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Tuning with James Taylor

#1 User is offline   drathbun 

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Posted 04 August 2012 - 08:53 PM

I just watched this bonus YouTube on James Taylor's YouTube channel where he discusses tuning the guitar. I don't know how he has worked this out but it works like a charm. He has figured out relative tuning to make a guitar "sound" in tune. I know I've always been frustrated with tuning perfectly to a digital tuner and then not being happy with the sound. I'll have to tweak the high and low E's and always the B string.

James has figured out how to tune each string slightly flat; each by a particular number of cents. Here is the formula from the video:

E A D G B e
-12 -10 -8 -4 -6 -3

I've just played for about an hour with this tuning and it sounds wonderful! Watch the vid!


Doug

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#2 User is offline   Tman 

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Posted 04 August 2012 - 09:36 PM

Geeze. That thing looks like a 1947 RCA TV for goodness sake.
Fabulous. Funny, it's always the G for me getting out of tune. Like he said, everyone is different and so is every guitar.
Whatever's the weak link for anyone.
James is a genius. Wonderful post. Thanks [thumbup]

#3 User is offline   E-minor7 

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Posted 04 August 2012 - 09:54 PM

If you say so, I will check it out Mr. Taylor, , , right now.


Thanks for posting drathb.

#4 User is offline   E-minor7 

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Posted 04 August 2012 - 10:17 PM

Just using a normal Korg tuner and so far it sounds good. Will look further into this.

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#5 User is offline   drathbun 

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Posted 04 August 2012 - 10:29 PM

Didn't it look like he had the largest LCD tuner on the planet? Until he asked for the power to be turned on again, I couldn't figure out what that thing was!
Doug

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#6 User is offline   stein 

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Posted 04 August 2012 - 10:47 PM

View Postdrathbun, on 04 August 2012 - 10:29 PM, said:

Didn't it look like he had the largest LCD tuner on the planet? Until he asked for the power to be turned on again, I couldn't figure out what that thing was!

I can see where fingers like that would have a tendancy to pull notes a little sharp.

#7 User is offline   E-minor7 

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Posted 04 August 2012 - 10:48 PM

View Postdrathbun, on 04 August 2012 - 10:29 PM, said:

Didn't it look like he had the largest LCD tuner on the planet? Until he asked for the power to be turned on again, I couldn't figure out what that thing was!

I fell into that one too, , , , funny.
(he would have known)


#8 User is offline   stein 

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Posted 04 August 2012 - 10:59 PM

Good insight from Mr. Taylor.

ME thinks:

I think we all tend to put too much emphasis on the nut, or open strings when tuning. The reality is that the nut is the worst reference to tune a guitar to. It is the one place on the guitar that is the furthest out from the rest of the guitar.

I think the best way to tune is to tune the note to the spot you play at most, and to tune it by hitting the string the same way you do when playing. As an example, if you hit the strings hard when you play, hit it hard when you tune. If you hit it kinda hard, tune hitting it kinda hard.

If you mostly play at the 5th fret area, tune at the 5th fret area, etc.

When I intonate, I do NOT do it by comparing the open note to the note at the twelth fret. I average ALL the frets to be as close as possible to perfect. What happens is that usually, the nut will be a little flat, the frets from about the 1st to the 5th will get sharper as they go up, and then they start getting flatter up the neck. Averaging these all will usually have it to where the nut (open string) is flatter than the rest. So again, BAD reference using open strings for intonating.

When sitting in playing position and checking each fret with a tuner, it is pretty easy to see. If it is a fast tuner (like a KORG), you can also see the note go sharp and then flatten out as you hit it.

#9 User is offline   Jerry K 

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Posted 04 August 2012 - 11:36 PM

I tried that using the Peterson tuner app for iphone. It's nice. Tuning a guitar is not trivial. I wonder if any of the tuning apps have that as a 'sweetened' tuning.

#10 User is offline   Versatile 

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Posted 05 August 2012 - 12:47 AM

Thankyou for an interesting post... [thumbup]

James Taylor is a terrific singer/songwriter/guitarist

Does anybody else hear slightly different pitches in left and right ears?

V

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#11 User is offline   drathbun 

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Posted 05 August 2012 - 12:47 AM

View PostJerry K, on 04 August 2012 - 11:36 PM, said:

I tried that using the Peterson tuner app for iphone. It's nice. Tuning a guitar is not trivial. I wonder if any of the tuning apps have that as a 'sweetened' tuning.


