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Tuner versus tuning by ear

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by woody357, Mar 28, 2006.

  1. woody357

    woody357 Supporting Member

    Jun 17, 2005
    I see many musicians using tuners. I am sure this is probably the best way and most professional way to tune on stage, but I find I have a hard time getting my bass tuned using one. It is easier for me to tune by ear. The keyboardist, or the guitarist gives me a G, and I take it from there. Is there anyone else that feels this way?
  2. ollybarclay


    Dec 14, 2005
    tuner everytime.

    i don't understand why not using a tuner would be preferable..even with the best musical ear in the world you're never going to be 100% accurate, especially in a live situation where there is background noise to contend with..

    i have to say watching bands/performers tuning really gets on my nerves..pet peev if you will.
  3. Tuner would not be preferred if you are playing with a piano, or something like that that may be in relative tune with itself, but not in exact "tune" (440=A). I'd rather tune to the piano, even if its 433=A, than try to tune the piano to the tuner w/o the time and help of a professional piano tuner. Same goes for an orchestral situation, everyone tunes to the oboe.

    I only use a tuner if everyone is using a tuner, otherwise I have to tune to the everyone else.

    Of course if I'm playing with two guitaists, then yes, all three of us using a tuner would be preferrable.
  4. There really should not be a "vs."

    I bring a tuner everwhere, just to be certain.
  5. Tuner everytime.

    I went to jam with these guys from craigslist on Friday. Won't be doing that again! The two guitarists kept tuning off each other, and I was of course using my ME50B. They weren't even close to being in tune. Sounded terrible.
  6. keb


    Mar 30, 2004
    I say we take off and tune the entire site from orbit with a tuner. It's the only way to be sure.
  7. BassChuck

    BassChuck Supporting Member

    Nov 15, 2005
    Tuner everytime for me. Everyone in the our band uses one. Fast and accurate.

    BUT..... if the guitar player hasn't set-up his instrument properly, it doesn't make a difference what the open strings are. And if the keyboard (I'm assuming electronic keyboard) has managed to do something funky with the global pitch function... well, you know.

    The other things to keep in mind: If you have several people using electronic tuners... make sure they are all calibrated to the same "A".

    If I'm playing with an accoustic piano, I'll get an "A" for my tuner, recalibrate and then use it.

    Nobody really wants to hear a band tune.
  8. Sundogue


    Apr 26, 2001
    Wausau, WI
    Sometimes I use one...sometimes not. It doesn't matter much to me. If I can get any open note for a que (like from the keyboardist), I can get tuned up just as easily by ear.

    I've verified it with a tuner, so I don't really need one...but tuners do come in handy.
  9. Snarf


    Jan 23, 2005
    Glen Cove, NY
    I HATE tuners. I'm almost always playing with a piano, so I tune to that. It is a pain at clubs though. That's when I'll give in, because when I play out with people, they usually leave the pianos in the practice rooms and bring their keyboards.
  10. Kelly Lee

    Kelly Lee Yeah, I'm a guy! Supporting Member

    Feb 17, 2004
    Marana, AZ, USA
    Hmm, sounds like a line from Aliens 2. :p

    I use a tuner all the time. When the guitarist says "Dude, your out of tune" I just pluck the string and let my Korg DTR-2 do the talking. That shuts him up and gets him tuning his guitar real quick! :D
  11. The_D

    The_D Well, thats like your opinion. Man...

    Mar 20, 2004
    Fife, Scotland
    +1 There is nothing more annoying than when you are jamming and someone is out of tune. At least with the tuner there you know it aint you! :p
  12. What you may be experiencing is a condition where the tuner doesn't accurately track the note being played.

    The result is that one second you're sharp and the next second, without making any adjustments, the tuner shows that you're flat. So you go back and forth, back and forth, etc.

    Some people mistake this kind of response from a tuner as the tuner being TOO accurate while just the opposite is true.

    To me tuners of this quality are almost useless. I've seen behavior like this in some very popular tuners that aren't cheap.

    On the other end of the spectrum, if you want a tuner that's VERY responsive and VERY accurate (1/1000 of a semitone) look at a Peterson. Unfortunately, they're relatively expensive. But the difference is very noticeable.
  13. Nothing screams "AMATEUR" to me than a band on stage saying "give me an A."
    That doesn't include tuning to a "real" piano.:smug:
    I'd much rather be using a Boss TU-12 or TU-2 than my Korg rack tuner. Yes, I think it's too accurate. I spend far too much time bouncing between flat and sharp- I usually end up "ball parking" it. For all intents and porpoises, in a live context, you'll never ever notice the +/- 3 cents in the tolerances of the Boss tuners.

    In a recorded context... Around 5 years ago I recorded at Smart Studios, a prominent "big league" studio- the tuner there, that the engineer "strongly recommended" was a Sabine ST-1100. :eyebrow:

    I don't recall if it was on TB that someone said something to the effect of 'tuning to the spec sheet' rather than real world application.
  14. The_D

    The_D Well, thats like your opinion. Man...

    Mar 20, 2004
    Fife, Scotland
    I think a mistake a lot of people make is not so much the tuner but the fact that they dont tune up to the note. I have heard before on here and from a few friends that you should never tune down (as in loosen the string tension). Instead if the note is sharp, tune down passed it again then gently back up to the note. It definately stays in tune longer and solved all of my sharp/flat problems.
    My 2p
  15. CamMcIntyre


    Jun 6, 2000
    If it's jazz/piano involved. Getting a reference pitch and tuning by ear is preferred. If it's pop/rock/all others-i use my tuner for the most part.
  16. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    I think I would probably agree that if somebody is unable to tune to an electronic tuner, then basically they are doing something wrong in their approach to tuning or their actual playing technique.

    Again though - this is one of those issues where a few minutes with a good teacher face-to-face, would almost certainly identify the problem and resolve it - whereas, here we can't see what's happening and so we can only really guess! :meh:
  17. Vorago

    Vorago (((o)))

    Jul 17, 2003
    Antwerp, Belgium
    I've always been tuning by ear, but I play fretless now, and exact tuning is very very important. That's why I now use a Yamaha Chromatic tuner, although I'm perfectly capable of tuning by ear.
  18. Woodchuck


    Apr 21, 2000
    Atlanta (Grant Park!)
    Gallien Krueger for the last 12 years!
    Ha! Are you kidding?! Me, without a tuner?! They're your ears, how much do you love 'em?! :D Got a Korg in the rack!
  19. Your experience with the Korg is the PERFECT example of a tuner that is anything BUT accurate because it cannot adequately Track the note being played.

    The note on your bass isn't changing by itself. The tuner keeps interpreting the note's frequency differently even though there has been no change in the frequency of the note. Just because something is a rack mount doesn't mean it has any coorelation with performance.

    And as has been mentioned, tuning UP to a note is absolutely necessary.
  20. woody357

    woody357 Supporting Member

    Jun 17, 2005
    This is what my problem is. I thought it was me. Man you hit the nail on the head thank you very much, but what do I get that I can use.

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