Reply to this topicStart new topic
> The Craft Of Tuning, why tuning is difficult
methodseeker
post Aug 8 2009, 12:58 AM
Post #1


Learning Roadie
*

Group: Members
Posts: 133
Joined: 6-June 09
From: Silicon Valley, California
Member No.: 7.244



On my first REC submission Emir pointed out that my guitar was out of tune. This shouldn't have been a surprise: I mentioned it to my wife (a dormant violin player) and she said, "Oh yeah, you're usually out of tune. Didn't you know?"

At first I thought I should buy a better electronic tuner, but after some research and reflection I decided the real problem is that I need to better develop my pitch sensitivity. So I'm putting more time and effort into tuning now, striving to really listen. But I also learned some things I didn't already know (at least not well enough) about why tuning is difficult, that I'd like to share, and hear how others deal with these problems.

The tuning methods I've used in the past are:
A. Tune open strings to an electronic tuner. Wait until the pitch settles and center the needle for each string separately.
B. Tune one string to a reference (fork or electronic tuner) then tune across the strings using 5th(4th) fret correspondences.
C. Tune one string to reference, then cross strings using harmonics at 5,7,12.
D. Tune an open chord (e.g. E) so it sounds good.

There are problems with all of these methods that I didn't fully appreciate.
Here are some issues that make tuning hard:
1. Equal temperament tuning varies from the intervals implied by natural harmonics.
2. Fretting pressure causes pitch variance.
3. High action causes pitch variance at the higher frets.
4. String pitch is initially sharp, when plucked, then flattens with decay.
5. Higher harmonics tend to be sharp.
6. Electronic tuners are usually only accurate to within 3 or 5 cents.
7. Your ear may be more or less accurate.

If you don't already understand issue 1, you should read up on it. It's the main reason why method D doesn't work very well, because an equally tempered major 3rd is 14 cents sharp of what your ear probably says a major 3rd should sound like. (An equally tempered octave consists of 12 half steps, each of which is 100 cents apart, so 1200 cents in the octave.)
This also implies problems with tuning method C because the natural 5th (7th fret harmonic) is 2 cents sharp of an equally tempered 5th. If you tune low E to A to D to G via these harmonics, the G-E interval ends up 6 cents wider than it should be.

Issues 2 and 3 are related to technique and intonation. I know I'm supposed to fret as lightly as possible, just past the buzz point, but in practice I often fret a lot harder. Seems like compensating for fretting pressure is part of the intonation problem discussed in other threads. So let's assume the intonation is set correctly (i.e. a good compromise).

Issues 4 and 5 follow from string mechanics, which has a lot to do with the tonal color of the guitar sound. In a simple idealization, a string is perfectly flexible and its resonant frequencies are a simple function of length and tension. In the real world a string has some stiffness and its tension varies as it moves. In particular, when first plucked its vibrational amplitude is at a maximum, and so is the proportion of vibration in higher harmonics. Both of these effects tend to increase the tension in the string, and hence raise its resonant frequencies. If this is not intuitive, think about how a squiggly line between two points needs to be longer than a straight line. A vibrating string needs to stretch to fill out those squiggles, which raises its tension. Higher harmonics require more squiggles, which pushes them sharper. Experimenting with my electronic tuner (KORG CA-30), it seems that pitch decay can be as large as 5 to 10 cents, mostly in the first 0.5 second, depending on the string and how hard you pluck it. This is large enough that even my ear notices it. Making things more complicated, all 6 strings act differently due to their differing thickness and composition.

So, when tuning, do you tune to the the initial pitch, or the decayed pitch (say, after 1 second)? My guess is that common practice is to tune to the decayed pitch, but that seems to imply that fast runs are going to be sharp relative to sustained tones...unless you vibrato them sharp too. So everything's cool if its a guitar only band, but what if you have keyboards?
A possible alternative is to tune to a light and rapid tremolo picking. Does anyone advocate that?

Issue 6 points out a problem with tuning method A: even when you get a green light on every string individually, there can still be audible deviation between strings. It also suggests that buying an expensive tuner might help but pitch decay is one reason why designing and using a super-accurate tuner is not a simple matter. Here's a web page of a tuner manufacturer explaining some electronic tuner issues and offering a pitch discrimination test:

http://www.aqdi.com/tuner.htm

They argue that most people can't notice a 5 cents difference. I haven't confirmed their pitches are as advertised, but I can't hear the difference. Supposedly some people can hear a 2 cent difference.

