PDA

View Full Version : No tuner tuning?



Rllink
04-02-2019, 04:12 AM
All the tuner talk, anybody just pick up their uke, check the tuning off of one of their strings, and then go for it? I've found myself doing that more and more when I'm in the privacy of my own home or if I know that I won't be playing with anyone else. I started doing it because I met a guy recently who plays the ukulele and he doesn't have a tuner of any kind. Tuning to a specific frequency is not something he is even concerned with. He checks his A string by ear, if it sounds good to him, he tunes off of it. If he doesn't like the sound of his A string, he adjusts it until it does sound good to him and then goes from there.

If we are playing together, we tune to each other. He has a couple friends that join us once in a while and they are the same. We all tune to someone's A string. If I happen to whip out my tuner, they wait for me to tune, and then they tune off of mine, because none of them have a tuner of their own. Nor a tuning fork or a pitch pipe, or a phone app. They actually are humoring me.

I was just wondering if that is something other people do? I'm finding that tuning is just sort of relative. I mean, do you really have to be at 440 MHz? Evidently not, because these guys are really good and I've been learning a lot from them, and they are tuning wherever they feel like. This is not the first time I've done this, but it is the first time I've done it consistently. Anyway, I've found it to be quite liberating to not be dictated to by a tuner. Just to play what sounds good. I don't know. I'm throwing it out for discussion. Maybe I'm just being goofy.

PhilUSAFRet
04-02-2019, 04:33 AM
some players have a "trained ear" and can tune by ear far more easily than others. If you are a relatively new player, it would be wise to use a tuner so that you can train your ear to hear correct pitch. Lots of posts online will help you understand this concept: https://www.bing.com/search?q=tuning+stringed+instrument+to+relative+pi tch&form=WNSGPH&qs=SW&cvid=f2bdbc32902745519ef49f85e40efa07&pq=tuning+stringed+instrument+to+relative+pitch&cc=US&setlang=en-US&PC=DCTE&nclid=CA34B48BE41FDCD3F5E0B4DD387E93D5&ts=1554215486968&elv=AY3%21uAY7tbNNZGZ2yiGNjfN2pkMA0mR6ETAb6XYV3l55 u%217Hr66izBft77REG7cjuFMpH*qyYMNBTmZNPAKRxxb4f%21 UrNUsv*CNZSf*VyCJ0&wsso=Moderate

Jerryc41
04-02-2019, 04:49 AM
All the tuner talk, anybody just pick up their uke, check the tuning off of one of their strings, and then go for it? I've found myself doing that more and more when I'm in the privacy of my own home

Definitely! I'll check the sound of each string and some chords. If it sounds reasonable, I'll play. When I'm with a group, I check the tuning occasionally.

70sSanO
04-02-2019, 04:51 AM
There are generations that never used a tuner. The more savvy ones used a tuning fork. We had a piano do I’d tune a guitar string to that and then tune string to string. Thousands of garage bands tuned to each other’s instruments. It is pretty funny that as instrument intonation has improved, electronic tuning has increased. Once upon a time you had to do a compromise tuning to fudge a little because the intonation was always off some.

And yes, I use a tuner all the time these days. But I also do string to string afterward to check it in real life.

John

Pukulele Pete
04-02-2019, 04:51 AM
I started playing guitar many,many,many, years ago. I always tuned using an "A" tuning fork. Today I play ukulele and use an electronic tuner.
I really think using the tuning fork was beneficial because you really had to listen to the sound your strings and their vibrations.

Arcy
04-02-2019, 04:57 AM
I try, but I'm not good at it yet. What I often do is to tune my G string to a tuner, then tune the rest to that string by ear, then go back with the tuner to see how close I am.

How close is close enough depends on your ear: I can always get it close enough for my ear, but not close enough for my wife. A pro at the Koaloha factory looked physically pained by my "in tune" and swapped me for one he'd tuned (by ear) while he fixed it. I think (hope!) I'm getting better since I was there

Rllink
04-02-2019, 06:27 AM
I try, but I'm not good at it yet. What I often do is to tune my G string to a tuner, then tune the rest to that string by ear, then go back with the tuner to see how close I am.

