An unusual way to tune your strings

Construction and repair of Classical Guitar and related instruments
amezcua
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An unusual way to tune your strings

Post by amezcua » Sat Mar 03, 2018 7:02 pm

Here is an exotic method to tune guitars that I saw yesterday . Devised by Richard Lloyd who was a member of the group Television .
Tune the bottom E with a fork or tuner .
Fret E to 10th fret to give D . Tune the D string from that .
Fret D string @ 5th. Tune the G string from that .
Fret G @ 2nd fret to give A. Tune the A string from that.
Fret A @ 2nd to give B . Tune B string from that .( It will be an octave up ).
Fret D @ 2nd to give E. Tune the High E from that .(This will also be an octave up ).

Does it work ? I have not tried it yet but it was too good to ignore such an unusual way .

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guitarrista
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Re: An unusual way to tune your strings

Post by guitarrista » Sat Mar 03, 2018 7:16 pm

Here's how I would think about it (*):

It is not the best way, but it is still a bit better than the "usual" way. The "best way" would be one where we minimize the [potential for] tuning error accumulation. The longer a tuning "chain" is, the larger the error accumulation [potential].

The "usual" tuning (say, E to tuner, then E->A->D->G->B->E) is a 5-chain of error accumulation and no 'forks'.

The tuning you suggest is a bit better but still has a 4-chain of error accumulation (E to tuner, then E->D->G->A->B), and it has one fork (D->high E). The out-of-usual-order tuning of the strings within the chain makes no difference in terms of error accumulation.

The "best"tuning eliminates chains altogether and only has forks. For example, A to tuner, then 5 'forks' from A to tune all the other strings.

(*) This only really applies to when you have a single reference pitch to tune to. With modern tuners, obviously you can have 6 reference pitches - one per string.
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amezcua
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Re: An unusual way to tune your strings

Post by amezcua » Sun Mar 04, 2018 7:06 pm

I`m wondering if using second frets is a bad idea as many players find the first two frets play a bit sharp due to the fret positions or rather string stretch . Tuning that reaches across strings might tend to reduce errors rather than simply tuning the adjacent string .
I suppose using the 14th frets would cause another problem .

Conall
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Re: An unusual way to tune your strings

Post by Conall » Sun Mar 04, 2018 7:36 pm

No tuning method on an imperfect instrument using equal temperament will be perfect.
Tuning octaves in any way - the "usual" 5th & 4th fret method or any other octaves system should theoretically work but the higher the frets, the higher the action making unintentional string bending more likely.
Having played & taught for decades I've more or less developed an extended "usual" system: tune at least one string pref third G (often most problematic) to a tuner or fork. Then tune the 5th & 4th frets traditional way. Then check most common octaves & double octaves in 1st & 2nd positions & the ones most likely in the piece I'm about to play (eg Bflat, Eflat & F if piece is in Bflat major). Finally check common chords & primary chords in the piece. Regularly check & adjust if necessary during the piece.

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geoff-bristol
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Re: An unusual way to tune your strings

Post by geoff-bristol » Mon Mar 05, 2018 12:51 am

As very much a beginner to classical guitar - I have learned the hard way on tuning. I tried many ways at first.
Tuners are useful a ballpark pitch. If I use it to set the pitch - I will tune all six strings anyway. Gets eveything about there ( I use my phone - Da Tuner Pro, very good )

Without a refence pitch - ie just tweaking tuning in hand by ear - I tend to use harmonic on the 12th on D and G to check top four.
I then check plucked octaves top e lower E - and A 5th open A. I have learned to appreciate how easy it is to be out 'top to bottom' - but the music sorts it out !
I just play some bits of pieces - ( like the opening chord of Sanz Pavana por La D ! ) and stuff like that. Somehow the guitar needs to be in tune to you - and to what you play - and how you hear it.

I have also realised how much tuning you need to do - especially if experimenting with strings on six different guitars - only one of which you play on a daily basis. They keep you on your toes !

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jdart3000
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Re: An unusual way to tune your strings

Post by jdart3000 » Mon Mar 05, 2018 1:54 am

Here's a way to tune whilst avoiding the "chain of error."

- Begin with the A (5th). Tune from fork or just to tune the guitar to itself. All subsequent tunings use the same A string for reference.
- 7th fret harmonic (E) - 5th string. Match 6th string pitch harmonic on its 5th fret.
- 4th string, 7th fret harmonic (A). Match pitch to 5th string harmonic on 5th fret
- Match 3rd string fretted pitch (2nd fret A) to 5th string 12th fret harmonic
- Match 2nd string fretted pitch (5th fret E) to 5th string 7th fret harmonic
- Match 1st string open E pitch to 5th string 7th fret harmonic

It's not as complicated as the above instructions make it seem. Because you are always using the same string as a reference point, you avoid cumulative error. I don't remember where I first learned this, but it has worked for me for years.

