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Tuning a guitar by comparing harmonics on adjacent strings
Tuning a guitar by comparing harmonics on adjacent strings
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Old 30th December 2008, 05:41 AM   #11
travis is offline travis
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I've been tuning with harmonics, but always using some note on the A string as the reference. That way the error doesn't get passed along and multiplied like in a game of telephone.

Anyone have a link to the most proper way to tune?
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Old 31st December 2008, 03:20 AM   #12
Kramerguy is offline Kramerguy  United States
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Default Re: Tuning a guitar by comparing harmonics on adjacent strings

I have been tunning all of my guitars and other instruments this way for years about 20+ I have had no issue unless there was an intonation issue with the instrument and even if you did tune it properly it doesn't matter becuase open string tunning and harmonic deviation tunning all have the same fundemental problem.

If you are not achieving good results there could be about 5 differing problems. One of which is action hieght, Bridge hieght,string spacing,intonation,bridge index and or fret condition and shape.

tuners are great and so are many other tunning methods.




Quote:
Originally posted by poptart
In another thread it has been insisted that you can correctly tune a guitar by comparing harmonics on adjacent strings.

It is my position that although guitar players that don't know any better frequently do this, it is not possible to correctly tune a guitar with this method.

When you play a harmonic on a string you are dividing the string into simple integer ratios. The harmonic at the 12th fret is twice the frequency of the open string, a realtionship of 2:1 (an octave). The harmonic at the 7th fret divides the string into three parts, the harmonic at the 5th fret divides the string into 4 parts. Dividing the octave up like this works great when you only play in one key, it is called just temperament. It will sound very out of tune if you attempt to play in a key other than the fundamental of the open string.

In order to play in more than one key modern instruments divide each octave into 12 equal steps so that all keys sound equally good, or more accurately, equally bad as every key has the same deviations from perfect just temperament. This is called equal temperament. The price paid for being able to play in more than one key is the loss of perfect integer ratios for some of the notes. The perfect fifth is the interval in question in this case. On an equal tempered instrument the perfect fifth is supposed to be 2 cents flat from the ideal 3:2 ratio. If you were to follow this harmonic tuning procedure starting at the low E string you would go 2 cents sharper than you're supposed to with each comparison meaning you're ten cents out by the time you get to the top string.

The exact same thing would happen on a piano if you were to misguidedly tune in perfect fifths right across the keyboard except the error is compounded to a much higher degree. The circle of fifths will not close using this perfect ratio, when you get back to the note you started on it will be way too sharp.

You can argue that you prefer an instrument that is not equal tempered, that's fine, but I don't see how you can argue that tuning an equal tempered instrument like a guitar using mathematically perfect fifths makes any sense. Any cheapo electronic tuner will show you your error if you do this.
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Old 1st January 2009, 02:50 AM   #13
labjr is offline labjr  United States
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Default Re: Tuning a guitar by comparing harmonics on adjacent strings

Quote:
Originally posted by poptart
In another thread it has been insisted that you can correctly tune a guitar by comparing harmonics on adjacent strings.

It is my position that although guitar players that don't know any better frequently do this, it is not possible to correctly tune a guitar with this method.

When you play a harmonic on a string you are dividing the string into simple integer ratios. The harmonic at the 12th fret is twice the frequency of the open string, a realtionship of 2:1 (an octave). The harmonic at the 7th fret divides the string into three parts, the harmonic at the 5th fret divides the string into 4 parts. Dividing the octave up like this works great when you only play in one key, it is called just temperament. It will sound very out of tune if you attempt to play in a key other than the fundamental of the open string.

In order to play in more than one key modern instruments divide each octave into 12 equal steps so that all keys sound equally good, or more accurately, equally bad as every key has the same deviations from perfect just temperament. This is called equal temperament. The price paid for being able to play in more than one key is the loss of perfect integer ratios for some of the notes. The perfect fifth is the interval in question in this case. On an equal tempered instrument the perfect fifth is supposed to be 2 cents flat from the ideal 3:2 ratio. If you were to follow this harmonic tuning procedure starting at the low E string you would go 2 cents sharper than you're supposed to with each comparison meaning you're ten cents out by the time you get to the top string.

The exact same thing would happen on a piano if you were to misguidedly tune in perfect fifths right across the keyboard except the error is compounded to a much higher degree. The circle of fifths will not close using this perfect ratio, when you get back to the note you started on it will be way too sharp.

You can argue that you prefer an instrument that is not equal tempered, that's fine, but I don't see how you can argue that tuning an equal tempered instrument like a guitar using mathematically perfect fifths makes any sense. Any cheapo electronic tuner will show you your error if you do this.
Have you read Kevin Ryan's method?

http://www.ryanguitars.com/News%20an...ning_Terms.htm

I've tried the method. I understand some of it. However I just play by ear so I've never really studied music theory.

I don't think tuning by ear using harmonics neccessarily helps develop one's ear, It only leads to frustration. You're better off tuning up with an electronic aid and save the time for practicing

I started using a Turbo-Tuner a year and a half ago. I think it's very accurate. Using it has improved my ear far more than anything else. My chords now sound better than ever.
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Old 4th January 2009, 10:30 PM   #14
nhuwar is offline nhuwar  United States
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I have been tuning guitars and basses this way for quite a while too and it works fine.

Its common practice in a symphony to tune orchestra instruments this way after tuning your a string.


Nick
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Old 5th January 2009, 05:48 PM   #15
MondyT is offline MondyT  United Kingdom
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I use a mixture of fretted notes and harmonics to tune guitars and it works great assuming the guitar is set up to a playable level.

Basically I use a D tuning fork (which took some tracking down) to first tune my open D harmonic on the 12th fret.

Then I tune the G string fretted at the 7th fret to the same D harmonic and then the B string fretted on the 3rd fret to the same D harmonic.

Then I strike the G string 12th fret harmonic and tune the high E fretted on the third fret to this.

The A string 12th fret harmonic is tuned from the G string fretted on the second fret and then finally hit the 7th fret harmonic on the Low E string and tune to the open top E string.

Thatís when its quiet and I am at home. At gigs I just go bananas with my Boss TU-12!!

I got this method off the net somewhere and the mixture of fretted notes and open harmonics gives about the most balanced tuning across the neck that I have come across, it takes very little time once you are used to it and the effort is worth it. I recommend tuning by ear every time and only tuning electronically when in noisy or hurried occasions. I got used to using a tuner 100% when gigging and it did not take long before I had lost the skill of tuning by ear almost completely. Your ears get lazy really quickly!

Hope this is of help to you

Cheers
Ray
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Old 5th January 2009, 06:22 PM   #16
labjr is offline labjr  United States
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I always use a strobe tuner now. It's fast and very accurate. The Turbo-Tuner is the most accurate small tuner I've ever used. I can't say enough about it. The chords sound so sweet.

I would challenge anyone to tune a guitar by ear as well as a good strobe tuner can.
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