So how should one tune?
My best understanding at the moment is that any of methods A-D, done properly, are not bad. (As described in Ivan Milenkovic's tutorial here https://www.guitarmasterclass.net/misc-less...uning-tutorial/ ) But it's very important to cross-check more than just adjacent pairs of strings, and be aware of the deviation between natural harmonics and the tempered scale.

Here are a couple of discussions by luthiers that I found helpful:

The first suggests a method for tuning all strings to the high E by learning to hear some intervals other than unison. http://www.athensmusician.net/archive/2001...tuningguide.php
It's roughly similar to the technique Daniel Robinson suggests in this thread: https://www.guitarmasterclass.net/guitar_fo...st&p=355806

This one suggests tuning two different 5th chords to be equally almost right.
http://www.doolinguitars.com/intonation/intonation5.html

Does anyone have another favorite technique? I'd love to just let the guitar tech deal with it but....looks like that's me.
Go to the top of the page
 
+Quote Post
MickeM
post Aug 8 2009, 01:09 AM
Post #2


Born of NWOBHM, Moderation Team Leader
*

Group: Members
Posts: 8.562
Joined: 9-January 07
From: Stockholm, Sweden
Member No.: 1.062



True Temperament is a solution for guitarists. But it's costly. http://www.truetemperament.com/site/index.php

Otherwise a good set of machine heads, a well intonated guitar and not aiming for perfection is good enough for me.
A guitar neck will always have it's dull spots and more sparkling dittos no matter how well it is setup. That's the nature of the material it's built of. So I don't think it can ever be perfect hence aimong for perfection is impossible to reach but somewhere one has to settle for good enough anyway.


--------------------
Go to the top of the page
 
+Quote Post
Muris Varajic
post Aug 8 2009, 01:52 AM
Post #3


Instructor
Group Icon

Group: GMC Instructor
Posts: 15.459
Joined: 22-June 07
From: Sarajevo,Bosnia
Member No.: 2.159



Yeah, tuning can be tricky.

I use digital tuner most of the time but just to get near the pitch,
then I use my ear cause (this is maybe funny)
sometimes I like to be just a little bit below tuning,
dunno, fits my mood or som.
That usually happens when I play some heavier stuff,
with harder picking and more heavy vibrato,
that gives me more freedom to attack as much as I want
without going above the pitch.
And there is also fretting as you mentioned,
more pressure and note is sharp.

Keyboard players, you are lucky guys. biggrin.gif


--------------------
Youtube
MySpace
Website



Album "Let It Out" on
iTunes
and CD Baby

Check out my video lessons and instructor board!

The Pianist
tune is progress,check it out!

"ok.. it is great.. :P

have you myspace? Can i to personalize this for you guy?"
Go to the top of the page
 
+Quote Post
mattacuk
post Aug 8 2009, 07:58 AM
Post #4


Lets go fishing!
Group Icon

Group: GMC Senior
Posts: 5.526
Joined: 21-December 06
From: illinois
Member No.: 1.001




I used to have real problems tuneing when I had a cheap guitar, the thing constantly went out of tune while I was playing. Since I got a fixed bridge Ibanez though my guitar rarley goes out of tune from one month to the next smile.gif


--------------------
mysql> SELECT * FROM master_name WHERE ((firstname = 'Paul') AND (lastname = 'Gilbert'));


"The Fundimental Difference between Paul Gilbert and Buckethead is that Paul Explores the Good side of the force, while Buckethead Explores the Dark Side of the Force" :)
Go to the top of the page
 
+Quote Post
Mrblomme
post Aug 8 2009, 10:20 AM
Post #5


Learning Apprentice Player
*

Group: Members
Posts: 884
Joined: 17-September 07
From: Adegem - Belgium
Member No.: 2.807



Well my guitar stays in tune except the low E string. When I pluck that I see B C D A ... E .. B D C etc on the display eventhough it is tuned pretty properly.


--------------------
Homer J. Simpson: Rockstars is there anything they dont know?

Go to the top of the page
 
+Quote Post
Keilnoth
post Aug 8 2009, 11:34 AM
Post #6


Learning Apprentice Player
*

Group: Members
Posts: 686
Joined: 10-April 09
From: Switzerland
Member No.: 7.035



Very interesting ! Thank you !

I read this article to the end and it's really nice :
http://www.athensmusician.net/archive/2001...tuningguide.php

I especially like the way he explain how to tune the guitar with dissonance using the high E then B G D A and E. My ear are not really trained (or I am not conscious of it) but still it was one of the first time I almost had a perfect tune doing it by ear. smile.gif

I tested this online tuner lately. I put my electronic tuner near the speak and turn the tuner on. It seems my electronic tuner is 10 cents flat or online tuner 10 cents sharp. What results do you guys have ?



