I was playing for a bit and didn't tune any string, but when I wanted to tune it in at the end of my session my tuner kept saying C♯ instead of D. How do I get my D string back to its original state?

  • 7
    Are you a beginner? The is a bit confusing, there's not enough data to answer. Why do you think the guitar was in tune in the first place? To answer directly turn the tuning peg until the tuner reads D. Some times the tuning can slip overall and go flat depending on the guitar. – ggcg Dec 9 '18 at 13:48
  • 22
    It's advisable to tune the guitar you play at the beginning of a session, not at the end! Also, it's good to have other ways to check tuning - 5th fret against next string open, harmonics, just listening... – Tim Dec 9 '18 at 16:43
  • 6
    @Tim From my experience, it takes a long time for beginners to even notice when a guitar isn't tuned properly. It takes even longer to be able to tune it by ear. Sure, it's very desireable but it's also very hard. – Eric Duminil Dec 9 '18 at 17:50
  • 8
    @EricDuminil - it does really need to be one of the first skills learned. Hard or not, it's essential. And relying on tuners - don't get me started. – Tim Dec 9 '18 at 19:19
  • 10
    @Tim. I get your point. My hearing was so bad I simply couldn't tune anything by ear. Having a tuner allowed me to hear a well-tuned guitar right from the start. And only after hearing a well tuned guitar for a few years could I begin to have a better hearing and start tuning my guitar by ear. If tuning by ear is the first skill to learn, I wouldn't have played guitar for a long time, or even at all. What's your method for people with helplessly bad hearing? – Eric Duminil Dec 9 '18 at 20:38

The tuner does not hear what pitch your string is supposed to be at but only what pitch it actually is. If your string is more than a quartertone flat, it is closer to a C♯ than to a D. So your tuner then displays what kind of C♯ it thinks your pitch is. Presumably a somewhat high one (assuming you are not more than a semitone flat). So tune upwards. At some point of time your tuner is going to switch from claiming "too high for a C♯" to "too low for a D". Then go further until the tuner is satisfied with the pitch being D.

| improve this answer | |
  • 10
    This is the correct answer. To add one thing: new strings will stretch the first few times you play them. This will cause the string to go flat a bit. If you are using a guitar with new strings it is normal for them to go flat. If you are using a guitar with old strings it is possible they are strung incorrectly. Of course there is also the possibility that your D was closer to a c# when you started. – b3ko Dec 9 '18 at 15:28
  • 2
    Another twist: some tuners also have a "guitar" mode which doesn't always display the actual pitch. I don't know what that's about, except that I tried once to use one of dad's tuners, set to guitar mode, on my banjo and the results were nonsensical to me until I figured out to put the tuner in "chromatic" mode. – Wayne Conrad Dec 9 '18 at 20:23
  • 3
    This answer is right, but I would generally advise caution for beginners when tuning strings up. Only do it when you're sure the string is actually too low. If it shows C♯ it almost certainly is too low, but sometimes a tuner may show garbage when the string is already a lot too high. In doubt, one should always compare with an absolute reference (other guitar, perhaps “guitar tuning reference” video on the internet). – leftaroundabout Dec 9 '18 at 23:53
  • 1
    @ Wayne Conrad - I suspect that guitar mode is specially designed to detect the precise pitches of a standard-tuned guitar. If your banjo plays the right note but the wrong octave it will confuse a guitar-only tuner. (or if your string is supposed to be tuned to C on the banjo, a guitar-tuner will try to send you towards the nearest guitar pitch which is a D). I believe you can also get a specialist bass-guitar tuner. The advantage presumably is to stop you going towards the wrong octave which is easy for a beginner to do. – chasly - supports Monica Dec 10 '18 at 12:30
  • 1
    I had a student arrive for a lesson, having 'tuned up' his guitar - with a tuner. The bottom E was in tune, but an octave too high. No, I couldn't believe it either, but it's true. One little reason I recommend trying other tuning methods as well. And if a learner can't tell if the guitar's in tune, how's he going to know if what he's playing is in tune...? – Tim Dec 10 '18 at 15:36


The tuner is buggered: get a new tuner.


The string is too loose: tighten the string.

| improve this answer | |

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.