for help and as a time saver.

Stage 2 – Tune as above and check the tuning with chords and some of the key you’re playing in.

Stage 3 – Tune referencing all notes to one string, checking with chords and the key of the piece you’re about to play. Also know how to use harmonics to tune.

Stage 4 – Use a combination of ways for efficiency and precision.

Using an Electronic Tuner or App to Tune

It is essential to learn to tune by ear but I don’t know many pros that don’t have a tuner around. Sometimes you need quick tuning accurate to A 440hz. My favourite tuners are the piezo type that that read the vibration in the wood so you can tune even if other musicians are playing music in the same area. So helpful in ensemble rehearsals. The one I recommend below is so small it just stays on my instrument at all times.

Summary: Fast, fairly accurate, some can tune with other sounds in the room. But you might end up relying on gear and battery life and it’s not necessarily 100% accurate.

Recommended Tuner: D’Addario Micro Tuner

Tuning by Ear

There are plenty of ways to tune by ear and all are great to learn. For most beginner students I start by teaching them to use a tuning fork or piano and the string-to-string method as an easy way to start. Get proficient at one method of tuning at a time. I know it’s tempting to try to learn all the ways but most students need at a minimum a few month or more on each method.

String-to-String Tuning

This method of tuning is great for beginners and gets you into relative tuning for at-home solo practice. Without a reference pitch such as a tuning fork or piano you might not be in tune with everyone but you’ll be in tune with yourself.

Summary: Easy to do for beginners, no extra gear needed. The main problem with this method is you might get a little off on each string so consistency is difficult across all six strings. String that are next to each other might be fairly in tune but strings far away might be quite out of tune.

Steps (also see diagram)

  1. Play the 6th string at the 5th fret and tune the open 5th string to the same pitch.
  2. Play the 5th string at the 5th fret to tune the open 4th string.
  3. Play the 4th string at the 5th fret to tune the open 3rd string.
  4. Play the 3rd string at the 4th fret to tune the open 2nd string.
  5. Play the 2nd string at the 5th fret to tune the open 1st string.
Using a Piano

Using a piano to tune the guitar is great as long as the piano itself is well tuned. You can either just grab a reference pitch such as E or A or tune each string to the corresponding key and pitch. If you’re grabbing just a reference pitch you can use the string to string method to complete your tuning.

Using a Tuning Fork or MetronomeImage Credit: Helihark on Wiki Commons

Tuning forks give you a pitch to match your tuning to. You strike the tuning fork against something and it vibrates at the correct pitch without use of batteries or electronics. Usually it is pitched to A 440hz which is the standard pitch for tuning. You can tune your 5th string A to the tuning fork and use any method of tuning. If using string-to-string simply tune the 6th string A at the 5th fret to the tuning fork as well.

Many electronic metronomes include an A 440hz reference pitch for tuning as an extra feature which you can use to tune just as with the tuning fork.

Tuning to One Reference String

In this method you use one reference string to tune all the strings. I like to use the 5th string (A) because I tune the A string to the tuning fork or reference pitch of a metronome.

Pros: Much better consistency across all the strings. Less chances of compounding your mistakes.
Cons: Be careful of the upper position notes as intonation can get off on guitar. Because action is higher in upper positions, pushing the string down to the fret will bend the pitch can cause tiny intonation issues. Try to stick to the first few frets if possible. Better used in combination with harmonics (see “How I Tune My Guitar”)

Example Using the A String

Example Using an Open E String – You can use either E string but the diagram only shows the low E.

Tuning with Harmonics

This method of tuning can be very accurate as you’ll be able to hear both strings at the same time which makes pitch matching much easier. It’s also great because both strings will sound without you having to fret a note and so your hands are free to turn the pegs. The method is similar to the string-to-string method above. FYI, here’s a lesson on Common Natural and Artificial Harmonics.

Summary: Both notes sound at the same time which is great for accuracy. Plus it’s hands free once you strike the notes so that makes this practical as well. As with the string-to-string method there can be inaccuracies across the strings so you’ll want to check some chords after.

There are few ways to tune with harmonics but here is an easy one to explain. You might want to see the video for this one!

  1. Match the 6th string, 5th fret harmonic to the 5th string, 7th fret harmonic
  2. Match the 5th string, 5th fret to the 4th string, 7th fret
  3. Match the 4th string, 5th fret to the 3rd string, 7th fret
  4. Match the 6th string, 7th fret to the open B string
  5. Match the 5th string, 7th fret to the open E string
Correcting with Chords and Key References

All the methods above have various pros and cons and even electronic tuners or apps can be slightly off sometimes. Therefore, it is always a good idea to play a few chords to check your tuning. Chords in first position that use all six strings are preferable. However, also play some material in the key that you’re about to play in as every key has its oddities especially with our equal temperament system. More advanced musicians may also check certain intervals depending on their knowledge and what they are about to play. I often check various octaves.

How I Tune My Guitar?

I use a combination of the above tuning methods when I tune my guitar. I try to take the best parts of them all to get as accurate as possible. I usually start by using my electric tuner or a tuning fork for the A string which gets me close.

I tune everything to the 5th string (after getting A 440hz from a tuning fork, metronome, or electric tuner). So after I tune the 5th string to a pitch I don’t touch it again. It is my unchanging reference pitch.

Here’s what I do next (without changing the 5th string)

  • Harmonics to match the 6th string to the 5th string
  • Harmonics to match the 4th string to the 5th string
  • Match the open 5th string to the A on the 3rd string, 2nd fret
  • Match the B on the 5th string, 2nd fret to the open B on the 2nd string
  • Harmonic at the 5th string, 7th fret to the open E on the 1st string
Notice how all the arrows originate from the 5th string as a reference. The 5th and 7th fret notes here are harmonics.

Then I check chords, intervals, and the general key – Then I check chords and intervals within the key. Final cadences are a good idea to check. Mainly just chords and usually a few octaves. If the piece I’m about to play has any closed upper position octaves I always check those as well.

This might sound like a lot of stuff to do but it really only takes 30 seconds or so, especially if you’ve been tuning everyday.

Links to other articles on tuningThe post Tuning the Classical Guitar first appeared on This is Classical Guitar.
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