Tuning by Ear ?

Discussion in 'Tab, Tips, Theory and Technique' started by Brett Fuzz, Mar 21, 2014.

  1. Brett Fuzz

    Brett Fuzz Tele-Holic

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    Just restrung my Tele tonight.

    After many years of re-stringing I thought I'd always need a tuner.

    Well, tonight I surprised myself.

    Tuned the thing by ear. Sounded close.

    Checked with my tuner & I was damn close !

    Stoked!:)
     
  2. joeford

    joeford Friend of Leo's

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    tuning by ear will get you closer than any tuner. i always tune up with a tuner, then make slight adjustments by ear. if the tuning's wrong to your tuner... no biggie. if it's wrong to your ears... you have a problem.

    use a sample pitch and tune until there's no oscillations. i love that little tuner feature on the tdpri main page... i've used it a bunch
     
  3. anacephalic

    anacephalic Tele-Meister

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    used to be one of the first things a future guitar player learned.

    if you play with others make sure everyone uses the same tuner...they are not always the same
     
  4. pondcaster

    pondcaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    Ha! I did that the other day & felt the same way. And for years, most of the guys that I've played with that thought they could tune by ear were almost always off by a bit. They wanted the rest of us to tune to their ear instead of the tuners we all had! Too funny...
     
  5. czgibson

    czgibson Tele-Afflicted

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    It's a skill that's being lost. I'm amazed by the number of players who can't do it.
     
  6. LowThudd

    LowThudd Friend of Leo's

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    I tune by ear every once in a while, just to see how close I can get. As long as I haven't been drinkin', fairly close to spot on. Can be done without a sample pitch, if the intonation is correct.
     
  7. MrTwang

    MrTwang Friend of Leo's

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    I can tune by ear pretty good - certainly, I can get all the strings in relative tune with each other and although I don't have perfect pitch, I can usually hear an E note if I think about it - the last couple of times I've restrung a guitar without a tuner, I've been spot on when I checked it.

    But playing live is a different situation and I consider a tuner an essential tool for checking tuning silently during the show or tuning up while the DJ is blasting through the PA.
     
  8. brenn

    brenn Tele-Afflicted

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    I amazed by the number who think they can, and are wrong. That would be most of them.
     
  9. Itwang

    Itwang Tele-Meister

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    I agree that tuning by ear is a skill being lost. But Damn, tuners are handy at gigs, band practices and, bluegrass festivals. Parking lot jams are much more user friendly since the ubiquitous clip-on tuners arrived on the scene. I also agree with Mr Twang that, live, my tuner is essential for silent tuning between tunes. Plus, my old Boss TU serves as the power supply to my little gigging pedalboard. Another thing I use my Boss TU for is intonation adjustments during guitar set-ups. I always thought that I'd end up replacing it with something newer/better, but It just won't die and haven't found another one that is an improvement for what I need.
     
  10. Brett Fuzz

    Brett Fuzz Tele-Holic

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    I've just always relied on a tuner & assumed I'd never get close to standard tuning just by ear. I guess the more you do something, the better you get. Nice to know I'm not completely tone deaf ! :)
     
  11. KevinB

    KevinB Doctor of Teleocity

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    I learned to tune many years ago, and still always keep one of these, in A440, handy...

    [​IMG]
     
  12. LKB3rd

    LKB3rd Friend of Leo's

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    I use the E A (open) E A (2nd fret) E A(5th fret) method and it works well for me. You have to do the 4th interval by ear to get started which is good ear training and pretty easy after you do it enough.
    You can check it by a full 6 string strum and its easy to hear if something is off.
     
  13. Mike SS

    Mike SS Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    Same here. Learned before the advent of tuners. I used to go find first A above middle C on my mother's piano to get started, or use the opening chord to the Allman Brothers "Black Hearted Woman".
     
  14. chainsaw

    chainsaw Tele-Meister

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    When I was a kid, me and my cousin NEVER used a tuner. We never even worried about any 440 stuff. Didn't even know what 440 or a hertz was.

    Luckily, we never played with a piano player.
     
  15. dbickford

    dbickford Tele-Afflicted

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    Brings back memories of my high school chorus instructor. She'd yell out "gimme an E !". Once you've got the E, you got it all.
     
  16. Tim Bowen

    Tim Bowen Poster Extraordinaire

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    Well yes, many of us caveman soldiered on back in the day and had to learn to tune by ear. But lack of tuners wasn't the only variable. Many recorded tunes simply weren't in A 440. I would suspect some tape machine inconsistencies possibly, but also some of the discrepancies in pitch were due to instrument quirks or simply non-A 440 tuning.

    Two by Led Zeppelin immediately come to mind: "Boogie With Stu" (A blues) and "Tangerine" (A minor). Pitch for both songs is significantly lower than A 440, sounds closer to Ab, but *not quite*. Recorded in 1970 & 1971, so not the same sessions. In the case of "Boogie With Stu", Page has been quoted as saying that Ian Stewart "turns up and plays a piano that's totally unplayable"; so one would surmise that all tuned to the piano. "Tangerine" is anyone's guess; perhaps the 12 string guitar or pedal steel were factors.

    In any event, if you were around in the '70s and you had a guitar, a record player, and a pair of ears, and you wanted to play along with the songs, or figure out how to do so, you tuned by ear to the track.

    A few months back I was away from my music collection and needed to dust off "Holiday Inn" by Elton John. Hadn't played it in some time and wanted to do the tune at that evening's show, so I went to You Tube. I found a couple of versions of the original studio mix, but there were pitch discrepancies. One was in A 440 and another was not. Not sure what's technologically up with that.

    Modern tuners have allowances for this sort of thing but I've never even used these features, guess I should try it. I always just tune by ear for these type things.
     
  17. nomadh

    nomadh Tele-Afflicted

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    I was able to play a lot of songs before i could tune by ear. A few years i think. Now i can hit 440 sometimes on a restring by ear. Inbetween rehersals i usually tune 5th to 7th fret harmonics then check it with the 5 to 7 strum. I get more picky if the song has arpeggios or fingerpicking.
    Whats funny is as well as i can tune now sometimes still my ears just dont work and nothing sounds right. I think there is no sense more mysterious, variable and screwex up as hearing. Way more artistic than the visual.
     
  18. anacephalic

    anacephalic Tele-Meister

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    Danny Gatton had a video where he said the dial tone on a phone was in F...just in case you needed help tuning.

    i've tried to jam with some records where it seems like every tune is off by a partial step. makes you get quick on the tuners
     
  19. Special Tom

    Special Tom Tele-Meister Silver Supporter

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  20. Tim Bowen

    Tim Bowen Poster Extraordinaire

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    And with 8-track tapes it was variable tuning... sort of turned playing in tune into a sport. Sometimes sticking a matchbook between the tape and machine stabilized it. Lots of talk about 'time' around here lately... how about waiting for the 8-track to switch programs so you can finish hearing your song... ah man things were kooky back when the pterodactyls flew over the bubbling tar pits!

    Later on in the early '80s I remember seeing two guys in this band tuning to each other by ear, each with chorus pedals engaged.
     
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