How close is close enough depends on your ear: I can always get it close enough for my ear, but not close enough for my wife. A pro at the Koaloha factory looked physically pained by my "in tune" and swapped me for one he'd tuned (by ear) while he fixed it. I think (hope!) I'm getting better since I was there
I'm not real good at tuning off of something else, be it a tuning fork, a piano, a pitch pipe, or even another string, but I think it might be because I've never actually tried. I'm lazy. I've just always put my tuner on and get it done. Quick and easy. But these guys have me going now.

Jarmo_S
04-02-2019, 06:37 AM
Even professional rock groups like Grateful Dead were often in live situations so badly out of tunes.
The invention of electronic tuners is such a blessing for our ears :)

Whoever tries get as good a tuning with only a fork can never achieve it, but can use it together with an electronic tuner to get to know his/her instrument's imperfctions. And then can maybe get a good enough tuning with only a tuning fork or some other single reference pitch.

Jarmo_S
04-02-2019, 06:47 AM
I was just wondering if that is something other people do? I'm finding that tuning is just sort of relative. I mean, do you really have to be at 440 MHz? Evidently not, because these guys are really good and I've been learning a lot from them, and they are tuning wherever they feel like.

Some people are cursed with an absolute pitch, so to them the reference pitch is not as flexible thing to adjust. They are very few, and in the above general post I mean't instruments being out of tune relative to each other or even relative themselves.

EDW
04-02-2019, 06:51 AM
Probably the best bet would be to try tuning by ear and check yourself on the tuner, using the tuner to train your ear.littyle by little. In time, it will improve. If you have a tuner or app that will play reference pitches that is a great option. If you are only using a meter, you are doing it visually and not aurally.

If you are playing with others, being in tune with each other is needed. Whether it is 440, 438, 442, etc really does not matter as long as you are the same. If playing with piano you would have to be pretty precise as they cannot adjust. Different groups, especially classical ensembles around the country and world tune to different standards. Some early music groups tune to a much lower pitch, while groups in Germany may tune to 444 or 446.

Rllink
04-02-2019, 06:54 AM
Some people are cursed with an absolute pitch, so to them the reference pitch is not as flexible thing to adjust. They are very few, and in the above general post I mean't instruments being out of tune relative to each other or even relative themselves.

I'm not really talking about playing out of tune, I'm talking about playing relative to each other. No one it advocating for playing out of tune. I am far from perfect pitch, but I can still hear out of tune. These people are not out of tune, they just are not tuned the 440 MHz.

Patrick Madsen
04-02-2019, 07:05 AM
Back in the day, if the band leader had a tin ear, the band usually didn't get the gig. Course that was 55t years ago. Thank G. for the tuners today cause my tin ear has turned to lead.

Jarmo_S
04-02-2019, 07:13 AM
I'm not really talking about playing out of tune, I'm talking about playing relative to each other. No one it advocating for playing out of tune. I am far from perfect pitch, but I can still hear out of tune. These people are not out of tune, they just are not tuned the 440 MHz.

You are mixing things now or misunderstood by purpose. But search Google for an absolute pitch ear. It is developed at very young age and is not maybe such a good thing for a flexible musician, But you asked if 440Hz A4 is needed. Of course it is not.

Also if people can't play in tune relative to each, then they are playing out of tune!

EDW
04-02-2019, 07:23 AM
I believe absolute is what people also call perfect pitch, where someone can hear and identify pitches. Certainly as you refer to playing in tune, that would be about having/developing good relative pitch. That is very important to have.

I sometimes hear performances on line which feature people performing or reviewing an instrument which is quite out of tune. It makes it tough to listen to or really get a sense of what the instrument sounds like. The instrument resonates differently when in tune with itself.

John boy
04-02-2019, 07:48 AM
Occasionally I do play at home without tuning, as you described (but I tune the strings properly relative to each other). However, that's just occasionally. Most of the time I use an "A" tuning fork, and tune from that.