I was thinking the same thing Jerry!
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#12 User is offline   stein 

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Posted 05 August 2012 - 12:54 AM

View PostVersatile, on 05 August 2012 - 12:47 AM, said:

Thankyou for an interesting post... [thumbup]

James Taylor is a terrific singer/songwriter/guitarist

Does anybody else hear slightly different pitches in left and right ears?

V

:-({|=

Kinda hard to tune by "ear" when you are out of calibration, ain't it?

#13 User is offline   jedzep 

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Posted 05 August 2012 - 03:26 AM

This site makes it easy too...if your ears ain't plugged up.

http://www.guitarfor...nlinetuner.html
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#14 User is offline   6stringTom 

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Posted 05 August 2012 - 07:19 AM

Thanks for posting. It is a very interesting video and tuning method. I'll try it out later today.

I notice that on a couple strings he never seems to really hit the reading that he told us. Maybe he doesn't want the video to get tedious, or maybe he knows the tuner well enough that he just knows it has hit the spot between two readings. I also notice that later in the vid, he reaches above the nut to apply a bit of pressure to some strings that are apparently hung up in the nut. I have to do this occasionally, too. He kind of zipped past the part where he was using harmonics. Was the idea that he was now tuning the harmonics to the same cents off as he had the open string? If so, I wonder why. Wouldn't you tune to one or the other?

I wish he had doodled a bit afterwards to show how the tuning sounds, but I guess if he uses it in his recordings we already know it sounds darn good. It is fascinating to me that none of his strings is tuned to "concert pitch" and yet he always sounds in tune.

#15 User is offline   j45nick 

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Posted 05 August 2012 - 07:50 AM

What struck me about the guitar he is using in this vid is its pitch stability. Most guitars oscillate somewhat around pitch as the string dies down, while this one seems to be unnaturally stable. Not sure what the tuner is he is using, but it seems to have a much expanded scale which allows much more precise tuning, expecially when you are tweaking relative pitch like this.

Not sure how this type of tuning works if you are playing wiht other guitars, however.

Have to admit I was caught off-guard when the hand reached in to turn the power back on!

JT is an incredibly thoughtful and generous musician, with a real passion for the craft of guitar, as well as the art.

Nice studio he has there, as well!

#16 User is offline   sjl200 

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Posted 05 August 2012 - 08:08 AM

He using a Fishman Aura16 pedal.(at least its 'in' the opening frames)
I'd guess Fishman made an image of his guitar.
Interesting.
Thanks
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#17 User is offline   Rambler 

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Posted 05 August 2012 - 09:25 AM

Funny, the relativity of pitch. I recall a Dave Bromberg story, about how Rev. Davis would tune his low E-string flat (if DB would bring it to pitch, Davis would flatten it right back). Turns out Rev Davis' thumb-over bass attack would sharpen the note, so he tuned low to accommodate it. Or so the story goes.
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#18 User is offline   modoc_333 

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Posted 05 August 2012 - 11:37 AM

View PostTman, on 04 August 2012 - 09:36 PM, said:

Geeze. That thing looks like a 1947 RCA TV for goodness sake.




look again. it's a small tuner. what you are looking at is just a monitor. they have a video camera pointed at the actual tuner, and the video feed is being sent to the monitor. it looks bad because of the framing of the video.
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#19 User is offline   drathbun 

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Posted 05 August 2012 - 01:40 PM

View Postj45nick, on 05 August 2012 - 07:50 AM, said:

What struck me about the guitar he is using in this vid is its pitch stability. Most guitars oscillate somewhat around pitch as the string dies down, while this one seems to be unnaturally stable. Not sure what the tuner is he is using, but it seems to have a much expanded scale which allows much more precise tuning, expecially when you are tweaking relative pitch like this.


His guitar is an Olson. He has a number of them. However, I think it is the tuner not the guitar that is the stabilizing influence. Some tuners will bounce around; sharp when you hit it and then dive south as it fades out.
Doug

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#20 User is offline   stein 

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Posted 05 August 2012 - 02:06 PM

View Postdrathbun, on 05 August 2012 - 01:40 PM, said:

His guitar is an Olson. He has a number of them. However, I think it is the tuner not the guitar that is the stabilizing influence. Some tuners will bounce around; sharp when you hit it and then dive south as it fades out.

Plus for posting such a cool and interesting thread, with JT as well.

I have noticed the same thing with my 2 stage tuners. Pedal tuners. Whatever youy call them.

The Boss seems to have a SLIGHT delay, and smooths out the sharpness plucking the note. In a way, it is a little easier and quicker to tune. The Korg seems to read faster and picks up the changing pitch of the note as it happens. It takes a little practice to get used to, but I prefer it.

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