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45

I've seen it argued that the instrument that became the guitar started with the major G chord set, the second, third and fourth string, probably in pairs, as the entire string set for the instrument. The first string was then added, and the lower strings were added in fourths to provide more bass harmony, much the same way we see the 7th string being brought ...


42

See the section on tuning systems on Wikipedia for some background. In short, most intervals do not sound best on equally-tempered scales (where the distance between any two consecutive half steps is the same) but on ones where the notes vary in distance. For instance, fifths usually sound the most in tune when the frequencies are in a 2:3 ratio. Because ...


37

The angle is there to improve the intonation. If you've ever set the intonation on an electric guitar with individually-adjustable saddles, you'd see that the bass strings are slightly longer than the treble strings. This is due to the gauge of the strings: heavier strings need to be slightly longer than lighter-gauge strings. The B-string anomaly that ...


32

It also makes it even easier to play power chords - you only need one finger with drop D!


31

There are several reasons. When new strings are put into a piano, they slowly "stretch" or relax and go flat. In a day it will be out of tune. You have to tune it 2 or 3 times the first month. After a few months the strings will have settled in and will stay in tune better. If the pinblock is very old, the pins can slip, making the notes go flat. The ...


27

Lots of reasons; the most prevalent reason is probably so that they can keep the tune within the range of their voice. Jimi Hendrix was famous for this; tuned a half step down. Other reasons; to create a different atmosphere in the music; as in the case of Metal where instruments are down-tuned to create the darkest most aggressive sounding riffs ...


24

As you already suggested, it takes time. I would say that to begin to be a good piano tuner takes at least 3 years and you still have plenty of room to improve. It helps to have a good and discerning ear, but you do not need what people imprecisely call perfect pitch. You will need a good reference tuning fork or pro electronic tuning reference. I prefer ...


24

When you lower the pitch by releasing tension, there might be slack in the gears in the tuning machines, which might make the string go below the intended pitch. By going further down and approaching the target note from below, there will be force applied to the gears and when you've reached the correct pitch the gears have less potential to move. So your ...


23

It depends on the tuning system being used. If you're tuning by perfect intervals, i.e. intervals in which the ratios of the frequencies are in whole-number pairs, then Gb isn't exactly the same as F#. For example, say you're tuning to A440 and using perfect intervals. Then the E above the A is tuned to 440 * 3/2 = 660 Hz. The B above the E is tuned to ...


23

Whenever I come across a problem like this, I check the intonation. Tune up the guitar to perfect pitch (according to the tuner) and then, on each string, hit the 12th fret harmonic, listen, then play the 12th fret note. If there is any difference in the two, then your intonation is out, which will affect the ability to tune the guitar correctly, and mean ...


23

Yes, you're right. As for why the harmonic series doesn't produce notes that work in all keys, the simple answer is that the math just doesn't add up. Let's work out the math for just intonation: Suppose you choose X Hz for the fundamental frequency and go from there. Then the octave above the fundamental should have frequency 2 X Hz. Meanwhile, the ...


22

With traditional, barrel-style, Telecaster saddles the answer is: you can't. It's not possible and living with that imperfection is part of the Telecaster's ancient allure and charm. It's a grizzled old plank that barely stays in tune and you like to beat on to make beautiful music. If it's really driving you nuts you can buy compensated saddles for ...


22

OK. I found a quick-and-dirty temporary solution. As an online education forum suggested, a interesting school science experiment might be to see if adding weights and changing their position on a tuning fork will change the frequency of the fork. So I played science student, and tried the experiment. Two big rubber bands on the tines clearly lowered ...


21

I generally tune them to pitch; get a finger under them one at a time and slowly but firmly pull them away from the fretboard. Tune to pitch again - then repeat and rinse as needed. There is no need to buy a device for this.


20

An "open tuning" is one where the open strings, when strummed, are tuned to form a chord. So an "open D tuning" is going to something along the lines of (low to high) D A D F# A D -- that's a D major chord. There are certainly more common open tunings than others but the range of open tunings available, even with a standard set of guitar strings on a ...


