Most guitar players will know th
at there are 6 guitar tuning settings – E, A, D, G, B, E – going from the high to the low strings.
What a lot of players will then ask themselves is what key is the guitar actually tuned to. The problem is, the question of the face of it makes little to no sense at all.
The way you are playing the guitar will dictate the key that you’re in, not the guitar itself.
However, it is understandable that someone can argue that if you’re in standard tuning, the key could be on the C major scale.
This guide will examine some guitar tuning and what to expect about what key is a guitar in standard tuning.
What Does Guitar Tuning Mean?
The guitar tuning refers to the classification or set of the pitches to open strings of guitars. This will include all kinds of guitar like acoustic, electric and classical.
In standard tuning, this will be from the highest pitch note all the way to the lowest pitch.
However, some guitar players will decide to alter this and have their own tuning. This can completely change the way they play and how the guitar will sound.
So, because some people might decide to change their tuning scale, you’ll end up with something completely different.
Here’s what you can expect.
Drop D Tuning
D, A, D, G, B, E – This is probably the most popular alternative tuning when it comes to guitar players. You’ll find a lot of songs played by professionals in this tuning too.
Bands in the 1980s and 1990s made this famous like Soundgarden and Alice In Chains by making their music sound much darker and eerie. In fact, you’ll find plenty out there that are in this tuning.
Because of this setting, it allows you to play a whole host of power chords all over the neck with added extensions.
Some other instruments can be found in this tuning too, but some musicians will argue that it’s better to have an instrument, like most harmonicas for example, that do not change their tuning or scale because you know exactly what to expect.
D, A, D, G, A, D Tuning
Often referred to by its easier to remember name of DAD-GAD, this tuning will always produce a Dsus4 chord without you actually fretting any notes.
Although this isn’t the most popular method of tuning, it’s not exactly unheard of.
Many guitarists will choose to employ this tuning for their music. Sometimes, it’s part of their “brand” or how they make their own music sound.
This is the D, F, E, A, C, D tuning. This is a way to play something that wouldn’t normally be heard in any other tuning, and certainly not in standard.
You can make unique sounding music as this tuning allows for each string to play a part of a chord. Cool right?
What Key Is Standard Tuning On The Guitar?
Key Signatures, or otherwise known as guitar key signatures, are the scale that is suitable for the instrument at that time. For example, there is key:
- C Major
- A Minor
- G Major
- E Minor
- D Major
- E Major
Do These Key Signatures Matter?
When it comes to how your guitar is going to sound, whatever the key signature and tuning your guitar is in will undoubtedly change the way your instrument sounds.
This is where some learner guitarists will get confused. There’s so much to think about when it comes to learning guitar, and you’ll have to contend with, not only the theory – but the actual physical playing of the guitar.
When choosing the scale and tuning, you’ll have to know what exactly you’re playing. If you’re writing music, you need to write it based on the key signature and the tuning anyway.
So, when we’re asking if these signatures make any difference – they 100 per cent do. If you’re stuck for which key signature is best, you should speak with your tutor or guitar store.
Utilizing A Capo
Capos look like a metal “hair clip” or thick paperclip. The idea is to change the key signature and scale of the guitar without doing too much work.
It acts like a bolt and keeps it stuck in. You won’t have to move your fingers or notes around.
It comes down to your own personal preference when you’re considering using a capo. Many musicians decide not to because they’d prefer to be solely in charge of their instrument.
Additionally, some guitarists believe that capos provide a “fake” sound, whereas by allowing the musician to do it, you’re getting a clear sound.
Capos are relatively inexpensive and certainly are useful. Their purposes to those that need them always come in handy.
You can even purchase spider capos that let you play even more songs and songs that are normally played on the bass guitar.
The Capo has been used since the early days of the guitar. It was first used by John Lennon who would use one during his solo performances. He would place the capo on the 3rd fret, and then he would play solos.
How To Use A Capo
To utilize a capo, you simply put it on the desired fret and press down. Then, you can start playing.
If you want to remove the capo, just lift and off. When you’re done, you can replace it back on the same spot.
If you’re wondering why people don’t use capos all the time, it’s because it takes away from the feel of the instrument.
Tuning Your Guitar: What To Know
What a lot of new guitar players might neglect or might not even know is the importance of tuning their instrument.
Have you ever wondered how often you need to tune your guitar?The answer is simple. You should tune your guitar at the start of every playing session.
To do this correctly, you should give your guitar a clean and dust and then sit in a quiet room.
Place the guitar over your lap and use a tuning app which you can find on your smartphone or other devices. Ensure there are absolutely no other sounds in the area and then set the app ready for tuning.
These apps work by listening to your note and analyzing if it is in tune or not. You do this for each string.
Once the app has received your sound, they will normally tell you if it’s in tune or not by showing you a string (which needs to be in line) or a green and red light.
Other than this, you can choose to opt for a tuner. Effectively, these clip on to your guitar, and you’ll be able to know if your guitar is in tune or not.
We also have to mention this point which comes up a lot. Some guitar players will say that they tune their guitar by ear.
Although in theory, you can do this – you cannot be sure that this is effective or not.
Our ears can be mistaken and sometimes, what we hear is not what somebody else hears. You should always try to use a tuner or a tuning app.
These are effective and really the only way to know that your guitar is tuned correctly, without taking it to the store!
Extending The Life Of Your Strings, Tuning And Guitar
The fact is, we all want our things to last and this is no exception when it comes to our guitar.
Sometimes, we get extremely attached to our guitar, and we want it to stay with us for decades to come.
This is certainly possible, but it requires dedication and care – as you would with a car or a house.
Here’s what you should do:
- Change your strings frequently: This will keep your guitar sounding fresh and avoid any pesky snaps that will creep up on you
- Stretch the guitar strings: Any time you decide it’s time for a change of guitar strings, be sure to stretch them. Pull them (but not too hard) upwards and be careful. Pulling too hard can result in snapping your new strings
- Hygiene: Guitars will be left in your house, and you’ll need to take ample care of them. Houses get dusty, so be sure to keep up the cleaning of your guitar frequently. You need to dust it daily, ensure the room is clean where it stays, and always wash your hands before use!
Depending on what your guitar is made of, you might need to use something to extend their life further.
For example, some guitars are made of very specific wood which needs upkeep. Be sure to check when you purchase your guitar. This can seriously alter the lifespan of your guitar.
The Bottom Line – What Key Is A Guitar In Standard Tuning?
Tuning your guitar correctly and understanding the key signatures are a crucial element in having your guitar sound its best.
Although the question itself lacks sense, the overall message of it holds plenty of things to think about for guitar players.
I hope you get answer about what key signature is standard tuning?
Do not miss to check out these related posts:
My name is Howard Matthews and I have been playing the guitar since I was knee-high. My parents like to joke that I was pulling the strings even before I was born. In fact, one of my earliest memories is sitting on the couch with my dad’s guitar, wreaking havoc on the chords.
Now, 40 years later, I can attest that I play them much better than I did back then. I have followed in the footsteps of both my parents – much to their delight – and have been the main guitarist in my band for the best part of three decades.
Music has always been my passion, and until recently my life has been so consumed with it that I haven’t had a moment to have a breath (and I wouldn’t have it any other way)!