Questions tagged [tuning]

The system of pitches used by an instrument or in a piece of music, or the practice of adjusting the pitches that instruments or voices produce to be in accordance with the chosen system. When relevant, please also include the tag of your instruments, e.g. [guitar] or [violin].

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146
votes
12answers
42k views

Why is the guitar tuned like it is?

Why is there that funny tuning kink between the G and B string on a guitar in standard tuning? I.E. the gap (interval) between the rest of the adjoining strings is 5 frets (or a perfect fourth), but ...
75
votes
11answers
42k views

How long would it take to learn to tune a piano?

I have a piano that is out of tune, and I know tuning pianos properly is complicated enough to have its own profession. But I think it would be interesting to have a go myself, for fun. But is this ...
63
votes
5answers
12k views

What's the difference between a G♭ and an F#?

I've heard it said that, whilst on most instruments these notes are played with the same fingerings/technique/etc., there is a subtle difference. This isn't specific to this particular note ...
59
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20answers
44k views

Why Is Just Intonation Impractical?

I've read about the debate of "just intonation" vs 12-tone equal temperament. And nowhere it was clearly stated why just intonation is impractical. Here are my assumptions. Please let me know if I am ...
49
votes
9answers
25k views

Why are orchestras tuned differently?

In 1936 American Standards Association (and the International Organization for Standardization in 1955) accepted that A would be tuned at 440 Hz (or cycles per second). Yet despite the fact that a ...
48
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5answers
36k views

Why are pianos traditionally tuned “out of tune” at the extremes?

My understanding is that the vast majority of western music uses equal temperament, i.e. all semitones have a frequency ratio of the 12th root of 2. However I can hear in my piano that the notes at ...
41
votes
9answers
26k views

Why is the double bass the only instrument in the violin family tuned in fourths?

Out of the 4 instruments of the Violin Family (Violin, Viola, Cello, Double Bass), the bass is the only instrument tuned in fourths. Wikipedia states The double bass is generally tuned in fourths, ...
40
votes
3answers
27k views

Why is my guitar's saddle at an angle?

Most acoustic guitars I've seen, including my own, have an angled saddle (the white strip holding up the strings): This makes the bass strings longer than the treble strings. Why is this? ...
40
votes
10answers
17k views

Software that allows playing in different temperaments

Do you know of any software out there that will allow me to play in different musical temperaments (e.g. Well temperament and Meantone temperament)? I'm especially interested in software that accepts ...
38
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5answers
6k views

Why do pianos not need to be tuned every time you play?

I usually tune my guitar and violin whenever I play them. I assume most people do too. But what makes piano strings different? I know it is a lot of work to tune a piano, but I'm under the assumption ...
37
votes
9answers
12k views

Can wind instruments be played out of tune?

I believed that the trombone stands almost alone among wind instruments, in that it allows to play a continuous pitch range. The rest have a discrete set of possible notes (pitches), hence things are ...
36
votes
10answers
16k views

When tuning a guitar, should you always end with tightening the string rather than loosening it?

I used to have a guitar teacher that said you should always finish tuning each string by tightening/sharpening the string. So for example if the top E is a little sharp, you should turn the peg to ...
34
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15answers
74k views

Why is dropped D tuning used so often?

Many metal/rock songs use dropped D tuning. What reasons are there for it?
33
votes
9answers
13k views

Why are C♯ and D♭ different frequencies?

I am a music enthusiast, and I was recently reading What is the difference between equivalent Flat and Sharp keys as far as musical notation? Are there any reasons to prefer one over the other? This ...
33
votes
11answers
130k views

Why do some artists tune their guitars half a step or whole step down?

Is there a reason some guitarists tune down half or whole steps, other than preference or style? It bugs me sometimes when I would like to play along with a song only to find that it's played down ...
32
votes
10answers
22k views

Why do people with perfect pitch perceive tunes not in 440 Hz out of tune?

I do not have perfect pitch, but I heard that people who have it might have difficulty when a piece of music is not tuned to the usual 440 Hz pitch standard; it sounds out of tune for them. But this ...
32
votes
3answers
10k views

Why is A4 the standard pitch reference for tuning?