Give it a try,
John
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Yisrael van Handel
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Re: An unusual way to tune your strings

Post by Yisrael van Handel » Mon Mar 05, 2018 7:26 am

The following is a slightly more accurate way to tune (it requires an E and A tuning fork)

6th string, 5th fret harmonic (2nd octave harmonic) tuned to E tuning fork
1st string tuned to E tuning fork.
5th string, 2nd octave harmonic tuned to A tuning fork.
4th string, second fret tuned to 6th string octave harmonic
3rd string, second fret tuned to 5th string octave harmonic (for some reason, this always comes out flat. Will be corrected later)
2nd string, third fret tuned to 4th string octave harmonic (will be very slightly flat)
3rd string tuned to 1st string third fret (corrects flatness)

Every string is tuned either to a tuning fork, or the octave harmonic of a string tuned with a tuning fork, with the exception of the second string, which will be slightly flat, and will need to be adjusted.
In my experience, this works better than tuning all open strings to a tuner, which always requires tweaking.
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Rasputin
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Re: An unusual way to tune your strings

Post by Rasputin » Mon Mar 05, 2018 1:33 pm

Conall wrote:
Sun Mar 04, 2018 7:36 pm
No tuning method on an imperfect instrument using equal temperament will be perfect.
Good point, I think it's important to keep these things in mind as well as the accumulation of errors problem.
jdart3000 wrote:
Mon Mar 05, 2018 1:54 am
7th fret harmonic (E) - 5th string. Match 6th string pitch harmonic on its 5th fret.
I sometimes use this method too and it's close enough for my ear, but in a thread about getting the tuning as accurate as possible it's worth pointing out that these pitches are not supposed to match perfectly - if we are using A=440.0 Hz then the 7th fret harmonic on the A string should be 164.8 Hz while the 5th fret harmonic on the E string should be 165.0 Hz - this is because the guitar uses equal temperament. In the real world the gap on a guitar tuned as near as possible to perfection would be bigger than that, because inharmonicity would make both harmonics slightly sharp, but would affect the one on the E string more - this obviously is one respect in which the instrument is not perfect.
Yisrael van Handel wrote:
Mon Mar 05, 2018 7:26 am
4th string, second fret tuned to 6th string octave harmonic
Tuning to a fretted note will mess with the compensation. There is a small degree of error built into every fretted note except the octave (another respect in which the instrument is not perfect) so if you tune a fretted note to what it should ideally be, you will put the others further out.
In my experience, this works better than tuning all open strings to a tuner, which always requires tweaking.
I don't have a fancy tuner but it agrees with my tuning fork and (so far as I can tell) is not affected by changes in temperature. It also means there is no accumulation of errors and makes it possible to tune the open strings directly, whch gets around the problems introduced by ET, inharmonicity and the need for compensation.

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Yisrael van Handel
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Re: An unusual way to tune your strings

Post by Yisrael van Handel » Fri Mar 09, 2018 7:31 am

Rasputin wrote:
Mon Mar 05, 2018 1:33 pm
Conall wrote:
Sun Mar 04, 2018 7:36 pm
No tuning method on an imperfect instrument using equal temperament will be perfect.
Yisrael van Handel wrote:
Mon Mar 05, 2018 7:26 am
4th string, second fret tuned to 6th string octave harmonic
Tuning to a fretted note will mess with the compensation. There is a small degree of error built into every fretted note except the octave (another respect in which the instrument is not perfect) so if you tune a fretted note to what it should ideally be, you will put the others further out.
In my experience, this works better than tuning all open strings to a tuner, which always requires tweaking.
I don't have a fancy tuner but it agrees with my tuning fork and (so far as I can tell) is not affected by changes in temperature. It also means there is no accumulation of errors and makes it possible to tune the open strings directly, whch gets around the problems introduced by ET, inharmonicity and the need for compensation.
Correct, correct, and relevant if you play only open strings. I never do that.
Yisrael van Handel
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Contreras
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Re: An unusual way to tune your strings

Post by Contreras » Fri Mar 09, 2018 9:38 am

Smart phone based app for pitch -- this gets me close. Then a couple of octave harmonics and diads in the key I'm playing in ... just tweak it until it sounds right.
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amezcua
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Re: An unusual way to tune your strings

Post by amezcua » Fri Mar 09, 2018 11:06 am

geof -bristol "on six different guitars" Good man !
Yisrael van Handel. Tuning between a low fretted note and an octave harmonic needs a slight time gap between or very large hands indeed . But so far what a juicy selection of tunings to choose from .
In case you have missed a good tuning video have a look at "Eben Goresko" demonstrating different "historical tunings" on pianos. It`s not just the notes it`s the way he tries to move the furniture around to change between pianos and keeps asking the audience questions while looking around behind him. And nobody ever answers .He sounds like Joe Pesci . It`s a little gem on many levels .
What the piano video reminds us is how harsh and loud a piano is compared to a soothing melodius guitar .

