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Same Tuners for all band members?


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Not sure how much difference this would make but a friend recently told me that his band now all own the same tuner so tuning will be more accurate in live situations.

I have owned a Pitchblack for years with no issues whilst my guitarist runs a TU-3.

Is there really any difference in the real world? 

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 Certainly was true back in the day. A studio engineer told us of a day wasted as the 2 guitars and bass being out of tune, despite all of them having their screens tell them otherwise- they were on 3 different brands. In my main band I’m on a polytune and the guitarist is on a tu3, there’s been no issues. Different story for the Sax and trumpet mind, don’t get me started! 

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5 minutes ago, Jazzmaster62 said:

Not sure how much difference this would make but a friend recently told me that his band now all own the same tuner so tuning will be more accurate in live situations.

I have owned a Pitchblack for years with no issues whilst my guitarist runs a TU-3.

Is there really any difference in the real world? 

None whatsoever most likely - the only difference should be if you go into the settings and move your ‘A’ away from 440Hz - 

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The more likely reason could be that one or more of the stringed instruments has the intonation set incorrectly - the open strings will sound superbly in tune but it all sounds horrendous the further you venture up the neck (extreme string wear/dulling can also contribute to this effect)

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One thing you need to watch if everyone is using their own tuner is that they are all set to the same A reference frequency.

I once did a gig where our guitarist had managed to accidentally change their tuner from the standard A=440Hz to either the minimum or maximum setting, which meant that they were almost a quarter tone out of tune with the bass. The sound on stage was not particularly good and the only person who could hear the problem was our drummer who kept telling us to check our tuning. Of course each instrument was perfectly in tune with itself, just not in tune with the other one, so we kept telling him the tuning was fine. It wasn't until our next rehearsal where everyone could hear all the instruments properly that the problem was discovered and fixed. Strangely enough we got a brilliant review of the gig despite the fact that we were so badly out of tune.

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7 minutes ago, scalpy said:

 Certainly was true back in the day. A studio engineer told us of a day wasted as the 2 guitars and bass being out of tune, despite all of them having their screens tell them otherwise- they were on 3 different brands. In my main band I’m on a polytune and the guitarist is on a tu3, there’s been no issues. Different story for the Sax and trumpet mind, don’t get me started! 

 

3 minutes ago, steve-bbb said:

The more likely reason could be that one or more of the stringed instruments has the intonation set incorrectly - the open strings will sound superbly in tune but it all sounds horrendous the further you venture up the neck (extreme string wear/dulling can also contribute to this effect)

Beat me to it!

Losing a day in the studio because of tuning sounds more serious than the tuners themselves. If they'd been that far out surely just using one tuner would have sorted it? Chances are the guitars and bass were not set up properly for intonation, or even just old knackered strings etc as steve-bbb has pointed out.

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1 minute ago, BigRedX said:

One thing you need to watch if everyone is using their own tuner is that they are all set to the same A reference frequency.

I once did a gig where our guitarist had managed to accidentally change their tuner from the standard A=440Hz to either the minimum or maximum setting, which meant that they were almost a quarter tone out of tune with the bass. The sound on stage was not particularly good and the only person who could hear the problem was our drummer who kept telling us to check our tuning. Of course each instrument was perfectly in tune with itself, just not in tune with the other one, so we kept telling him the tuning was fine. It wasn't until our next rehearsal where everyone could hear all the instruments properly that the problem was discovered and fixed. Strangely enough we got a brilliant review of the gig despite the fact that we were so badly out of tune.

I've known bands who (when electronic tuners became popular) would tune their 2 guitars slightly out with each other, to give that 12 string fatness to the overall sound. Just a few cents difference on the dial was enough to do this apparently, without making everything sound wrong.

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Back in the day, it was important to use the same tuner to tune all the instruments - even if you set the reference frequency the same across multiple tuners (same brand/model or not) the circuitry contained multiple discreet analogue components which are all subject to manufacturing tolerances.

All those +/- 2/5/10% variations add up, which results in "identical" circuits not behaving in an identical manner, in mass produced items the components are just slapped in to keep price down, in some professional level recording equipment the manufacturer will measure and reject components that fall too far out of spec or place extra time and care matching components when they are to be used for example as a stereo pair.

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In a studio, maybe. Live, probably not.

Even in a studio, it can depend on how anally retentive the producer/engineer wants to be. I've not worked with a vast number of them, but enough to have experienced both extremes: from an engineer who not only insisted that the guitarist and I tune our instruments from the same tuner, but also asked our drummer to re-tune his snare to suit the key of each song, down to the guy who didn't seem too bothered as long as both our tuners were set to A440, then popped a mic on the snare and shrugged, "sounds alright to me" - I hasten to add that both of them managed to give us very satisfactory end results!

Of course, a studio is going to capture and refine the sound in a lot more detail than a live environment, and with all the EQ and compression applied to keep all the tracks sounding even concordant and even, any tuning discrepancies are likely to become more obvious. If the two pedal tuners on a live stage differ by a few cents, the difference is unlikely to be audible. (And if said live stage is, for example, the Later with Jools Holland studio, then surely no one's going to hear the bass anyway...?)