--------------------

My Guitars: Fender Stratocaster Billy Corgan Signature, Ibanez RG270
My Amp: Peavey Bandit 112
My Pedals: Blackstar HT-Dual, Boss DD-7, Boss CS-3, Boss RC-20
My Wishlist: New bridge + Pickups for my Ibanez, EHX POG2, EHX Cathedral / Holy Grail
Go to the top of the page
 
+Quote Post
Ivan Milenkovic
post Aug 8 2009, 12:10 PM
Post #7


Instructor
Group Icon

Group: GMC Instructor
Posts: 25.396
Joined: 20-November 07
From: Belgrade, Serbia
Member No.: 3.341



Only low E on my guitar gets a bit sharp when picked hard, and since I do pick and strumm hard then it has to be a bit lower, and that's about it. I only use low E as reference sometimes, I usually tune the guitar by ear, or with tuner if I need to record something.

This post has been edited by Ivan Milenkovic: Aug 8 2009, 12:11 PM


--------------------
- Ivan's Video Chat Lesson Notes HERE
- Check out my GMC Profile and Lessons
- (Please subscribe to my) YouTube Official Channel
- Let's be connected through ! Facebook! :)
Go to the top of the page
 
+Quote Post
Canis
post Aug 8 2009, 01:27 PM
Post #8


Learning Rock Star
Group Icon

Group: GMC Wiki:er
Posts: 3.319
Joined: 22-October 07
From: Molde, Norway
Member No.: 3.108



Interesting read, thanks a lot!

I usually do the 5th/4th fret method to tune my guitar, and then I controll them by using the harmonic method by slightly touching and picking the 12th fret on the E string and 7th fret on the A string, and so on (12th fret on the G string and holding in the 8th fret on the B string, naturally).

It may be worth mentioning that a guitar may seem out of tune if one's palm muting technique is wrong and the palm touches the strings too far from the bridge. I struggled with that problem when I first started practicing it, and had no idea why it sounded wrong tongue.gif


--------------------
Go to the top of the page
 
+Quote Post
Fran
post Aug 8 2009, 01:43 PM
Post #9


Learning Rock Star - Wiki Coordinator
Group Icon

Group: GMC Senior
Posts: 7.968
Joined: 20-November 07
From: Spain
Member No.: 3.338



That was really interesting & well written.

I guess I'm lucky though. I'm always happy with my electronic tuner, it always sounds good to me. I check the tuning every couple days, sometimes some strings are not even in the "green" and I still didn't notice laugh.gif



--------------------
Guitars:
Fender American Deluxe Stratocaster, Ibanez RG2570MZ, Epiphone SG G-400
Amp:
Vox AC4TVH head + V112TV cab
Effects:
Vox Satchurator, Vox Time Machine, Dunlop CryBaby, Boss MT-2, Boss CE-5, Boss TU-2, Boss ME-70
Recording:
Line-6 POD X3 + FBV-Express, Pandora PX5D

GMC wants YOU to take part in our Guitar-Wikipedia!
Have a good time reading great articles and writing your own with us in our GUITAR WIKI!
Share your playing and get Pro-advice from our Instructors: Join REC
Go to the top of the page
 
+Quote Post
Gerardo Siere
post Aug 8 2009, 02:10 PM
Post #10


Instructor
Group Icon

Group: GMC Instructor
Posts: 2.424
Joined: 20-December 07
From: San Juan
Member No.: 3.558



It deppends a lot on the guitars, digital tunner is the first sptep then you got to make adjusment specifically for the tune your playing.


--------------------
Check out my video lessons!
Go to the top of the page
 
+Quote Post
jafomatic
post Aug 8 2009, 02:26 PM
Post #11


GMC:er
*

Group: Members
Posts: 1.049
Joined: 6-May 09
From: Austin, TX
Member No.: 7.145



Hrmm, if an instrument is freshly strung, I start with the digital tuner. Then adjust against the harmonic strobe, then play three barred chords around frets 5, 7, 9 and adjust "to taste" which, I think, will create somewhat of an average that's within few enough cents that I won't likely hear anything out of the ordinary.

Technically it should still be tuned "wrong" at that point, but it seems like the remaining difference is just too close for my own ear to really notice over most of the neck (2-17 or so?) which covers all the places that I'd play chords or sound multiple notes at the same time. Above frets 15-17, my fingers don't fit to form a chord anyway.