Why do musicians use concert A, the A above middle C, as the standard pitch reference for tuning? Various national and international standards define the frequency of this note. For example, ISO 16 ...
30
votes
10answers
9k views

Can I just tune my guitar how ever I like?

I wrote a song, and have a guitar I never got to using, and I decided to write a guitar part to the song. The thing is, I know what intervals and harmonies sound good so I just got my guitar out, and ...
28
votes
5answers
9k views

Why does the orchestra tune to the oboe?

Most of the time, an orchestra will tune to the oboe. Why is that? What is the next instrument if, for some reason, there are no oboes?
28
votes
4answers
11k views

What is the practical reason for reentrant tuning on ukulele and similar instruments?

I'm intruiged by the fact that some stringed instruments, like the ukulele, are traditionally tuned in the way of reentrant tuning where the strings are not ordered from the lowest to the highest ...
27
votes
4answers
2k views

Is there a sound theoretical reason why a capella choirs “drift off” of the starting pitches in a piece?

Is the "comma pump" an empirical problem, or merely theoretical? It's a standard music theory exercise to show that certain chord progressions don't actually quite work. For example, in the I-IV-ii-V-...
27
votes
3answers
21k views

What is concert pitch?

I was watching a song video lesson earlier today and it mentioned that the guitar should be tuned to concert pitch. What does that mean? Is it different from the normal EADGBE tuning?
27
votes
4answers
11k views

Why is a 440 Hz frequency considered the “standard” pitch for musical instruments?

I was reading the Idiot's Guides: Music Theory (3rd edition), and I read: The "standard" pitch today that most musicians tune to is the A above middle C, which equals 440 Hz; all the other ...
25
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3answers
6k views

How does a piano go out of tune?

I haven't tuned my upright acoustic piano for one, maybe two, years. I'm inept, so I can't tell if it's out of tune, but a friend recommended me to get a tune-up at least once a year. My question is:...
24
votes
2answers
39k views

How should I tune a guitar with a Floyd Rose tremolo?

A number of my guitars have a Floyd Rose tremolo system with the locking nuts near the headstock. How can I effectively tune a guitar that has a Floyd Rose locking tremolo?
23
votes
5answers
7k views

When tuning a guitar, how should I strike the strings?

When tuning a guitar, what is the best way to strike a string to get it as close to pitch as possible? I'd like to get it as close to the right pitch as I possibly can. I've noticed with my tuner (it'...
22
votes
12answers
21k views

How do I properly stretch my newly strung strings?

I came across this string stretcher device. It's called The Stretcha. It claims to properly and evenly stretch new strings and maintain tuning. I never really made a point to properly stretch ...
22
votes
8answers
25k views

My guitar goes out of tune at a higher pitch rather than lower, is that normal?

It is my understanding that strings, over time, stretch and are unable to maintain their tension, so they go out of tune at a lower pitch. When I pick up my guitar and I tune it with my electronic ...
22
votes
3answers
4k views

Poor quality guitars that don't tune

So since I got it at a discount price, I noticed this Yamaha I have won't tune properly. Specifically if I tune the strings to a perfect EADGBE (using a good digital tuner), then I cross check the ...
22
votes
8answers
42k views

How can I minimize going out of tune when using the whammy bar?

Perhaps my selection of musicians is biased, but usually when I see a whammy bar used, it's usually with a locking tremolo bridge like a Floyd Rose. Everybody else seems to take the whammy bar out and ...
22
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4answers
4k views

How to properly tune drum heads?

I would like to know if there are any tips on tuning drumheads; I keep hearing harmonics.
22
votes
4answers
3k views

Why does plucked and bowed string of violin produces slightly different pitches?

I know that when plucked as in pizzicato, the violin produces a muted sound. However, I was surprised to find out when I checked with my tuner that if I tune my violin by plucking, it seems somewhat ...
22
votes
4answers
6k views

Software for microtonal MIDI? [closed]

I'm looking to make some microtonal music (19/22 tone equal temperament). I want to produce it with midi. Timidity++ used to be able to produce a WAV file from a microtonal tuned .MID file, but it is ...
21
votes
5answers
4k views

Why did equal temperament become the standard tuning system for keyboard instruments?