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For fun I ran my £2 eBay clip up against a Boss one and found no difference. I then used a signal generator to get precise frequencies and see how the two responded and there was no difference once the fact that the cheap one had one less increment than the Boss. I then got a £10 Chinese foot pedal tuner and repeated and got the same result. The only thing I can’t test is if there is any variance across individual units but based on how the circuitry works there is no reason there should be beyond the usual quality aspects but my Chinese one has been used and abused for a few years now and is still going strong.

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I think a lot of these “ thoughts” are not particularly based on fact, more on hunches/half truths/ancient wisdom etc. If you all have a reasonably accurate tuner, the differences between tuners will be smaller than the inaccuracy of the operators themselves. 

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I tried one of the Peterson strobostomp tuners, I put my bass in tune by it and then referenced it again my Boss TU3 the readings were identical, however, the Boss was far easier to use so I sold the Peterson to a music shop for £10.00 more than I paid for it, GAS for an expensive super accurate tuner instantly and permanently cured ...happy days!

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6 hours ago, SubsonicSimpleton said:

Back in the day, it was important to use the same tuner to tune all the instruments - even if you set the reference frequency the same across multiple tuners (same brand/model or not) the circuitry contained multiple discreet analogue components which are all subject to manufacturing tolerances.

All those +/- 2/5/10% variations add up, which results in "identical" circuits not behaving in an identical manner, in mass produced items the components are just slapped in to keep price down, in some professional level recording equipment the manufacturer will measure and reject components that fall too far out of spec or place extra time and care matching components when they are to be used for example as a stereo pair.

These tuners, without exception, use a quart crystal oscillator to generate the comparison frequencies. These typically have stabilities and accuracies measured in tens of parts per million, far greater than is needed to tune to the nearest 'cent'. The nature of the circuits used may affect their responsiveness or frequency range, but not the basic accuracy.

 

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I have used various tuners; my first one was a Vox, it's about thirty years old. I just put a new battery in it and then struck and 'E' on a bass tuned to the built in tuner on my Orange combo (the needle seems to 'step' in ~1-cent intervals). I'll be honest, it's very picky, easily losing the note unless the battery is fresh, so until the advent of digital tuners I always relied on a 440Hz tuning fork and then by ear/harmonics.

I have not been able to find any differences between these and my Guitarman clip-tuner (which is horrible as it reacts very slowly to drops in pitch), the previous fender clip-tuner (which was pretty good) and the built in tuner in my Vox guitar combo or my TU-3. I got the TU3 because I can use it with other amps and it reacts almost instantly unlike most clip ons.

I was handed a freshly tuned bass at the Midlands Bass Bash and it sounded terrible - I though it was me being crap until I realised the D-string had been tuned to d# - the guy was using a tuner he hadn't used before. Moral - trust your ears!

image.thumb.png.580b229d2a7860511e8fbf834d8bae48.png

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13 hours ago, Stub Mandrel said:

Moral - trust your ears!

no do NOT trust your ears... unless you can absolutley guarantee that you have no hearing loss or impairment or suffer from impairment at volume - whilst thankfully not permanent, i do get hearing fatigue ocassionally at gigs where pitches especially in the range open E to open A just start sounding muddy and even though my korg pitchblack is telling me im perfectly in tune to my ears it still sounds slightly off pitch)

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Seeing as we're putting up pics of old tuners, here's mine! Korg GT6, bought for me by an ex-girlfriend in the late 70's. I remember feeling so flash being able to tune up in the dressing room before a gig. Unfortunately nobody else in the band had one so I used to end up tuning all theirs too, including an Ovation 12 string and a 6/12 string Gibson double neck copy that was a mare to get in tune due to the bolt on necks creaking when doing it. 

 

Korg GT6.JPG

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1 hour ago, steve-bbb said:

no do NOT trust your ears... unless you can absolutley guarantee that you have no hearing loss or impairment or suffer from impairment at volume - whilst thankfully not permanent, i do get hearing fatigue ocassionally at gigs where pitches especially in the range open E to open A just start sounding muddy and even though my korg pitchblack is telling me im perfectly in tune to my ears it still sounds slightly off pitch)

When I took singing lessons I was told my relative pitch is spot on; I don't have perfect pitch but I could sing a song to a note on a piano and hold the not at the end and it would be dead on.

Plus, I did a hearing test recently and went up to nearly 15KHz, which is apparently as good as the average for someone 20 years younger than me.

🙂

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4 minutes ago, casapete said:

6/12 string Gibson double neck copy that was a mare to get in tune due to the bolt on necks creaking when doing it.

I've got a guitar with a Floyd Rose copy bridge set to be floating - go round six times to get it in tune!

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Did a recording session with my old band and we all used my TU-3 to tune up to Drop-D, or so we thought.

Turns out it has a function where it’ll still display it’s standard but it’s actual half tone flat. So we’d actually recorded in half a tone lower yet the tuner displayed DADGBe for everyone. Happened on a gig too, thought my brand new bass couldn’t hold it’s tuning and was knackered on its first outing!

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1 hour ago, Sammers said:

Did a recording session with my old band and we all used my TU-3 to tune up to Drop-D, or so we thought.

Turns out it has a function where it’ll still display it’s standard but it’s actual half tone flat. So we’d actually recorded in half a tone lower yet the tuner displayed DADGBe for everyone. Happened on a gig too, thought my brand new bass couldn’t hold it’s tuning and was knackered on its first outing!

I stuck mine in chromatic mode and intend to leave it there!

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