This memo contains details of the changes made to the original instructional sheet by Tom Spaulding on how to tune a guitar. The memo also contains an evaluation of the original pieces, and explains why the changes were needed.
D’Addario Guitar String Tuning 101 Original Piece Evaluation
The original sheet (Spaulding) was a good instructional piece on how to tune a guitar using a variety of techniques. There was, however, some pieces that needed to be changed due to the age of the paper, new technologies, and presumed knowledge that might not be obvious to beginners. We noticed the following on the original:

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Variety of techniques explained on how to tune a guitar.
The paper is short and concise, and easy to follow.
The piece is well laid-out, with bold headings and sensible sections.

The paper is out of date, and does not include new technologies such as applications and high-tech electric equipment.
The pitch piper and tuning fork techniques are obsolete, and do not need to be included.
There are a few ‘jargon’ words that are not explained
The basics are skipped over, beginners may get confused.

Changes to Text Document
Helpful tips have been added to the top of the instructional sheet. This is related to the FAQ on the company website that determined the most common questions about tuning, and this piece will hopefully answer these questions for a lot of people. Things such as tuning ‘up’ rather than tuning ‘down’ is a helpful tip that may be overlooked by traditional teachers.

The music theory of why the B string is tuned to the 4th fret of the G string instead of the 5th is one of the most frequently asked questions on music forums and websites. For this reason it was decided that we provide an opening piece of information on the issue,

The use of smartphone applications has been added into the piece, due to the fact that this is now the most common way of tuning a guitar. The smartphone application is a great new technology that is becoming more and more utilized in the process of tuning a guitar. Therefore it seems applicable that the instructions be updated. In a similar theme, the electronic tuning section has been moved to the top of the paper, to appeal to new generations of learners. The method of Googling the sound of the E strings is also mentioned, the update the instructions. The D’Addario electronic tuner has been pushed to the client. The act of tuning a guitar requires patience and practice, and this fact is overlooked in the original piece. After initially failing, some people may give up on the action for good. Letting them know that practice is required may lead to less people giving up on tuning their guitars and beginning to learn.

The section that instructs on how to tune with a piano has been altered to be easier for beginners to use. The act of tuning the low E using the A string is difficult, and playing the E on the piano and tuning straight from that is much easier.

Pitch pipes and tuning forks are fairly outdated; they are just not used anymore. For this reason, it was decided to remove the two sections from the paper, in order to provide more information on electronic tuners and tuning by ear, which are far more widely used in the present day.

The paper overall was well-written, informative and helpful in explaining the process of tuning a guitar. There were a few technical sections that required explaining for the lay person, however. For example, the mere act of turning the tuning keys will seem alien to a beginner. Therefore, this is explained in greater detail in the modified piece. The various specialist terms such as reference note, pitch and octave are all explained and described.

To conclude, we feel as if the updated paper is more relevant to the modern technique of tuning a guitar. With the removal of old, unused methods and the provision of more material on more popular methods, the instruction sheet has instantly become more relevant and helpful to younger learners, and perhaps teach some of the older generation new and easier techniques to tune. With the addition of a small glossary, helpful tips and a touch on music theory, we feel we have turned a fairly one-dimensional instructional manual into something that can be kept in a guitar player’s case for reference for the long term.

  • Spaulding, Tom. Guitar String Tuning 101. 1st ed., D’addario, 2009,. URL: