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Help me! I need the perfect tuner

08 Mar 08 - 01:36 AM (#2282711)
Subject: Help me! I need the perfect tuner
From: GUEST,Texas Guest

Folks, I've got a real problem and need your help. Although I am primarily a solo performer I threw myself into a North Texas band
recently and one of the bandmates is driving me nuts with this -
TUNING THING!   

No matter what I do, according to her, I am usually out of tune and she's quick to correct me on it. I use a little Korg electric tuner when unplugged, and on stage I use a Boss TU2 - the stomp-on type
that takes you out of the mix. I often guest with folks at festivals and such and I've never had anyone complain about my being out of tune; but, with her I'm never in tune.

So, the question is: what do you consider to be the most accurate
electric tuner for the professional musician? I happen to really like my Boss TU2; and, as a matter of fact, Jed Marum and I do work
together and he uses them as well - and we've never complained about either being out of tune.

Any advice out there, short of duct taping her fiddle? Cheers.


08 Mar 08 - 02:28 AM (#2282716)
Subject: RE: Help me! I need the perfect tuner
From: Backwoodsman

Peterson Strobostomp, or Peterson Stroboflip.
Very expensive, but the 'sweetened' settings are very good.
As you don't specify what your instrument is, I'm assuming guitar. Have you considered that it's maybe the fiddler who plays out of tune? As you're the one with a good electronic tuner, and a fretted instrument that makes pitching comparatively easy, and she's playing an instrument that's notoriously difficult to play in tune, and has no frets to ensure the accuracy of her fingering, I'd bet the problem may well be hers! :-)


08 Mar 08 - 02:30 AM (#2282717)
Subject: RE: Help me! I need the perfect tuner
From: Backwoodsman

A bit like the proud parents watching little Johnny marching with the boy-scout troop - "Oh look, everyone's out of step except our Johnny!"


08 Mar 08 - 04:06 AM (#2282752)
Subject: RE: Help me! I need the perfect tuner
From: Richard Bridge

This may well be a gender specific matter. My late wife Jacqui was IMHO a far better musician than I - but if you ask anyone who ever saw us play music when she was alive, she pretty well never did anything but denigrate my contribution(s).

Since her death people have generally been fairly complimentary about what I do. It can't all be sympathy.


08 Mar 08 - 06:16 AM (#2282787)
Subject: RE: Help me! I need the perfect tuner
From: McGrath of Harlow

It sounds rather as if in this case "you're not in tune" really means something else.


08 Mar 08 - 07:31 AM (#2282805)
Subject: RE: Help me! I need the perfect tuner
From: Sandy Mc Lean

"TUNE" her out!


08 Mar 08 - 10:14 AM (#2282858)
Subject: RE: Help me! I need the perfect tuner
From: GUEST,Texas Guest

Everyone - thanks a bunch - entertaining comments on a situation that is getting quite irritating for me. Thanks for the product tip Backwoodsman; and, Sandy - funny line - I'll do it. Thanks all.


08 Mar 08 - 10:51 AM (#2282887)
Subject: RE: Help me! I need the perfect tuner
From: Sorcha

Let HER tune your instrument?


08 Mar 08 - 11:08 AM (#2282901)
Subject: RE: Help me! I need the perfect tuner
From: Bert

It could be that she is playing the true notes and your equally tempered guitar is grating to her.

Id that is so, then you'll just have to get a fretless guitar.


08 Mar 08 - 11:24 AM (#2282911)
Subject: RE: Help me! I need the perfect tuner
From: GUEST,Ian cookieless

Unlikely, Bert, I'd have thought. The notes on an equally tempered guitar are playing against *what* non-equal temperament on the fiddle, exactly? Does this fiddler have good enough ears and fingers to play in different temperaments at will? I doubt it. Perhaps Texas Guest should ask her.

John Renbourn used to tell a story of when he toured with Stefan Grossman. They would tune up independently with electronic tuners and could not work out why their guitars then always sounded awful together. They then worked out that the tuners were out of tune with each other!


08 Mar 08 - 11:28 AM (#2282913)
Subject: RE: Help me! I need the perfect tuner
From: Richard Bridge

Yes, I ahve had that out-of-tune-tuner syndrome too.

Perhaps our Texan friend should arrange a surreptitious recording of a performance to see who really is out of tune.


08 Mar 08 - 11:57 AM (#2282926)
Subject: RE: Help me! I need the perfect tuner
From: Uncle Phil

I have no doubt that the fiddle player's ear is more accurate than a electronic tuner. She may be hearing typical guitar tuning issues based on equal temperment tuning, string height,fret placement, etc.

See if she still can hear a problem if you tune fretted at the third fret and play in G with closed chords. If you don't do so already, you might try tweaking your tuning for whatever key you are in – for example, hold a C chord and check the tuning if you are fixing to play in C.
- Phil

OK, I've had my epiphany – I do enjoy the CD, the solo one, and play it all the time as I told you in the hotel the other night.


08 Mar 08 - 02:46 PM (#2283098)
Subject: RE: Help me! I need the perfect tuner
From: Stringsinger

Since early times, the scale is tempered. This means that it is always out of tune in
a mathematically precise way. Pythagoras attempted to solve the problem but hearing
his music is difficult. Early Greeks and Persians could.

Any tuner should do the job. (If the job is tuning relatively and not perfectly).

In fact many an argument has been started over this issue. People sometimes hear
tuning differently.

Frank Hamilton


08 Mar 08 - 04:11 PM (#2283140)
Subject: RE: Help me! I need the perfect tuner
From: GUEST,Bob Ryszkiewicz

Texas Guest: First. Check the source. Do you wrap your strings around the posts 4 or 5 times? Try locking back your strings, too many times around the post can cause slippage. Neck aligned right? Strings & Keys O.K.? Bridge? If all that is done, the problem might be on her side...I like KORG for tuners, but they are all pretty good...You might want to check your frets, see if they are worn...Other then that, wish you luck. bob


08 Mar 08 - 04:18 PM (#2283147)
Subject: RE: Help me! I need the perfect tuner
From: Peace

I hear things differently. My vocal pitch is pretty good, but I have a helluva time with tuning. Tuners getcha close. Ear gets you 'on'. However, I find I'm always 'choosing a happy medium' when I tune. Use the harmonics when I'm tuned in an open chord and I can get it perfect. THEN, I play a few chords in the key just to check relative pitch and the *&%*&(*&&^%$%$# is OUT. (Done all the 'is it the guitar, is it the humidity, is it the heat, is it the this, is it the that.)

I don't know what the answer is. If you find out, PLEASE let me know.

BTW, that Ryszkiewicz guy who just posted has an amazing ear (to go with his musical abilities--which are quite prodigious).


08 Mar 08 - 04:39 PM (#2283169)
Subject: RE: Help me! I need the perfect tuner
From: Don Firth

I've got a couple of tuners. One is an Intellitouch clamp-on. Works just fine, never had a problem with it, nobody bitches at me about being out of tune, and often they ask it they can borrow it to get themselves in tune.

I also have a sort of "cheapy," a Qwik-Tune" chromatic tuner (they also make an even cheaper one—only five notes—specifically for the guitar, standard tuning, of course).

I have checked the Qwik-Tune with a computerized tone-generator, and it's right on. The needle dead-centers when I turn the tone on. I can't clamp the Intellitouch to the tone generator, but I've cross-checked. I tuned the guitar to the Intellitouch, then played the individual strings at the Qwik-Tune, and the needle also dead-centers.   So I'd say either tuner is fine.

Texas Guest, I have a sneaking suspicion that there may be something involved here other than tuning. A little "one-upmanship" perhaps?

Don Firth


08 Mar 08 - 05:23 PM (#2283201)
Subject: RE: Help me! I need the perfect tuner
From: Jack Campin

I know a hammered dulcimer player who is never in tune with any guitar when he tunes his instrument correctly (i.e. some non-tempered intonation). If he's playing with guitarists he just resigns himself to using a crap tuning to fit in with them.

I have never found tuners anywhere near as accurate as using a pitch reference - a tuning fork, a chromatic tone generator, a computer or an accordion.

The obvious solution is to burn the guitar and learn a real instrument like the ud, string bass or cello.

Some genres of music make a big deal out of using non-tempered tunings - Cajun music is one, with their accordions specially tuned to handle it. Maybe this North Texas idiom is another one like that?


08 Mar 08 - 05:30 PM (#2283204)
Subject: RE: Help me! I need the perfect tuner
From: GUEST,TB

It'll be hormones :-)

Seriously though.. tune to her and chuck out your electronic tuner; they're too accurate. It sounds like you have a conflict between tempered and untempered tuning, though that is a gross over-simplification.

Ears are infinitely better than electronic/mathematical perfection - if you don't have a good ear, borrow one.

TB


08 Mar 08 - 05:45 PM (#2283216)
Subject: RE: Help me! I need the perfect tuner
From: open mike

the intelli is another clamp on type
that is easy to read, and handy to use.
A bit of an improvement on the Intelli-touch.
both are in the under $50 range.
http://elderly.com/images/accessories/ELA/IMT500.jpg

I am sure there is a thread about tuners
probably several threads...

on which side of the fiddler do you sit?

I have played with a fiddler who often was negative about my sound
(yes, i know, i played bodhran...no futher comment, please)
but when i moved to a different position on the stage,
things improved.


08 Mar 08 - 07:52 PM (#2283290)
Subject: RE: Help me! I need the perfect tuner
From: Richard Bridge

1. Record it!
2. No, the ear is not better than maths. Maths, by definition, are perfect. If you are playing standard tunings, trust the tuner.
3. If you are playing chordal tunings, the chordal intervals cannot be in equal temerpament tuning. THey wil sound horrid.


08 Mar 08 - 07:59 PM (#2283294)
Subject: RE: Help me! I need the perfect tuner
From: Jeremiah McCaw

Not sure if this was briefly touched upon in one of the previous posts, but what's the intonation like on your instrument (I'm assuming guitar, too)? You can have it perfectly in tune open but as soon as you finger even a first-position chord, it's out. How a capo is put on can also throw the tuning out of whack.

On the other hand, the fiddler could be cursed with perfect pitch. Some people with this 'blessing' can't stand anything even slightly off.


08 Mar 08 - 08:09 PM (#2283300)
Subject: RE: Help me! I need the perfect tuner
From: Peace

Jeremiah:

Thanks. It's a guitar tuned low. I fret it lightly, but even when that machine is 'on', still have always had the push/pull with what I described above. Been driving me crazier than an outhouse rat for ages.

The machine is Martin D-28, but I do experience something similar on the Larrivee. They are both 'high end machines', so it's something I'm NOT understandoing about why a C# and Db may be the same on an instrument but aren't really.

(I hope your post was directed at me. If not, pardon the presumption on my part.)


08 Mar 08 - 08:48 PM (#2283334)
Subject: RE: Help me! I need the perfect tuner
From: Jeremiah McCaw

More at 'Texas Guest' situation, I think, Peace; nae prob.

BTW, off on a tangent to the tuner brand issue - I've owned and liked the Intellitouch (couple of them in fact) but now use and am even happier with a Planet Waves (by D'Addario) Multi-Purpose Tuner. Very versatile and better response on the lower frequency strings (I use it for a bass guitar).


08 Mar 08 - 09:23 PM (#2283352)
Subject: RE: Help me! I need the perfect tuner
From: GUEST,Pete Sumner

I can relate to the issue of satisfying the ear of a fiddler/violinist...
I trained as a piano tuner in UK and now work in California specializing in Steinways...Have used a computer as an aide for about eight years...
The computer gives me an edge over 'ear tuners' as it allows me to stretch octaves consistently and give as near perfect a tuning as is possible...HOWEVER....
this is all equally tempered stuff and fiddlers tune their open strings to pure intervals and fiddlers don't like playing with pianos....I think this parallels your experience in the band...
I would bet your tuner against her ear anyday in a band setting...you're playing a class guitar with factory set intonation....
Don't know what to suggest, apart from having an open discussion in the band, with each member doing some research to reach some conclusions that will, hopefully, back you up....

Good luck...
cheers
Pete


08 Mar 08 - 09:33 PM (#2283365)
Subject: RE: Help me! I need the perfect tuner
From: Effsee

..."fiddlers don't like playing with pianos"...tell that to Cape Bretoners!


08 Mar 08 - 10:04 PM (#2283376)
Subject: RE: Help me! I need the perfect tuner
From: GUEST,leeneia

There are so many things we don't know about this situation.

How well-trained is this fiddler? How good is her instrument? Is she actually hearing the guitar as it sounds, or is she registering some distortion caused by the sound system or the room you are in?

How long have you been playing happily with others? How long has SHE been playing happily with others? That should tell you something.

Frankly, given how hard it is to play violin, I suspect the problem lies with her, not with you, Texas Guest. Best of luck.


09 Mar 08 - 10:22 AM (#2283591)
Subject: RE: Help me! I need the perfect tuner
From: Richard Bridge

There can be no such thing as "perfect pitch" because the usual pitch has varied from time to time and place to place. There could be a perfect memory of a conventional pitch.


09 Mar 08 - 10:27 AM (#2283596)
Subject: RE: Help me! I need the perfect tuner
From: GUEST,Chicken Charlie

Me an' that woman jest can't git along ....
Me an' that woman jest can't git along ....
Everything I do, she says I do it wrong.

    --Mance Lipscomb, in one of his 12-bar blues songs.

P.S. If you played a note in the forest and she wasn't there to hear it, would it still be flat?

Chicken Charlie


09 Mar 08 - 11:27 AM (#2283634)
Subject: RE: Help me! I need the perfect tuner
From: GUEST,Pete Sumner

Maybe I should have said 'violinist' and not pianist...
I have the Martin Byrnes/Reg Hall LP from way back before swimming was invented...they seemed to get along OK too...
P


09 Mar 08 - 01:19 PM (#2283693)
Subject: RE: Help me! I need the perfect tuner
From: Backwoodsman

Hi from the darkest backwoods of the Lincolnshire/Nottinghamshire borders, Pete. How's the weather there? Cold as hell and trying to rain here!

Saw Dave and Julie Evardson, and Brian Dawson last Sunday at the Lincolnshire Folk Meet in Alford. Great afternoon.
All the best,
JB


09 Mar 08 - 02:08 PM (#2283727)
Subject: RE: Help me! I need the perfect tuner
From: Sorcha

Wonder what happened to Texas?


09 Mar 08 - 03:51 PM (#2283817)
Subject: RE: Help me! I need the perfect tuner
From: Peace

The name Bush ring any bells?


09 Mar 08 - 04:57 PM (#2283868)
Subject: RE: Help me! I need the perfect tuner
From: Sorcha

LOL.....yea, just a few.....


09 Mar 08 - 05:50 PM (#2283918)
Subject: RE: Help me! I need the perfect tuner
From: GUEST,Texas Guest

Back again folks, to say "Thanks" for all the wonderful input. Just
to clarify, I am a folkie who plays guitar and I have three upper-end
Takamine's and an upper-end Breedlove; but, it doesn't seem to matter which one I use - the consternation remains.

Don Firth - you may be right about the "one-upmanship" thing, that
could be happening.

Jeremiah - you may be correct here that she may be "cursed" with
perfect pitch; and, though my ears are certainly not as "gifted" as
hers, I do have quality electronic tuners to keep me in line, and,
I do sing on key, rarely get off, and beat myself half to death if I do.

By the way folks, she's a very nice lady, plays great, sings just
beautifully and,...and,...well,...doesn't like my tuning. Cheers.


09 Mar 08 - 07:05 PM (#2283957)
Subject: RE: Help me! I need the perfect tuner
From: Jeremiah McCaw

That being the case, 'Texas', best thing I could suggest might be a one-on-one sitdown with your respective instruments, good intentions, frank discussion AND a bottle of wine handy. Seriously.


09 Mar 08 - 10:11 PM (#2284043)
Subject: RE: Help me! I need the perfect tuner
From: GUEST,An expert :-)

Which one of you is in tune with the rest of the band?

Are you accused of being consistently sharp or flat, or are certain notes to blame?

If the problem is just odd notes, are they open strings, or fingered - and by whom?

(You could of course try arm-wrestling to determine who is right, but I've always found scowling in an accusatory manner at the other person can be very effective in a performance environment.)


09 Mar 08 - 11:05 PM (#2284060)
Subject: RE: Help me! I need the perfect tuner
From: GUEST,And there's more:

Compliment her superior hearing, ask her to tune your guitar for you, check it on the tuner and note any discrepancies from 'perfection'. Don't mention them, but build them into your tuning schedule.

However, if you have a chromatic tuner, check all your fretted notes to make sure your intonation is right - assumptions can be wrong.. you only have to change the gauge of strings that the maker originally put on the guitar to adversly affect the intonation.


10 Mar 08 - 11:48 AM (#2284358)
Subject: RE: Help me! I need the perfect tuner
From: Gary T

From Peace: "It's a guitar tuned low."

What does this mean? Is the open-string tuning at lower pitches than the standard EADGBE? (A friend of mine does this, to where he has to capo on the 2nd fret and play C forms to match a normally tuned guitar playing C forms open. It lets him use C forms to play in B [capoed 1 fret] or Bb [open].) If this is the case, and particularly if you're not using lighter string gauges to compensate for it, I would supect that the strings are slacker than they're designed to be, and that they would more readily distort when fretted. This could make your intonation significantly off.


10 Mar 08 - 11:51 AM (#2284364)
Subject: RE: Help me! I need the perfect tuner
From: Peace

Thanks, Gary T. I do tune below standard. However, I've been able to rule that out as the cause of 'my distress'. Thank you, though.


10 Mar 08 - 12:36 PM (#2284400)
Subject: RE: Help me! I need the perfect tuner
From: BTMP

I use a Boss tuner where you can set the 'base' frequency for tuning - the default is 440 (A note) but one could accidently bump this to, say 441, and the result would be you would never be in tune with anyone else who tuned using 440. Maybe one of you has a tuner with this base slightly off from 440?


