Using A Chromatic Tuner To Practice

Most people think an electronic tuner is just good for tuning but it can also serve as a great practice tool. For this lesson you’ll need a chromatic tuner. If you are not familiar with term “chromatic” this is the type of tuner that displays what note you are playing as you tune the guitar. For example if you are trying to tune the “B” string you would turn the tuning gear until a “B” appeared in the display. While you are searching for it you may see an “A” if the pitch you are playing is too low or a “C” if it is too high. Almost all multi-effects pedals have built in chromatic tuners. You can get them as stompbox pedals too.

Bending strings can be challenging at first. A teacher or video you may have seen probably talks about bending strings a half step or whole step. This is usually explained as bending a note to make it sound like the note either one (1/2 step) or two (whole step) higher. Another common way is to explain it is the bent 3rd string sounds like the note two frets below it on the 2nd string. Also, the 2nd string bent sounds like the note three frets below it on the 1st string. Problem is if you are totally new to bending and still developing your sense of pitch its really hard to go comparing notes to one another and getting it perfect.

Instead you can use the tuner to practice getting the pitch perfect. Lets take an example/exercise for full step bends:

1) Pluck the 10th fret second string note. The tuner should say “A”

2) Bend the note slowly; the tuner should give you some kind of display change depending on what make/model is.

3) Keep bending the string until it eventually at some point says “B”.

Now you have your string bent a full step in perfect tune.

Next some half step bends:

1) Pluck the 12th fret second string note. The tuner should say “B”

2) Bend the note slowly; the tuner should give you some kind of display change depending on what make/model is.

3) Keep bending the string until it eventually at some point says “C”.

Now you have a string bent a half step in perfect tune.

If you know the names of the notes on each string or have a chart that you can use as a guide you can practice more of them. Just use the natural notes (not sharps or flats) for practice. For whole step bends the natural note names will be two frets apart. For half steps they will be one fret apart.

A quick example (whole step bends) : The 12th fret on the 3rd string name is “G”. The 14th fret is “A”. These are two frets apart. You can bend the 12th fret a whole step until the tuner reads “A”.

Another example (half step bends): The 5th fret 2nd string is “E”. The 6th fret 2nd string is “F”. These are one fret apart. Bend the 5th fret note until the tuner reads “F”.

You can also use this method to practice getting your notes in tune with a whammy bar. Just play whatever note you want to start on and then move the whammy bar up or down accordingly until the string is bent or released to the desired pitch.

For example: 7th fret 3rd string is “D”. The whammy bent up a whole step is “E” (will sound like 9th fret if in tune). Whammy bar bent down a whole step is “C” (would sound like 5th fret) . For half steps use the same method except pick notes that are one fret apart, for example 9th fret “E” and 10th fret “F”.

Go get out your tuner and start finding those pitches perfectly!