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Re: An unusual way to tune your strings

Post by Rasputin » Fri Mar 09, 2018 11:35 am

Yisrael van Handel wrote:
Fri Mar 09, 2018 7:31 am
Rasputin wrote:
Mon Mar 05, 2018 1:33 pm
Conall wrote:
Sun Mar 04, 2018 7:36 pm
No tuning method on an imperfect instrument using equal temperament will be perfect.
Yisrael van Handel wrote:
Mon Mar 05, 2018 7:26 am
4th string, second fret tuned to 6th string octave harmonic
Tuning to a fretted note will mess with the compensation. There is a small degree of error built into every fretted note except the octave (another respect in which the instrument is not perfect) so if you tune a fretted note to what it should ideally be, you will put the others further out.
In my experience, this works better than tuning all open strings to a tuner, which always requires tweaking.
I don't have a fancy tuner but it agrees with my tuning fork and (so far as I can tell) is not affected by changes in temperature. It also means there is no accumulation of errors and makes it possible to tune the open strings directly, whch gets around the problems introduced by ET, inharmonicity and the need for compensation.
Correct, correct, and relevant if you play only open strings. I never do that.
I don't understand why you think it's only relevant if you only play open strings. The point is that because the note at the second fret of the D string has some degree of error built in (cannot be perfectly compensated) it is not supposed to agree exactly with the harmonic on the low E string. If you tune so that these notes agree, you are introducing a discrepancy between the E string and the D string that will affect all of the notes on those strings, fretted or not. I doubt it's a big enough discrepancy to matter very much, but if we are talking about the optimal way to tune, I think it's as well to be aware of it.

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Yisrael van Handel
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Re: An unusual way to tune your strings

Post by Yisrael van Handel » Fri Mar 09, 2018 1:52 pm

Rasputin wrote:
Fri Mar 09, 2018 11:35 am
I don't understand why you think it's only relevant if you only play open strings. The point is that because the note at the second fret of the D string has some degree of error built in (cannot be perfectly compensated) it is not supposed to agree exactly with the harmonic on the low E string. If you tune so that these notes agree, you are introducing a discrepancy between the E string and the D string that will affect all of the notes on those strings, fretted or not. I doubt it's a big enough discrepancy to matter very much, but if we are talking about the optimal way to tune, I think it's as well to be aware of it.
I need the guitar to be tuned (more or less) when I play music. I emphasize that open strings are an extremely small part of the music that I play. The vast majority of the notes I play are fretted. I see little added value in having the open strings perfectly tuned to each other. I need real-world tuning for the music that I play. My experience (based only on the evidence of the limited hearing of my ears) is that tuning to electronic tuners consistently leaves the second and third strings audibly flat. Why that is I do not know. But it does not matter why.
By the way, the physics of fretting is very complicated. Obviously, you pull the string slightly sharp by pressing behind the fret. The guitar is built to compensate for that with adjustments in the nut and the bridge. That means that unfretted strings are necessarily slightly out of tune compared to fretted strings. I do not understand these things, but the same way that I judge my playing primarily by what I hear, I also judge my tuning primarily by what I hear. While my hearing is not the best or the most musical in the world, I can hear that playing a guitar tuned only with tuners is out of tune. And that makes sense, because the guitar is not meant to be played only with open strings, and it is necessary to compensate for the distortion of fretting. That is, the guitar is built so that it is possible to obtain reasonable tuning of the fretted notes by compromising on the tuning of the open strings.
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Rasputin
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Re: An unusual way to tune your strings

Post by Rasputin » Fri Mar 09, 2018 4:00 pm

Yisrael van Handel wrote:
Fri Mar 09, 2018 1:52 pm
Rasputin wrote:
Fri Mar 09, 2018 11:35 am
I don't understand why you think it's only relevant if you only play open strings. The point is that because the note at the second fret of the D string has some degree of error built in (cannot be perfectly compensated) it is not supposed to agree exactly with the harmonic on the low E string. If you tune so that these notes agree, you are introducing a discrepancy between the E string and the D string that will affect all of the notes on those strings, fretted or not. I doubt it's a big enough discrepancy to matter very much, but if we are talking about the optimal way to tune, I think it's as well to be aware of it.
The vast majority of the notes I play are fretted. I see little added value in having the open strings perfectly tuned to each other.
It doesn't work like that though - I don't think compensation works the way you think it does.
By the way, the physics of fretting is very complicated. Obviously, you pull the string slightly sharp by pressing behind the fret. The guitar is built to compensate for that with adjustments in the nut and the bridge. That means that unfretted strings are necessarily slightly out of tune compared to fretted strings.
Not really - it means that every note is slightly out of tune with every other note, fretted or unfretted. If you want to tune accurately you have to do it by comparing notes which have the same degree of error built in, and the only practical way to do this is to use the open strings or their octave harmonics. IOW, if you use fretted notes as reference points in tuning, you will mess up the compensation.
That is, the guitar is built so that it is possible to obtain reasonable tuning of the fretted notes by compromising on the tuning of the open strings.
I don't think that's right - the compensation system is built on the assumption that the open strings are correctly tuned. It is a compromise between all the notes, not a compromise between open strings on the one hand and fretted notes on the other.

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Yisrael van Handel
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Re: An unusual way to tune your strings

Post by Yisrael van Handel » Mon Apr 02, 2018 8:04 pm

Rasputin wrote:
Fri Mar 09, 2018 4:00 pm
It is a compromise between all the notes, not a compromise between open strings on the one hand and fretted notes on the other.
I agree with you. In my zeal to make a point, I overstated the case.
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