Osprey
04-02-2019, 09:29 AM
My wife was a music major in college. I can play one note and she will yell out that’s flat so I always get out a tuner to try to get as close as I can to A = 440 Hz.

gochugogi
04-02-2019, 10:07 AM
I have a friend that thinks she can tune by ear, and she does get it in the ball park but always between an 1/8 and 1/4 tone sharp. But, yeah, it's painful for me to play with her and I try to gently encourage her to use a tuner. When she steps out for a smoke or bathroom break I quickly fix her tuning and she's none the wiser...

Bill Sheehan
04-02-2019, 10:39 AM
I have a friend that thinks she can tune by ear, and she does get it in the ball park but always between an 1/8 and 1/4 tone sharp. But, yeah, it's painful for me to play with her and I try to gently encourage her to use a tuner. When she steps out for a smoke or bathroom break I quickly fix her tuning and she's none the wiser...

...unless, of course, she joined the UU Forum yesterday... :rolleyes:

glennerd
04-02-2019, 10:47 AM
I'll tune by ear when I'm trying out ukes in a music shop, but I'll usually double check with my phone. Sometimes I'm close, sometimes not. I'll usually listen for the "my dog has fleas" rather than fretting one string to the next open string - you know, just for the challenge. I'm always up for the challenge, but I'm not winning. :p

Bill Sheehan
04-02-2019, 10:58 AM
Just kidding there, Peter! I remember back in the early seventies, my band utilized two guitar players and a bass player, we didn't have electronic tuners, and honestly I'm not sure we'd even heard of them! We'd just show up to the gig, and knowing we'd all been doing last-minute private practicing of some of our tunes "with the record", it was likely that we were all pretty close to the same range tuning-wise, and from there we'd all just start plucking open-string notes (sort of like a symphony orchestra getting tuned up), looking at each other, until we collectively agreed that we were all where we needed to be. And although we did insist on precision tuning, Lord knows how much "drift" might've taken place during each set, but we'd re-check occasionally, in between tunes, to make sure we were still "good". It's entirely possible that at the beginning of the night we were in tune with each other at a specific reference level ("440" or whatever), and that by the end of the night we were still in tune WITH EACH OTHER, but at a little bit lower reference level, and the "drop" probably went unnoticed because it was so gradual !!

ampeep
04-02-2019, 03:38 PM
A long time ago, used to jam with up to 15 friends playing guitar. Would tune to a tuning fork to start with & everyone would tune to each other.

Once electronic tuners became available we all realized how 'off' we were. Made a huge difference in how we sounded!

peterbright
04-02-2019, 05:07 PM
We had no tuners on the Mayflower...times have changed for the better. I adore sweetened tunings.

kohanmike
04-02-2019, 07:40 PM
In the almost fifty years I played guitar, and the last six playing ukulele and bass uke, I've never been able to tune by ear, I totally rely on electronic tuners. I have one on all 34 of my ukes and basses.

This is Michael Kohan in Los Angeles, Beverly West near the Beverly Center
9 tenor cutaway ukes, 5 acoustic bass ukes, 11 solid body bass ukes, 9 mini electric bass guitars (Total: 34)

• Donate to The Ukulele Kids Club, they provide ukuleles to children in hospital music therapy programs. www.theukc.org
• Member The CC Strummers: YouTube: www.youtube.com/user/CCStrummers/video, Facebook: www.facebook.com/TheCCStrummers

CommonCurt
04-02-2019, 09:06 PM
I've been able to tune a guitar pretty well by ear since I was 13 years old, but for some reason it's a lot harder for me to tune my ukes by ear.
I don't know if it has something to do with ukuleles having less sustain than guitars, therefor harder for me to tune the strings to each other. I'm getting better at it though.

rrieth
04-06-2019, 03:39 AM
I've played stringed instruments since 1959, violin for 4 years, guitar after that until today, and ukulele for the last 5+ years. I have tried tuning with tuning fork, pitchpipe, and tuning the instrument to itself. I have never been able to tune accurately. I've been unable to distinguish whether a string was sharp or flat when the pitches were close together. When I got my first electronic tuner and tuned my instrument accurately I was amazed how much better my playing sounded. While I cannot tune by ear, I can tell when my instrument is even slightly out of tune and will set things right with my electronic tuner. Perhaps I could teach myself to tune by using the tuner, but I would rather just play my instrument. I am eternally grateful to the people who developed inexpensive accurate electronic tuners.

