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Old 09-09-2012, 03:46 PM   #21
MaggaraMarine
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Eddie Van Halen lowered his B-string tuning a bit in Running with the Devil to make the major chords (xx000x position) sound good.
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Old 09-09-2012, 06:43 PM   #22
SilverSpurs616
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So bottom line- the guitar is an imperfect instrument, and can favour some chords and keys over others? i.e. G, E and C all sound fine whereas A and D seem less "in-tune" when played on guitar. This is frustrating :L

To be honest, I don't know for sure how my ears developed like this. I only play guitar, but I listen to music near-constantly and a lot of it is actually not guitar-based.. maybe that's simply it?
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Old 09-09-2012, 07:21 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MaggaraMarine
Eddie Van Halen lowered his B-string tuning a bit in Running with the Devil to make the major chords (xx000x position) sound good.
Although, flatting the B string slightly is far from a Van Halen innovation. I recall my guitar teacher referring to it as, "temper tuning", now pushing 50 years past.
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Old 09-10-2012, 04:12 AM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SilverSpurs616
So bottom line- the guitar is an imperfect instrument, and can favour some chords and keys over others? i.e. G, E and C all sound fine whereas A and D seem less "in-tune" when played on guitar. This is frustrating :L

To be honest, I don't know for sure how my ears developed like this. I only play guitar, but I listen to music near-constantly and a lot of it is actually not guitar-based.. maybe that's simply it?


Even wierder is that the same chord progession in the key C (for example), can have a totally different quality tuning wise than if you were to tranpose it up or down a halfstep.

Or even just change the position you're playing the same chord (say instead of open A you play a 5th fret barre chord).
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Old 09-10-2012, 04:25 AM   #25
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The intonation issue on the guitar drive me mad sometimes. All you can do really is tune the open strings with a good tuner and ignore the intonation problems. I think this is a big part of why I tend to focus more on lead guitar and melodies than writing chord progressions.
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Old 09-10-2012, 10:17 AM   #26
J-Dawg158
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SilverSpurs616
So bottom line- the guitar is an imperfect instrument, and can favour some chords and keys over others? i.e. G, E and C all sound fine whereas A and D seem less "in-tune" when played on guitar. This is frustrating :L

To be honest, I don't know for sure how my ears developed like this. I only play guitar, but I listen to music near-constantly and a lot of it is actually not guitar-based.. maybe that's simply it?


It's not quite so much that the guitar is imperfect, it's that music as defined by western civilization isn't perfect and the guitar is designed to work with a certain degree of inaccuracy for the sake of versatility.

In order to have perfectly consonant intervals (see just intonation) you have to tune and intonate the instrument so that the frequencies correspond to the ratios of the harmonic series. (see harmonic series) The caveat to this is justly tuned intervals are uneven and so if you justly tune to the key of C then play in another key it produces out of tune intervals. (see wolf interval) This phenomenon continues to worsen the further along the circle of fifths you go rendering most keys completely unusable. (see intervals of justly tuned C major compared to other keys)

Equal temperament, which most fretted instruments and pianos use, is a compromise where the uneven intervals of just intonation are tempered so that every semi-tone is the same width, 100 cents. (see equal temperament) Though this renders most intervals out of tune, some worse than others, it allows for the largest number of keys to be played without re-tuning, or re-fretting, of the instrument.



Bottom Line - The guitar is intonated so as to facilitate the largest number of keys with the same relative amount of accuracy. It's pretty much the only practical way of doing it. Imagine having to retune/change string gauges between every song with a Floyd Rose just to maintain just intonation :shivers:

Oh, FYI: True temperament is still using the equal temperament system. It's purpose is to correct for string gauge/stiffness/mass, etc. (See their site.)
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Old 09-10-2012, 01:07 PM   #27
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The fact SS616 says some major chords sound fine whereas others don't tells me this isn't so much an issue of standard temperament but of the intonation of the particular instrument. It's pretty common to have sharp notes on the first few frets of the higher strings.

What I sometimes do is tune the strings not open but at the first fret (F2 to F4) and intonate according to that. Without using a compensated nut, it evens out the intonation over the fretboard by dumping the error on the open notes (a few flat open notes versus a few times as many fretted sharp notes in lower positions). Not a perfect solution, but a step in the right direction...
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