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Tuners: Noise Interference

Discussion in 'Accessories [DB]' started by pbasswil, Jan 28, 2014.

  1. pbasswil


    Feb 17, 2008
    Hi there,

    I did a gig with my Eminence the other day in a really noisy club.

    As often happens, the din prevented my clip-on tuner from separating out my string pitch -- wild fluctation, no decisive readout.
    This is typical.

    So I plugged my pickup's signal into a Korg Pitchblack tuner. To my surprise, the Korg also could not tune in that environment!
    As far as I know, the Pitchblack doesn't have any kind of microphone, it only sees the signal from the 1/4" jack.

    The next day I tried the p.u. into the Korg at home. No problem tuning.

    ?? Has anyone else experienced that kind of noise interference with a traditional (non-clip-on/non-contact type of) tuner?

    If so, what are the best pedal tuners for coping with noisy and vibration-filled environments?

    Thanks in advance,

    - Peter
  2. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    I've had that same issue with plug-in tuners once in a while.

    I try tuning the octave harmonic instead when it has trouble picking up the open strings.
  3. pbasswil


    Feb 17, 2008
    Yup, me too -- I automatically hit the harmonic if it doesn't lock on right away.
    But this place was so noisy, even that didn't do it.

    I can only imagine that the whole bass is vibrating with the full spectrum of frequencies from the racket in there!

    Thanks for corroboration that even trad. tuners have their limits, Brian.

    - Peter
  4. Tom Lane

    Tom Lane Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 28, 2011
    Torrance, CA
    I suspect that the issue isn't noise from the crowd, but noise from their cell-phones or other electro-magnetic interference. Even FM radio can mess you up, in my experience. Try a shielded cable into your pedal tuner. I don't think there's much you can do about your bridge tuner other than to set it on vibration instead of mic, or move to a different location 50+ feet away.
  5. pbasswil


    Feb 17, 2008
    As far as I know, all guitar type cables are shielded, are they not??

    Probably you know more about these things than me, but there was no problem whatsoever with other signals bleeding into the audio, so I'd be puzzled that they'd interfere with both a contact tuner and a signal tuner.

    The crowd was loud, but the DJ was much louder while I was trying to tune between sets.
  6. RSBBass


    Jun 11, 2011
    I am with TCI, it is most likely electrical interference. Most quality amps circuits filter out most of it which is why you did not hear it. I doubt a better cable would make much difference unless your cable is microphonic (i.e. makes noise when you move it).
  7. JeffKissell

    JeffKissell Supporting Member

    Nov 21, 2004
    Soquel, CA
    When the battery in my clip-on starts to get a little old, it has trouble locking on notes, especially in loud rooms. I might be going out on limb here, but a loud DJ is probably more of an issue than electrical interference in this case.
  8. robobass


    Aug 1, 2005
    Cologne, Germany
    Private Inventor - Bass Capos
    Agreed. A room full of blasting subwoofers will make any kind of tuning difficult. Is there a back room somewhere where you can go and tune?
  9. byrdzeye


    Mar 28, 2013
    Toronto, ON
    A weak battery really causes these clip on tuners to become "iffy", more so than with standard plug-in tuners. Pretty much no way on the electrical interference thing, as everything is shielded, as long as you are using an instrument cable. As stated above, if your whole top is vibrating from loud music, not a lot you can do. We've also noticed the same thing with acoustic guitars if I play a note on my electric bass (not as much with the upright) when they are tuning up, whether using a clip-on or plug-in tuner.
  10. Bassamatic

    Bassamatic keepin' the beat since the 60's Supporting Member

    yes - you should use the vibration mode instead of the mic mode - the "sound" of the bass is really small and easily blocked.

    Also - I always use the 12th fret harmonic for tuning - since the frequency is much higher, there is a lot more information for the tuner to use to "count" the frequency and the reading will be more accurate.
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2014
  11. Alib8


    Aug 16, 2014
    I just signed up to TalkBass to ask about the same problem, and found this thread.

    I tried both a clip on tuner and a plug in tuner both with new batteries and could not get a stable reading on the stage while music was playing through the PA (both work fine at home). I went bridge piezo -> tuner and got nearly nothing, then tried piezo -> preamp -> tuner and got a reading but the needle kept going back and forth so I couldn't be sure. As pointed out, my guess is that the body of the double bass is vibrating with the music and confusing the tuners. I gave up then and switched to my backup bass guitar.

    My question is, would it help to get a better quality (as in more expensive) tuner, perhaps a pedal tuner; and/or boost the piezo signal even more with the preamp or volume pedal before going into the tuner?
  12. Train your ear and tune by ear. If you cannot do this because of the noise, then tune when the music is off before the next piece.
    Or install a magnetic pickup just for tuning (maybe with separate outputs for each string and a 4-way switch to select one of them fo tuning).