March 01, 2018
When choosing the right tuner for your electric guitar or bass, there are many factors to consider. If it’s for onstage use, the tuner should have a clear enough readout, be rugged in construction, and have the ability to mute your signal while tuning. Looking for the ultimate in portability? Handheld and clip on tuners, are your best choice here. Whichever tuning route you go, a tuner’s accuracy is often a component you will want to consider. While just about any tuner can get you in tune, there are certain instances where having a more accurate tuner is required.
So, how can you tell how accurate a tuner is?
Before we evaluate how accurate a tuner is, there are two terms that need to be understood: cents and semitones.
Cents are the basic unit of tuning accuracy. There are one hundred cents in a semitone, which is a half step. For instance, if you play a C note on your guitar, and then play a C#, you have moved up one semitone. If you play a B, you’ve moved down one semitone.
Now, let’s apply this knowledge to tuner specifications. Most manufacturers list the tuning accuracy in a margin of error format, for instance, +/- 3 cents. The smaller the margin of error, the more accurate the tuner is. Some pedal tuners may boast an accuracy of +/- 1 cent, while the strobe tuners that professional guitar technicians use may feature +/- 0.1 cent accuracy or even better!
Does accuracy really matter?
Since there are one hundred cents in a semitone, you would have to be off by quite a bit for it to be noticeable to an everyday audience member at a gig. However, it also depends on how well the listener discerns pitch. Being two cents off may be instantly detectable by someone with perfect pitch, for instance. If you play a lot in studio or even gig environments where being perfectly in tune is absolutely paramount, then it pays to invest in a tuner that can provide more accuracy. This will add the peace of mind of knowing that your tuner is getting you as close to in tune as possible.
If you’re a casual player, a couple of cents off will not make a huge difference, which is why most tuners on the market will function adequately as long as they meet your needs as a player.
Overall, it’s not something you should obsess about. If your tuner is getting you in tune (or close enough in tune) then there’s no reason to switch. For session musicians, technicians and luthiers, or those with perfect pitch, it makes sense to purchase a tuner with pinpoint accuracy.
November 06, 2023
One of the most misunderstood things in mixing is bass – whether it’s getting the low end right in general, letting the bass guitar cut through without overpowering everything else, or just making the bass interesting and cool. It can be tricky to get it right, but there are plenty of tried-and-true tricks for getting there quickly. Let’s go over a few of those.
October 30, 2023
Some of the great guitar-playing artists were self-taught – which means a great many of them use weird tunings. That’s probably no coincidence – using alternate tunings is a great way to come up with a unique sound. So, let’s look at a few of the most common uncommon tunings you could try with your guitar – or your bass.
October 23, 2023
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