Tuning By Ear…No Reference

Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by h4ck.b0x7, Jul 24, 2021.

  1. h4ck.b0x7

    h4ck.b0x7 Tele-Afflicted

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    I’ve heard of people imagining a song intro or lick when trying to tune a guitar without a reference. Have you done this? If so, what is your reference song?
     
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  2. eichaan

    eichaan Tele-Holic

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  3. glenlivet

    glenlivet Tele-Afflicted

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    no reference song, but "back in the day" I could hummm a *really close* "A" on demand. Just kind of a medium breath, mouth closed, and let it resonate up through my throat and sinus. Lost that skill when clip on tuners got so cheap.
     
  4. Sax-son

    Sax-son Tele-Afflicted

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    Joe Pass once said that if you can't train your ear to tune your instrument, you should choose a different profession. Safe to say he didn't much care for tuners.
     
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  5. brookdalebill

    brookdalebill Tele Axpert Ad Free Member

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  6. brookdalebill

    brookdalebill Tele Axpert Ad Free Member

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    I strongly suspect the master had perfect pitch.
    I really enjoyed seeing/hearing him on my birthday in 1990.
    It was a solo show, and though he was cranky with the sound man, he was brilliant.
     
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2021
  7. BuckNekkid

    BuckNekkid Tele-Meister

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    I'm blessed/cursed with a very good ear (I hate the term, "perfect pitch"). I have been known to stop playing in the middle of a song because a string has gone out of tune (NOT in front of an audience, however. I'm not that OCD).
     
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  8. aleski

    aleski Tele-Meister

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    Lately I've been doing it imagining a tuning video on Youtube. The results vary, but not too dramatically and I usually get quite close. Nothing else matters by Metallica is a song I used to use, given the use of open strings.
     
  9. Chester P Squier

    Chester P Squier Tele-Afflicted

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    50 years ago, the first note Roger McGuinn sings in "5D," which is an A. But now, in my mind's ear, it comes out as a G.

    You have to vividly remember a song in whatever key it is in.

    My brother once had a parrot who would sing the first part of "I Feel Good," with the na-na-na-na-na-na-na sax parts, by James Brown. I did not hear the bird, but wondered if he sang the song in James Brown's key.
     
  10. JL_LI

    JL_LI Poster Extraordinaire

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    Back in college I could tune my guitar from a pitch pipe or a harmonica. I can’t say I’ve lost that ability, but I struggle. I think electronic tuners have made me lazy, or at least made my brain lazy. I do OK tuning string to string using fifth and seventh fret harmonics listening for beats or pulsation. There’s a song I can use in D major that gets me close or I just assume that the guitar hasn’t drifted too much. Given the choice, I’ll do it the lazy way.
     
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2021
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  11. Dismalhead

    Dismalhead Poster Extraordinaire

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    I happily left the days of tuning by ear and then arguing about who was in tune and who wasn't about 25 years ago. I can tune my guitar to my low E string without a tuner, but as for the perfect pitch thing it's supposed to be very rare and most of the people who say they have it are full of it.
     
  12. StevesBoogie

    StevesBoogie Tele-Afflicted Ad Free Member

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    Suite: Judy Blue Eyes. The opening chords are such that I can instantly recall in the right key (E) and then proceed from there.

    I am not going to lie ... I cannot do this for any other song. Somehow this one song got implanted into my brain.

    I thought at one point that Heartbreaker from Zep had the same effect for me, but nope, I tried recently and got it wrong, LOL.
     
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  13. bebopbrain

    bebopbrain Tele-Meister

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    I am curious if the bird hit the tricky dotted eighth note rhythms at the end of each verse.
     
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  14. nojazzhere

    nojazzhere Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    Just to be clear.....a "good ear" is NOT perfect pitch. Over the years, I developed very good "relative pitch", which means given a reference of some sort, (the ending chord of the last song, a random pitch which you're told what it is, or an out of tune guitar) I can then give any note requested. This was drilled into us Music Majors in college in Freshman and Sophomore Ear Training. But "perfect pitch" means you can "nail" a required note with zero error or variation, with no starting note or reference. I've known three people with TRUE perfect pitch, and it's NOT the advantage many people imagine. In fact, it can be a detriment in certain situations. For example, in an a cappella choir, the singers often shift slightly in pitch and find a more "natural" key over the course of a song. If ONE singer has perfect pitch, and cannot vary from the written music, it can cause the entire ensemble to sound "off". An uncle of mine is a concert pianist, with perfect pitch. He plays all over the world, and occasionally has to play instruments that aren't perfectly in tune. He has learned to ignore the little voice in his head that screams "out of tune!!!!!" In my limited experience, perfect pitch is mainly an impressive parlor trick. ;)
     
  15. Chester P Squier

    Chester P Squier Tele-Afflicted

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    I never heard the bird myself. I was told that the bird started with “Yeow!” Then sang “I feel good” followed by one of the sax parts using the syllables “na-na-na-na-na-na-na”

    That was all he sang.
     
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  16. nojazzhere

    nojazzhere Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    If he's not on youtube, it didn't happen.....;)
     
  17. Octorfunk

    Octorfunk Tele-Holic

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  18. BB

    BB Poster Extraordinaire

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    As others have said, if it's out of tune, I hear it and it drives me crazy until everything is in tune.

    I'm totally (well, almost!) self taught. I don't read music, know theory, or actually know how music goes together. I wish I knew, but I never had the discipline to follow through.
    However, the 'School of hard knock's' or playing in various bands with members that were much better musicians than I, really helped me....not only as a player, but helping me develop an ear for changes.

    That helped me become kind of a jack of all trades. I've played in 50's/60's, R&B, (the real stuff!) blues, classic rock, top 40, new wave and (sorta) fusion bands.

    Even though I don't play nearly as much as I used to, I can still hear a song I've never heard before and know what key it's in and the changes. And yes, I can still tune a guitar to proper pitch without a tuner.

    Roy Orbison's "Pretty Woman" usually comes to mind while tuning without a tuner.
     
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  19. dlew919

    dlew919 Doctor of Teleocity

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    I know a few with perfect pitch. They can’t listen to blues, or rock and roll, or early jazz. Microtones drive them nuts. Led zeppelin is unlistenable to them (I know, someone will pipe in stating that you don’t need perfect pitch for that, you know what I’m saying).

    I’m happy with relative pitch and good tuners.
     
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  20. Telecaster88

    Telecaster88 Tele-Afflicted

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    Before I had an electronic tuner, I'd tune the low E to the first note of Driver 8 and go from there.
     
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