Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Guitar Tuning Nightmares Explained

So I bought a new guitar, and Scott and I spent an hour last night trying to figure out why when he tuned it, it sounded one way, and when I did it, it was different.  Also, when he played it, it sounded in tune, and when I did, it didn't.  We discovered some really interesting things, and then I found this awesome article.  It's a must read for any guitar player who wants to be in tune.  SO COOL.

Here's the article

Here is a short overview (my summary):
  •  Best Tuner is one with an LED light
  • 1) switch your guitar to its rhythm (neck) pickup, if it has one;
  • 2) roll your guitar's tone knobs all the way off, to remove all the highs; and then
  • 3) pluck the open string right over the twelfth fret, not over the pickup. Try it; you'll be amazed.
  • Tune standing up if you will be standing (yes this makes a difference)
  • Everyone use the same tuner...they can have subtle differences
  • Use heavy strings (they stay in tune longer)
So, all that REALLY helps.  And on top of that, you have to learn how to use the intonation adjusters at the bridge.  This is a whole other story, because you use a screw driver to accurately tune the notes on the 12th fret along with the open string...it can actually make a HUGE difference when you go up the neck, whether it stays in tune or not. Read the section titled "intonation hell" for more.  He also talks about the effect of the truss rod.  Apparently, my new guitar falls into the category he talks about of guitars that have a sharp first fret.  There may be no way to correct this as of yet....I'm still looking into it.

Also, for the crappy news for me, apparently smaller fingers are much more likely to be able to push strings out of tune on an electric guitar.  I'm going to try heavier strings, but the deal is, a smaller finger can create a more V shaped arc between frets than a rounder, larger finger, which creates a more of an undefined U shape.  Believe it or not, this V shape creates out of tune notes if you push too hard.  Oh well, I just need to find some finger fatteners.  HAHA.  Happy tuning!

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