When I bought my first digital tuner I showed it to a guitar playing friend. He was underwhelmed. He tuned a guitar by ear and checked it with the tuner. It was dead on accurate in pitch. Some people can do it.

I remember reading about a 60's band member's advocacy of electronic tuners. When asked how bands tuned before electronic tuners, his reply was simply "we played out of tune". I think it was Jorma Kaukonen, but it was several years ago, so I can't be sure.

Rllink
04-06-2019, 05:35 AM
Well I started this thread and I've already given up on tuning by ear. It was a noble undertaking, but I realized that I was wasting a lot of time tuning my ukuele. I don't have the patience for it. But now I'm fighting with my buddies that I play with because they insist on doing it old school and I'm the one out of tune. I can't win.

rrieth
04-06-2019, 05:50 AM
It would be interesting to have your buddies tune as usual and do a reality check with the electronic tuner.

jelow1966
04-06-2019, 06:14 AM
Most of the time I just tune to my C string which will be good enough unless I'm playing with someone or a backing track. Or if i have changed strings, until they settle in a tuner is the easiest though I sometimes use one of my other ukes and just tune to it. It's good to be able to recognize pitches but as long as you are playing by yourself what really matters is your uke is in tune with itself and sounds good.

John

Rllink
04-06-2019, 06:16 AM
It would be interesting to have your buddies tune as usual and do a reality check with the electronic tuner.

I don't think that they are into reality checks. :) Actually, they are probably in tune, they have an ear for it, just not in tune with me. I'm the odd one out now.

rrieth
04-06-2019, 07:09 AM
If your problem is that their tuning isn't A440 I have a possible solution. Use a red Snark or other tuner with microphone and frequency adjustment features. Put the tuner in mic mode with the frequency adjustment function turned on. Have someone pluck an A. Use the up/down buttons to adjust the frequency until the display is green. Put the tuner in vibrate mode, clamp to your headstock and tune your uke with the new frequency settings.

It's a bit fiddly, but should do the job.

Rllink
04-06-2019, 07:23 AM
I solved the dilemma this morning by telling one of them to tune my ukulele wherever they wanted it. I don't think it is a long term solution, but then playing with these guys might not be a long term thing anyway. Actually, I started this thread just because I found the whole concept interesting, but it really isn't. I don't see myself in a long term relationship with these guys. So it is all a moot point. I find that I do that, get excited about something, start a thread here, and a few days later I wonder why I thought it was even worth discussing.

jelow1966
04-06-2019, 07:45 AM
I solved the dilemma this morning by telling one of them to tune my ukulele wherever they wanted it. I don't think it is a long term solution, but then playing with these guys might not be a long term thing anyway. Actually, I started this thread just because I found the whole concept interesting, but it really isn't. I don't see myself in a long term relationship with these guys. So it is all a moot point. I find that I do that, get excited about something, start a thread here, and a few days later I wonder why I thought it was even worth discussing.

We're on the fourth page already so it must be worth discussing :)

John

Bill Sheehan
04-07-2019, 03:13 AM
I have a friend that thinks she can tune by ear, and she does get it in the ball park but always between an 1/8 and 1/4 tone sharp. But, yeah, it's painful for me to play with her and I try to gently encourage her to use a tuner. When she steps out for a smoke or bathroom break I quickly fix her tuning and she's none the wiser...

Hahahahaha! I picture your friend returning from the restroom, approaching her uke and thinking, "I could've sworn I left that facing the other direction..."

Bill Sheehan
04-07-2019, 03:16 AM
I've played stringed instruments since 1959, violin for 4 years, guitar after that until today, and ukulele for the last 5+ years. I have tried tuning with tuning fork, pitchpipe, and tuning the instrument to itself. I have never been able to tune accurately. I've been unable to distinguish whether a string was sharp or flat when the pitches were close together. When I got my first electronic tuner and tuned my instrument accurately I was amazed how much better my playing sounded. While I cannot tune by ear, I can tell when my instrument is even slightly out of tune and will set things right with my electronic tuner. Perhaps I could teach myself to tune by using the tuner, but I would rather just play my instrument. I am eternally grateful to the people who developed inexpensive accurate electronic tuners.