--------------------
::jafomatic


http://jafomatic.net/tunes/ <-- Here lies the master collection of my collaboration and other improvisation recordings.

Go to the top of the page
 
+Quote Post
methodseeker
post Aug 8 2009, 04:47 PM
Post #12


Learning Roadie
*

Group: Members
Posts: 133
Joined: 6-June 09
From: Silicon Valley, California
Member No.: 7.244



QUOTE (MickeM @ Aug 7 2009, 05:09 PM) *
True Temperament is a solution for guitarists. But it's costly. http://www.truetemperament.com/site/index.php


That's an interesting product, thanks for pointing it out. Also, there's some very good discussion of intonation and tuning issues on their site. They quote an essay called "Tuning Methods Evaluated" by Paul Guy that I've traced back to Guy Guitars. It's somewhat long but covers pitfalls in common methods well. I think it's worth quoting his recommended method in full:

CODE
If you tune all the strings to the same reference string, you can avoid a small error on one string affecting all the others.

Tune the high E string to a reference: compare
5th fret E on the B string
9th fret E on the G string
14th fret E on the D string
7th fret E on the A string (one octave below)
5th fret harmonic on the low E string.

I then cross check (if I feel the need) as follows:

12th fret harmonic on low E / fretted 7th fret E on A string.
12th fret harmonic on A / fretted 7th fret A on D string.
12th fret harmonic on D / fretted 7th fret D on the G string.
12th fret harmonic on G / fretted 8th fret G on B string.
12th fret harmonic on B / fretted 7th fret B on high E.

This method has worked well for me - and for many of my customers - for many years. (It is also extremely effective at getting the best available results out of a poorly adjusted instrument.)
Go to the top of the page
 
+Quote Post
Noangels
post Aug 22 2009, 11:16 PM
Post #13


GMC:er
*

Group: Members
Posts: 316
Joined: 4-August 08
From: blighty
Member No.: 5.628



Yeahh tuning can be a nightmare,its not bad at home but rehearsing with bands can be a real pain if its hot and the humidity is high.Have had a few rehearsals in the two bands I am in where both myself and the other guitarists have had major tuning problems due to the heat.

I always use a tuner at the start of rehearsals and then after that I normaly fine tune it during the sessions if needed just by playing root and 5th chords in open position and letting it ring while adjusting the tuning pegs with right hand if it has slipped out slightly


If i havnt got a tuner at hand,at a mates and using his guitar(always out of tunes when i pick them up)I think of alright now and tune the A and D string up and do all the others in open 4ths.Then fine tune an open D triad to finish it


--------------------
Ibanez geo and a line 6 spider
Go to the top of the page
 
+Quote Post
Gus
post Aug 22 2009, 11:52 PM
Post #14


GMC:er
Group Icon

Group: Student Instructor
Posts: 999
Joined: 21-January 08
From: Brazil/Denmark
Member No.: 3.920



Interesting stuff.

I never actually gotta to think about the sharpness of faster attacks ( I usually tune to electronic tuner based on the sound after decay). I use POD X3 live tuner which seems pretty precise. I hardly tune by ear, but I detect very easily that guitar is out of tune and tha makes me a tuning freak. Every couple of songs when I am playing...

I've gotta experiment more with the late adjustment, as Muris mentioned. Something I did a couple of times is to tune the guitar to "nothing else matters" using the original recording. low E has to go a little bit flat but sounds cool for Em songs tongue.gif

This post has been edited by Gus: Aug 22 2009, 11:55 PM


--------------------
my "Thank you GMC!" video

If you like it please vote in the competition ;-)

Gus Stairway to Guitar Heaven - my practice agenda

Check out my lesson here Phrygian Dominant Solo lesson


Gear : Ibanez RGT320q (I just love the neck-thru sustain), Washburn EA-20SDL (acoustic 6 string), Standard strat (Mexico), POD X3 Live

Some of my Guitar heroes: Jimmy Page, Slash, Kirk Hammett, Augusto Licks, Joe Satriani, Gus G, David Gilmour, Mark Knopfler...
Go to the top of the page
 
+Quote Post
Pedja Simovic
post Aug 23 2009, 02:29 PM
Post #15


Instructor
Group Icon

Group: GMC Instructor
Posts: 8.109
Joined: 13-September 08
From: Nis, Serbia
Member No.: 5.892



I like to tune to A 440khz. That is standard pitch which is used in orchestral tuning situations. It is easier for me that way to tune because you listen to different A octaves vs 440khz frequency. 1st and 6th string 5th fret, 2nd string 10th fret, 3rd string 2nd fret, 4th string 7th fret, 5th string open string or 12th fret.


