#1
I have been tuning with a snark clip-on tuner. My friend told me i was out of tune and i thought "no i can't be" but i now realize that i was naive. I was close before, but i wasn't in tune.

So i got an android app that seemed to be more accurate and the ears are telling me that the guitar sounds more musical. I can't judge the absolute accuracy of the tuner but I figure it must be doing something right if the guitar sounds better.

That got me thinking about intonation. I read some advice about using the 12th fret harmonic, and i did that to the best of my ability, then i went back to the tuning app and fretted 12th fret and 24th fret on every string to double-check. The app indicated that a few of the strings were still improperly intonated. I double-checked my work and tried some experiments but I have come to the conclusion that I probably need help.

So what's the deal? Should I trust the app? I'm thinking yes but I'm worried that there's something else that i might be doing improperly. Pushing down too hard on the (jumbo) frets - or something along those lines. Of course I know enough not to press too hard now, but it wasn't too long ago that I didn't know that. I can't help but wonder what else i'm ignorant about.

Any advice would be appreciated.
#2
If I'm not mistaken, it's impossible to have every note on the guitar to be perfectly tuned. So for intonation, we tune/intonate to the open and 12th fret as that generally keeps the whole guitar as closely tuned as possible. However, if some frets/notes are still quite out of tune, then there's probably an issue with the guitar/set-up of it.

As for going out of tune during playing, there's the issue of pressing too hard as you mentioned. Having a bad nut or a bad saddle can also cause your instruments to go out of tune too often. Also, while tuning using harmonics (5th and 7th fret) is convenient, it's not accurate. So always tune using open strings or 12th fret harmonics unless you need to tune very quickly.
#3
Edit: First off, it'd be good to know whether we're talking about an acoustic (possibly semi-acoustic) or an electric guitar here. The availability of truly accurate tuners for electric and semi-acoustic guitars are far broader than those for acoustic guitars as far as I know.

If you seriously want to check your intonation ask if you can use a strobe tuner with real-time display at a guitar store near you, or ask the luthier (if available) to do it for you. Yes, the way you're intonating is the right one, but I wouldn't trust an app to do that job for me (I wouldn't trust 'microphonic' tuners in the first place for that matter, they're often inaccurate, will pick up background noise, et cetera).

Strobe tuners with a proper guitar input and output are extremely accurate as far as my experience goes, and thus very suitable to intonate your instrument. Because good tuners often have 'real-time' visual feedback of your tuning (or at the very least no delay or nasty meter jumps/glitches when you pluck a string) they're pretty much the way to go.
Last edited by Eryth at Aug 30, 2014,
#4
Thank you for replies.

So a strobe tuner is the way to go? I'm not familiar with that yet. I'll go check it out. I do play electric so it sounds like a pedal of some sort is the recommendation?

I'm still having a hard time distinguishing the difference between "in tune" and "almost in tune". I have to rely on technology. My best friend - when he played my guitar - he used the clip-on to get it close and then he used his ears the rest of the way. He has good ears. Me - not so much.

Edit:
Oooooooohhhhhhhhhh
I get it now. I've downloaded pitchlab - which has a funny moving visual display that seems to be an attempt at a microphonic strobe tuner. I didn't know what that stuff was. I educated myself about strobe tuning and It made good sense to me.

Thank you very much.
Last edited by paul.housley.7 at Aug 30, 2014,
#5
Quote by paul.housley.7
I have been tuning with a snark clip-on tuner. My friend told me i was out of tune and i thought "no i can't be" but i now realize that i was naive. I was close before, but i wasn't in tune.

So i got an android app that seemed to be more accurate and the ears are telling me that the guitar sounds more musical. I can't judge the absolute accuracy of the tuner but I figure it must be doing something right if the guitar sounds better.
I use the "Snark" for tuning 6 string guitars. And even at that, sometimes you need to apply a bit of ear and Kentucky Windage, to get the C, E, G, D, & A chords all to sound as pleasant as possible.

I also have a "Planet Waves" clip on, and both it, (and to a lesser degree the Snark), seen pretty vague around center frequency.

I've been playing nothing but acoustics and between the finger pressure required and the fixed bridges, "perfect intonation" is all but impossible.

However, I also have a few 12 strings. To tune them, I use nothing but a stomp box strobe tuner.

Strobe tuners are also the way to go for electric intonation setup, as Peterson claims theirs are accurate to 1/10 of a cent. Once I zero in a twelve with the strobe, it will stay in for a good while, which is a good measure of the strings not, "fighting one another", producing odd harmonic intervals and pulling each other out of tune.

