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Best way to get two guitars in tune?
Old 29th January 2013
  #1
Deleted d44e7f2
Guest
Best way to get two guitars in tune?

Just picked up myself a Les Paul to go with my Strat and I'm currently seeking the best way to get the two in tune with one another. I know guitars are never perfectly in tune to begin with but as we know for studio recording tuning is huge.

I'm thinking that since my Strat was just adjusted a couple of weeks ago I should plug both in and match the Les Paul's intonation to where the Strat is. Then from there when tuning they should be super close all over the neck. Any other thoughts or suggestions?

Any one have any experiences or stories tuning multiple guitars on the same session they want to share?
Old 29th January 2013
  #2
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jeffgoobs's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Why not just use a strobe tuner?

Despite the Strat and Les Paul's scale length being different, the ratio of distances between the frets is the same, and if both guitars are set-up properly, they will be in tune with each other. Sometimes, Strat-style guitars and LP-styled guitars go OUT of tune at different rates simply due to other factors (headstock angle, the presence of string trees, locking tuners, Floyd Rose trem systems, etc.) but assuming that they are both well-constructed instruments, there is no tuning technique that would theoretically vary depending on the brand/style of guitar. Unless I misunderstood the question....

-Goobs
Old 29th January 2013
  #3
Gear Guru
 
kafka's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
If the two guitars are intonated reasonably well, you'll have a greater variation in root pitch based on your playing technique i.e. how hard you hold the strings down, and how straight you press the string. There will be some differences in the pitches of the upper harmonics due to the differing scale length, but this is one of the factors that contribute to the tonal characteristics of the two guitars.

Strats also tend to go a little sharp on the attack compared to the sustained note. That's why when you tune, it should be more for the initial attack of the note, and not for the part of the note a few seconds down the line. You should also tune at full playing strength, and not for some quiet passage. I also tune with the neck pickup, the tone all the way off, and with the volume knob half-way down. That way I'm only tuning the fundamentals, and not introducing non-harmonic tones by overdriving the tuner. I only use strobe tuners.

I intonate all my guitars using a strobe tuner by comparing the harmonic to the played note at the 19th fret. Most people use the 12th fret, which is ok, but using the 19th fret gives a very solid intonation all up and down the neck.

If everything is set up well and the performance is good, but it still seems a little out in the recording, try panning the guitars so they're not occupying the same physical location. This will decrease any beating through the speaker, and will add space to the mix.
Old 29th January 2013
  #4
Deleted d44e7f2
Guest
Quote:
Originally Posted by jeffgoobs ➑️
Why not just use a strobe tuner?

Despite the Strat and Les Paul's scale length being different, the ratio of distances between the frets is the same, and if both guitars are set-up properly, they will be in tune with each other. Sometimes, Strat-style guitars and LP-styled guitars go OUT of tune at different rates simply due to other factors (headstock angle, the presence of string trees, locking tuners, Floyd Rose trem systems, etc.) but assuming that they are both well-constructed instruments, there is no tuning technique that would theoretically vary depending on the brand/style of guitar. Unless I misunderstood the question....

-Goobs
Im a tuning freak in general and even more so in the studio. I have no problem getting the guitars in tune with themselves. I'm just wondering if there is a method to ensure they are tuned to each other.

Sent from my DROID RAZR HD
Old 29th January 2013
  #5
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Blast9's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Between similar neck relief, fret height, and intonation adjustment you should be able to dial them in just great...


Otherwise you may have to resort to tempered tuning systems eg Buzz Feiten
Old 29th January 2013
  #6
Gear Guru
 
FFTT's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Having Peterson Strobo Soft right on my system, means that every input is using the same tuner, from intonation set-up to unison tuning to special tunings.

Temperature fluctuations can make you half crazy trying
to keep different instruments in tune.

