Is it common to tune Low E and plain G slightly flat?

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by still.ill, May 21, 2019.

  1. Benderp

    Benderp Supporting Member

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    EVH tuned his B slightly flat. Pushing too hard can be an issue and same with pushing the strings slightly sideways. I always thought most sour sounds come from closer to the nut
     
  2. lowyaw

    lowyaw Member

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    This ^
    It has nothing to do with how your nut is cut, or intonation in general. It's the players touch and technique.
    I've been tuning low E and drop D string quite noticeably lower, for years, because with my poor technique, I would wack it out of tune all the time. The effect was especially bad on a Les Paul guitar, which ended up to be one of the things that had given me persistent allergy to that particular model and scale.
    Longer scale helps. Bigger strings help. Practicing helps.
    Moreover, having a tuner needle dead center for open strings doesn't always mean perfect sounding intervals, even with intonation set right.
     
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  3. C-4

    C-4 Member

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    Some of my guitars sound fine when tuned just to pitch, but others need a bit of finessing, so I lower whatever strings make the guitar sound more in tune.
     
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  4. FbIsNotE

    FbIsNotE Member

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    There's the compounded issue of the fact that the attack of the note is almost always sharp a bit as compared to the ring out. So style has a lot to do with how people tune. If you primarily shred (lots of short notes focused on attack Hz) with not a lot of Rhythm playing (much more ring out) then how you feel the "correct" way to tune can vary.

    For as long as I've been playing the tuner is just the starting point. I've always "sweetened" just because I couldn't stand "tempered". Never had any complaints. Quite the opposite actually.
     
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  5. ScratchyPot

    ScratchyPot Member

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    I have heard of people tuning an unwound G just a hair flat, but not an E string.
     
  6. Ejphotos

    Ejphotos Supporting Member

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    Thought of this video as soon as I read the thread title. Paul goes into the mathematical breakdown of the intervals and their relation to the sound, which is pretty interesting.
     
  7. mc5nrg

    mc5nrg Member

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    Search out James Taylor tuning adjustments. My answer would be the op query and fudging open strings a bit sometimes is done.
     
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  8. data_null

    data_null Member

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    Same here. I tune the G slightly flat on all my guitars. It just sounds better to me for some reason.
     
  9. FbIsNotE

    FbIsNotE Member

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    This is a prime opportunity to explain my handle here = FbIsNotE = F flat is not E

    It's the truth. Pythagorean comma is also the truth. Tempered tunings are and always have been a compromise. They are designed for keyboards.

    All the precision of the most advanced tuner means squat when you play fretless...which of course solves all the problems too!

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pythagorean_comma

    TLDR: 1.4% is not 0
     
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  10. FbIsNotE

    FbIsNotE Member

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    Another great vid explaining why using a tuning system for piano might not be the best thing for guitar. The math (scientific) proofs start at 1:50

     
  11. Whittlez

    Whittlez Member

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    No guitar can be in tune on every fret

    It’s ALWAYS A compromise

    Equal temperament NECESSARILY means compromise

    The only interval that will be correct is the octave (if intonated properly)

    One can tune certain strings flat or sharp to favor one particular interval - to approximate just temperament

    But this will make some other intervals EVEN more out of tune
     
  12. JosephZdyrski

    JosephZdyrski Member

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    I know that...but the Epiphone mentioned above has a little more compromise than your average guitar, however there are certain intervals/chords that sound really good with that open string included. Much better than they would sound on an normally tuned guitar. It is one of my favorite guitars so go figure.
     
  13. Markdude

    Markdude Member

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    The dialogue about 12-tone equal temperament isn’t really relevant here since you said you’re specifically talking about fourths and fifths. Those are the closest to just intervals (other than the octave, of course). About 2 cents off, if I recall correctly. That should be nearly imperceptible.

