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Is There A Better Way To Tune A Guitar Than Standard 440?

Discussion in 'Tab, Tips, Theory and Technique' started by Bill Hell, Mar 21, 2016.

  1. ripgtr

    ripgtr Tele-Holic

    664
    Oct 12, 2012
    Austin, TX
    Well, one of the things, when I play guitar, I just tune it equal temperament, usually. So it is equally out of tune in all keys and all chords, lol. Problem is, if I adjust one string for the note being sharp or flat, it messes with the others. I don't play just barre chords or open chords, so it really puts a mess on some of the others. The guitar is inherently out of tune.

    On Steel, I just use the Peterson E9 setting. It is based on some accepted steel practices. Like the E, you have to tune it a bit sharp because when you engage the A and B pedal, cabinet drop makes it go flat. But the nice thing with a steel, you kick on the lever = the one to raise the E to F - you can tune that separately. But then, you are going to use that with A, and no raise on B pedals (well, you can also throw the B in, too), so you have to deal with that as well. Also, the pedal steel does not have a way to adjust the length or the string, all are set the same, unlike the bridge on a guitar. And you play steel a LOT more above the 12th fret than guitar (AKA Hugheyland), which makes that even worse.

    Steel guys talk about tuning like guitar guys talk about pedals. Constantly, in great detail, and with strong opinion. :)
     
    dlew919 and mrmousey like this.

  2. mrmousey

    mrmousey Tele-Meister

    Age:
    67
    226
    Aug 6, 2016
    Largo, Fl
    The universe is full of Mystery ...........
     

  3. Anode100

    Anode100 Friend of Leo's

    May 9, 2014
    Behind my beard.
    Fretless Guitars at the ready...
     

  4. chris m.

    chris m. Friend of Leo's

    Check out the TrueTemperament guitar website and videos. If you have funny, squiggly frets it turns out you can actually be perfectly in tune all up and down the neck.
     

  5. chris m.

    chris m. Friend of Leo's

    If nothing else, comparing the squiggly frets to standard, straight frets makes you realize visually just why a normal guitar can never truly be in tune.
     

  6. memorex

    memorex Tele-Afflicted

    Age:
    67
    Jan 14, 2015
    Chicago
    How hard is it to do bends and vibratos with those squiggly frets?
     

  7. paparoof

    paparoof Tele-Meister

    414
    Dec 22, 2013
    minneapolis
    I wanna see that guy place Tumblin' Dice on that thing.

    Wait - no I don't.
     

  8. barfoden

    barfoden Tele-Meister

    113
    May 30, 2013
    Sweden
    Not always the case. Maybe around the upper middle and headregister lower is easier but in my chest register and low middle its not always the case. Around G3 to H3 for example tuning to 432-434hz was far more easy to find in the throat than lower 428Hz-430hz
     

  9. ripgtr

    ripgtr Tele-Holic

    664
    Oct 12, 2012
    Austin, TX
    Well, true, I should have said it is easier to sing high notes. Which is usually the issue, most people struggle with that more than the low notes, from what I have seen.
    My take - work on your range or lower the key. I have added a 5th or more of useable voice on the top with practice over the years.
     

  10. barfoden

    barfoden Tele-Meister

    113
    May 30, 2013
    Sweden
    I have in my prime some 8 years ago stay connected (not falsetto) well into upper head register C5 which is not bad for a deep baritone. Not really usable area as the last note in my lower head register is G#4 which can have some middle resonance blended in. But i still find the passagio E4 note and that G#4 is shifted a little too far up in resonance and register to sound good. Its actually only a small detune to 437Hz (-11.7 cents) that solves this. The resonance/register shift for heavy voices are not easy to operate smoothly. Its like a big chunky gearbox in a large mack truck. At 432-435hz the E4 note and G#4 note feels much more relaxed and natural. From 436Hz and up towards 438Hz it is evident that is is getting a bit far away from the relaxed adn low tension 432Hz pitch but still doable. It is the shift from 438Hz to 440Hz that shifts it to far up for heavy voices. So to be on the "safe side" i recommend tuning to 437Hz for live applications.

    I think we are depriving our self from a pitch that fits the masses better.. THe 440Hz pitch is too high for heavy voices. But I even find that a small lowering of pitch for example 437Hz helps the sound of tenors and sopranos. THe newer orchestral pitch at 442-443Hz is even worse. I have a hard time listening to opera or large choir pieces at these pitches. Also the 442Hz-444Hz pitch in opera has eliminated a lot of good sounding voices in certain vocal fachs. As I said going lower than A4=432Hz (-31.8 cents) I can't recommend as the notes around the first passaggio (A3 in my case) starts sitting low and sound flat to my ears, the shift from 216/432Hz to 215/430Hz was noticable in my throat.
     