You pick up the guitar, it has cooled to room temps and gone sharp. So you retune, play the piece, the neck warms up in your hands and the strings drift flat.
Old 29th January 2013
  #7
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kennybro's Avatar
 
3 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
Keep them adjusted and set up, use one tuner for every guitar, check them often throughout the session and there should be no problem.
Old 30th January 2013
  #8
Deleted d44e7f2
Guest
Thanks for the feedback everyone.

Sent from my DROID RAZR HD
Old 31st January 2013 | Show parent
  #9
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Bob Ross's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by kafka ➑️
Strats also tend to go a little sharp on the attack compared to the sustained note. That's why when you tune, it should be more for the initial attack of the note, and not for the part of the note a few seconds down the line.
I'll be the first to confess that my tolerance for out-of-tune guitars is probably higher than most professional musicians/engineers ought to admit
...but fwiw I'd always heard (and hence adhered to) the opposite strategy: You ignore that initial pitch of the attack and tune to the sustaining part of the note. That way whenever two instruments are playing long tones there will be fewer obvious beat frequencies.
Old 31st January 2013
  #10
Gear Guru
 
FFTT's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
I check open string, mid neck harmonics and harmonics at the 12th and intonation.

Then pray it all doesn't change too much due to temperature changes or a string hanging up that decides to suddenly relax when you start strumming.
Old 1st February 2013 | Show parent
  #11
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BOWIE's Avatar
 
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🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Ross ➑️
...but fwiw I'd always heard (and hence adhered to) the opposite strategy: You ignore that initial pitch of the attack and tune to the sustaining part of the note. That way whenever two instruments are playing long tones there will be fewer obvious beat frequencies.
Good point. For me, it comes down to the part. For a continually strummed guitar, I'll tune the attack. If it's a slow bass or lead guitar, I'll usually target the sustain.

Though I'm pretty neurotic about guitar tuning, I think the ear is very accepting of pitchy guitars, especially in rock where a slight dissonance just adds to the attitude. I set up my own guitars so they are all pretty close in tuning. When I record others I usually notice intonation issues so I'll just tune to the general area that they are playing in. I also usually insist on tuning people's guitars myself on my Peterson pedal. Some people hate this but too often they either slop it or, even if they are a great musician, they are usually using a basic pedal tuner and when they go to re-tune, it's never spot-on exact and I can hear the difference when doing additional tracks, punches, etc.
Old 1st February 2013 | Show parent
  #12
Gear Guru
 
kafka's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Ross ➑️
I'll be the first to confess that my tolerance for out-of-tune guitars is probably higher than most professional musicians/engineers ought to admit
...but fwiw I'd always heard (and hence adhered to) the opposite strategy: You ignore that initial pitch of the attack and tune to the sustaining part of the note. That way whenever two instruments are playing long tones there will be fewer obvious beat frequencies.
Well, you're right about that, too. The important thing is how it works in the recording, given the piece. There's no single perfect way of doing it that will be optimal for all musical situations. The goal is to optimize given what's in front of you. It all depends on the playing and the arrangement.
Old 1st February 2013
  #13
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Sofa King's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
heres the best, easiest, most reliable way Ive found.

https://www.gearslutz.com/board/guita...ng-system.html

best,
Sean
Old 1st February 2013
  #14
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ears2thesky's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 10 years
Shouldn't all instruments be tuned to the same standard in a recording? Like let's say...a tuner?

In my experience, each instrument should be intonated as accurately as possible across it's whole scale length to a common reference. Period.

That being said; I've produced interesting results from layering standard temperament-tuned guitars with those utilizing "sweetened" or "spread" tunings like the Buzz Feiten. Some times the incongruities of different intonations can yield cool composite sounds.

Although A still = 440.
Old 1st February 2013
  #15
GS Community Manager
 
Whitecat's Avatar
FWIW, if you don't have access to a strobe tuner, I've personally gotten better results with a polyphonic tuner (a la the TC PolyTune, but there are others now too) - if you can see all the notes at once it seems to me you're not going up and down trying to sort one at a time. I can generally tune up more quickly and more accurately that way.
Old 1st February 2013
  #16
Gear Guru
 
FFTT's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
I think if you set up both guitars perfectly, dead on intonation, new strings, graphite the nut, you'll still find they will drift out tune at different rates due to the method of construction, materials everything affected by going from room temp @ nominal 74 degrees F and then how that guitar adjusts to being played against your body and hands
@ 98.6 degrees F.