19

There are the tuning differences, as already mentioned. Then there is the function difference. If you have an entire piece in D major, using the tones in D major, seeing a D♭ instead of a C♯ would be very awkward. When writing music, the rules (simplified) are: use the tones of the key currently in use (could be a different key than the main key, the ...


19

I would encourage anyone who is interested to tune their own piano. My personal experience is... (I am an amateur in the true sense (Latin: "To Love"), have played piano for 8 years and probably tuned my own piano for 5 years (when I have time)) It probably took me about a week (off and on, I suppose about 6 hours) to completely retune my old piano from the ...


19

I was under the impression it was more historical than anything else, although Wikipedia tells me: Standard tuning has evolved to provide a good compromise between simple fingering for many chords and the ability to play common scales with minimal left hand movement. Uniquely, the guitar's tuning allows for repeatable patterns, which also facilitates the ...


18

An additional point is that a guitar tuned a half/whole step down will be easier to play with higher action or larger gauge strings due to the less tension on the strings required to maintain the right pitch. I believe I have an interview with Stevie Ray Vaughn around here somewhere where he cites this, as well as many other reasons, as to why he played a ...


18

There are physical and psychoacoustics reasons behind it. A vibrating string held by its two extremities can only vibrate at certain frequencies (cycles per second, expressed in Hertz, i.e. 1/second), which relates to the characteristics of the string (e.g. its weight per unit of length, its flexibility) and how it is used (e.g. the vibrating length — which ...


17

Had to do some digging for this one. First off, some informed speculation: A, of course, is the first letter in the alphabet, so its as good a place as any to define a standard. Plus, as you say, it is one of the open strings in common on all string instruments (along with D and G). The A above middle C is also a relatively centrally-located pitch, ...


16

I'm not really a brass player, though I used to be a band director and have some idea about brass acoustics. The issue with multiple-valve combinations being too sharp is that the valve system is a compromise. Pretend for a moment that you have a straight trumpet with no valves (so, pretty much a bugle). Of course, you can play pitches in the harmonic ...


16

I found this: Circumstances of history, mostly, but also acoustics. The first orchestras (in the late 1600s) were mainly string instruments. A pair of oboes was sometimes used to strengthen the first and second violin parts. Soon composers were writing separate parts for the oboe, exploiting its singing tone as a contrast to the violins. The bright, ...


15

Tuning is almost as much an art as playing the guitar. You're trying to pull the strings to the point where most fretted chord combinations sound pleasant, even if they're not 100% true to their intended intervals. First a note about tuning direction on the guitar. Your standard tuning machine uses a worm gear which has a nice property: it's extremely hard ...


15

The reason is that most wind instruments are transposing. The "open" note (no valves down, trombone in home position) is B flat. It is best to tune to this to set the main instrument tuning. If other notes are out of tune, then the valve slides (or on smaller instruments "lipping" the note) will bring them into tune. If A was used, then B flat brass would ...


14

It is often a matter of tradition inside the orchestra that becomes out of control for conductors. When they create their own orchestra they have the pleasure to decide this for themselves. The conservatism from musicians has several reasons: Some Orchestra have a concert hall with a large organ which is tuned for this frequency Wind players usually ...


14

All stringed instruments, to my knowledge, do this; the note starts out sharp, and stabilizes after a half-second or so. The lower the string is in pitch, the longer the effect lasts. Pluck the string gently, not near the bridge (over the 12th fret is good, just stay away from the bridge), in order to get the most even tone possible, wait a hair, then ...


14

I would not be surprised to hear that singers are more commonly corrected in that direction, but it's certainly not impossible to be "a little sharp." A few reasons this might be perceived: There is generally a correlation between tension and higher pitch, be it tension in the diaphragm or larynx or whatever; when people sing higher in pitch, they ...


13

I would absolutely recommend it. I can say from personal experience (on trombone, close enough) that I developed some very subtle bad habits from not practicing with a tuner for a very long time. It was a minute enough of a detail that most of my teachers just didn't notice, until one teacher pulled out his tuner to check his own ear--something just didn't ...



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