    It’s possible you’re just really in tune (pun not intended) with the dissonance of non-just intervals, but if that’s the case then I’d expect literally every other interval to drive you MUCH more crazy and for this post to be about some of those.

    If fourths and fifths sound off then I agree that there’s some sort of setup issue rather than a shortcoming of 12TET. It could be the nut slots, the intonation at the bridge, or maybe even string gauge (maybe the strings are too light and you’re knocking one of them significantly sharper then the other(s) when you strum).
     
    Last edited: May 23, 2019
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  14. freedom's door

    freedom's door Member

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    [​IMG]

    Still not perfect, but if you're really serious about tuning...
     
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  15. TP Parter

    TP Parter Member

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    Yeap. I've found in std tuning if you don't have a strobe tuner, then tuning fretted notes on the 7th and 2nd strings against their corresponding 12th fret harmonics is helpful. But yeah, the "b" in particular is always in need of "sweetening". And once you adjust the "b", the "e" is gonna need attention too.
     
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  16. Whittlez

    Whittlez Member

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    Works for me
     
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  17. John Vasco

    John Vasco Member

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    Yep, quite correct. Another phrase is (as you point out above) 'tune to the attack', which means tune to the pressure YOU (the individual) apply to the strings, not to all strings being open. There is a difference, as you state.
     
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  18. FbIsNotE

    FbIsNotE Member

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    This is my life on my main instrument. I play 11-54, A = 440, detuned to Eb with the 6th string dropped to Db (essentially drop D tuning...but in Eb) with high action, a vise grip and pretty heavy pick attack.

    Much like the vise grip tool my grip is adjustable. I have dialed in a flatted tuning for the G,B and E strings that I easily and naturally "squeeze" to pitch where needed. All open triads ring sweet.

    These issues and my switch to drop D many years ago completely changed my playing style. I approach the fingerboard with a distinct separation. 6th,5th and 4th wound strings are one part of the family...3rd, 2nd and 1st unwound strings are the other part.

    Drop D forced me to explore alternate fingerings which led to a lot of voicings that drone the 6,5,4 open with a fretted triad inversion on the 3,2,1. Honing this style has made tuning quirks easier to deal with and one of the reasons why the top B and E are significantly flat. They are dialed in to be sweet with the unwound G. My heavy attack makes them more susceptible to sharp attack than the wound strings.

    Anyway, that change of base tuning and the conceptual change it brought regarding how I perceive the fretboard have made my playing sweeter than when I was standard. The new chord grips give a wider range of placement for the upper triad structure of full 6 string chords. Something about the damped harmonics with partial bars is also MUCH nicer to my ear. Those heavy bottom strings never really fully mute, especially with my attack.
     
    Last edited: May 28, 2019
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  19. Jim Holloway

    Jim Holloway Silver Supporting Member

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    This was first thing I thought of - Vai using these frets. (Does he still?).
     
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  20. Silver Hand

    Silver Hand Member

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    Get your nuts checked!!

    The most overlooked thing I see on guitar setups is BY FAAAAAAAAAR the nut slot depth. Probably over 90% of the guitars I run across that had had a "full setup" from a tech have untouched, neglected nuts.

    Fret to fret, you'll often find the string clearance to the first fret to the second is only a few thousands of an inch of clearance, yet the nut clearance over the first fret will be several hundredths of an inch above the first fret. As much as 10x the clearance in the worst cases. This is one of the big reasons so many people think they need a compensated nut, or tune certain strings sharp/flat, ect, when really they probably just need a properly cut nut.

    Most guitars, including some very expensive ones, cut their nuts far too shallow. Probably because doing it properly takes time, skill, and the slight risk of ruining a nut by cutting too far, which matters when you're building mass production guitars. Low end guitars in tend to suffer from this even worse.

    If your tech isn't giving your nuts the attention they deserve, get a new tech. If they aren't working on nuts or frets, they're probably doing the same thing you would do with a screwdriver, wrench, and 15 minutes.
     
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