When I bought my first digital tuner I showed it to a guitar playing friend. He was underwhelmed. He tuned a guitar by ear and checked it with the tuner. It was dead on accurate in pitch. Some people can do it.

I remember reading about a 60's band member's advocacy of electronic tuners. When asked how bands tuned before electronic tuners, his reply was simply "we played out of tune". I think it was Jorma Kaukonen, but it was several years ago, so I can't be sure.

Good example: "Love Is All Around", by The Troggs... (although that slight "out-of-tuneness" on the electric guitar is one of the endearing things about that song!)

Henning
04-07-2019, 06:58 AM
I mean, do you really have to be at 440 MHz?


That is amusing, when at 440 MHz you´re in the 70 cm band https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/70-centimeter_band
I do however see what you mean. Always admired people that can get their instruments in tune by comparing two strings and turning the knob.

John boy
04-07-2019, 08:25 AM
Good example: "Love Is All Around", by The Troggs... (although that slight "out-of-tuneness" on the electric guitar is one of the endearing things about that song!)

Excellent -- we can easily do another four pages talking about all the 60s bands that were out of tune. Bill's example is a great one. Anyway, it's been an interesting thread, not only due to all the discussions about how people tune, but whether they tune at all, and how important it is (or isn't) to them.

PetalumaRescuke
04-07-2019, 08:51 AM
Even professional rock groups like Grateful Dead were often in live situations so badly out of tunes.

It must have been the Grateful Dead's Roadies messing with our heads, as they were known to do.
Keep on Strumming
Dave

Bill Sheehan
04-07-2019, 03:17 PM
Excellent -- we can easily do another four pages talking about all the 60s bands that were out of tune. Bill's example is a great one. Anyway, it's been an interesting thread, not only due to all the discussions about how people tune, but whether they tune at all, and how important it is (or isn't) to them.

Well stated, John. I'll go on record as saying that keeping your uke in good tune ought to be "Priority 1". I would liken it to the concept of "missing a belt loop"--
you can be the coolest guy in town, suave and handsome, killer good looks, and engaging personality, but if you miss a belt loop... well... not good.

Ted4
04-07-2019, 08:03 PM
I always use an electronic tuner as I usually work out the chords to a song by playing along with the original recording. You need to be at the same pitch ie 440hz, or your ears won't work!

Bill Sheehan
04-08-2019, 07:25 AM
Hahahaha! Thank you, Bill1 !! Enjoyed reading your last response just above. I remember in the old days putting an album on the record player, trying to figure out the guitar part, hoping my band (or my "group", as we used to say in the seventies) might have a chance to "work it out" and add it to our song list, and so often it was hard to tell exactly where the heck they were tuned-- for instance, it might seem logical (and easier) that they were playing, say, a G chord, but as I sat there with my own guitar tuned probably just somewhere in that general ballpark it wasn't out of the question that they were actually playing either an Ab or perhaps an F#. This seemed to be the case in particular with the Steely Dan songs we wanted to learn; it was always, "Where the heck are they tuned?" So we just took a whack at it using the "chord set" that made for the most convenient chord-switching. Back then we didn't have electronic tuners, and there was no such thing as "hopping online" for assistance. The good part, I suppose, is that we developed our ears pretty darn well as a result!

bratsche
04-08-2019, 09:23 AM
I have on my desk an A-440 tuning fork that I've owned since I started taking violin lessons as a child more than half a century ago. (And according to it, my electronic micro-tuners acquired in the last 2 years are all very accurate!) We were taught to listen to the sound of bowed, sustained perfect fifths, and recognize how they just sounded "right" when they were exactly in tune, and then to tune our other strings from the A.

My viola's A string is so stable that I often tune without a reference, as the D or G string is far more likely to go out a bit. The steel strings on my mandolas are also remarkably stable, and can often still be perfectly in tune after sitting unplayed for weeks!