10 Mar 08 - 12:47 PM (#2284414)
Subject: RE: Help me! I need the perfect tuner
From: pavane

Do you actually check the guitar open strings against the fiddle open strings? I didn't notice anyone ask that.

If they do not match, then it is nothing to do with the fiddler's fingers.

If they DO match, then it can only be the fiddle player who is the cause of the difference? (Assuming your guitar doesn't go out of tune when you put pressure on the strings).

As others have said, it may be the fiddler's ear expecting a perfect interval, and the guitar playing a tempered interval. Can the fiddler play with an accordion?

According to my information, in orchestras, the violins like to tune slightly sharp, to add brightness to the sound. Over the period of 200 years, this has contributed to the raising of standard pitch as other instruments try and catch up.

Maybe your violinist has been used to playing in orchestras?


10 Mar 08 - 03:27 PM (#2284582)
Subject: RE: Help me! I need the perfect tuner
From: M.Ted

If you haven't had a conversation about how she tunes, and how you tune, you should.

If she's tuning by ear so that the open strings are natural fifths, and you are tuning to the tempered pitches of a tuning box, your open strings could be a bit out of tune from her open strings. Or she could just be jerking you around--you need to talk to figure that out.


10 Mar 08 - 04:06 PM (#2284613)
Subject: RE: Help me! I need the perfect tuner
From: GUEST,Baz

Heavy bowing causes sharpness on a fiddle - although a good fiddler will compensate for that phenomenon. I believe that is why the coarser "Scottish musette" was developed for the accordion.


10 Mar 08 - 06:54 PM (#2284801)
Subject: RE: Help me! I need the perfect tuner
From: Richard Bridge

If you are tuning the guitar "slack", for example dgcfad then our left hand will need to be really really delicate and accurate if you are not going to pull the guitar out as you fret.

I repeat: record it and then get an intertial observer to listen to it.


10 Mar 08 - 07:21 PM (#2284820)
Subject: RE: Help me! I need the perfect tuner
From: Don(Wyziwyg)T

Texas guest, you may be approaching this from the wrong angle.

May I suggest that you invest in a little known piece of electronic equipment called a Tazer.

The judicious application of no more than two doses to your importunate colleague should settle the dispute as to who is, or is not, in tune.

Don T.


10 Mar 08 - 07:23 PM (#2284821)
Subject: RE: Help me! I need the perfect tuner
From: Peace

But it would have to be a Bb Tazer.


10 Mar 08 - 09:01 PM (#2284921)
Subject: RE: Help me! I need the perfect tuner
From: GUEST,Baz

Altering only the tension, or thickness, or length of a guitar string is bound to alter its relationship to the fixed frets beneath it, and will consequently change the intonation, however slightly. Another factor is the action, which will be slightly lower with slackened strings, so any built-in compensation (at the bridge) for the fact that the string has to be pushed down to the fret and made tighter/sharper will then be inaccurate. If you want to tune the whole guitar down, use heavier strings so that the overall tension on the neck is more like it should be and the action is roughly the same. In other words, if you alter one parameter (tension), then some compensation has to be made elsewhere (thickness and/or length) for the intonation to remain constant. The only sure way is to let the maker set up the instrument according to how you are going to use it. Sad but true; I am also a victim btw.


10 Mar 08 - 09:58 PM (#2284965)
Subject: RE: Help me! I need the perfect tuner
From: GUEST,.gargoyle

She is RIGHT

YOU ARE WRONG

You could purchase a "perfect tuner" and you could achieve "perfect pitch" but if you are out of tune with the fiddle player's pitch....

YOU ARE WRONG!!!

Step OUT of the situation.

No matter "How RIGHT you are...you will always be WRONG!!!"

Sincerely,
Gargoyle

This is not "fun for you."

Take a year off. Practice, take lessons, jam with others.

Maybe, next St. Paddy's you may have your own group "tuning to you."


11 Mar 08 - 01:24 AM (#2285060)
Subject: RE: Help me! I need the perfect tuner
From: GUEST,Texas Guest

Well folks, this thread has got to be put to rest. I sincerely want to thank everyone for your serious, and your humorous contributions,
but I was informed on Sunday that the individual of my concern was
leaving the band effective immediately to go in another direction; and, I am happy to report that we rehearsed this evening with our new fiddler who had no tuning problems with anyone. Again, thanks for the laughs and the advice. Cheers.


11 Mar 08 - 01:36 AM (#2285069)
Subject: RE: Help me! I need the perfect tuner
From: Big Mick

I would say that if Marum says you are in tune, you are in tune.

Mick


11 Mar 08 - 02:59 AM (#2285087)
Subject: RE: Help me! I need the perfect tuner
From: pavane

Good luch with the deaf fiddler