Tuning Your Guitar in Worship

Invariably, it happens.  You brought your guitar in from the cold car and it warms up as you play it during the congregational opening song and goes out of tune. How do you retune it without being a distraction or drawing attention to yourself?

The easiest way, if you have a good ear, is to just tweak it into tune on the fly, during the song. If you are unable to do this, the best time that I have found to retune is to wait for a part of the service where the people are involved in a responsive reading because there is lots of joyful noise and the focus is on the reading and not the music.

There are also ways to tune a guitar that are relatively quiet. For an electric guitar, if you don’t have one already, get a chromatic tuning foot pedal. When you step on the pedal, it disconnects your guitar from the amp so that you can retune your instrument without even making a whisper of a sound.

It’s a little harder to quietly retune an acoustic guitar but not impossible. I have found that a tuner that clamps onto your headstock is sensitive enough to pick up your sound while just playing harmonic notes. Most guitarists know how to do this but if you are not familiar with this technique and by way of example you can retune the low E string by lightly touching the sixth string 12th fret (without making contact with the fret) and softly strum the string. Your light touch will mute the sound but the tuner will still pick it up through the instrument’s vibrations. You can then tune any of the other strings in the same way. Just play a harmonic of the open strings anywhere else on the fretboard.

You can find these digital tuners at your local music shop or check out Amazon, maybe they will be offering these on sale during their Black Friday Sale Days which actually start today (link below).

Shop Amazon – Black Friday Deals Week in Musical Instruments

While I am on the subject of guitars, have any of you tried using Red® Brand guitar strings? I used to only use Martin strings but I tried a few different brands lately and I really like the sound and the longevity of these Reds. They have a high copper content hence the name “Red”. You can read more at this link:

Red Brand – Acoustic Guitar Strings


3 thoughts on “Tuning Your Guitar in Worship”

  1. Steve, I’ve taken to running my acoustic through an A/B switch (1 in, 2 outs) into the sound system, rather than plugging directly into the system — I was using a pedal tuner, but that’s been put into my electric’s chain as you recommend. Originally I planned on using the A/B to enable running my acoustic through the same pedal chain as my electric, but for now I’m plugging in & one of the outs is going to the system while the other is open/nothing out. When I need to tune, I use a clip-on & hit the switch so I don’t go into the system; while I’m still making some sound when plucking the strings, this allows me to at least cut off what would come across to the congregation through the sound system. I also hit the switch between songs to mitigate the potential for accidentally hitting the strings when changing guitars, or other non-playing situations during the service.

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    1. I forgot to mention in the original post that I also run my acoustic guitar through a foot pedal that allows me to take the instrument off the sound system in between songs and during tuning.


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