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Forgot my tuner

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by JimmyM, Jan 16, 2013.

  1. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Can't believe it...forgot my tuner. Didn't need upright or effects so I left the pedalboard at home with the tuner on it and forgot to get my pocket tuner. Man, was I lost! I couldn't tune my bass all night and I just had to guess, and I was so far out of tune that the headlining acts were completely thrown for singing, and the gig was a total disaster and everybody was mad at me. And then we had the second show, and a total repeat of the first show happened.

    Not really...


    Actually I got a pitch from the piano and tuned by ear before the audience got there. I was dead-on all night, and even caught it when a string occasionally drifted slightly. If I hadn't screamed "I forgot my ******* tuner," nobody would have known.

    I understand that there are a lot of folks who play an instrument who don't know how to tune it without a tuner. One day you will forget your tuner, too. Learn how to tune your dang bass by ear or everyone WILL be mad at you...trust me.
  2. synaesthesia


    Apr 13, 2004
    ...or download a strobe tuner app on your smart phone.

    But your point is well made. Many a time I have been in a situation where musos tune to themselves and their personal reference only to forget to tune up as an ensemble.
  3. Peepaleep

    Peepaleep Supporting Member

    Nov 3, 2010
    Las Cruces, NM
    Ya - looking at the piano player and saying "give me an A" has rescued me from my absent-mindedness several times.
  4. ugly_bassplayer


    Jan 21, 2009
    The 1st thing you should learn on an instrument is to tune by ear.
  5. BAce


    Jul 31, 2012
    Reminds me of an old joke: How long does it take to tune a 12 string guitar?

    Nobody knows for sure.

    I like to keep a Fender Speed E tuner in the dope compartment of my bass case. I'd have to forget my bass to not have a tuner. I keep a cheapo strap with locks on it there too. Forgot one once. Never again.
  6. FretlessMainly


    Nov 17, 2010
    There are layers of lessons to be learned here. Primarily, it depends on what instruments comprise your band and secondarily, it depends on how the band approaches tuning. It's always amazed me how many good musicians don't do this fundamental step as a matter of course.

    So, if you have a keyboardist with a digital setup, always spend 15 seconds keying into his rig. On bass, I choose either A or D and then self-tune harmonically (low E is too low to get a perfect read, so your other strings will suffer). G is OK, but why not use a mid-range note to anchor the edges of your tuning? I also often ask for a Dmin7 or Amin7 chord from the guitarist (assuming he/she has brought a tuner!). Something about a minor chord that evens out the edges of high/low root/Maj 3rd's in favor of a mid-range minor7th chord.
  7. elgecko


    Apr 30, 2007
    Anasleim, CA
    My first "tuner" was a tuning fork....I still have it somewhere.
  8. Jazz Ad

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    Really, there are people who can't tune by ear? It must be the first thing I was taught.
    I can't think of a more useful skill.
  9. I would probably have quit if it was the first thing I had to learn.

    Now though, I can match an A to an A (or any note) as long as they're not more than an octave apart
  10. Groove Master

    Groove Master Commercial User

    Apr 22, 2011
    Author of Groove 101, Slap 101 and Technique 101
    Good point Jimmy.

    It is true that tuning a bass or a guitar by ears is a "lost Art" nowadays.
  11. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    When I started, tuners were quite expensive and bulky, and hardly anyone had them. I didn't own one till 1984, and I had been playing pro for 6 years by then. And it wasn't long before that when nobody had tuners at all. So you either learned how to tune by ear right away or you ended up sucking wind. Nowadays anyone with $5 can get a tuner and totally skip the most important step of playing bass or guitar. You kids are too soft nowadays. No hair on your balls. You wouldn't last a weekend with Jewel's father up in Alaska.

  12. walterw

    walterw Supportive Fender Commercial User

    Feb 20, 2009
    if i'm tuning off a guitar player, i'll have him give me "equal temp" by playing open chords for each of my open strings, so his chords (hopefully) average out the errors in his tuning. i won't waste time playing around with my own intervals, i'll just tune each of my open strings to his full chord of the same note.

    i have to think that tuning off a keyboard would work the same way! have him just play all your open strings in the middle of his range (so they're not "stretched" too far out).

    can't fathom showing up at a gig without a tuner, though; maybe that betrays my status as a guitar player, as opposed to too many bass players who all the time think they can get by without one :mad:

    (yes i can tune by ear :rolleyes:... a good carpenter can probably eyeball-measure a foot by eye, too; should he?)

    +1 to tuner apps for your smart phone, they've saved my ass in the recording project studio before.
  13. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Too much thinking getting in the way of getting stuff done ;)
  14. Troph


    Apr 14, 2011
    Kirkland, WA
    That's impressive, more so even than the time I forgot to bring strings on my bass.

    Like you, I didn't panic. I walked around the parking lot until I had collected enough ultramafic basalts and magnetite, and I used my lighter and an old guitar case to smelt those down into a suitable nickel steel alloy. After hammering it out into different gauges of wire, after a few minutes I had wound some really great light gauge strings that sounded really fantastic. I still had plenty of time left to hit on the lead guitarist's girlfriend before sound check.

    But damn, tuning without an electronic tuner takes it to a whole new level. My hat is off to you, sir, for keeping the Old Ways alive and well. Maybe one day I too can achieve that level of awesome. One day.
    Son of Wobble likes this.
  15. BassyBill

    BassyBill The smooth moderator... Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2005
    West Midlands UK
    The only times I find a tuner really invaluable are for setups and for tuning when you can't actually hear yourself. I have a little Korg tuner in a pocket of my gig bag - most gigs it stays there, too. It does come in useful for the occasional situation where tuning has to be done silently.

    I also have a tuner app on my phone that I've only used rarely. That one is obviously no use for "silent tuning".
  16. dalkowski

    dalkowski Supporting Member

    May 20, 2009
    Massachusetts USofA
    Which amazes me to no end. IMO, it's another example of how technology is making us dumber. :bag:

    +1 to the idea of keeping the pocket tuner in the bass case/bag.
  17. I love my new Ashdown Bass-O-Meter for the way the led glow changes and the analog meter anchors when I hit the sweet spot, but I love it precisely because it looks like what ear tuning sounds like. And +1s to the sentiments that ear tuning is the core of all listening.
  18. Groove Master

    Groove Master Commercial User

    Apr 22, 2011
    Author of Groove 101, Slap 101 and Technique 101
    I guess a lot of people never attempt to symphony orchestra concert?

    Close to 100 musicians get tuned onstage within a minute from a single note from one of them!
  19. bassfuser


    Jul 16, 2008
    I have a chromatic tuner that can be set for Bb instruments with 1 button push. I tuned the E string to F and then ear/tuner tuned the rest of the strings up a half step. It didn't take long after the first song started to realize what happened. I'll still use the tuner but am very careful now.
  20. knumbskull


    Jul 28, 2007
    Ha, me too!
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