I know it probably sounds crazy, but when a guitar is dead on in tune, you can hear it in the length of its sustain.
Last edited by Captaincranky at Aug 30, 2014,
#6
Quote by paul.housley.7
I have been tuning with a snark clip-on tuner. My friend told me i was out of tune and i thought "no i can't be" but i now realize that i was naive. I was close before, but i wasn't in tune.

So i got an android app that seemed to be more accurate and the ears are telling me that the guitar sounds more musical. I can't judge the absolute accuracy of the tuner but I figure it must be doing something right if the guitar sounds better.

That got me thinking about intonation. I read some advice about using the 12th fret harmonic, and i did that to the best of my ability, then i went back to the tuning app and fretted 12th fret and 24th fret on every string to double-check. The app indicated that a few of the strings were still improperly intonated. I double-checked my work and tried some experiments but I have come to the conclusion that I probably need help.

So what's the deal? Should I trust the app? I'm thinking yes but I'm worried that there's something else that i might be doing improperly. Pushing down too hard on the (jumbo) frets - or something along those lines. Of course I know enough not to press too hard now, but it wasn't too long ago that I didn't know that. I can't help but wonder what else i'm ignorant about.

Any advice would be appreciated.


1) First off, Snark tuners, and nearly all the other clip on tuners I've tried, are more than accurate enough. That is not the issue.

2) Your guitar is probably just poorly intonated and t needs a proper setup.

3) If you have gotten your guitar properly setup and you're fretting notes out of tune, then it's a technique issue. "Playing in tune" on electric guitar is an actual skill - it means not pressing too hard on the "frets" when playing notes or chords. If you put too much pressure, you will detune the notes and will playing out of tune. If you find yourself doing this a lot by default, I would suggest switching to a thicker string gauge ( from .9's to .10's for example) since this will help your heavy hand. However, the real issue is one of technique and practice.
#7
Quote by reverb66
1) First off, Snark tuners, and nearly all the other clip on tuners I've tried, are more than accurate enough. That is not the issue.

2) Your guitar is probably just poorly intonated and t needs a proper setup.

3) If you have gotten your guitar properly setup and you're fretting notes out of tune, then it's a technique issue. "Playing in tune" on electric guitar is an actual skill - it means not pressing too hard on the "frets" when playing notes or chords. If you put too much pressure, you will detune the notes and will playing out of tune. If you find yourself doing this a lot by default, I would suggest switching to a thicker string gauge ( from .9's to .10's for example) since this will help your heavy hand. However, the real issue is one of technique and practice.


Well you are right about that last bit. I didn't learn about playing in tune until recently. I'm doing that too. But... maybe I need to learn how to use the snark better. I can tell that I'm more in tune after using the tuning app than after using the clip-on tuner.

Maybe I'm not using the snark exactly right? Each of the strings is a little different. The low E 'decays' differently than the others. I used to tune it one way, but lately I've made a couple changes - as I'll explain. The old way of tuning - I was adjusting the tuning peg until it is a bit sharp (5-10 cents according to the app) when i first strum. Not a super-hard strum, but firm. Then it settles down into tune.
I changed my method recently because I figured most of what I'm hearing is coming right after the pick strikes the string. I was tuning it so that the initial tone is in tune, low E, and I'm not worrying about whether it flattens out afterwards.
Most recently I've been softening my pick attack a little bit and I strum repeatedly - trying to get a sort of "average" of tones. (I hope that makes sense)
#8
Strings pitch sharp when struck hard. So, you need to roll of your pick attack, and tune so the the needle doesn't go sharp. This more or less levels out the the meter's response, toward actual pitch, meeting measured pitch.

As I said before, and you have noted, strobes are more accurate. To set up the intonation of the instrument you should be using a strobe. Once the intonation is set correctly, then by all means Snark your brains out.

As I also said before clip on tuners are fine for 6 strings, they still suck for 12 strings.

But to tell the truth, clip on tuners, at least to me, still need a bit of an ear tweak, from time to time.

Different gauge strings change pitch differently when the same amount of fretting force is applied. My point being, to a certain extent, any guitar is never going to be perfectly in tune, at every fret, and/or in every chord shape. Tuning E major open to sound pleasant is easy, C major open is a bit harder. Some strobe tuners have what is called, "sweetened tunings", as a method of compensation.
Last edited by Captaincranky at Sep 4, 2014,