When comparing the same note (e.g. E4) from 2 (adjacent) strings, the tuner says: the same, but I hear them somehow differently. I cannot tune without a tuner because of this problem.

What make them sound different? Or something wrong with my ears? Thanks

  • 1
    If it is normal, how to persuade myself that they are the same note since my brain keeps telling me that they sound somehow different? – Tung D. Nguyen May 4 '16 at 3:37

The gauge and material of the strings gives the same note a different timbre on different strings.

If you are hearing different pitches, then it may be a product of an untrained ear. The longer you play for, the better your ear becomes and you will be able to better hear pitches and tonality.


As jamerack says, the thickness and material of different strings does make the same note sound different. Playing harmonics will even this out quite well. You'll still get accurate notes, but they'll tend to sound more similar. Have a go at tuning using harmonics - it's been covered in other questions/answers here. Some disagree that it's accurate, all I can say is it works for me. More experience and you'll improve!


I think that shorter strings have a more pure sounding note. This makes sense (to me at least) as the longer the string the more modes it can vibrate in which, in turn, equates more harmonics. So as you play the same phrase further up the neck the timbre definitely changes. All things being equal I will play a phrase in the position that has tonality that suits the piece.

(checked with my daughter who plays violin. When playing in an orchestra they all have to play the notes in the same way)

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    I think there's a good idea and I'll remove my -1 if you adjust some of the language. The length doesn't impact how many modes the string can vibrate in. Perhaps a relevant difference you're hitting on is that, for shorter strings, the harmonics reach inaudible frequencies sooner than for longer strings. – jdcode Aug 1 '17 at 0:40

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