Inconsequential question for the day: How do you tune...open string, or 12th fret harmonic???

Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by E5RSY, Oct 18, 2019.

  1. joe_cpwe

    joe_cpwe Tele-Holic

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    if not using a tuner...I use 5 & 7th fret harmonics and open strings. Never 12th fret harmonics for tuning, just setting up intonation on a guitar.

    On an acoustic guitar, sometimes playing a chord, like C or A or D if the B string needs to flattened somewhat because of intonation issues.
     
  2. Axegrinder77

    Axegrinder77 Tele-Meister

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    The 7th fret harmonic is slightly off, so it's not a good way to tune really. When I was studying classical and jazz, both my instructors recommended the same way: tune the 12 fret A string harmonic (or fretted) with an A440 tuning fork (or tuner, app, whatever), then tune fretted A's on each string to it. Of course you can adjust for the key you're in, as a guitar is never really "in tune." But the main point here is to avoid the 7th fret harmonic. I see people use it all the time, I did as well.
     
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  3. Obsessed

    Obsessed Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Both. Gotta be both.

    I also tune my B string a touch flat.
     
  4. Axegrinder77

    Axegrinder77 Tele-Meister

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    Properly set is a subjective term, and a guitar can never have perfect intonation - laws of physics and harmony.
     
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  5. P Thought

    P Thought Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    When there's an electronic tuner handy I use that. When there's not, I use open strings most of the time.
     
  6. jimash

    jimash Friend of Leo's

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    I tune the open strings. Presumably, I have worked on the guitar at home and know whether my harmonics are in or not.
    If I am not using the tuner, however, I will tune with 5th and 7th fret harmonics, usually I only have to do this on the acoustic to fine tune it.
     
  7. Geoff738

    Geoff738 Poster Extraordinaire

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  8. chris m.

    chris m. Poster Extraordinaire

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    The system I mentioned earlier for acoustic guitars is quite similar to this procedure at stagepass and as the article points out
    the whole idea is to balance temperament reasonably well across all chords. I think everyone should try this at some point--
    they may be pleasantly surprised at the results.

    As far as tuning goes, I hate guitars that require constant tuning. When I have stretched the strings well, played them for an hour at least,
    and made sure my nut slots are lubed, I have a couple of guitars that will stay rock solid in tune for a whole set, and this is without locking
    tuners and even with an old school vibrato bar on my Strats. I won't gig a guitar that can't stay rock solid in tune for a whole set.

    My last gig we did a 1.5 hour straight set at a festival and I never once had to touch the tuners.
     
  9. Geoff738

    Geoff738 Poster Extraordinaire

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    Then there’s stuff like the Feiten nut and James Taylor’s system using slight deviations from 440 for certain strings.

    Cheers,
    Geoff
     
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  10. teleblastard6

    teleblastard6 TDPRI Member

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    I agree with G. Rotten about the A string. I tune the standard way @ the 5th fret using a pitch pipe or other reference. Then I 'fine tune it', [ as I think of it], @ the 7th fret in reverse. Harmonic method works great if you're used to it, but my experience is many people don't like it. I've had bad reactions from players who were tuning up with my guitar as reference. They wanted to hear an open string. I don't like electronic tuners, but would use one if It were a professional recording. [Unlikely in my case.]
     
  11. Wally

    Wally Telefied Ad Free Member

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    When a guitar is setup such that from chord to chord it creates harmonics that are not being played, I consider that to be a functional guitar because the physics of harmony are at work. I built the first proper compensated saddle for 6 string acoustic I ever saw about 27 years ago. I build the only correct saddle for a nylon that I have ever seen....same for a 12 string.
    a very good player finally let me build a saddle for her nylon, and she was amazed at the difference. Not long after, she was in Austin for SouthxSouthwest and ended up in a studio working with an L.A.producer. After they were through, she was packing up her guitar. The producer came up to her and said this...her words, not mine... “I just want you to know that is the only nylon guitar I have ever heard that plays in tune.”

    such a guitar is an instructor, ime......it will open one’s ears up to the reality of harmonic content, and it will demand proper playing technique. If that technique is not used, the guitar will lose the sound that it could achieve because the technique is playing the guitar out of tune.....and tuning can’t fix bad technique.
     
  12. Wally

    Wally Telefied Ad Free Member

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    And yes.....some players do not want to understand that their fretting technique is the cause of all of their ‘tuning problems’.
     
  13. Skydog1010

    Skydog1010 Tele-Afflicted Ad Free Member

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    Open for starters. I do both.
     
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  14. MilwMark

    MilwMark Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    I watched the That Pedal Show episode on tuners. They were adamant that the best way to tune is using the open 12th harmonic. More of a "pure" note. Less string motion. Less tendency to pick too hard (or repeatedly) - which I actually think might be the point of the method.

    I get it to a degree. But just found it impractical and slow to use live. So I'm back to open.
     
  15. billgwx

    billgwx Tele-Meister

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    Unison tuning (tuning to the same note on all strings), mostly of picked strings and not harmonics, is for me. For standard EADGBE tuning I start with the open 1st string and get these other positions in tune with that:

    2nd string: 5th fret
    3rd string: 9th fret
    4th string: 14th fret
    5th string: 7th fret
    6th string: 5th fret harmonic

    For electric guitar I tune to the attack, for acoustic I tune to the decay.

    This all leads to some interesting things when doing intonation for the electric, because the above guarantees that some of the open strings will be slightly off pitch, so can't use them. Instead I intonate the above with picked notes an octave up, except for:

    4th string: octave lower (2nd and 14th frets)
    6th string: 5th fret harmonic and picked 12th fret

    Gives a fair compromise up and down the neck, so usually fine for performing. (Wish I played as well as I seem to have complicated the above!)

    The back pocket option available to all of us, no matter what tuning and intonation techniques we use, is if we don't like the results, we can throw out the rule books and adjust to taste. Too perfect a tuning can be boring in some ways, and "off" notes can add flavor. There's a recent Paul Davids video about the RHCP song "Scar Tissue" showing this:
     
  16. raito

    raito Poster Extraordinaire

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    I tune using open strings. I intonate adding 12-th fret harmonics.

    Equal temperament is not a problem for me. I play piano. Still haven't figured out stretch tuning on a guitar, though.
     
  17. chris m.

    chris m. Poster Extraordinaire

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    This video by Paul Davids is a wonderful explanation of equal temperament vs. just temperament and all the attending problems....at least to
    those with reasonably attuned hearing.
     
  18. Geoff738

    Geoff738 Poster Extraordinaire

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    I generally get thing in tune via tuner, or sometimes starting with the A string and sometimes use harmonics and sometimes not, but end by using the Pete Townsend A chord - x02255 - getting the octaves on the b and e strings in tune with the second fret notes. Works well enough for rock n roll.

    Cheers,
    Geoff
     
  19. jimash

    jimash Friend of Leo's

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    Nice article.
    "Tuning the 2nd string: Play a harmonic on the (in tune) 4th string at twelve. As this sounds, adjust the 2nd string until D at the third fret is in pure unison."

    I'd like to see how this is done.

    Anyhow
     
  20. LGOberean

    LGOberean Doctor of Teleocity

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    For the first 40 some odd years of guitar playing, I used the open string method. I still do that, but I don't really trust my ears anymore (tinnitus is getting worse), so this...

    [​IMG]
     
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