Posts Tagged ‘tuning’

Tune Up!

Posted by Brian on 16th January 2012 in Beginners, Ear Training, Musicianship, Performing, Playing well with others, Rant

“I thought that the professional touch that made your set was the fact that your guitar was in a proper state of tune.”

I recently played a short set at a local open mic, where a musician friend was in attendance and I received the preceding note the following day. I sometimes forget how sensitive some people are to tuning – my ear seems to be less discriminating than most. I can hear when something is out of tune, but it doesn’t grate on me the way that it does some people. Having said that, I do recognize the importance of tuning.

It actually took me years to figure out tuning. Then one day, the clouds parted and I saw the light. Not sure what the trigger was, but suddenly I “got it”. For others, tuning is as natural as breathing. But the important thing is that you must always strive to play in tune, especially when playing for (or with) others.

Every time you pick up your instrument, you should check the tuning. These days, it is much easier than when I was a budding young rockstar. You can now buy electronic tuners for as little as $15 (though I would recommend spending a little more). And while I think that you should always try to tune by ear first, you can easily check your work with the tuner.

If you get used to playing in tune all of the time, it becomes way easier to tell if you are out of tune, and you may even get to the point where you will be able to critique other performers’ tuning… Best of all, you are way less likely to annoy your audience, even if it is just your cat.

Ten Things…

Posted by Brian on 17th May 2011 in Guitar, Performing, Playing well with others

I recently came across this list that was posted on my favourite guitar forum: 10 Things All Guitarists Should Be Able To Do. It is a list of ten things that any guitarist who plans on performing should work on. (And, in my humble opinion, all guitarists should have “performing” on their bucket list.)

This particular list caught my attention because number 2 is one of my pet peeves: Tune your instrument! It seems that so many musicians these days don’t bother to tune their instruments before performing, or more accurately, they don’t tune to the instruments around them; so while they may be in tune with themselves, they are not in tune with the other performers.

Like most top 10 lists, this one has its flaws. There is some overlap – for example, item numbers 3 (sustain), 4 (vibrato) and 8 (timing) are really just subsections of number 5 (phrasing) – and it is definitely weighted towards playing electric guitar. But it is all good advice, nevertheless.

If you’re interested, you can read (or join) the discussion generated by this list at Guitars Canada.com.