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Practicing fretless with a tuner

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by PionFou, May 18, 2005.

  1. Hi.

    I recently treated myself to a nice MIA Jazz fretless. I'm practicing with my tuner, just to get my intonation right.

    I have one of those chromatic tuners (a Boss TU-2) with a green dot that lits when youre on, and red dots on each side that tell you when you're sharp or flat.

    The thing is that on most of the notes that I hit, I have a green and a red dot on when I play the note. To my ears, the note is fine, but the tuner says I'm slightly off.

    I've never practiced with a tuner before, and I know that they are very sensitive. My guess is that my intonation is ok and that the variation my tuner gives me is due to the sensitive nature of the device.

    What do you think? Does having good intonation on a fretless mean I should be 100% of the time on a greed dot, or am I fine the way it is now?

    Did you encounter the same thing when practicing with a tuner?

    I need some help!!!


  2. have you gotten it set-up properly?

    fretless' are very touchy. If you havn't gotten it properly set-up, do so.
  3. johnvice


    Sep 7, 2004
    This is how I work on my fretless intonation.

    Just realize that you are not going to be 100% tonation accurate with a fretless. This is an attribute of the frteless sound.
  4. The Clap

    The Clap

    Jan 5, 2004
    Scottsdale, AZ
    You can find out what value that red LED actually represents, and since you're working on your intonation, it would behoove you to do this. Find out how many 'cents' each LED represents, as it can range from 1-10 or so, and you'll have an idea of how far off of the actual note you are. My Korg DTR-1 works in a pretty similar way, as it's hard to get JUST the green light to display when tuning, but if you're intimately familiar with the meaning of your tuner's display, this becomes a non-issue.

    The short answer is that your tuner is probably accurately registering your pitch, and that you're off by a little whenever it says so. But 'off by one light' doesn't tell you anything in real data, so find out how many cents that one light represents, and what that means for your intonation as a whole
  5. Well, the tuner is acurate on +/- 3 cents, and each additional light is 10 cents of, sharp or flat.
    So I guess being within +/- 10 cents off pitch would probably not be so bad... What do you think!!
  6. Matt Ides

    Matt Ides Supporting Member

    May 12, 2004
    Minneapolis, MN
    Man, that sounds painful.

    the tuner is going to screw with you. Use open string, harmonics, and your ears to see if you are in tune.

    Play a major scale? Does it sound right?

    Play tunes, lines, whatever you already know.

    Get a guitar player friend and just play.

    the tuner may tell you are slightly off, move your finger a cm and your on.

    It is much more about feel and listening.

    Good luck.
  7. Plucked strings tend to start at a slightly higher pitch then fall off, which causes trouble when you try to watch a tuner and play. Just learn with your ears.
  8. I would put the tuner away, it doesn't prepare you for any musical situation. You need to train your fingers and ears and you can only do that if you have a reference pitch. Record, loop, program a note or a chord and practice your material along to that. (Aebersold, Band-In-A-Box, Looper) Record yourself and listen back. What you thought was acceptable will sound painful at first and you will progress from there.

    Learn to hear your playing in relation to the music.
  9. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Put the tuner away. Use the open strings to judge whether you're in tune or not. You're never going to develop your ear and you'll drive yourself insane trying to get the tuner to say you're exactly in tune. All good fretless players use their ears to tell if they're in tune and practice by checking "fretted" notes against open strings. You can use the tuner to sort of train your ear what to listen for to be in tune, but then get rid of it when you practice intonation.
  10. I had my local luthier "approve" my set up, so I've got this covered. I'll go with my ears and only keep the tuner as a reference. Thanks to you all for some great pieces of advice!! :)
  11. eric234

    eric234 Guest

    Mar 11, 2005
    you should be able to play without a tuner

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