Hello Guys and gals welcome back to the Online Guitar genie Blog, in today’s post I will be discussing a very problematic issue for many guitarists and that is tuning. Long gone are the days of using pitch pipes and tuning forks to help us tune our instruments. Technology has advanced quite remarkably in the past 30yrs or so and new affordable tools are available on today’s market to help guitarists get in tune and stay in tune.
The first professional tuner that I used that was commercially available in the 1970s was the Conn Strobe-tuner. It was very precise and was also used for piano tuning, it had a 1/4″ jack input for guitars, basses etc and a small mic for other acoustic instruments such as piano etc. It is seen in many famous band’s live and studio photos and still used today on stages and guitar shops alike. I still use one in my shop!! Here is a photo of some vintage and modern Conn and Peterson tuners. Item 2 is the one seen in many live band shots. With the advent of quartz and digital tuners the bulky shop tuners were pretty much left in the hands of guitar techs and luthiers.
The average guitar player and many pros opted for a pedal style tuner to fit on their pedal board and in their guitar cases. It is much easier to spot check your tuning in between songs and during down time using this type of tuner, companies such as Boss, Korg etc marketed these products successfully. During the 1980s “Rack phase” many players had 19″ rack-mount tuners in their guitars rigs.
In today’s market there is a vast array of stand alone tuners available for the everyday player and pro alike, not to mention phone apps etc, one of my favorite units is the TC Electronics Polytune. it has many great features and is in the $90- $100usd range.In my next post I will give you some helpful hints on how to get in tune and stay in tune, on stage, in the studio and at home, because there are many factors that affect your tuning and pitch and you do not want to skip any of these steps.
I have included a free handy online tuner with a complete instruction guide here to get you started. Although this tuner can not register and measure the notes you are playing it will give you reference notes to guide you through the tuning experience. It will help to develop your ear, which is step one in the tuning experience!!
The FREE online Guitar Tuner
Thanks to Gieson Interactive!
ONLINE TUNER FUNCTIONS
1-For regular 440 concert pitch
Make sure the tuning type selector is set to regular tuning(Grey box lower center) More tuning types are available in this selector (We will get back to that later).
For manual control of each note: Move the mouse pointer over the
switch of the desired note and push it upwards like a regular switch-Start with the low E or 1 on the far left and compare it with your low E string and adjust accordingly either flatten the pitch of your string(Lower) or sharpen it(Higher) until both pitches are the
same.Then do the same for A(2)-D(3)-G(4)-B(5)-E(6)(See editor’s note at the bottom). Go back and do a double check to make sure that each string is the same as the tuner pitch, you can either hit the switch again to repeat the note or hit the spacebar.
2.Guitar or tone switch
This is the switch on the lower far left, it permits you to select either a guitar like sound from the tuner or a tone(keyboard type) sound. I personally like to use the guitar setting.
3- Kill Switch
If you wish to stop the guitar tuner sound at anytime hit the kill switch or X switch(Lower far right), you may also hit enter on your computer keyboard.
4. Volume Control
The volume output of the tuner is controlled by the up and down arrows on your keyboard.The level indicator is just to the left of the kill switch. Make sure it is at least set to 50 or more and your computer speaker control is at an acceptable level.
5- Auto Advance
This feature is used if you wish the tuner to advance automatically from note to note, you may also use the left right arrows on your computer keyboard to advance. The Auto advance button is located on the upper far right of the online guitar tuner. The duration of the notes in this mode is determined by the Delay knob found on the upper far left. The higher the number on the delay knob the longer the note will sound.
Most contemporary music from the 60s 70s 80s 90s 2000s are in standard 440 tuning (concert pitch). So you are pretty safe in the standard tuning mode on the onlineguitar tuner, however there are many exceptions,artists such as Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan used a lowered tuning were each string was flattened (lowered) A half step. This was done to compensate for heavier guage strings, to achieve fatter tone and not to mention making singing a little easier. Today an increasing number of bands are using this tuning to achieve similar results. For this type of tuning use the Hendrix mode. To find this mode, access the standard tuning box(Grey box,lower center) and use your mouse pointer to open the tuning options window, scroll down till you find the Hendrix mode. Once your tuning mode has been selected you will notice that the notes on top of the note on off switches will change to the new tuning accordingly.
This tuning is used primarily in celtic music and popularized by
Jimi Page of Led Zeppelin- To access this tuning select DADGAD in the tuning options window.
Dropped D TUNING
Is another popular tuning used by artists such as Neil Young of CSNY and popularised by many metal bands today because of the lower grind caused by the lowered 6th string E tuned down to D. To access this tuning select Dropped D in the tuning options window. OPEN TUNINGS
These tunings are usually used for slide guitar or Dobro but are also used by rock and blues players like Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones (Open G) Note: He also removes the low E string (6TH) to produce his distinctive sound. Open A,Open C,Open E,Open D are also commonly used. To access these tunings scroll up and down the tuning options window and select.
There are many other tunings offered in the Online Guitar tuner such as Kottke
Iris, Mayfield, these are tunings that have specific and original sounds created by the artists themselves and are unique to them,I encourage you to experiment with these and other tunings offered by the online guitar tuner, you may even create your own!!!
Note: The Online guitar tuner indicates the low E =1 A=2 D=3 G=4 B=5 Hi E=6
When in fact the reverse is true,these numbers are just reference numbers and not to be confused with the actual corresponding numbers given to the strings on a guitar.
SPECIAL THANKS TO GIESON INTERACTIVE