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Jun 1, 2020 - 10:29:16 AM
363 posts since 5/30/2016

I have a Snark tuner that I love. The tuner gets me extremely close but then I also have to tweak it just a hair to make sure that the strings are in tune correctly.I understand when tuning the banjo that both D strings need to be in tune with each other, and both G strings need to be in tune with each other. I can hear that little wah,wah,wah between the two strings when one of them is out of tune slightly.But how do you know that the D and the G are in tune with each other? I do not have a tuning problem. My banjo sounds pretty good when I get tuned up. I don’t really have any frustrations but I have always wondered how do you know, let’s say that the 4th string D and the 3rd string G are in tune with each other? Also, is a Snark tuner only accurate when you are tuning open strings? Playing my banjo, when I slide on the fourth string third fret F note to the fourth string fifth fret G note, According to the Snark tuner the G note at the fifth fret is a little sharp. It does not really sound, according to my ear like it is sharp but according to the tuner it is a little sharp. That’s why I ask are Snark tuner’s only accurate when turning open strings? These are just some questions that I have been pondering for sometime and I would like to get an answer. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you in advance for your replies.

Jun 1, 2020 - 10:37:04 AM

3365 posts since 7/12/2006

Fretting4th string D at 5th fret should match 3rd string G . if you got both D strings right then 1st string D at 5th fret should match 5th string G. 2nd string at 3rd fret matches with 1st string. Good luck fretting 3rd string at 4th fret to get your 2nd string .lol
If your intonation is okay you shouldn't have much trouble. Sometimes moving the bridge toward tailpiece a little can offset minor intonation issues.I have a snark tuner. But I have an old Sabine tuner with a clip attatchment that plugs into it and that thing is soooo spot on.

Edited by - stanleytone on 06/01/2020 10:41:48

Jun 1, 2020 - 10:37:11 AM

JoeDownes

Netherlands

3268 posts since 2/7/2008

There's also a beating (what you describe as wah, wah wah) when the D and G string are out of tune. It's more subtle than two G strings, but when the beating stops the D and G are tuned to a perfect 5th (2 cent sharp from equal temperament).

When the tuner reads a fretted note as sharp, it probably is sharp. Tuners work the same on all strings or frets.

Jun 1, 2020 - 11:19:07 AM
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7221 posts since 8/28/2013

quote:
Originally posted by JoeDownes

There's also a beating (what you describe as wah, wah wah) when the D and G string are out of tune. It's more subtle than two G strings, but when the beating stops the D and G are tuned to a perfect 5th (2 cent sharp from equal temperament).

When the tuner reads a fretted note as sharp, it probably is sharp. Tuners work the same on all strings or frets.


Actually, in equal temperament tuning, there is a beat between an accurately tuned G and an accurately tuned D. It's not so important when one sticks to one key, such as G, but it can sound strange should one switch to a distant key like Db.  

Jun 1, 2020 - 7:01:17 PM

363 posts since 5/30/2016

Thank you all for your help. It is greatly appreciated.

Jun 2, 2020 - 5:43:07 AM
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14813 posts since 12/2/2005

Mark, good advice so far. Let me add one thing: a tuner will tell you when a string aligns with the note that its algorithm says is the correct pitch for that note based on the fundamental pitch (commonly, A=440 hz, which is a convention rather rather than universal law).

The challenge comes with the fact that this all works fine with unfretted instruments (aka violin family) but fret locations on banjos, guitars, mandolins etc. are simply close approximations.

The greater the distance in pitch between two adjacent strings, the easier this is to control - hence, fretting 4th string at 5 will produce that G note - or something close enough that nobody will notice. But the difference increases as we move through the strings: 4th to 3d is five frets, but 3d to 2nd is only four frets, and 2nd to 1st is only THREE frets (this is why the tuning of a mandolin is more logical than that of a guitar... and who the hell ever determined that the open G we use in banjo made any damned sense at all?

Given the shorter distances involved AND the approximations involved in fret locations, it's that second string - the B - that tends to cause the most trouble when it comes to tuning. Your tuner can tell you when it's smack on the B note, but when you do that it's common to find that when you fret the 2nd string at the third fret and play it simultaneously with the open first string, the notes are often noticeably out of unison. This is where relying on your ear trumps relying on your tuner.

There are several different approaches to managing this issue. Compensated bridges are one. But many players simply get their 2nd string close and fine tune it, by ear, against the open 1st string. This usually produces an open 2nd string that is SLIGHTLY flat - which most people really won't hear (they WILL hear the discordance if the fretted 2nd clashes with the open 1st).

This is why you sometimes hear players say "tune the 2nd string a few cents flat." Cents are tiny fractions of the interval between two notes.

Jun 2, 2020 - 6:56:48 AM

chuckv97

Canada

50026 posts since 10/5/2013
Online Now

Martin Taylor has some insights on tuning and intonation
youtu.be/Dl3mcHixAKM


 

Edited by - chuckv97 on 06/02/2020 06:57:18

Jun 3, 2020 - 6:46:02 PM

71940 posts since 5/9/2007

I've found the best ear tuning for guitar and banjo by comparing 12th fret harmonic pairs and tuning out the "wave".
Set the G with a fork and tune out the harmonic waves.

Jun 4, 2020 - 6:59:42 AM

1851 posts since 2/10/2013

I have lots of tuners. But the D'Addario mini tuner is the most accurate. That is quite surprising considering it is my most inexpensive tuner. In fact, I bought one for all of my stringed instruments and each one stay on the instrument. I was never overly enthused
with my Snark tuners.

Jun 5, 2020 - 10:02:39 AM

71940 posts since 5/9/2007

My favorite tuner is my old Korg DT-2 that I keep in my case.
It shows 50 cent intervals in the half-steps and is so handy for getting that "nickel flat" B string.

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