Even though I also tune my ukuleles in fifths, I keep the micro-tuners attached behind their headstocks simply for convenience, as any of the strings is equally likely to slip a tad out of tune (which they all frequently do), and I don't want to waste time monkeying around. :)

bratsche

dobro
04-08-2019, 03:59 PM
Depending on the ears and the tuner, two instruments could show in tune on a tuner, but sound out of tune. My main instrument is Dobro played with a slide, and I'm pretty sensitive to being out of tune. Most less expensive tuners have several cents of slop, such that one instrument could be slightly flat and the other slightly sharp. That's why I use and recommend strobe tuners.

PereBourik
04-08-2019, 06:31 PM
My son rarely tunes his guitar; it takes too much time. In consequence he doesn't play in tune with himself. He's a self-taught singer-songwriter, singing out of tune to his out of tune guitar. The result is not endearing. That will be precious when he forms a band. That 60s sound. . .

rrieth
04-09-2019, 02:47 PM
Bratsche

I too have a tuning fork, A445 according to my Snark. It dates to either side of the turn of the 20th century. It came from Germany with my grandfather's violin I used for my lessons years ago. I keep it in my ukulele case for a chuckle when someone asks to borrow a tuner. While I have trouble distinguishing close pitches when tuning, the difference between A440 and A445 is quite obvious to me. It's pretty loud when held against the bridge of my ukulele. It's even louder when placed in close proximity to the magnetic pickup of an electric guitar.

Dobro

You bring up a good point. I remember reading some of the early Snark reviews which were mostly rave, with a few people blessed (or cursed) with good pitch discrimination abilities who said they only used their Snark for rough adjustment and fine tuned by ear. I recently bought a Crescendo Zen Strobe tuner. When I tune with the Snark and check with the Zen Strobe I sometimes find differences and when I retune according to the strobe tuner my instrument sounds better to me. The Snark has an advertised +/- 1 cent accuracy. I can see how less accurate tuners could be problematic. Having said that they probably tune more accurately than I can by ear.

Bill Sheehan
04-10-2019, 03:38 AM
I also remember back in the "old days" (the seventies) we discovered that the dial tone on our local landline phones was an "F" note, so sometimes we'd use that as a point of reference too!

Rllink
04-10-2019, 05:21 AM
When I was a kid, maybe thirteen or fourteen my mother bought me a guitar from sears for my birthday. She hired some high school girl to give me lessons. We bought a pitch pipe. I think that she bought four lessons and I never could get the stupid guitar tuned well enough to play it. My teacher would end up tuning it for me and then if we had enough time she taught me some chords. But I could never get it tuned myself and we spent most of my lessons trying to learn it. It lasted a month and I have no idea what happened to that guitar.

So when I started playing the ukulele fifty years later and got a digital tuner, I thought that I had it made and didn't even think about it for the first year. But I still have a hang up about not being able to tune my uke by ear, one string against the other. I can do it, I mean I can get each string to sound like a particular note on another string, but then I put them all together and they are not in tune and I get frustrated. So these guys came along and sort of brought that feeling of failure back and I got a little excited about tackling it once again and becoming one of those noble purists. Maybe even buy myself a tuning fork. Wouldn't that be cool? But over my five years of playing the ukulele with others, I've found a few who actually can tune that way but they are far and few between. These guys that got me going enough to start this thread seemed to be able to do that and it impressed me so I thought that I had to write about them. But then the next time they couldn't. Then the next time they could. And they mess around. Maybe get in tune, maybe not. It is really hit and miss. I don't know what is going on with them, but we spend and inordinate amount of time tuning sometimes. I look longingly at my tuner in the case and think it would be so easy, then we could play music. Kind of like my old guitar lessons.

So our personalities clash anyway, and I ask myself why it is so important that I keep playing with these guys. It was an interesting couple of weeks, but I've moved on. Maybe not, I'm still talking about it. I'm sure that I will give it another go someday.

bratsche
04-10-2019, 06:12 AM
I also remember back in the "old days" (the seventies) we discovered that the dial tone on our local landline phones was an "F" note, so sometimes we'd use that as a point of reference too!

