Can a guitar tech please explain?

421JAM

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It’s unusual that this person calls it a D sharp. It IS a D sharp (and an E flat), but usually when you go down a half step you say flat rather than sharp, since sharp means UP a half step. So it makes better sense to call it a D sharp only if he was tuning up from D. As it is, he was tuning down from E, so E flat makes more sense.
 

That Cal Webway

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EVH had a lot going on guitar tuning wise, on several fronts.

The fact he tuned down to E flat and used relatively light strings =

His frets obviously were never jumbo and all that; they were a smaller size than that.
Otherwise with the looser string tension he would have definitely pressed the notes sharp.
 

Peegoo

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Most guitar techs, over time, develop and continually refine their own philosophy about setting up a guitar. It's the nature of the beast.

All players with lightning-fast fingers generally have a feather-light touch. This economy of motion is precisely what facilitates fast playing. They also have precision pick or finger control; not just speed, but touch (soft/hard) too.

Getting any guitar to play perfectly in tune is an exercise in futility. Ideally, anything within five cents of any target note is good enough for most anyone to not notice out-of-tuneness in a composition. Of course--the rare individuals that possess absolute pitch may develop migraines from something being five cents out. Luckily for me, I don't suffer from absolute pitch.

When I set up a guitar, my initial collection of information includes questions for the player about the sort of music they play and how they play it. I look for the area on the neck the person spends most of their time and I observe how the play (soft or hard, gentle or grippy) and then use that to guide the way I set it up.
 

Quexoz

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I don't know about all this, but I have found over the years that I have to leave my "B" string about 6 cents flat for it sound right in chords. And yeah, they do start sharp and then fade down a few cents within a second, some more than others (Low E). I tune them to 0 with a fade to 2-4 and the B fading to -6.
 

warrent

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context is important for the quotes. It was a description of his audition as a tech.
“We go out to 5150 [studio], Matt takes a guitar out of a gig bag and hands it to me, and he said, ‘You’re to set this up the way you think Ed would like it, and I’m to give you absolutely no information to go by.’”
 

Dacious

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Me, either.
So how would you actually accomplish this? Fret each string individually while using a tuner? Capo at the fifth fret?
And what does it mean to “leave the high D-sharp string 14 cents flat but in tune with the other strings.”? High D-sharp string? This is all new thinking and language to me. I appreciate the explanations very much.
Guitars like pianos are tempered instruments. What that means if you tune all the 'E's dead on the exact hertz, both the high 'E' and low 'E' will sound out. The high E will sound sharp and the low E will sound flat. This is due to the way your ear works. Hence piano tuning is an art - they have to tune high keys slightly flat and low keys slightly sharp or they sound 'out'.

That's why there's different methods of tuning - open, harmonics, chord tuned. And debate rages as to which is best.

If you play the same note up and down the guitar fretboard it will play 'out'. For it to play in tune you would need frets like this. The stagger on your frets would match the stagger in your bridge. With straight nut and frets, your tuning is always compromised. Usually, you can't hear it. There is enough dissonance over all the strings to hide it.
images (40).jpeg

This is what 'tempered' means. It means 'close enough for a cigar'. Systems like this staggered fretboard, and the Buzz Feiten staggered nut, are attempts to make guitars play pitch perfect. And then you can't really change string gauge by much because string diameter affects the stagger.

If you had such a guitar and played along with a conventional guitar one would likely sound out of tune. Early electronic organs like Farfisas often sounded out because they were designed by engineers - not musicians.

What EVH's tech means is he grips the strings hard and is pulling them sharp in the lower frets where the fret width is wider. So he's tuning the guitar and setting intonation under 'Eddie' conditions.

Would the average person hear the difference? Probably not. But Eddie obviously can.

It's like - some people are dynamic enough with their playing that they can emphasise and de-emphasize notes by fretting harder or lighter. The Yngwie Malmsteen Strat has scalloped frets to allow him more latitude on how he plays vibrato or uses pick attack.

Don't obsess over this. Very few people are Eddie. Or Ygnwie.
 
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thunderbyrd

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when i 1st started playing live in P&W, whenever i played a tele or strat, i found that if i wanted to sound in tune with everybody else, i had to tune to a barred 3d fret G chord. on a gibson scale, not so much.
 

Back at it

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In my previous years I had both the death grip and unregulated breathing

made for very stiff playing, no speed and no stamina

im now focusing on a lighter touch and more relaxed breathing… helps in every way

without the death grip staying in tune is much easier and my frets love it
 

AJBaker

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Guitars like pianos are tempered instruments. What that means if you tune all the 'E's dead on the exact hertz, both the high 'E' and low 'E' will sound out. The high E will sound sharp and the low E will sound flat. This is due to the way your ear works. Hence piano tuning is an art - they have to tune high keys slightly flat and low keys slightly sharp or they sound 'out'.

