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tune your instrument before recording

Discussion in 'Recording' started by audiokid, Feb 12, 2002.

  1. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    How do you deal with out of tune instruments/guitars etc. It drives me bonkers when people are out of tune. If you get on musicians too much it seems to kill their ego or something so I hate to kill the vibe over it. To me, tuning is sooooo important for not only sweet sound but for depth!
     
  2. davemc

    davemc Guest

    I had a guy on the weekend who had to tune his guitar after each take. Like I mean had too.
    I said the guitar did not magically wait until he finished the song before going out. You could hear it really badly on each lead break as they are always 3/4 way through. Took a bit of encouragement to get him on a more stable tuned guitar, was not something I prefer to do.
    If an instrument is not great for staying in tune I will give gentle nudges and let them deal with it.

    If it is just one take where they forgot to tune up then it really comes to is the magic better then the tuning.

    When it comes to singers, I find I autotune some harmonies and long notes, if way out. Hard for a lot of them to hold the note. The rest is on a it grr's me situation, you find you do one word, they notice how you did that and keep picking words until there is less life in the track.
    So I try to keep it to the minimum.
     
  3. MadMoose

    MadMoose Active Member

    I've actually told people that I won't press record until the use the tuner. They'll try to tune to each other which is nice but it never works. My favorite quote is "but the tuner is wrong!". Yeah, right... uh-huh.
     
  4. davemc

    davemc Guest

    The other thing I do at the start of each session with young bands is ask.
    Does any know what intonation is on a guitar?
    I almost always get blank faces. :roll:
    Then I say see how it goes back and forwards too.
    Which I get so what that do.
    Then I explain about string lengths and that if your open E is now a F# on the 12 fret it is wrong.

    I then get them to check it with a tuner, if it is far out then I have to fix it.
    They then mutter is that why it never sounds in tune although I tune it all the time.
     
  5. Tuning guitars involves temperament issues :mad: in the way a piano does. It is a very subtle compromise. If you play in one area of the neck exclusively it's easier, but it is the rule that the B-string can bet tuned so an open E chord is in tune or the open D chord but not both. An acceptable compromise may or may not be possible. (I have a world class guitar tech working on this with me on one of the finest guitars made. Still working on it!) Maybe you guys are talking about something a little less subtle!
    Anyway I sympathise with your troubles. Few people keep their axes in good trim, intonation, fret dressing, etc.
    One thing I find: Dead strings lose their intonation as fast as they lose their tone. Often the tone is workable long after the potential for intonation is shot.
    Few folks know how to string a guitar so the tuning stability is high from the get go, when the strings are most supple and the intonation is best. Often by the time the strings settle in and stay where you put them the suppleness is lost.
    No good excuses for vocalists (unless they haven't heard themselves on tape often enough), but do remember that there are dozens of useful microtones to the octave that you've enjoyed in the past with one masterful singer or another. This twelve tones to the octave is a necessary compromise for keyboard intonation, nothing else, until we're all autotuned to death.

    Ted
     
  6. Another thought- there are two ways of looking at tuning- the most common is, is it noticeably OUT of tune? Otherwise, good enough.
    The rare one is, are all the instruments reinforcing each other so the sum is greater than the parts? Don't know if that is understandable, but when two notes are really in tune the whole thing jumps out at you in a really good way. Anybody know what I mean?
    I have a vibraphone tuned factory to A=442, which of course varies with the temperature, sharper still if it's cold. (the guitar tuner's wrong! :roll:
    Yeah right.
    If the vibes are warm, it seems geeked at first to be dissatisfied with the tuning. Nothing sounds "out of tune". But when the instruments are tuned carefully to the vibe, WHAM! now we got all kinds of punch, and the instruments other than the vibe sound much stronger and fuller and brighter!
    Yes! Yes! Yes! like she says at the end of Ulysses
     
  7. Another thought- there are two ways of looking at tuning- the most common is, is it noticeably OUT of tune? Otherwise, good enough.
    The rare one is, are all the instruments reinforcing each other so the sum is greater than the parts? Don't know if that is understandable, but when two notes are really in tune the whole thing jumps out at you in a really good way. Anybody know what I mean?
    I have a vibraphone tuned factory to A=442, which of course varies with the temperature, sharper still if it's cold. (the guitar tuner's wrong! :roll:
    Yeah right.
    If the vibes are warm, it seems geeked at first to be dissatisfied with the tuning. Nothing sounds "out of tune". But when the instruments are tuned carefully to the vibe, WHAM! now we got all kinds of punch, and the instruments other than the vibe sound much stronger and fuller and brighter!
    Yes! Yes! Yes! like she says at the end of Ulysses
     
  8. All this depends on the reason for out of tuneness.

    On guitar, the are intonation issues and sometimes the tuning has to be modified slightly to sound "in tune". This will not agree 100% with a tuner, (I use a Peterson Strobe) but it will sound right.

    If a guitar were built to play correctly in all keys, it would require 64 frets per octave, so we work on comprimises.

    Some instruments aren't going to play in tune no matter what you do. I saw one Gibson SG that would change tuning just by changing body position or touching the neck.

    I had a client in the studio last week that had an acoustic that the intonation was 1/2 note sharp at the 12th fret. Sometimes changing to heavier gauge strings will cure the problem.

    Old Rickenbacker basses would only play in tune with Rickenbacker flat wound strings. I modified a lot of those with Fender Mustang Bass bridges so that they could use round wounds. (Pretty slick mod, easily done and didn't require any routing of the body)

    Fender Strats will not play in tune if the strings are too close to the neck position pickup. If you see a Strat with the low E string bridge saddle adjusted out to the max, This is the problem.

    Some situations require diplomacy and an insistance that since this is recording, tuning is really important.

    Orchestras that have not recorded before will tend to blow off tuning rechecking until they get a take that is blown because the second violin played an open D that was flat. (Violinists usually don't play open strings, and are used to pushing flat strings into tune by ear, but this happened on one recording that I did)

    I had one other situation with a cello. The cellist did an overdub to a session ( not in my studio) that had already been recorded with digital piano and drums. She tuned to her tuner, which was 13cents off from the digital piano. The part was very complex and I think she may have been a little tired) Anyway, she played all of the fingered notes in tune and it wasn't until she listed to the take a couple of months later, that she realized that all of the open notes and the harmonics were 13 cents flat. She wasn't going to do a retake of the part , so all of the notes (about 20 of them) were fixed by massaging them in Sound Designer and retransferred to the tape.

    Tuning is important. Use one tuner for the entire project if possible and lay down a tuning note on the tape (or hard disk) for future reference.
     
  9. osmuir

    osmuir Member

    word!

    especialy on the bass, it is so important. and alot of bass players take this for granted, because it is NOT just "tuning" the bass, but playing the strings w/ the right preasure [makes it go flat--neat trick!] and pulling on the stringa all over the place.

    i just did a track w/me playing. turns out my bass was so out of tune i had to learn to play the part bending EVERY NOTE into tune. the fact that i actualy could do this [mostly] made me feel like a bbig man.

    --owen
     
  10. realdynamix

    realdynamix Well-Known Member

    That is where a lot of trouble happens, the pressure. Even if it is a fine guitar, too much, or too little, and it's out. Stressing the neck and body, wrist pressure at the bridge, and diggin in hard with fingers, or pick, though a lot may be intentional and sound super.
    Great question, and coool discussion.
    --Rick
     
  11. RecorderMan

    RecorderMan Distinguished Member

    I'm in a big hurry and didn't read this whole thread yet. But, if you want to set up a gtr ro be insanely intune...there's a system developed by Buzzy Feiton (spelling on last name might be wrong). He's an amazing world class GTR'ist, played wwith Clapton,Midler,etc.
    He's developed a tuning system. It invloves some work with the bridge and is a little pricy but is AMAZING. It acts like Just intonation on the piano. It'll work on acoustics too. Puts chords inevery key, all over the neck; right in tune. If anyone out there is interested I'll hook you up with him.
     
  12. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    cool, does he have a link? have him pop by or something.
     
  13. McAllister

    McAllister Member

    Buzz Feiten (and his system) is getting some serious recognition. Check out his site and take a look at the players who swear by it. I haven't heard a guitar with this yet, but a lot of luthiers are swearing by it, too.

    http://www.buzzfeiten.com
     
  14. I'd heard of this system- thanks for the link!
    Sounds scary- I wonder about having my $2500 Collings cut up even a little bit!
    My guitar tech says he has another solution in mind, but he didn't have time to tell me what. I'll look him up next week and report back.
    Ted
     
  15. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Ted, does Collings have a link?
     
  16. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Collingsguitars

    found it,
     
  17. arneholm

    arneholm Guest

    Correct. On my Strat I removed the spring from the low E saddle to have more room in screwing the saddle even more backwards. This gave me about 3-4 millimetres and it is quite OK now.
     
  18. Very cool, never been to the Collings site before. I guess they do have a few gala inlay options.
    Right now I have a rosewood dreadnought. I'd love to get another to set up lap style. Could be a ggod contrast to have a maple back- the more focused tone could be the ticket for sometimes when rosewood is just to rich.
    I've also heard that small body guitars record better sometimes, and could be easier to play for the girl songwriters (if I can talk them out of playing the ovation :roll: )
    And those archtops look awesome! Wonder who's gone and put a pickup in one and how that worked...
    My lust for instruments has put my gear lust in it's place recently!
    Interesting to see Collings uses D'Addario phosphor bronze. I tried dozens of strings on mine and the best by far were those. Most of the spendier ones had a full rich sound probably better suited to a postwar Martin or something with a leaner sound.
    Ted
     
  19. RecorderMan

    RecorderMan Distinguished Member

    one last quick endorsment for Buzz F.

    I recently recorded him on a couple of tracks, and his sytem definetly works...plus Buzz is without doubt the most anal tuning freak I ever met ( I mean that in a good way)
     
  20. Good to hear it RecorderMan! More interested than ever.

    Good lord those Collings archtops are like $15,000 apiece! :eek:
    And there's a waiting list! :eek:
    They only make like two a year.
    The D28 type I got five years ago is now going for $3000 list.
    Ted
     

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