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View Full Version : What's the deal with clip on tuner on the headstock?



Lapyang
11-05-2017, 09:50 AM
I have read so much about the balance of the ukulele, the weight of the tuners, how geared tuners should not be used on sopranos...etc. But then I have seen so many people, you-tubers, instructional videos showing clip-on tuners on the headstock while they are playing. Did that not increase the weight and throw out the balance of the whole instrument? What's the deal?

JackLuis
11-05-2017, 10:44 AM
Probably balance is not that big a deal. Although I did notice it with a Oscar Shimtz tenor I got off Craig's list.

DownUpDave
11-05-2017, 11:01 AM
People do stupid things.........next question.

Seriously though.....It really isn't that big of a deal if it doesn't bother someone.

Booli
11-05-2017, 11:11 AM
I have read so much about the balance of the ukulele, the weight of the tuners, how geared tuners should not be used on sopranos...etc. But then I have seen so many people, you-tubers, instructional videos showing clip-on tuners on the headstock while they are playing. Did that not increase the weight and throw out the balance of the whole instrument? What's the deal?

short answer: ignorance (which is bliss for some beginners)

long answer: folks measuring the weights of different sets of tuners (tuning pegs, etc) down to the picogram, or looking for the fulcrum balancing point at the neck heel, are likely NOT the same group of folks on YT that are banging away (usually with a flat-tuned E string), EVEN if they are giving a tutorial, and I noticed MANY folks are STILL not in tune, even IF they have a tuner (as in pitch listening device) on the headstock, so the tuners (as in pitch listening device) in these videos seems to be more 'for show' and maybe these folks think 'it looks cool for video'...

Booli
11-05-2017, 11:47 AM
It's obvious: they need lighter tuners so they can leave the tuner clipped to the headstock.

LOL - I like this better than what I posted. :)

Choirguy
11-05-2017, 12:07 PM
I have been a sponge in the ukulele world, soaking up whatever knowledge I can find. The only person I know of who makes a consistent case for balance is Barry Maz (gotaukulele) who also has a strong opinion on geared tuners on Sopranos. He is 100% entitled to those positions. That said—some people prefer a geared tuner; and I would wager that it is pretty hard to find a ukulele that is drastically off-balance that it would impact your ability to hold or play the ukulele.

Headstock tuners are wonderful in that they stay on your ukulele (sometimes even in a case) and can function even in a crowded room of other ukulele players. Tuning is a constant thing on ukulele—I watched Jake Shimabukuro tune frequently in his performance (sometimes after every song)—so those of us in the lower stratosphere of playing shouldn’t avoid tuning, either.

I wouldn’t worry about it...it is their instrument, not yours, and it is their video, not yours. You can play without the tuner and make videos without a visible tuner. Meanwhile, I’m just going to encourage everyone to keep playing whether they have a tuner on their headstock or not. And if I hear someone whose ukulele is horrendously out of tune (my tolerance is pretty high with up to 50 students playing ukulele at the same time), I will encourage them to tune or ask them if they need help tuning.

kohanmike
11-05-2017, 12:34 PM
I have a headstock tuner (Micro D'Addario) on every one of ukes and bass ukes that doesn't have one built in. I never think about the balance because I always use a leather strap with suede on the inside that holds it in place.

besley
11-05-2017, 12:57 PM
I have read so much about the balance of the ukulele, the weight of the tuners, how geared tuners should not be used on sopranos...etc. But then I have seen so many people, you-tubers, instructional videos showing clip-on tuners on the headstock while they are playing. Did that not increase the weight and throw out the balance of the whole instrument? What's the deal?

The DAddario Micro tuner weighs like 9 g or so, hardly an issue. Even the bigger Snarks weight only a little over an ounce.

Rllink
11-05-2017, 01:30 PM
For a long long time I just left the electric tuner on the ukulele. About a year ago I started taking it off a soon as I got my ukulele tuned. I do not know why I started taking it off. Honestly, I don't spend a lot of time trying to justify everything that I do or don't do. I have noticed no difference in my ukulele, or in my ukulele playing, having it on the uke or off the uke.

WifeOnFourStrings
11-05-2017, 02:05 PM
The only time I've been bothered by the presence of a tuner on an ukulele is when the guys at HMS put one on a Moore Bettah. It seemed criminal ;)

acmespaceship
11-05-2017, 02:10 PM
Electronic tuners weigh hardly anything these days.


A perfectly-balanced ukulele that has drifted out of tune is a bad thing; do not play it until you retune it.


A musician glancing at a tuner on the headstock is not as distracting as a musician rooting around in a case looking for the tuner.


I wish I could tune perfectly by ear, even in a loud place with other musicians, but it ain't happening.


I wish I could repeal the laws of physics so a uke that was in tune 20 minutes ago backstage would still be in tune after 20 minutes under stage lights, but it ain't happening.