That's why there's different methods of tuning - open, harmonics, chord tuned. And debate rages as to which is best.

If you play the same note up and down the guitar fretboard it will play 'out'. For it to play in tune you would need frets like this. The stagger on your frets would match the stagger in your bridge. With straight nut and frets, your tuning is always compromised. Usually, you can't hear it. There is enough dissonance over all the strings to hide it.
View attachment 941430
This is what 'tempered' means. It means 'close enough for a cigar'. Systems like this staggered fretboard, and the Buzz Feiten staggered nut, are attempts to make guitars play pitch perfect. And then you can't really change string gauge by much because string diameter affects the stagger.

If you had such a guitar and played along with a conventional guitar one would likely sound out of tune. Early electronic organs like Farfisas often sounded out because they were designed by engineers - not musicians.

What EVH's tech means is he grips the strings hard and is pulling them sharp in the lower frets where the fret width is wider. So he's tuning the guitar and setting intonation under 'Eddie' conditions.

Would the average person hear the difference? Probably not. But Eddie obviously can.

It's like - some people are dynamic enough with their playing that they can emphasise and de-emphasize notes by fretting harder or lighter. The Yngwie Malmsteen Strat has scalloped frets to allow him more latitude on how he plays vibrato or uses pick attack.

Don't obsess over this. Very few people are Eddie. Or Ygnwie.
Nice description!

Tuning is one of those mysteries of music, and it blows people's minds when they find out that it's mathematically impossible to have a piano be 100% in tune.

On a guitar I prioritise the 'cowboy chord' part of the neck where I'm strumming all the strings at once, and any intonation error becomes obvious. Further up the neck I'm not too bothered if the note is slightly flat, since I'll probably be adding vibrato to the note, or I'll be bending it to the right pitch.
 

Ignatius

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Lead players need the guitar to play in tune from the fifth to twelfth frets, where most of the work is done. Open strings can be ignored because they’re so rarely used. Notes around the 12th fret are often reached by bending making intonation above the 12 th fret less critical. Fifth position refers to the fret the first finger gravitates toward.

Tune for where you play. Playing in a band, every player nest be in tune with the others. Playing alone, you’ll tune for cowboy chords. Where you play up the neck, small deviations from perfect intonation aren’t noticed if notes played on neighboring frets are in tune with each other.

Eddie wasn't just a "lead player" who played above the fifth fret. In fact he probably spent more time playing riffs below the fifth fret and yes, open strings as part of his rhythm playing in support of songs.

That was a good stab at an explanation but I'm not sure it's very accurate 😉
 
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bottlenecker

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Hmmm, the line between myth and guitar god is a fine one.
The tech feels (or felt) that Ed had no LH fretting control and mashed every note out of tune?
There are certainly tuning approaches but I don't think it's accurate to say that due to hand strength a master player plays out of tune unless a tech fixes the problem.

It was a trick question. All guitar players play out of tune.
 

bottlenecker

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It’s unusual that this person calls it a D sharp. It IS a D sharp (and an E flat), but usually when you go down a half step you say flat rather than sharp, since sharp means UP a half step. So it makes better sense to call it a D sharp only if he was tuning up from D. As it is, he was tuning down from E, so E flat makes more sense.

How do you know he was tuning down from E?
 

421JAM

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How do you know he was tuning down from E?

I don’t, but it’s a known fact that his most common tuning was half step down from standard tuning.

Perhaps I’m mistaken and he was referring to tuning the D string up a half step, starting in a D based tuning.
 

LutherBurger

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“leave the high D-sharp string 14 cents flat but in tune with the other strings”

I agree with OP as far as the confusion about this sentence. It doesn't make sense.

I get it, Eddie tuned down either half or whole step. For the sake of this discussion, a half step.

The sentence is an oxymoron. How can a single string be flat while also in tune with the other strings? It's either flat, as compared to the other strings, or in tune, as compared to the other strings. Unless the owner of this statement meant to imply that the high string was in tune with the other strings when plucked open but when fretted at the 5th fret it was 14 cents flat?
The only way I could make sense of it was to assume that all of the other strings were flat as well.
 

billy logan

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Thoughtfree post #38 - Isn't your situation (with the open strings on the mandolin) a strong argument for the zero fret design?
(If your mandolin HAS the zero fret - Never mind!)
 




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