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Buzz Feiten tuning system

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by nonsqtr, Jun 2, 2004.


  1. nonsqtr

    nonsqtr The emperor has no clothes!

    Aug 29, 2003
    Burbank CA USA
    Can someone please explain (in a nutshell) how this system differs from an "ordinary" tuning system? And what exactly is included in "the system", is it just the tuners, or does it include any other components? My MTD 535 owner's manual (all two pages of it) recommends a certain tuner (a Korg 7-something-or-other) that has a special "Buzz Feiten" mode. That scared the heck out me. Is Mike telling me that this bass won't tune like an ordinary bass?
     
  2. Jerry J

    Jerry J Supporting Member

    Mar 27, 2000
    P-town, OR
    I ended up buying the little Korg tuner. It's actually a nice tuner but pretty spendy.

    There are some formulas..+/- cents that will get you in the ballpark. I just saw this posted somewhere, recently. Most likely here on TB.com. But this is just for the intonation setup. You tune your bass normally once the intonation is setup.
     
  3. Mike Dimin

    Mike Dimin

    Dec 11, 1999
    congrats on the MTD 535. They absolutely wonderful basses. As for the BFTS. It is a combination of 2 things. First the nut, or in the case of the "0" fret, is moved closer to the bridge by a few mm, secondly when intonating the bass you offset the intonation by +/- 1 cent depending on the string. It allows the bass to play better in tune throught the range of the insturment. For someone like me who does a lot of chord/melody, looping, etc I have found it very helpful. The BFTS system gives the bass a sweeter sound when playing chords or playing with a piano.

    As Jerry J said. Use a tuner and tune your bass normally to the open string. The only adjustment is during the intonation process

    Mike Dimin
     
  4. nonsqtr

    nonsqtr The emperor has no clothes!

    Aug 29, 2003
    Burbank CA USA
    Thanks guys. That would be a 1/2 though, based on the kindness of my erudite TB colleagues. :)
     
  5. elros

    elros

    Apr 24, 2004
    Norway
    Proprietor, Helland Musikk Teknologi
    As far as I have understood it, the Buzz Feiten system somehow compensates for the thickness or stiffness (or both?!?) of the string... I don't really know.
    But I do have that tuner - the Korg DT-7. It is very nice. And, (once again) as far as I have understood it, the special BF function is only used when setting up the instrument - adjusting intonation and such. After that, you can tune your instrument like any other, using a normal tuner.
    AFIK.
     
  6. Mike Dimin

    Mike Dimin

    Dec 11, 1999
    It compensates for the the fact that the string has more tension at the ends near the witness point than in the middle

    Mike
     
  7. geshel

    geshel

    Oct 2, 2001
    Seattle
    Hi Mike,

    Sorry but this is a little confusing, the way you phrased it. The string has the same tension throughout its length.

    When fretted, the tension changes differently depending on where you fret it (1st fret v. 12th). I think this is what the BFTS takes into account.
     
  8. Mike Dimin

    Mike Dimin

    Dec 11, 1999
    Pick up your bass, I think that you can feel more tension on the string at the witness points and less in the dead middle. I know if I ever have to play "popcorn bass" (fast, staccatto 16th notes) - I do it closer to the bridge as the string tension there is more consistant and tighter

    Mike
     
  9. geshel

    geshel

    Oct 2, 2001
    Seattle
    Mike,

    When the strings are sitting there and you are not touching them, the tension is the same from the nut to the bridge. It's a physical fact.

    I am making a mostly semantic point here, it has probably already gone on long enough. :) I know what you mean. Thanks.
     
  10. Mike Dimin

    Mike Dimin

    Dec 11, 1999
    agreed - here is what Buzz says:


    The Reason - Standard intonation is not pleasing to the ear
    Guitars are designed and built using a standard formula for intonation and nut placement. Each string is intonated only to itself resulting in what is called 'equal temperament'. Piano tuners abandoned equal temperament long ago because it simply is not pleasing to the ear. Instead, piano strings are 'stretch tuned' to make them play in pleasing intonation anywhere on the keyboard. The resulting 'tempered' tuning is superbly musical, and most important, in tune.

    The Solution - The Buzz Feiten Tuning System
    Inspired by the piano's tempered tuning, the Buzz Feiten Tuning System is a revolutionary intonation model for guitar that intonates each string not only to itself, but also to every other string. Furthermore, to eliminate sharpness in the first three frets, the nut is moved a prescribed distance closer to the bridge. The result - play any note, any chord, anywhere on the neck and you'll be in tune. And, it doesn't change the way your guitar looks or plays.
     
  11. alaskaleftybass

    alaskaleftybass Will Hanbury, Jr. Supporting Member

    Mar 21, 2012
    Sitka, Alaska
    Zombie Resurrect: Anyone been using the Buzz Feiten System, and what do they think of the system?

    I'll explain where I'm at: I found an MTD Kingston lefty amber colored bass/maple fretboard/MusicMan style pickup. I absolutely love the look and love the MusicMan sound out of the pickups. However, it has the Buzz Feiten Tuning system. And I have to flip the nut around and restring the lefty right handed. I know, screwy right? Hey, it's how I learned! Anyway, I'm not sure how it will all work out but I really love the fast necks and fast necks in maple are hard to find.