Ha ha, you made me go and check. And ours still is basically an "F" where I am, but it's too far sharp to tune anything to reliably!
;)

bratsche

Jarmo_S
04-10-2019, 06:30 AM
Maybe even buy myself a tuning fork. Wouldn't that be cool? But over my five years of playing the ukulele with others, I've found a few who actually can tune that way but they are far and few between.

Not recommended, just my opinion of course. I would say over 95% of us uses a clip tuner. Just a guess. Ukuleles, especially my cheap laminates don't vibrate long enough to feel much difference beats to a tuning fork that also sounds kind of low volume on the uke top. So it is a bit frustrating and does work bad anyways in a noisy environment. Of course you are able to get into the right ball park sort of with that reference :)

How to make an uke in tune with all of its 4 strings without a tuner is another matter. To me A note on G string to match open A string. and G note on E string to match open G string. And then on C string the E match open E-string. This all depends of course if the nut action is not too high.

Might be better use the guitar 4 top string method, 545. What ever works.

Rllink
04-10-2019, 06:33 AM
I also remember back in the "old days" (the seventies) we discovered that the dial tone on our local landline phones was an "F" note, so sometimes we'd use that as a point of reference too!I wonder if some day someone will say, "In the old days we had tuning apps on our smart phones?"

kkimura
04-10-2019, 06:43 AM
I wonder if some day someone will say, "In the old days we had tuning apps on our smart phones?"

Go far enough into the future and the discussion will be about how we used to tune instruments made from large dead plants harvested in forests.

Papa Tom
04-10-2019, 03:36 PM
I find that "G" sounds right to me different ways on different days. Some days it sounds flat; some days it sounds sharp; other days it sounds just right at "440." A lot of times, I will tune to an electronic tuner and the instrument just won't "sing," so I'll tweak the G string until it makes me happy, then tune the rest of the strings to it.

Unless you're playing with other musicians, I don't think it's necessary to use a tuner or blow thingy. It's pretty funny, though, when you pick up the instrument after several days or weeks of NOT tuning using one of these methods and realize how far off the mark you've gone!

PereBourik
04-10-2019, 05:02 PM
I also remember back in the "old days" (the seventies) we discovered that the dial tone on our local landline phones was an "F" note, so sometimes we'd use that as a point of reference too!

I've taken to saying, "Back in the last century," or, "In the year 73."

ricdoug
04-14-2019, 05:07 PM
I was born with pitch perfect ears. When I tune a stringed instrument by ear, it will be within less than 5% accurate on a digital tuner. When playing with bands, I always tune to the bass player's A string. This has been proven to be as much as a full note sharp or flat, when checked on a digital tuner. The best phone/tablet free tuner app is the Boss Tuner from Roland.

Bill Sheehan
04-16-2019, 05:54 PM
Wow, that's a big margin, Ricdoug-- a whole note sharp or flat on the bass player's A string! I guess it's okay as long as everyone in the group agrees that it's going to be the foundational reference note, and thus are able to get in tune with each other. But I think we all like to have a sense that we're not drifting TOO far sharp or flat from the "universal" A note, just so lax string tension, or over-tightening, as the case may be, don't start becoming an issue.

ukulelekarcsi
04-16-2019, 09:33 PM
I use tuners quite often, especially when doing 'serial tuning' in a class. But I always teach how to use different ways of tuning - comparing strings, using a melody, the call tone on any telephone is always a 440 Hz perfect A3, I even demonstrated pitch pipes (although no-one really uses them anymore).

Why? Not just in case the batteries run dry, but also because I find that relying on seeing a tuner too much makes you lose your hearing skill. I've often seen people frantically plucking one string and watching the tuner, all while tightening a completely different string!

I once misplaced my tuner for over a year - since I knew I hadn't lost it, I foolheartedly postponed buying a new one. After just a few tries, tuning by ear became quite easy.

rrieth
04-17-2019, 09:01 AM
I was born with pitch perfect ears. When I tune a stringed instrument by ear, it will be within less than 5% accurate on a digital tuner. When playing with bands, I always tune to the bass player's A string. This has been proven to be as much as a full note sharp or flat, when checked on a digital tuner. The best phone/tablet free tuner app is the Boss Tuner from Roland.

