Do you tune your guitar to a chord?

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Andrew Fryer
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Re: Do you tune your guitar to a chord?

Post by Andrew Fryer » Wed Apr 19, 2017 10:54 am

Adrian Allan wrote:
Andrew Fryer wrote:Often. In general I tune strings 1, 4, 5, 6 with a Snark, then I tune strings 2 and 3 according to what piece I'm playing.
For the Villa-Lobos Mazurka Choro, I tune strings 3,4,5,6 for the A-minor chord. Mileage may vary.
Do you find some tunings (to a chord) more difficult to "ring true" than others - such as my example of the G chord on fret 7?
I'm not sure what you mean by ring true. G on the 7th sounds OK on my Calatayud (with the proviso that I had string 6 on D, so I've had to tune it back up and it's not quite stable yet)
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Adrian Allan
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Re: Do you tune your guitar to a chord?

Post by Adrian Allan » Wed Apr 19, 2017 11:16 am

Andrew Fryer wrote:
Adrian Allan wrote:
Andrew Fryer wrote:Often. In general I tune strings 1, 4, 5, 6 with a Snark, then I tune strings 2 and 3 according to what piece I'm playing.
For the Villa-Lobos Mazurka Choro, I tune strings 3,4,5,6 for the A-minor chord. Mileage may vary.
Do you find some tunings (to a chord) more difficult to "ring true" than others - such as my example of the G chord on fret 7?
I'm not sure what you mean by ring true. G on the 7th sounds OK on my Calatayud (with the proviso that I had string 6 on D, so I've had to tune it back up and it's not quite stable yet)
"ring true" just means "sounds right to your ears".
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Mr Kite

Re: Do you tune your guitar to a chord?

Post by Mr Kite » Wed Apr 19, 2017 3:45 pm

Luis_Br wrote:Fifths are not in correct tune for the tempered scale
I was just wondering about this and by my calculation the perfect fifth is about 2 cents flat and the major third is about 13 cents sharp. That seems to mean that the difference between ET thirds and just thirds is too big for intonation to make any appreciable difference but that it might make a difference to the fifths.

Luis_Br
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Re: Do you tune your guitar to a chord?

Post by Luis_Br » Wed Apr 19, 2017 4:03 pm

Mr Kite wrote:
Luis_Br wrote:Fifths are not in correct tune for the tempered scale
I was just wondering about this and by my calculation the perfect fifth is about 2 cents flat and the major third is about 13 cents sharp. That seems to mean that the difference between ET thirds and just thirds is too big for intonation to make any appreciable difference but that it might make a difference to the fifths.
I think one single fifth tuning is not a big issue and we can use, but we must be careful that the difference might propagate and accumulate from one string to the other, depending on the tuning strategy, then it might make a difference. For example, if you simply tune in fifths from each string to the other, starting from 6th string toward the first one, then error from string 6 to 1 will become 2 cents times 5, or 10 cents, assuming your cents calculation is right (I haven't checked that). 10 cents generates around 1.5 Hz frequency beat, which is ok for a third, which has a more complex harmonic subset, but it is a bit annoying for the pure octaves of both open E (1st and 6th strings). By the way, check wikipedia for a sound sample on 10 cents beating of the same notes:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cent_(music)
Propagation becomes even worse on that tuning in fourths from one string to the other, which is certainly a bad tuning strategy. Those tuning this way certainly improve intonation checking chords, some adjust both open Es at the end.

When tuning by ear, comparing strings, I recommend using a single string as reference and using octaves and a few fifths (attention to avoiding fifths error propagation), avoid other intervals, except for specific chord/key adjustments in the piece.
I normally tune 5th A string to the reference.
- 3rd string 2nd fret with 5th string open (octave)
- 2nd string open to 5th string second fret (octave)
- 1st and 6th string to 5th string seventh fret harmonic (fifth)
Notice those string tuned to the same 5th string reference, to avoid error propagation, both from temperament or my imperfect ear.
- 4th string depends on guitar. Sometimes its seventh fret (A note) to 5th string harmonic 12th fret (octave). But using higher fret might be tricky, so in this case I might use harmonics (fifths), fourths or another string.
After that I might do some chord/key adjustment for a particular piece, but I seldom use this. I would use it more for a pro recording, tuning to specific passages played as different takes. It is an artificial result, but recording is artificial anyways...