    Here's the bass I'm looking at. Will the nut be anything weird or hard to work with? I know Ibanez nuts are 38mm and so is this one. I think an Ibanez SR 38mm nut would fit on this bass.

    I'd like to get the bass, the only thing throwing me off is the Zero nut and Buzz Feiten tuning system. I don't know how to compensate like everyone's talking about.

    mtd.

    Thanks to anyone who chimes in!
     
  12. 4StringTheorist

    4StringTheorist Supporting Member

    I think the BFTS still has the nut and frets perpendicular to the centerline of the bass, meaning that if you flip the nut and re-string "upside down" that shouldn't mess with the Buzz Feitan tuning at all. Go for it!

    You just use the BFTS when setting intonation. Regular tuning and playing is entirely normal.
     
    alaskaleftybass likes this.
  13. alaskaleftybass

    alaskaleftybass Will Hanbury, Jr. Supporting Member

    Mar 21, 2012
    Sitka, Alaska
    Thanks @4StringTheorist !
     
  14. ixlramp

    ixlramp

    Jan 25, 2005
    UK
    The scientific 'tension' is equal along the whole length of the string in all situations. However the string is harder to displace sideways nearer the ends, but only because you are nearer the witness points.
    A fixed sideways displacement causes the string to rotate through a larger angle when nearer the witness points, which causes a larger sideways component of the tension resisting sideways displacement.

    So there is indeed more resistive force near the ends but the tension is always equal along the strings. BFTS has nothing to do with this though.
     
    alaskaleftybass likes this.
  15. alaskaleftybass

    alaskaleftybass Will Hanbury, Jr. Supporting Member

    Mar 21, 2012
    Sitka, Alaska
    Am I right to assume 'witness points' are by the string nut?
     
  16. the witness points are where the sounding length of the string terminates. ...at the nut, and at the bridge saddle.
     
  17. ixlramp

    ixlramp

    Jan 25, 2005
    UK
    This advertising text is a little dumbed-down and makes slightly dubious over-hyped claims, in a similar way to the advertising for the True Temperament system (squiggly frets) for guitar.

    99% of your music collection is in near-perfect Equal Temperament (no stretch tuning) and is certainly pleasing to your ears.
    The reason for stretch tuning a piano is due to the unique behaviour of piano strings. Unlike most instruments (including guitars), piano strings are very stiff (as in inflexible, nothing to do with tension), so they are very 'inharmonic', meaning their harmonics are sharp and out of tune with the fundamental frequency, and the higher harmonics are increasingly sharp.
    So when playing 2 notes an exact octave apart, the 2nd harmonic of the lower will be significantly sharper than the fundamental of the higher, even though the 2 fundamentals are in perfectly tuned Equal Temperament.
    So pianos are stretch tuned: in relation to perfect ET the fundamentals are tuned increasinlgy sharp for the higher notes, and increasingly flat for the lower notes. A smaller piano has shorter, fatter, stiffer strings so needs more stretch, as much as +-35 cents, grand pianos are more harmonic so need less.

    [​IMG]

    A guitar has quite flexible strings so the amount of inharmonicity is small and many would consider not a problem, this is why BFTS stretch tuning on a guitar or bass is only around +-4 cents maximum.
    This is the dubious hype, in a way it's true, which is why they write this, but it's more complex.
    Musicians are of course obsessed with being 'in tune' so this sort of hype is used a lot for BFTS, True Temperament and Evertune guitar bridges.
    In fact stretch tuning causes your notes to be out of tune with perfect ET, and therefore other instruments, to make harmonic-harmony more in tune. Pianos are very often played solo, so a stretch tuning that is up to +-35 cents out of tune with other instruments is less of a problem.

    In addition of course is the fact that Equal Temperament itself is actually 'out of tune' with natural harmony (which is called 'Just Intonation) by up to 18 cents. ET is an out of tune compromise to create equally-spaced pitches that enable modulation to any key.
     
  18. ixlramp

    ixlramp

    Jan 25, 2005
    UK
    Yes.
     
  19. ixlramp

    ixlramp

    Jan 25, 2005
    UK
    As far as i know BFTS is 2 things: a carefully compensated nut, and a method of intonation setup. The frets are conventional.
     
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2017
  20. ixlramp

    ixlramp

    Jan 25, 2005
    UK
    So this thing about being 'in tune' is just marketing hype, because actually the notes of the instrument are being put deliberately out of tune with ET slightly to improve harmony. The instrument will be slightly out of tune with other instruments. This is something that would be unwise to include in the marketing because it might put people off.

    A bass is also not an obvious instrument to stretch-tune, stretch-tuning works best with instruments that are often played solo and that use a lot of harmony, so a guitar is more suitable and especially acoustic guitar.

    Any bass can be set up with stretch-tuning, the compensated nut is not needed, here's a simple example for a 5 string bass with a stretch of 1 cent per 5 semitones (chosen for simplicity, i'm not sure how much stretch is needed for a bass, probably more than this):

    Tune the midpoint of the bass's range correctly to ET with A = 440Hz. This would roughly be the open G string.
    Tune the lower open strings flat by increasing amounts: B -4, E -3, A -2, D -1 cents.
    Then intonate each string such that the frets go sharp by 1 cent per 5 frets.