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Tuning with harmonic notes

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bhikkhu
(@bhikkhu)
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Hi everyone, I am trying to learn how to tune my A string using a tuning fork in A. At the local shop I was told to produce a 12th fret harmonic note on the A string and match this to the tuning fork. My problem is - having only had the guitar for 2 days - I do not know how to produce the harmonic note. I was told to press lightly directly over the 12th fret, however when I do this it produces a note just as if I had pressed firmly in front of the fret. Any ideas on the correct way to produce a harmonic note would be greatly appreciated. Thanks very much.


   
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DemoEtc
(@demoetc)
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No, you're doing it correctly. The 12th fret harmonic is the same as if you fretted the string on the 12th fret.

If I'm tuning that way, I tune that string - the 5th - and then tune the 6th string to it by plucking the harmonic on the 7th fret and then plucking the harmonic on the 6th string at the 5th fret. Adjust the 6th string so its harmonic matches the harmonic on 7th fret of the 5th string.

Then I match the 4th string, 7th fret harmonic to the 5th string, 5th fret harmonic. 3rd string is the same; its 7th fret harmonic should match the 4th string, 5th fret harmonic.

For the 2nd string, I go back to the 6th string, pluck the 7th fret harmonic, and match the 2nd string, open.

The 1st string's 7th fret harmonic can then be matched to the 2nd string, 5th fret harmonic.

Then go back and use the tuning fork again to check the tuning on the 5th string again, because while tuning all the other strings, the tension will have caused it, and the other strings to pull more, and go slightly low again. It takes a couple of times and then the guitar should be in tune.

Hope this helps.


   
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greybeard
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It's a good thing to tune your ear, as well, but I think you'd be better served by going to the shop and buying a decent chromatic tuner, to help until you have more experience under your belt.
A Korg CA-40 cost around $20 (do NOT buy a "guitar tuner").

I started with nothing - and I've still got most of it left.
Did you know that the word "gullible" is not in any dictionary?
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Alan Green
(@alangreen)
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It's a good thing to tune your ear, as well,

I tuned my ear, and got the BBC World Service on Short Wave.

Guitar Tuners do what they say on the tin, but if you want to use non-standard tunings (Drop D, Open G etc) then the chromatic tuner is better.

Best,

A :-)

"Be good at what you can do" - Fingerbanger"
I have always felt that it is better to do what is beautiful than what is 'right'" - Eliot Fisk
Wedding music and guitar lessons in Essex. Listen at: http://www.rollmopmusic.co.uk


   
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jimmy_kwtx
(@jimmy_kwtx)
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I'd Recomend learning how to tune regular (with Fretted notes first) before getting into the "fine" tuning using Harmonics.

If I read your post correctly you have only been playing for 2 days?

If that is the case but a rgular tuner that will help you tune all your strings, Pitch pipe is also a good cheap idea.

Chromatic tuners, tuning forks should wait until you are more comfortable with your instrument and are able to produce the needed harmonics etc. I don't necessariy mean that these items are for "advanced players" only but learn to walk before you run and the basic fretted method of tuning is easiest , practical and useful in "real" playing situations.

IMO 2 cents


   
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greybeard
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Chromatic tuners, tuning forks should wait until you are more comfortable with your instrument and are able to produce the needed harmonics etc. I don't necessariy mean that these items are for "advanced players" only but learn to walk before you run and the basic fretted method of tuning is easiest , practical and useful in "real" playing situations.

IMO 2 cents
Sorry, but that's backwards. A chromatic tuner is far, far easier to use than any other method. There are no harmonics to recognise, no notes to compare - you switch it on and it tells you what note you are playing and how sharp or flat that note is - it could only be easier if the guitar tuned itself.
Once you have a properly tuned guitar, you can start to learn the other methods.

I started with nothing - and I've still got most of it left.
Did you know that the word "gullible" is not in any dictionary?
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jimmy_kwtx
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Chromatic tuners, tuning forks should wait until you are more comfortable with your instrument and are able to produce the needed harmonics etc. I don't necessariy mean that these items are for "advanced players" only but learn to walk before you run and the basic fretted method of tuning is easiest , practical and useful in "real" playing situations.

IMO 2 cents
Sorry, but that's backwards. A chromatic tuner is far, far easier to use than any other method. There are no harmonics to recognise, no notes to compare - you switch it on and it tells you what note you are playing and how sharp or flat that note is - it could only be easier if the guitar tuned itself.
Once you have a properly tuned guitar, you can start to learn the other methods.

GB,

Beg to differ. We will have to agree to disagree.

What if the battery is out? What if you forgot the tuner? what if what if what if.

If you know how to tune the "basic" way. regardless of the situation you will be able to at least be "in tune" with the other players around you. It may not be concert pitch but it will be close enough for government work and you can continue to gig, jam or whatever if you arein a "pickle".

Please do not take this wrong, the new gadgets out there are a tool to make things easier but if you do not have those tools or they break down you at least have the "skills" to get in tune with out being lost or playing out of tune becuase you at least know the fundamentals that have been in use for (hundreds? thousand? of) years prior to technology.

By all means utilize what is new and easier but I am trying to point out that the root, bones, meat and potatoes should not be "glossed over". Yes it may take quite a bit of time, heartache and tears to learn and master this but in the long run it will be worth it. What if you have just a basic acoustic that you cannot plug into a tuner? etc. etc. etc.

I'll get off my soap box.


   
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Ricochet
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Tuning to harmonics gives you a mixed-up sort of tuning where the fretted notes on the strings are set to equal-tempered pitches, but the intervals between strings are set to Pythagorean intervals. It's approximately right, but it's not quite right for any system of temperament.