That's almost a 25 degree temperature difference, so the guitar that is in the stand perfectly tuned, will generally drift flat by the end of a song after it warms up in your hands.
Old 4th February 2013
  #17
Deleted d44e7f2
Guest
Good stuff everyone. Been doing a bit of work lately so I will sit down with these two tomorrow and see how it goes. Changing the strings on them now and letting them stretch a bit overnight to make it a tad easier. I'm sure they will still move a bit.
Old 4th February 2013 | Show parent
  #18
Lives for gear
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by ears2thesky ➑️
In my experience, each instrument should be intonated as accurately as possible across it's whole scale length to a common reference. Period.
With the guitar, this is a one way ticket to an insane asylum. Straight frets only allow the guitar to be "perfectly" in tune at a few nodes on the string. Then you have 5 other strings differing in size and tension that you have to match.

It depends on how far you want to take it but the reality is the guitar is never completely in tune with itself; getting 2 guitars in tune with each other is impossible. I recommend shooting for what sounds good regardless of what the tuner says (with in reason, don't be lazy about it).

Unfortunately the guitars you are working with don't have 24 frets because one method that works well is getting the 24th fret harmonic and fretted pitch to be in tune. If you can manage that then you can safely assume the string is properly intoned.

Lastly, take comfort in the fact that a perfectly tuned guitar, or two guitars perfectly in tune, sounds unnatural.
Old 4th February 2013
  #19
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8 Reviews written
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Anyone using their ears?
Old 4th February 2013
  #20
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🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Whitecat ➑️
FWIW, if you don't have access to a strobe tuner, I've personally gotten better results with a polyphonic tuner (a la the TC PolyTune, but there are others now too) - if you can see all the notes at once it seems to me you're not going up and down trying to sort one at a time. I can generally tune up more quickly and more accurately that way.
I found the polytune next to useless.

I use a standard tu3 to get the strings in tune as well making sure my 12th fret is still in tune then use a strobe to get better precision but its alot to do with the player, some players seem to be able to put a guitar out of tune in a few strums.



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Old 4th February 2013 | Show parent
  #21
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Whitecat's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by dubmunkey ➑️
I found the polytune next to useless.

I use a standard tu3 to get the strings in tune as well making sure my 12th fret is still in tune then use a strobe to get better precision but its alot to do with the player, some players seem to be able to put a guitar out of tune in a few strums.
Different strokes then I guess. I'm way quicker and probably more accurate with my PolyTune now than with my TU2. You have to get used to whacking all the strings at once in order to get the best out of it. It's definitely counterintuitive on some levels.
Old 4th February 2013
  #22
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🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Whitecat ➑️
Different strokes then I guess. I'm way quicker and probably more accurate with my PolyTune now than with my TU2. You have to get used to whacking all the strings at once in order to get the best out of it. It's definitely counterintuitive on some levels.
Yeah it just drove me crazy but i probably gave up too quickly

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Old 4th February 2013 | Show parent
  #23
GS Community Manager
 
Whitecat's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by jetam ➑️
Anyone using their ears?
Ever tried that on a darkened stage in front of a crowd or a loud rehearsal session?
Old 4th February 2013
  #24
Lives for gear
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by jetam ➑️
Anyone using their ears?
I can tell when a guitar is out of tune with itself but dont possess perfect pitch so cant say whether an A string is at 440 or 441 or 438hz

Plus its better to tune a guitar using a tuner for each string rather than tuning the strings to each other...