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2017

  11. therealfindo

    therealfindo Tele-Holic

    741
    Jun 26, 2012
    Germany
    I'd prefer to sing a top F# than an E any day.

    The Verdi-pitch thing is interesting- I'm not surprised that it's easier to navigate the passaggio in A=435 or whatever it was, as he was writing in that framework for voices singing in that pitch. I wonder why we don't do 'historic praxis' in performance for Verdi?
    I know from experience that singing Glück at A=442 was not as easy as if it had been lower.. But I think that's more to do with the music being written with a pitch in mind rather than inherent properties of incremental differences in frequencies.
     

  12. dlew919

    dlew919 Poster Extraordinaire

    Aug 6, 2012
    Sydney
    Gluck, as did all of them, knew there was a difference between, say, G# and Ab. We've eliminated that difference. But he was fully aware of the pitch he was looking for... You're right.
     

  13. barfoden

    barfoden Tele-Meister

    113
    May 30, 2013
    Sweden
    What vocal fach are you?. Sounds a lot like my situation (deep baritone). E4 is my toughest note. F4, F#4 and G4 are much easier. This is though eliminated if i tune down to 434Hz (-23.9 cents). Then both passaggios between chest and middle (around A3) and middle and head (D#4/E4) are smoothed out. My leadsinger is a bright baritone and his tough notes are F4 and A4. Again down at 434Hz and its smooth sailing for his voice
     

  14. barfoden

    barfoden Tele-Meister

    113
    May 30, 2013
    Sweden
    ..

    Also long scale (25.5") guitars like teles and strats sound a lot better to my ears at 432-434hz tuning than E standard at 440hz. Also the common E-flat standard tuning works better to my ears on 25.5" scale compared to gibsons 24.75 scale.. the same with bass, deeper tunings like D standard (D-G-C-F) sounds better on a 35" scale than regular 34". You can go up in string gauge to get more tension but really thick strings can start to sound dead to my ears and really thin strings warbles too much around before getting to pitch.
     
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2017

  15. therealfindo

    therealfindo Tele-Holic

    741
    Jun 26, 2012
    Germany
    (Operatic) lyric baritone.
     

  16. barfoden

    barfoden Tele-Meister

    113
    May 30, 2013
    Sweden

    Just because tuning high has become the norm these days with orchesteres tuning between 442-444Hz does not make it right... A lot of opera singers are not pleased with the sharpness and to my ears you loose a lot of great dramatic voices in the world of opera where a A4= 434Hz-437Hz pitch are much more suited.. I can't stand listening to opera at these high piches.. Think I heard a 442-443Hz pitched version of Verdis Requiem... Sounded to tense, annoying and no warmth of body to a lot of the soprano and tenors voices...

    Tuning the piano centered at 441Hz for A4 will not rub against a 440Hz guitar.. You tune the guitar on open strings most often and when you start fretting notes it will often go 3 cents sharp.. 4 cents of is tolerable for playing together.. Also a neat trick is to tune the bass guitar to 439Hz.. If the bass gets slightly sharp of the other instruments the entire mix will sound a little stressed.. The only music that style seems to work with is aggressive punk where if you tune the bass to 440Hz and use a pick and strum really hard as I often see in that genre the bass will go a little sharp...
     

  17. barfoden

    barfoden Tele-Meister

    113
    May 30, 2013
    Sweden
    I consider myself more as a dramatic baritone, I think I am slighty bassier/heavier than you. I regard both the D#4 and the E4 as passaggio notes.
    But in a rock setting the D#4 is not that bad, but the E4 is super difficult as you often do a late transition on rock music.. In a classical setting I would probably lift of weight a little earlier...

    If you know the song "love is in the air",, That one is in C-major,, I need to lower it to H-major for it to sound good as C-major sound is very heady foir my voice. If I lower the pitch to 432Hz (-31.8 cent) I can decide whether to sing it in C-major or H-major..with the H-major sounding very nice and relaxed but I could belt it out in C-major without any strain..
     
    therealfindo likes this.

  18. Revv23

    Revv23 Friend of Leo's

    Oct 9, 2009
    Michigan
    Ive been there! Jamming with some buddies - tuning with my pedal tuner; cant hear my guitar at all. According to my tuner I am dialed in 100% on.

    I start playing; and I am noticeably out of tune.

    So I suppose I have been sweetening my tuning for years without realizing. I use the tuner to get me in the ballpark, and make some small adjustments to get every string sounding good relative to the others.
     

  19. viccortes285

    viccortes285 Tele-Meister

    Age:
    68
    397
    Jan 14, 2017
    Phoenix
    I use a sweetened 440 tuning, which I like the tone a bit more the the straight 440!tuning.
     

  20. klasaine

    klasaine Poster Extraordinaire

    Nov 28, 2006
    NELA, Ca
    Not my guitars.
     

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