I used to prefer manual tuning to the regular automatic tuners around, but I recently found a stroboscopic tuner which is pretty good and after some practice I've became addicted to it. I hope my ears do not start degrading...

Andrew Pohlman
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Re: Do you tune your guitar to a chord?

Post by Andrew Pohlman » Wed Apr 19, 2017 6:40 pm

Tuning to a chord only results in terrible problems. My Perterson SP-1 Strobotuner will store "sweetened" tuning - meaning, fine adjustments to accommodate certain situations. But tuning to a chord is almost always bad.

My experience is that I must apply the "best" compromise (or sweetened) tuning, and pull notes in as needed. For example, on the 7th and 9th fret parts of Bach's Bouree, I have to pull the 7th fret note sharp to match the 9th fret - else it sounds horrible. So that part is actually sharp, but sounds appropriate - or at ;east better than an out of tune dyad... But I can play the rest (1st to 7th frets) of the piece without thinking about tunings.

My thinking is that if an instrument needs to be tuned to a chord, it either needs a luthier's care, or it is junk and you should get a better guitar. Even my $200 Cordoba C3M is better off with open tuning.
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Adrian Allan
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Re: Do you tune your guitar to a chord?

Post by Adrian Allan » Wed Apr 19, 2017 6:55 pm

Andrew Pohlman wrote:Tuning to a chord only results in terrible problems. My Perterson SP-1 Strobotuner will store "sweetened" tuning - meaning, fine adjustments to accommodate certain situations. But tuning to a chord is almost always bad.

My experience is that I must apply the "best" compromise (or sweetened) tuning, and pull notes in as needed. For example, on the 7th and 9th fret parts of Bach's Bouree, I have to pull the 7th fret note sharp to match the 9th fret - else it sounds horrible. So that part is actually sharp, but sounds appropriate - or at ;east better than an out of tune dyad... But I can play the rest (1st to 7th frets) of the piece without thinking about tunings.

My thinking is that if an instrument needs to be tuned to a chord, it either needs a luthier's care, or it is junk and you should get a better guitar. Even my $200 Cordoba C3M is better off with open tuning.
Ok, but to get back to my original post, I see guitar professionals tuning to the chords of the key of the piece before they start.
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Luis_Br
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Re: Do you tune your guitar to a chord?

Post by Luis_Br » Wed Apr 19, 2017 7:39 pm

Andrew Pohlman wrote:My experience is that I must apply the "best" compromise (or sweetened) tuning, and pull notes in as needed.
In a famous guitar magazine, there was a nice article by David Russell on adjusting notes for tuning reasons through small bends or vibrato, unfortunately I don't remember which one was that.

Back to question, in popular music, when playing several full chords in strumming etc., adjusting for most important chords is more important, I think. When I used to play accompaniment for Brazilian choro-music, I was more concerned with that.

Telling some professional stories, I remember Fabio Zanon telling he made a special take for the end of Villa Etude 1 in his recording for tuning reasons. Those last chords won't tune perfectly right in any guitar and the fine Fleta he used in the recording was certainly not the issue. He said he uses this kind of trick a lot in the recording studio.

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Andrew Fryer
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Re: Do you tune your guitar to a chord?

Post by Andrew Fryer » Sat Apr 22, 2017 1:55 pm

Often it's worth thinking about the final note or chord of any piece you are playing and tuning for that. If that last note is not in tune, the audience won't love you for it. I often find that if I play Lágrima in high positions, most of the piece can be so sharp that the final open E string sounds hellishly flat in comparison, which is very embarrassing.
1975 Calatayud y Gisbert, Yamaha CG131S.

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