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Jun 25, 2020 - 10:29:07 AM
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carteru93

Canada

5399 posts since 12/14/2006

Hey folks,
I'm by no means a pro but I've been playing for 10+ years 3 finger and clawhammer and just wanted to throw something out to some of the newer players

Lots of pros use tuners - I'm by no means a pro but I only use a tuner on 1 string . 3rd string G

I've learned it's much more accurate and once you get the hang of it, easier to tune the other strings to the one you used the tuner on. Some may disagree but every banjo or instrument is different (I also built and repaired violins for 15+ years) and tuning each string to the exact Hz isn't always accurate for the instrument.

Give it a shot, tuning each string to one string and life and jamming and gigging will become much easier once you get the hang of it

Again, some may disagree but that's just my two cents or maybe the quarantine talking lol

Best luck

Jun 25, 2020 - 10:32:46 AM

3182 posts since 5/29/2011

I've been doing the same thing for years but I do it with a pitch pipe. You are right in saying that having each string in exact pitch may not make the instrument sound its best.

Jun 25, 2020 - 11:08:02 AM

mbanza

USA

2216 posts since 9/16/2007

I agree, when I used to tune all the strings with a tuner, I invariably wound up having to make adjustments afterwards anyway. Tuning to one string also avoids compounding errors.

Jun 25, 2020 - 11:12:38 AM

carteru93

Canada

5399 posts since 12/14/2006

Very glad I'm not the only one who thinks this is beneficial.

I tune one string with a tuner to get an idea of where to be, then tune 3rd g to 1st g then go from there with the rest till it sounds right.

I've tested it and it sounds much better and "in sync" I suppose than each string to the exact Hz with a tuner.

If one person benefits from this advice I'll have done my job as a seasoned newbie

Jun 25, 2020 - 11:31:34 AM

150 posts since 11/27/2017

It would be very interesting to have a census of, say, the B in gDGBD tuning -- once you've got the tuning where you like it, what actually is the exact size of the third(s) you're using? Is the major third a perfect 4:5 ratio?

I'll also note that there is a very detailed article in Banjo Roots and Branches, I think, showing that old banjo tutors from the 19th century imply the use of just intonation when fingering fretless instruments...

Jun 25, 2020 - 11:37:42 AM

399 posts since 7/20/2013

In an orchestra, the Concertmaster (violin) plays one note, and all the rest of the players tune to it.

Jun 25, 2020 - 11:55:38 AM
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609 posts since 11/21/2018

That note was A 440. The old dial up telephones' dial tone used to use that pitch which worked in a pinch sometimes!

Edited by - northernbelle on 06/25/2020 11:56:08

Jun 25, 2020 - 12:53:41 PM

Owen

Canada

5813 posts since 6/5/2011
Online Now

quote:
Originally posted by carteru93

<snip> once you get the hang of it, <snip>

No disagreement with what you say, but as a perpetual pre-beginner, who's  mucho short on talent, I dunno whether to laugh or cry.  wink

Jun 25, 2020 - 1:31:53 PM
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7382 posts since 8/28/2013

quote:
Originally posted by darwinyarwin

In an orchestra, the Concertmaster (violin) plays one note, and all the rest of the players tune to it.


Actually, the oboe sounds the initial "A."although that's not the important thing.

Pianos generally are tuned to one note with a tuning fork, and the other 230 (or thereabouts) strings are then tuned to that initial note by ear. It takes some practice, but if a piano tuner can do that, then a banjo -player should be able to do it a little more easily.

And yes, a fretless banjo can and perhaps should be tuned to just temperament, unless it's playing along with a fretted guitar, a piano, organ, mandolin, or many other such E.T. (equal temperament, not extra terrestrial) tuned instruments. 

Jun 25, 2020 - 3:52:57 PM

1945 posts since 2/10/2013

Carter - "Tuning Wise", I think the fiddle is much more responsive the most string instruments. I don't think that level of tuning accuracy is needed on guitar or banjo. The quality can be a blessing or a curse, depending on how well you play.
Electronic tuners keep improving. My latest fiddle tuner, a D'Addario mini is much more accurate that my older tuners. I has amazing accuracy for the price.

I have read that the ability to accurately identify pitch is a learned skill. I would think it would take a considerable amount of time to learn this skill, and an aid from some tuning device would be beneficial.

Some people tune using a tuner, the "fine tunes" by ear. That make a sound the player prefers hearing, but it does not mean it is tuned more accurately.