"A cheerful heart is good medicine."


   
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thectrain
(@thectrain)
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Learn to tune by ear. It is one of the most useful things anyone can learn. You can get the a reference note from anywhere. Including the dial tone on the phone which in alot of places is apparently F. I would go crazy if I didn't know how to tune by ear. And yeh you should tune to equal temperment not perfect tuning, I usually do it at 5th fret but if I have time I do something like this:

Tune 1st and 6th together. Then tune 4th string 2nd fret to the 1st and 6th. Then I tune the 5th(A string) 5th fret to Open D. Then I tune 3rd(G String) to 10th fret 5th string and finally I just do 2nd string to 4th fret 3rd string. This gets me a pretty good equal temperment plus its so complicated I look cool.

thectrain


   
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greybeard
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What if the battery is out? What if you forgot the tuner? what if what if what if.
Sorry, but that one is truly clutching at straws.
I'm all in favour of learning to tune by ear, but, unless I've misread the OP, he's only had the guitar for 2 days. Why are you throwing barriers in the way of him getting a tuned guitar? Why try making him do things the hard way, when there is a very good method, that will give him a) a properly tuned guitar and b) a basis from which to recognise the sound of a properly tuned guitar and c) the confidence to practice, knowing his guitar is properly tuned. I sincerely doubt that after two days, he's going to be gigging and jamming, but, even if he does, there'll be people there to show him how to tune a guitar.
Yes it may take quite a bit of time, heartache and tears to learn and master this but in the long run it will be worth it
I agree, but, in the meantime, he wants to have a tuned guitar.

I started with nothing - and I've still got most of it left.
Did you know that the word "gullible" is not in any dictionary?
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dhutson
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Greybeard, Jimmy, & ultimately bihikkhu:

If you will allow a newbie to (respectfully) jump into the fray, I would like to share my own experience. I tried to pick up the guitar in the middle eighties with no success. My attempts to tune the darn thing were usually off - so of course my chords were off. Naturally, I gave up in disgust after a few months. There were no easily accessable (or affordable) tuners to my knowledge at that time. Fast forward to a few months ago. Picked up a guitar and chromatic tuner. My guitar was in tune and I was able to keep it in tune. My notes sounded bad because I played them poorly but when I corrected them they sounded correct. As I improved, I learned more. My ear improved and my knowledge increased. I now know enough about my fretboard to tune 5th string to 6th string, not by rote memory but because I understand the open 5th string is an A and the same octave as the 6th string 5th fret and so forth and so on.

I would personally recommend a good tuner to anyone starting out. But just as I would recommend any guitarist learn more than the G-C-D chord progression, I would recommend they learn ear tuning in good time.

Just my $0.02

dwayne

http://www.soundclick.com/wayneroberts


   
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jimmy_kwtx
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Greybeard, Jimmy, & ultimately bihikkhu:

If you will allow a newbie to (respectfully) jump into the fray, I would like to share my own experience. I tried to pick up the guitar in the middle eighties with no success. My attempts to tune the darn thing were usually off - so of course my chords were off. Naturally, I gave up in disgust after a few months. There were no easily accessable (or affordable) tuners to my knowledge at that time. Fast forward to a few months ago. Picked up a guitar and chromatic tuner. My guitar was in tune and I was able to keep it in tune. My notes sounded bad because I played them poorly but when I corrected them they sounded correct. As I improved, I learned more. My ear improved and my knowledge increased. I now know enough about my fretboard to tune 5th string to 6th string, not by rote memory but because I understand the open 5th string is an A and the same octave as the 6th string 5th fret and so forth and so on.

I would personally recommend a good tuner to anyone starting out. But just as I would recommend any guitarist learn more than the G-C-D chord progression, I would recommend they learn ear tuning in good time.

Just my $0.02

dwayne

Never worry about the whole "newbie" thing.

You put my point across exactly in better words.


   
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greybeard
(@greybeard)
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Chromatic tuners, tuning forks should wait until you are more comfortable with your instrument and are able to produce the needed harmonics etc. I don't necessariy mean that these items are for "advanced players" only but learn to walk before you run and the basic fretted method of tuning is easiest , practical and useful in "real" playing situations.
IMO 2 cents
You put my point across exactly in better words.
Slight contradiction, there, Jimmy.

I started with nothing - and I've still got most of it left.
Did you know that the word "gullible" is not in any dictionary?
Greybeard's Pages
My Articles & Reviews on GN


   
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jimmy_kwtx
(@jimmy_kwtx)
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Posts: 115
 

Chromatic tuners, tuning forks should wait until you are more comfortable with your instrument and are able to produce the needed harmonics etc. I don't necessariy mean that these items are for "advanced players" only but learn to walk before you run and the basic fretted method of tuning is easiest , practical and useful in "real" playing situations.
IMO 2 cents
You put my point across exactly in better words.
Slight contradiction, there, Jimmy. :D


   
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gnease
(@gnease)
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Once up a time, the first thing one learned on guitar was how to tune it by ear. That fundamental exercise helped the new player learn at least three things: 1. The difference between consonance and dissonance. 2. How to tune to other guitars and instruments by ear 3. The tuning intervals of the strings related concretely to numbers of half steps.

It's not that hard to learn this skill, and the ear training alone will pay off innumerable times for the lifetime player. We all own tuners these days, but there is no reason a new player cannot have learned the process to tune her/his guitar within the first week. Granted: It may take longer to perfect the skill, and a tuner might very well help do so.

-=tension & release=-


   
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