The tuner on my headstock is easy to grab and lend to somebody who didn't have the foresight to keep a tuner handy. Set a good example for beginners and be the change you want to see in the world.


At home none of this matters so much, but if I take the tuner off the headstock and set it down someplace... will I find it again before the cats run off with it?


YMMV so don't worry about me or anybody else; do what's right for you.

Croaky Keith
11-06-2017, 12:37 AM
Tuners on headstocks :-

.....too lazy to put it away.

.....they like watching it.

Personally, I think it distracts, & is an eye sore...... :p

Louis0815
11-06-2017, 02:47 AM
I have Planet Waves Micro tuners clipped on every headstock (my side, almost invisible from the front) basically for reasons 1-7 of acmespaceship's list.
To avoid eye soreness and distraction I switch off the tuner after having tuned the uke - which also has a positive effect on battery life (more than the auto-power-off functionality)

Why others keep their clip-on tuners clipped on regardless of how bulky they are?
Perhaps for reasons #7, #3, #6 (in that order).... or just because - who knows.

actadh
11-06-2017, 05:55 AM
I usually play in the same room at home, so once I check tuning it comes off as the ukes rarely goes out of tune.

When I am out and about, I keep it on unless it buzzes/vibrates on the headstock as the difference in room to car to room temperature can throw off the tuning.

niwenomian
11-06-2017, 07:34 AM
For a long long time I just left the electric tuner on the ukulele. About a year ago I started taking it off a soon as I got my ukulele tuned. I do not know why I started taking it off. Honestly, I don't spend a lot of time trying to justify everything that I do or don't do. I have noticed no difference in my ukulele, or in my ukulele playing, having it on the uke or off the uke.

Me too! I've used just about every kind of tuner, from those with built in metronomes, to snarks, to the planet waves micro. I found myself moving to more and more minimalist (or less and less substantial!). The metronome/tuner was the first to go. I wanted a tuner that only did one thing, but did it really well. I used a cheapo reverb tuner for a while, but then found the micro and used that.

Finally, I just took it off and have been using an app on my phone (GuitarTuna). That's for my everyday player. Those that don't get played as often still have the tuners clipped to them, probably in need of new batteries.

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
11-06-2017, 08:40 AM
The only time I've been bothered by the presence of a tuner on an ukulele is when the guys at HMS put one on a Moore Bettah. It seemed criminal ;)

That makes me crazy too. I've spoken to Andrew about this and he has since sent any offenders to the dungeon to do set up work for a day.

These Planet Wave micro sound hole tuners are currently my favorite as they'll tuck nicely into almost any sound hole. Since they are made "one size fits any instrument" you may have to remove the screw and re bend the spring clip for a snug fit on 'ukulele.

http://www.daddario.com/pwProductDetail.Page?ActiveID=4115&productid=1073&productname=NS_Micro_Soundhole_Tuner&sid=eb7e0365-6ac0-4e5e-88b5-538394b0e08b

photoshooter
11-06-2017, 09:27 AM
I think that a perfectly tuned uke is more important than a perfectly balanced uke. To that end I keep four tuners clipped to my headstock- one tuner dedicated to each string. That way I can get super accurate tuning and, as an added bonus, the extra weight gives me big biceps.

robedney
11-06-2017, 10:48 AM
Somewhere on Youtube there's video of James Hill playing with another uke player (who was very good). Before they start, the other guy pulled out his phone, rested it on his knee and tuned his uke. He was obviously using a tuning app, but James joked something like "what, you can't wait to check your messages?". My point being some things are more distracting than others, and a clip on tuner bothers me not at all -- except on a very fine instrument with a perfect finish!!! That's not a worry for me -- although owning a Moore Bettah is on my bucket list. If that ever happens I'll put my phone on my knee.

ukulelekarcsi
11-07-2017, 04:35 AM
It's a bit like walking round all day with your toothbrush in your mouth, or with your slippers on. Sure it's handy, and it's your own business, but it certainly looks sloppy. Also, use it to get a basic tuning, and then sweet tune it by ear, they way you really like it. Perhaps that E string actually should be a few cents flat...

Rllink
11-07-2017, 05:03 AM
It's a bit like walking round all day with your toothbrush in your mouth, or with your slippers on. Sure it's handy, and it's your own business, but it certainly looks sloppy. Also, use it to get a basic tuning, and then sweet tune it by ear, they way you really like it. Perhaps that E string actually should be a few cents flat... I think that a lot of people leave it on the ukulele so that they don't lose it. My ukulele student doesn't like to leave it on, so most of the time her's is sitting on the table at my house.

jer
11-07-2017, 10:52 AM
I leave one clipped on most of the time if the strings are new and still settling in, so I can check tuning frequently. After the strings settle in and hold their tune well, I tend to take it off after tuning.
If I were performing in public, I'd definitely keep it clipped on. I have decent ears, but they aren't as accurate as the tuner.
I don't notice any difference in the balance of the instrument or sound or anything like that.
I've also put geared tuners on a soprano that came with friction pegs and noticed no real difference in sound or feel...it was too subtle to register.

