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Old Today, 10:46 AM   #1
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Join Date: Oct 2010
How to increase tune by ear accuracy?

Of course I use a tuner to tune my guitars.

But I noticed the following: few times I tuned my guitar (ear+tuner) and offered it to "pro" and they retuned it again, although for me it sounded fine.

I see that some people take open chord like E and already hear exactly if its in perfect tune?
I think I can do it, but not so accurate.

Also I tried to tune my guitar using tuner 100% accurate, then record some guitar riff from a record and play it together with the same record and they're slightly out of tune.

How to train ear to work on this micro tuning level?
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Old Today, 10:57 AM   #2
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Join Date: Jan 2010
Abilities differ. Some folks are fortunate enough to have "absolute pitch".... They can hear and identify notes acurately. Some have "relative pitch"....They can clearly hear intervals and accurately say "this note is the same as that note".
To some degree, this ability can be improved by training/experience, but be aware that this is essentially a mental process and it can deteriorate with age. As Oliver Sacks notes in his book, "musicophelia", it's not unusual for folks with perfect pitch to loose all or part of the ability at some point in their lives.

Some folks simply can't do it. Poor hearing, poor neural wiring...Hearing damage, whatever. I've never been very good at it.... Hearing damage from shooting and childhood ear infections. I took the electronic tuner to be a great boon.
Still, I have gotten better over my 40-ish years of playing.
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Old Today, 11:57 AM   #3
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Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Louisiana
Originally Posted by pashtett
Also I tried to tune my guitar using tuner 100% accurate, then record some guitar riff from a record and play it together with the same record and they're slightly out of tune.

This is probably because whoever recorded it tuned by ear or simply used a differently calibrated tuner.

To try to improve your ear try this: First, tune your low E string using a tuner. Now, play your E and A string at the same time and try to tune the A string by ear with both ringing. Get it as close as you can, then tune it sharp until you can clearly hear how wrong it sounds, then tune it flat until you can clearly hear how that sounds, then, with those reference points in mind, try to get it as sweet sounding as you can.

Continue on tuning the other strings in the same fashion. Just remember the interval between the G and B is a major 3rd instead of a perfect 4th, so it'll be different than the others. At first you may need to use the 4th fret of the G string like normal and then use the method above.

Just practice tuning by ear and you'll get better over time. Do it every time you pick up the guitar, or at least once a day, and if it doesn't sound right when you're done you can just use a tuner before you play, but keep trying.

I (and most people) always check tuning with a G chord. For some reason that one makes it really easy to tell if something's not quite right. I'll also play a few other random open chords, but the G is the main one.

Tuning by the 5th fret of the string above isn't accurate because of the way the frets are spaced. No guitar's frets are perfectly in tune except the 12th fret if it's set up correctly. (except those guitars with the wiggly frets. look up equal temperament frets)

Of course, equal temperament's another hiccup. When tuning the way I mentioned you need to tune everything a hair sharper than what probably sounds right to you, particularly between the G and B. In 12TET, which is what you should tune to, a perfect 4th is 500 cents while in Just Intonation a perfect 4th is 498.04. A major 3rd in 12TET is 400 cents, while in Just Intonation it's 386.31.

Because of this, if you tune each string so it's a JI perfect 4th above the previous string, except the B, which is a major 3rd, then by the time you get to the high E string you'll have only made it 2,378.47 cents instead of 2,400.00 cents, which would be 2 octaves, so the two E strings played together will be out of tune.

Honestly, because of all this crap I usually just use a tuner, because I know I'll never be able to perfectly tune to 12TET notes. I can get it close enough that most people couldn't hear the difference if I don't have a tuner for some reason, and you can too if you practice at it, but I suggest always trusting the tuner as having the best ear, because it does.

Edit: I forgot to mention, when I tune by ear I use both the 5th/4th fret method and the play the string above at the same time method. Tuning by the 5th or 4th fret is usually little sharp, whereas a Just Intonation perfect 4th or major 3rd is a little flat, so I try to get in between both of those.

Last edited by The4thHorsemen : Today at 12:03 PM.
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