--------------------
Go to the top of the page
 
+Quote Post
Ivan Milenkovic
post Aug 23 2009, 06:47 PM
Post #16


Instructor
Group Icon

Group: GMC Instructor
Posts: 25.396
Joined: 20-November 07
From: Belgrade, Serbia
Member No.: 3.341



QUOTE (Pedja Simovic @ Aug 23 2009, 03:29 PM) *
I like to tune to A 440khz. That is standard pitch which is used in orchestral tuning situations. It is easier for me that way to tune because you listen to different A octaves vs 440khz frequency. 1st and 6th string 5th fret, 2nd string 10th fret, 3rd string 2nd fret, 4th string 7th fret, 5th string open string or 12th fret.

Just a small correction for your typo, it's 440Hz, 5th fret low E string or open A string.


--------------------
- Ivan's Video Chat Lesson Notes HERE
- Check out my GMC Profile and Lessons
- (Please subscribe to my) YouTube Official Channel
- Let's be connected through ! Facebook! :)
Go to the top of the page
 
+Quote Post
Ivan Zecic
post Aug 24 2009, 12:50 PM
Post #17


GMC:er
Group Icon

Group: GMC Instructor
Posts: 224
Joined: 13-June 09
From: Zagreb, Croatia
Member No.: 7.269



well, guitar isn't perfect, but your fingers aren't perfect too... i used to have a lot of problems (and i still do) with going out of tune when playing more aggressively (which i do a lot), but it's possible to minimize that by playing and LISTENING to yourself as much as you can. you'll get more familiar with your guitar and you'll know how it reacts in different situations.


--------------------
Check out my lessons!
Go to the top of the page
 
+Quote Post
Pedja Simovic
post Aug 24 2009, 01:08 PM
Post #18


Instructor
Group Icon

Group: GMC Instructor
Posts: 8.109
Joined: 13-September 08
From: Nis, Serbia
Member No.: 5.892



QUOTE (Ivan Milenkovic @ Aug 23 2009, 07:47 PM) *
Just a small correction for your typo, it's 440Hz, 5th fret low E string or open A string.


Yes Ivan I wrote for low e string already (1st and 6th string 5th fret), but you are right its 440hz smile.gif


--------------------
Go to the top of the page
 
+Quote Post
AdamB
post Aug 24 2009, 04:42 PM
Post #19


GMC:er
*

Group: Members
Posts: 425
Joined: 2-July 07
Member No.: 2.224



QUOTE
Yeah, tuning can be tricky.

I use digital tuner most of the time but just to get near the pitch,
then I use my ear cause (this is maybe funny)
sometimes I like to be just a little bit below tuning,
dunno, fits my mood or som.
That usually happens when I play some heavier stuff,
with harder picking and more heavy vibrato,
that gives me more freedom to attack as much as I want
without going above the pitch.
And there is also fretting as you mentioned,
more pressure and note is sharp.

Keyboard players, you are lucky guys.


Eric johnson tunes out of pitch. I remember reading him say that it helps seperate the guitar/bass on the track. backup for this would be that it'd alter the spectral space the guitar occupies such that it gives the bass more room to breath such that they aren't fighting for the same frequencies so much, which makes sense to me. I suppose if your ear is good enough it'll just sound right.
Go to the top of the page
 
+Quote Post
jdriver
post Aug 25 2009, 10:58 PM
Post #20


GMC:er
*

Group: Members
Posts: 484
Joined: 25-May 08
From: Southwest USA
Member No.: 5.174



I've been using Peterson Strobe tuner, the software version. It's a very interesting tool because it lets you examine your tuning in many different way. You can also see in real time exactly what is happening. For instance do you realize that just by putting a slight pressure forward or back on the neck can cause your tuning to vary by +/- 5 cents or more each way?

The Peterson tuners also include a feature they call "Sweetend Tunings" which are proprietary offsets from standard tuning that gives enhanced sweetness to the 4th and 5th intervals (supposedly.)

Attached Image

This post has been edited by jdriver: Aug 25 2009, 11:00 PM


--------------------
"I dreamed a lot when I was younger..
I'm older now but still I hunger
For some understanding.
There's no understanding, now.
Was there ever?

...Joe Puerta (Ambrosia)...


Finally got a YouTube page going.
Go to the top of the page
 
+Quote Post

Fast ReplyReply to this topicStart new topic
1 User(s) are reading this topic (1 Guests and 0 Anonymous Users)
0 Members:

 


RSS Lo-Fi Version Time is now: 17th October 2017 - 06:12 PM