Some people seem to make the case that having some keys beat more than others (as is in the case in the older well-tempered tuning systems) is a feature not a bug. But on the other hand, the equal ...
21
votes
7answers
3k views

Why are guitars strung low-to-high?

Why not the high E at the top and the low E bottom? I haven't even heard of an alternate tuning that's similar. Is there a reason for this?
20
votes
6answers
7k views

Do capable harmony singers sing in just intonation or tempered tuning?

I understand that the mathematical frequency ratios between certain intervals will correlate with the overtones that are present when a note sounds in a fundamental frequency. Certain predictable ...
20
votes
4answers
5k views

Is it harmful to use an electronic tuner to check intonation while practicing ?

Is it a bad habit to use an electronic tuner while practicing an instrument in which the notes are not fixed after tuning (e.g. violin, trombone)? I'm asking because I've heard a lot of people say ...
20
votes
5answers
4k views

Moving a grand piano 2 meters

I currently have a grand piano on a stage and was wanting to move it 2 (or so) meters back to make more room on the stage for an upcoming concert where it will not be used. I was wondering if I will ...
20
votes
3answers
13k views

Why do wind bands use a concert Bb for tuning?

Back when I was part of my school's wind band, we used to always tune to a concert Bb. Why do wind bands tune to a Bb rather than an A (as discussed here)? I recall our director once vaguely ...
19
votes
5answers
2k views

Why is violin tuning order the way it is?

I get that A is how we define concert pitch, so we tune that first, but then we always tune D-A, G-D, then A-E. Why is that? Is it just convention? My best conjecture/hypothesis is that it makes it ...
19
votes
3answers
9k views

Classical examples of a 'fifth voice' or 'ghost soprano'

There is an interesting phenomenon in choral (and perhaps also instrumental?) singing in which typically four voices are arranges in such a way that a 'fifth voice' or 'ghost voice' can be heard. It ...
18
votes
8answers
5k views

Tuning a tuning fork?

I just purchased a new 440 Hz tuning fork. But several different computer, iPad and iPhone tuners say it's almost half a percent sharp (around 442) of Concert A. Is there any way to adjust the ...
18
votes
10answers
5k views

What are the various methods of tuning the guitar?

This is not a question as much as it is a discussion. I am curious to know what are the different techniques to tune the guitar (using standard tuning) given you know that one string is in tune. I ...
18
votes
6answers
2k views

Do classical pieces sound different today than the originals due to temperament?

I was reading how classical music used to not be in equal temperament. So each of their keys sounded completely different and that's why they named their pieces after the keys they were playing. ...
18
votes
5answers
4k views

Trumpet low C♯ and D

Most trumpets' low C♯ and D are too high, and need correcting by pulling the 1st of 3rd valve. My first understanding was that the distance between tones in the lower register is larger than between ...
18
votes
6answers
13k views

How to accurately intonate a 3 saddle telecaster?

I have a traditional 3 saddle telecaster bridge. With two strings on each saddle my intonation is always a slight compromise. This is OK on the first four strings, but the bass strings are noticeably ...
18
votes
2answers
2k views

Tuning the lowest bass string a hair flat

I was listening to Abbey Road but it's just Bass and it sounds like the low E string is a hair flat in a lot of the songs. How did they get away with that? When I was in the pep band many years ago ...
18
votes
4answers
5k views

Is playing an out-of-tune instrument damaging to the musical ear?

My piano is nearly 100 years old, and can no longer stay in tune. Repairing it would cost much more than the piano is worth, and I'm not ready to spring for a new one just yet. So for now I am stuck ...
17
votes
3answers
79k views

What do the terms E2 A2 D3 G3 B3 E4 actually mean?

I am attempting to learn guitar, and I keep coming across this notation in various apps that I've downloaded. I know that E2 A2 D3 G3 B3 E4 are something to do with tuning, but I'm not exactly sure ...
17
votes
2answers
22k views

What is an “open tuning”?

I know that Keith Richards has been known to use open tunings on some songs, but what is an open tuning exactly and when/why would you use it?

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