Jun 25, 2020 - 4:13:37 PM

carteru93

Canada

5399 posts since 12/14/2006

quote:
Originally posted by Richard Hauser

Carter - "Tuning Wise", I think the fiddle is much more responsive the most string instruments. I don't think that level of tuning accuracy is needed on guitar or banjo. The quality can be a blessing or a curse, depending on how well you play.
Electronic tuners keep improving. My latest fiddle tuner, a D'Addario mini is much more accurate that my older tuners. I has amazing accuracy for the price.

I have read that the ability to accurately identify pitch is a learned skill. I would think it would take a considerable amount of time to learn this skill, and an aid from some tuning device would be beneficial.

Some people tune using a tuner, the "fine tunes" by ear. That make a sound the player prefers hearing, but it does not mean it is tuned more accurately.


With my experience with violin family instruments I have to agree with you. 

And very well said. I can't disagree with your post. Can't say very much in regards to that, tuning with a tuner then "tweaking" by ear is by no means IMHO a bad way to go especially for beginners. I just think tuning by ear once you've established a solid reference note is most accurate as all instruments are different is the most accurate way once you've learned how to do it right :) 

Jun 25, 2020 - 11:01:03 PM

4867 posts since 5/14/2007

I like using a tuning fork. Never needs batteries.  cheeky

Jun 26, 2020 - 5:34:15 AM

carlb

USA

2121 posts since 12/16/2007

I play clawhammer, keep my banjo tuned up and play in a number of different tunings, open C, old G, double D, A modal and A major. In all these tunings, the E (1st string never changes). In all cases, I am tuning the notes, so the pair is exactly the same pitch. You can hear the wavering get less as the strings get closer and closer to the same pitch.

I tune all my strings based on the E string. First I tune the 5th string against the 1st, the 2nd string by fretting against the 5th, and the 3rd by 12 harmonic against the 5th. The 4th string either as the 12th fret harmonic against the 2nd string or the 1st string or the 7th fret harmonic against the 5th string. Gee, I hope got all this right without an instrument in my hand.

Jun 26, 2020 - 10:10:39 AM

AndyW

UK

525 posts since 7/4/2017

Funny this post should appear as just yesterday I started attempting to tune by ear prompted by a Tom Collins(Fretless Fury) video.

As my metronome has an A note generator I am using that to tune the 3rd and 5th string (for A and DD tuning). I am then using little bits of tunes (combined with brushing partial chords as a double check) to get fully in tune. It's very slow for me just yet, but I get pretty reasonably close when I check things with my tuner. I'm tending to end up with all strings slightly flat as I tinker, I suppose retuning the A's and going through a 2nd/3rd time would get me spot on.

Jun 26, 2020 - 10:45:20 AM

13102 posts since 10/30/2008

I usually tune the banjo by ear to a guitar, mandolin or fiddle. If I'm totally alone, I'd rather dig out a guitar that I know is in tune, and hit the G string for my cue. I can't remember the last time I put an e-tuner on a banjo. Banjos are just too "flexible" in construction to work with an e-tuner for me.

However, for banjoists playing on stage where it's noisy, a tuner can be an excellent way to tune without banging away on your instrument such that everbody hears you tuning in the background (or worse, right up at full throttle or in the mic or, pick-up -- saw/heard that this spring in a Station Inn streaming video; awful).

Jun 26, 2020 - 10:54:26 AM

carteru93

Canada

5399 posts since 12/14/2006

quote:
Originally posted by The Old Timer

I usually tune the banjo by ear to a guitar, mandolin or fiddle. If I'm totally alone, I'd rather dig out a guitar that I know is in tune, and hit the G string for my cue. I can't remember the last time I put an e-tuner on a banjo. Banjos are just too "flexible" in construction to work with an e-tuner for me.

However, for banjoists playing on stage where it's noisy, a tuner can be an excellent way to tune without banging away on your instrument such that everbody hears you tuning in the background (or worse, right up at full throttle or in the mic or, pick-up -- saw/heard that this spring in a Station Inn streaming video; awful).


Much agreed. Banjos however as you said a few flexible and even with a tuner tuning every string to the perfect Hz still neds some tweaking. Standard bluegrass tuning (gDGBD) I find, as if found most do, the 2nd string B seems to needss to be a tad flat to jibe with the other strings, as per the tweaking. 

While gigging I find it best between tunes to step faaaar away from the mic as possible and do some tweaking while the MC is taking, and as quietly as possible. Especially when using d-tuners such as cheat a keys, they'll throw everything off a bit when used for a tune. 

Just my 2 cents :) agreed to all opinions mentioned here and everyone has their own method and if it works for you, it works. 

As long as you're in tune in really don't give a rats butt how you get there haha

Edited by - carteru93 on 06/26/2020 10:55:52

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