This thread makes me think of a device that Fender makes called the Fatfinger (https://shop.fender.com/en-US/accessories/miscellaneous/fatfinger-guitar/0992180100.html). It clips to the headstock of an instrument and is supposed to increase sustain and change tone. I'm not sure how well it works. Some claim they hear difference, others not as much. I would guess something like that could throw off balance on a light uke..ha.


As for what anyone else does with their tuners, it doesn't matter to me either way. Clip it on, leave it off...whatever works....There is nothing ignorant about either way...It's just personal preference.....splitting hairs...

Jarmo_S
11-07-2017, 05:13 PM
Also electronic tuners are programmed for an algorythm called "Equal Temperament". It splits a 12 note chromatic scale into 12 frequencies equally spaced, which repeats every octave. The mathematical formula hurts your brain. Your ears like a different thing called Pythagorean tuning which is based on harmonic ratios and was uncovered by Pythagorus in ancient Greece. The electronic tuner is just a circuit which lights up when it detects a calculated frequency. If the frequency is calculated using the "Equal Temperament" algorythm with A=440Hz, thats what the tuner will detect. You can have a $2000 tuner and it will still detect the Equal Temperament frequency. So the Equal Temperament algorythm generates frequencies which can be different to the Pythagorean frequencies your ears like the most. This means that your $2000 tuner may still sound out of tune. As the universal music reference is A=440Hz, the closest Pythagorean and Equal Temperament frequencies are going to be closest for scales where the A note is the root note (Am and A) or related scales (C and C#). The difference is going to be worst when A is the 7th note (B) or when the scale starts with the 7th note away from A (G). So the keys of Am, A, C, C# will probably sound the most in tune after you use your electronic tuner, and the keys of B and G (and associated minors) will probably sound most out of tune. Not amount of accuracy or money will change this if the electronic device is calculating the Equal Temperament frequency.

You have understood things a bit wrong Bill. The right way to understand the standard A4 440 HZ is that it is an accepted reference to all notes in the equal temperament system. All notes in it are equal and what they are sounding as wrong to ear depends of the key you play. Typically intervals like octaves, fifths and fourths sound to human ear just right, others less so.

Same as every note is equal in that system, so is every key. The root of the key is always the reference point to the other notes in it. Key of G is no less out of tune than say key of A.
If we are talking modulations to other keys, you should know that the neighbor keys in the circle of fifths sense are always the most familiar, so modulations to F and G from key of C.

Well, if you have some limiting absolute pitch in your head, that holds maybe some key better than the other? You would be in trouble sometimes though with such a head, since the standard 440 Hz is just one used and there are other reference points.

Interesting thread btw and your other comments too besides other posters :)

Nickie
11-07-2017, 05:29 PM
I used to leave my tuner (Peterson strobe tuner) on the headstock of my uke, all the time, except while in its case. One day it fell off the stand onto the floor, breaking the tuner, and damaging the headstock.
I don't do that anymore. Now I take it off after I tune and put it in my case.
If the band is playing together, I tune to Ramille's uke, because she has a very good ear.
I don't like the way a tuner looks sitting on my headstock. I paid a pretty penny for a pretty headstock and I like showing off all of it.
If I had a MB uke, no way would I leave a tuner on it. I think it just looks amateurish.

spookelele
11-08-2017, 06:52 AM
I think this is another issue of YMMV.

Weight on the head... isn't always bad.
There is a school of thought that says weight on the head increases sustain.
Fender and other places make clamp on weights for guitar heads specifically to increase sustain.

https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/FatFingerG

Also.. some performers do it.

Jake frequently plays with a tuner on the head.

104283

bratsche
11-08-2017, 07:21 AM
My used baritone came to me with a d'Addario micro tuner clipped on, and at first I thought it was silly, until I experienced how much and how often nylon strings go out of tune compared to steel ones. I turned it around and mounted it on the backside lower part of the headstock, and all you can see from the front is the clip. I accidentally knocked it off a few tines while playing, so I added a black elastic ponytail band to secure it, which works great. I bought one for my second uke, as well. I'm glad they are so unobtrusive. I'd never use them otherwise.

bratsche

spookelele
11-11-2017, 04:05 PM
These Planet Wave micro sound hole tuners are currently my favorite as they'll tuck nicely into almost any sound hole.

http://www.daddario.com/pwProductDetail.Page?ActiveID=4115&productid=1073&productname=NS_Micro_Soundhole_Tuner&sid=eb7e0365-6ac0-4e5e-88b5-538394b0e08b

I picked one of these up because I broke a snark.

Wow.. I really like these. The display is quite bright, it's easy to use, and it seems more sensative than the snarks.
The way it blinks with the bars on either side of the the note.. seems to make it alot easier to hit the pitch fast and accurate while tuning.

Using it feels alot more precise than the snark.

Thanks for the tip on that one.