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Old 10-08-2012, 10:12 AM
tfs4473 tfs4473 is offline
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Default Your Ear vs. the Tuner

Anybody even find your guitar sometimes just sounds off, even though you tuned it accurately? Then you play it later (either that day or at another time altogether) and it sounds spot on... but you didn't change anything?

I've really increased the amount of time I'm practicing lately, and I've noticed that some days the guitar sounds ever so slightly off, even after using the on-board tuner. Not for individual strings, but for chords (especially open ones). And on other days, things sound right from the git-go.

I've checked the on-board tuning against two clip-ons, and yep, it's right (and I've done this for multiple guitars, not just one). Innotation's good, too, but at that moment the chord doesn't sound right to me. I'll play, and sure enough the chord sounds perfect.

My take is that my hearing is subjective enough that some days I "remember" hearing a chord sounding a certain way, but that's not an accurate memory.

The guitar's fine... I just think it's kind of neat how expectation and memory color what we hear.

Thom
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Old 10-08-2012, 10:38 AM
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sachi sachi is offline
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Usually when one of my guitars sounds lousy it's because the humidity's gotten to it.
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Old 10-08-2012, 10:46 AM
tfs4473 tfs4473 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sachi View Post
Usually when one of my guitars sounds lousy it's because the humidity's gotten to it.
It's not that the guitar sounds lousy, it's more like something just sounds a little off. And I'm attributing this to the subjectivity of myself (the player/listener), rather than the guitar itself.

Think of it as the tuner saying, "Yep, that's a D," but my ears are saying, "Nope, something's off a little." Then at other times, we are all in agreement that is in fact a correct open D chord.

I think I remember watching an Eric Johnson DVD in which he intentionally mis-tunes his Strat a little so the chords sound better to him.

Thom
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Old 10-08-2012, 10:58 AM
Irondale Irondale is offline
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Yes. I usually tune my guitar with atuner first, then tune the low E and B strings a little flat. That usually sound better to my ear.
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Old 10-08-2012, 11:10 AM
harmonics101 harmonics101 is offline
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It could be minor issues with intonation.

I get that too sometime, mainly with my Gibsons.

Sometimes the guitars sound spot on after tuning.

Other times, just a minor tweak on the high E or B or rarely the F strings, needed to get the D or A to sound proper.

I think its a combination of humidity as well as accidentally hitting it spot on with the tuner.

I'm talking less than a 1 cent tweak that brings everything into harmony.

Probably a finer resolution than the tuner can pick up but maybe not your ear.

God bless the good ear !

Harmonics101
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Old 10-08-2012, 11:27 AM
markvc1 markvc1 is offline
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When I tune the low and high E strings to match each other by ear, the high E is quite sharp according to my tuner. And the guitar doesn't sound right, so I don't do it.

This has been explained many times on this forum I believe, but I never remember the explanation - something about the octaves not being the exact mathematical multiples they should be.
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Old 10-08-2012, 11:31 AM
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Quote:
Anybody even find your guitar sometimes just sounds off, even though you tuned it accurately?
Guitars are by nature an imperfect beast. A good one minimizes that imperfect and the ear of most listeners never hear the imperfections anyway.

Want to be REALLY frustrated with tuning? Play a guitar while doing psychedelics! Those little imperfections getting really magnified!
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Old 10-08-2012, 11:32 AM
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Hi Thom...

I don't see it as Ear versus Tuner, the battle! For me, it's a partnership.

Tune and tweak...

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Old 10-08-2012, 11:39 AM
rythmpyg rythmpyg is offline
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I've noticed that when I pluck a string (for tuning purposes) if I don't drop it and come back up to pitch, it can be off enough for me to hear with my ear, but not see on the tuner. Even if I don't hear it by ear, it will manifest while playing. So, drop and re-tune is my best method.
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Old 10-08-2012, 11:43 AM
cpeehler7 cpeehler7 is offline
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It's always the B string for me! Especially on the 12 string, even when it's in tune it drives me nuts. I'm not sure why, but I always seem to think it's either out of tune, or not in tune with each other. I swear I adjust it every other song I play! Frustrating, but it seems worse some days than others. Might have something to do with the humidity?
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Old 10-08-2012, 11:50 AM
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bozz_2006 bozz_2006 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Irondale View Post
Yes. I usually tune my guitar with atuner first, then tune the low E and B strings a little flat. That usually sound better to my ear.
I do this too. And I tune the G string just a hair high. Sounds better to my ear. Most of my playing is open chord strumming with melody picking. Is that a thing? Basically it's playing folksy/country/gospel songs while trying to simulate the multiple guitar track sound from the album as I play it solo. I wonder if playing style has anything to do with this in-tune discord that my ears hear.
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Old 10-08-2012, 11:51 AM
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On a day to day basis, always tuning using the common method @ the 5th fret, but I will then tune the B string slightly flat to make it sound better in my ears. If there is a song revolving around Dm it is quite significant, so I make sure that chord sounds right. I've never looked into WHY the B string is always the 'troubled' one, but that's why the stagger the B string on the saddle, correct?

I've never tried tuning to a chord besides that. I'm sure it would sound much better, but also be a pain moving from song to song.
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Old 10-08-2012, 11:54 AM
cpeehler7 cpeehler7 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Long813 View Post
On a day to day basis, always tuning using the common method @ the 5th fret, but I will then tune the B string slightly flat to make it sound better in my ears. If there is a song revolving around Dm it is quite significant, so I make sure that chord sounds right. I've never looked into WHY the B string is always the 'troubled' one, but that's why the stagger the B string on the saddle, correct?

I've never tried tuning to a chord besides that. I'm sure it would sound much better, but also be a pain moving from song to song.
Someone else get's what I mean, I always keep the B about 5 cents low. When I fret at the 5th it's usually right on e. It's just a pain getting it just right
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Old 10-08-2012, 11:55 AM
Glennwillow Glennwillow is offline
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I can hear a guitar sounding not quite right, tweak a string to make it sound better and find that the tuner says it's then in tune. Yet it was supposedly in tune before the adjustment.

Sometimes, too, when a string is depressed, say the low E string the play a G on the 3rd fret, that slight stretching of the string makes it sharp. Sometimes you have to compromise a little bit.

- Glenn
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Old 10-08-2012, 12:14 PM
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Two issues here. First, the equally tempered scale we use is a compromise that allows us to play in multiple keys with minimal tone clashing. But in any particular key, the harmonic relationship between notes isn't as sweet as it could be. So, there can be some slight dissonance relative to a just tempered scale.

Second, we all hear differently. 440 Hz doesn't sound the same to everyone. An interval that sounds perfect to one person well may not sound perfect to another. Both people may consistently choose the same interval from occasion to occasion as "perfect" yet the two people may have different perfect-sounding intervals.

A tuner measures the frequency of tones, not the subjective appraisal of those frequencies. When playing with (or perhaps even for) others, a compromise has merit. If each individual optimized tuning for his or her own subjective hearing, they may well not sound very harmonic together. So we agree on reference pitches. But if you're playing alone and you like the sound of altered pitches, or if the others you play with also like those alterations, there's no reason to adhere strictly to the reference pitches.
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