Sent from my GT-I8190
Old 4th February 2013 | Show parent
  #25
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8 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Whitecat ➑️
Ever tried that on a darkened stage in front of a crowd or a loud rehearsal session?
I think that the OP is asking about tuning in studio.
But don't kill me, I just asked.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dubmunkey ➑️
I can tell when a guitar is out of tune with itself but dont possess perfect pitch so cant say whether an A string is at 440 or 441 or 438hz

Plus its better to tune a guitar using a tuner for each string rather than tuning the strings to each other...

Sent from my GT-I8190
You don't need to have a perfect pitch, you use something for intonance.
I'm not a guitarist, but I've found that many tuners aren't very precise and when we're tuning guitars in the studio, I often find that when the pitch varies with an envelope, it's also easier to tune by ear, at least to me. I can tune within 1/3 of a hertz at 440 Hz.
Old 4th February 2013
  #26
Lives for gear
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by jetam ➑️
I think that the OP is asking about tuning in studio.
But don't kill me, I just asked.



You don't need to have a perfect pitch, you use something for intonance.
I'm not a guitarist, but I've found that many tuners aren't very precise and when we're tuning guitars in the studio, I often find that when the pitch varies with an envelope, it's also easier to tune by ear, at least to me. I can tune within 1/3 of a hertz at 440 Hz.
Well i tune everything to the same 440 reference, not to 439.7 or 440.3. Believe me strobe tuners are accurate

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Old 4th February 2013 | Show parent
  #27
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kennybro's Avatar
 
3 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by jetam ➑️
I often find that when the pitch varies with an envelope, it's also easier to tune by ear, at least to me. I can tune within 1/3 of a hertz at 440 Hz.
I always use one tuner for all, but also finish/temper it by ear. Every guitar is very slightly different and I reference everything back to the low E for the final tweak.

When I do this, every guitar needs a slightly different final adjustment, but they all end up sounding nicely blended. I can't recall the last time I had to recut a part (that I played) because it sounded out of tune.

Some players sound sour no matter how carefully I tune things up because of the way they fret. The only solution for that is technique practice.
Old 4th February 2013 | Show parent
  #28
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Blast9's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by kennybro ➑️

Some players sound sour no matter how carefully I tune things up because of the way they fret. The only solution for that is technique practice.
Very true!
Old 4th February 2013
  #29
Gear Addict
 
skinnypete's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Before tracking I do a quick intonation check on the 12th fret of every string. With a tuner, I make sure that the 12th fret harmonic matches the 12th fret, fretting lightly right next to the fret, plucking softly.

Every time I start or switch guitars, I check the intonation quickly after each take for a couple takes. Then I just check the tuning after each take, unless the temp of the room is especially hot or cold. I have definitely found that the intonation can shift after the guitar warms up a little and the neck moves around. For distorted rock with attitude this doesn't matter so much, but I do alot of clean R&B and Hip-Hop guitar, where you're going for the "perfect 4-bars", so exact intonation is key.

I use a couple cheap-mid priced Korg chromatic tuners (just discontinued), which I shot out against like 10 other tuners in GC when I bought them (as the guys were assuring me that they were "all just as good"). I probably should graduate to a strobe already, especially for classical, but these things have worked so far. They are touchy sometimes, like they get stuck, but I have learned how to work around that. Just an aside, but I have never found a tuner plugin that I liked.

Also, I block all tremolos with 5 tight springs. I also use at least 10s on electric guitar, prefferably 11s or even 12s. This is mainly for intonation, but also for tone (stronger fundamental).

Sent from my Droid
Old 4th February 2013
  #30
Gear Addict
 
🎧 5 years
you will never get the higher strings perfect unless you install compensated nuts. Especially the G and B strings on the Paul. They will be grossly out of tune unless you use a compensate nut in conjunction with specific temperament. If you want perfect tuning and intonation Frets on a guitar should not be straight and the nut should extend properly over the fingerboard. So it's pretty much impossible to get it right without some modification and a tempered tuning strategy

the easiest free solution is to just play with more vibrato and/or add a chorus pedal. Another thing that can mask some problems with higher strings is to use wound B and G. I don't know why this works but it does.
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