It must be nice to have "reference grade" ears. I have never been able to determine absolute pitch, or even relative pitch when the pitches are close together so I must rely on electronic tuners. I had a recent experiences with electronic tuners which illustrate what you are saying.

I have a Korg Pitchclip tuner. Since new it never gave a firm indication of being in tune, especially with ukulele. When I recently changed the battery it was acting better than when new, giving a better indication of being in tune. I first tuned a guitar and then checked with my Snark and another tuner. All three tuners agreed with each other. However, on ukulele the Snark and the other tuner agreed with each other, but the Pitchclip tuned sharp; A443 according to Snark. I have repeated this several times and came up with the same result.


I have also returned a pair of the same model rechargeable tuners I bought on Amazon. They didn't agree with my Snark, or even each other.

Jarmo_S
04-17-2019, 05:58 PM
Tuning forks are not perfect. However, if you have one you can use it to "calibrate" your electronic tuner.
Get a uke you can touch without thinking about how much it cost or how the pretty wood will get damaged, even though it wont unless you are not gentle. Tap the tuning fork on something hard and gently touch the end onto the top of your uke, it will make the top ring loud enough to hear, it does not need a lot of pressure. Then look at what the tune display is showing. It should show an A note in tune.
If the A note is displayed to be a few cents off tune, then you can enjoy some time discussing whether the tuning fork is wrong or the electronic tuner is wrong. Tuning forks will lose some accuracy, but in general they retain their accuracy and do make a reasonable reference for calibration.

That is one good idea. Rather than use that old tuning fork to tune the instrument with our ears, use it to check that the tuner works and at correct pitch.
As an example my TC electronic clip has only 2 buttons besides power one in its minimalistic interface. To set the tuning mode or set the reference pitch in 1 Hz steps. And over time one forgets how those buttons work. Or if a battery really has any effect on tuning. It should not, only maybe lightning or stability in some tuners.

I just checked with my trusty 40 year old tuning fork and the tuner was pitch center green. Set to 441 or 339 and needle is off and red-green.
Put into strobo mode and 440Hz and it agrees with tuning fork then perfectly too.So I am thinking of rrieth's post, that could the reference pitch has been set to say 443 Hz, maybe accidentally.

Regarding Bill1's last line. Yes they retain the accuracy very well. Unless you use a file of course. Mine has been used carelessly so many years. Bumped into my knee and then guitar tops. And then carelessly put into a table.

rrieth
04-17-2019, 08:12 PM
Jarmo, the Pitchclip is not adjustable for frequency and it agreed with the other tuners A440 on guitar.

Jarmo_S
04-18-2019, 05:05 AM
I should have sayed in my post, that while the strobo mode was just fine in tune with the fork, some very slow crawling to the right was shown.
So maybe the tuning fork reference was a tiny weeny sharper than the tuner's one.

I myself don't appreciate stroboscope tuning mode the same as the normal one with ukuleles. It is a bother to use totally. We want to make a compromise with our uke fretboard how we want. Not just open strings. And the way our strings vibrate and the body resonances there, we need to get to know how best to use our tuner.

Ukulele has less sustain and the strings are suspect to temperature raise after what energy you put into them than say a steel strings. So to go into a strobo level is just stupid when all we want is a fast, relatively very accurate tuning response from the tuner in all the main playing frets range.

bratsche
04-18-2019, 07:15 AM
I was born with pitch perfect ears. When I tune a stringed instrument by ear, it will be within less than 5% accurate on a digital tuner.

I think you must mean "within less than 5 cents accurate". Wouldn't 5 percent allow for a rather noticeable amount of inaccuracy? :confused:

bratsche

Jarmo_S
04-19-2019, 07:02 AM
That tuner wink of Bill1. I have also in my android tablet DaTuner, that I still use. Cursed once because went to too many advertises, but yes, it is a good tuning app ... still.

And then I have also a keyboard. It has many voices, and not all of them I think are not exactly at 440Hz reference.

So a + to a simple tuning fork. Just don't tell who don't have one. These days we have other solutions ;)