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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. screamin eagle

    screamin eagle Poster Extraordinaire

    Oct 9, 2008
    S. CA
    One thing that gets missed a lot when folks tune their guitars is they don't necessarily pluck the guitar the same way as they do when the play. Often folks pluck harder when playing then when tuning. This can be a source for a not-so-well-tuned guitar. Tune with a proper right hand pluck and you'll be in tune better.
  2. barfoden

    barfoden Tele-Meister

    May 30, 2013
    Exactly,,, Hence tuning to 439Hz is not a bad idea if your are a hard strummer...
  3. barfoden

    barfoden Tele-Meister

    May 30, 2013
    The softer the string tension, the sharper the strings go if you are a heavy strummer..
    The initial attack on a set of 10-46 strings tuned to E standard vs E-flat on a telecaster with a fairly high nut (Squier vintage vibe) is different.. Tuned down to e-flat the initial attack is pretty sharp in relation to 440Hz.. So much that I would recommend going up in string gauge or tune slightly flat from 440Hz, Like adjusting your tuner to 439Hz instead. (4 cents)
  4. maxvintage

    maxvintage Friend of Leo's Ad Free Member

    Mar 16, 2003
    Arlington, VA

    Yeah that works for him because he has a very specific style he plays, mostly open chords below the fifth fret. And he stays in a few keys. It works for his style. This is not a diss of him in any way. He’s a pro, he’s evolved a set of strategies that work for his music. If he played ina different style or different keys he’d need to retune
    dlew919 likes this.
  5. barfoden

    barfoden Tele-Meister

    May 30, 2013
    I thought it was the use of a capo that would press certain strings more sharp.. If you average out the "flatness" of his tuning he is 7.17 cents flat.. The difference between 440Hz and 438Hz is 7.89 cents..
    I really find that 438Hz should be modern A4 and not 440Hz.. It is easier to find the balance in my voice when A4 is tuned to 438Hz than A4=440Hz.. So many people go a little flat trying to sing to A4=440Hz music. The voice just wants to jump down to 438Hz..
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2017
  6. klasaine

    klasaine Poster Extraordinaire

    Nov 28, 2006
    NELA, Ca
    You better get used to at least A=440.
    Pitch has been rising slowly for at least 150 years.
    As I and many others have mentioned countless times throughout many threads, "A" really isn't even 440 anymore. Most pianos are tuned to A=441 (stretch). Most orchestras and chamber groups tune to A=442. Some as high as 444 and 445. Any vibraphone or marimba or xylophone made within the last 25 years is A=442 (some at 443).A lot of Celtic music, especially if it uses a 'highland' bag pipe (the big, loud one) is at A=449!

    Having said that, 'you' can tune to any mean you want. Just make sure you tell the other players. If you go down to 438 and nobody else does, you'll sound flat. More so in some keys than in others and more so on certain chords/intervals than others (that's a whole other thread).

    *JT tunes like that due to how he plays - how he physically negotiates the instrument, the keys that he likes to sing in and the chord voicings he employs. When you account for string tension due to action height and string gauge, a capo sometimes, how hard he presses down and where (the specific frets - this is a big deal) - he's dead in tune with the rest of the band. Which is at A=440, give or take a cent.
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2017
    dr_tom and cabra velha like this.
  7. NashvilleDeluxe

    NashvilleDeluxe Tele-Holic

    May 10, 2007
    West Island, Quebec
    I LOVE the intersection of all the math and music theory here. Some smart people on board.

    BUT, look at what Screamin Eagle said above. In the real world, we strum chords harder on the very strings that naturally have a wider arc of vibration. On a downstroke, the E through D strings get whacked with the most energy, then an unwound G string goes sharp, and whatever feeble pick attack is left sloshes over the B and high E strings. It's like shooting a bullet into a swimming pool...there's an exponential decrease in energy. Yes, I've shot my swimming pool. I'm Canadian, after all. (?)

    We tune with a different attack than we play. All the math and theory goes to pot until you consider YOUR string energy. That goes for pickup height and string setup height, too. I like Ernie Ball Hybrid electric strings (9's for Tele, 10's for Les Paul) because they offset some of that "party up top, business down below" pick attack. The opposite of my haircut.
  8. DougM

    DougM Tele-Afflicted

    Jul 5, 2017
    Honolulu, HI
    I agree with this concept. I've never had a guitar where the F# on the high E string on an open D chord didn't sound sharp when the high E string was tuned perfectly. I always have to flat that string slightly so all chords play equally out of tune. That's what equal temperament is.
  9. ndcaster

    ndcaster Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

    Nov 14, 2013
    no 440 means you're a bedroom player

    go with the flow, it's not critical, especially in a bar

    a strong capo will put you sharp

    have fun, experiment, just AGREE
  10. dr_tom

    dr_tom Tele-Meister

    Sep 21, 2013
    There's actually a lot of evidence for the idea that the golden mean is a very pleasing proportion aesthetically. Lots of great psychological research assessing it, some finding people prefer it, others finding 50/50 is more often preferred. One of the very early psychologists, Wilhelm Wundt, started research into the golden mean back in the late 1800's. I'd suggest the interest in it isn't pseudoscience by any means.

    You can get some free copies of the published research in pdf format using Google Scholar. John Benjafield wrote an excellent review of much of the psychological work on aesthetics & the golden mean.
  11. ndcaster

    ndcaster Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

    Nov 14, 2013
    true, after all, it governs your body's development
  12. Mr. Lumbergh

    Mr. Lumbergh Poster Extraordinaire

    Jun 13, 2013
    Initech, Inc.
    Doesn't prove a thing. You could make the square slightly larger, and then it would have the same wave pattern on its surface at 440 that this does at 432.
  13. barfoden

    barfoden Tele-Meister

    May 30, 2013
    Many of the great vocalist of classic pop and rock music are always on the limit when they perform their hits live when they reach around 45 years of age (not all but many) if they decide to perform the song in the studio versions key.

    I think there is a reason for this.. Modern 440-443Hz pitch is simply to sharp for the human voice... Passaggio is shifted around so to speak.. To far from natural resonance of the relaxed talking voice.
    Even high notes when A4 is tuned to around 432Hz (12-TET) feels liks an extension my natural centered chest range. Just try doing octave shifts from F#3/F#4 or G3 to G4 if you are a deeper baritone. D3/D4 or E3/E4 is you are a bass singer.. or Bb3/Bb4 or B3/B4 if you are a tenor. These are shifts from chest to head resonance.. PS stay connected on the head notes doing this exercise..

    Even opera singers have commented on how much easier it was to sing high notes with A4 at 437/438Hz (common practice in the 1950/60s) when performing Verdi/Puccini etc, compares to modern 442/443Hz where a lot of orchesteres seem to hover at. Going above 438Hz shift the passagio too high.. High notes have little body.. can't blend in any lower resonance.

    Former European pitch at A4=435Hz is a better pitch for the masses. Slightly fatter and rock singers and dramatic opera voices can maintain a better vocal color and perform way up in their 60s without sounding inferior live... A4=435Hz has a history of being a long standing standard pitch in Europe (1860 to 1940) and the pitch that the great composers like Verdi and Puccini wrote their art to be performed at.

    And it does not sound "flat" to my ears like "scientific" pitch where A4 is tuned to 430.5Hz or C4=256Hz (12-TET).
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