Results 1 to 22 of 22

Thread: Just tuning. Will it make things better?

  1. #1
    Oval holes are cool David Lewis's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Sydney, Australia
    Posts
    1,279

    Default Just tuning. Will it make things better?

    Has anyone tried it? Does it goose the tone and sound? Or is it not worth it.

    I know the basics of equal temperament. And the history. But would tuning a mando to just help?

    Thoughts? Have you tried it?
    JBovier ELS; Epiphone MM-50 VN; Epiphone MM-40L; Gretsch New Yorker G9310; Washburn M1SDLB;

    Fender Nashville Deluxe Telecaster; Squier Modified Vintage Cabronita Telecaster; Gretsch 5420T; Fender Tim Armstrong Hellcat: Washburn Banjo B9; Ibanez RB 5string; Ibanez RB 4 string bass

    Pedalboard for ELS: Morley Cry baby Miniwah - Tuner - EHX Soul Food Overdrive - EHX Memory Toy analog Delay
    Fender Blues Jr Tweed; Fender Greta;

  2. #2

    Default Re: Just tuning. Will it make things better?

    The frets are laid out to a tempered tuning. The fretboard would have to be built to a just tuning. Then you would face the problem that lead away from just tuning centuries ago. Some keys would be so nastily out of tune as to be unplayable. You MIGHT gain in one or two keys. The rest would be progressively worse as you go through the circle of fifths.

    Unfretted instruments, like fiddles, can work with a just tuning in some keys because they can adjust intonation on the fly and do it differently for different keys. That is assuming the player has a good enough ear and the physical control. F# can be a slightly different note in the key of G as opposed to the key of F# or E. On a fretted instrument the fret is where it is. There is no on the fly adjustment except possibly through bends.

    Equal temperament came into being as instruments were invented with fixed pitches and intonation, particularly keyboards. It was necessary.

  3. The Following 3 Users Say Thank You to CarlM For This Useful Post:


  4. #3
    Oval holes are cool David Lewis's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Sydney, Australia
    Posts
    1,279

    Default Re: Just tuning. Will it make things better?

    That's what I thought. I was on another (guitar) forum and someone said it would make it better because of the strings behind the bridge? Something... Anyway, it didn't seem right, but might have been one of those counterintuitive things that work sometimes.

    Thanks!
    JBovier ELS; Epiphone MM-50 VN; Epiphone MM-40L; Gretsch New Yorker G9310; Washburn M1SDLB;

    Fender Nashville Deluxe Telecaster; Squier Modified Vintage Cabronita Telecaster; Gretsch 5420T; Fender Tim Armstrong Hellcat: Washburn Banjo B9; Ibanez RB 5string; Ibanez RB 4 string bass

    Pedalboard for ELS: Morley Cry baby Miniwah - Tuner - EHX Soul Food Overdrive - EHX Memory Toy analog Delay
    Fender Blues Jr Tweed; Fender Greta;

  5. The following members say thank you to David Lewis for this post:


  6. #4
    Play on FredK's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2017
    Location
    Irving, TX
    Posts
    161

    Default Re: Just tuning. Will it make things better?

    Interesting topic. Something new for me to look into .
    "If your memories exceed your dreams, you have begun to die." - Anonymous

    The Loar LM-520-VS
    Northfield Calhoun
    Trinity College Octave TM325

  7. #5
    Registered User DavidKOS's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
    Location
    North CA
    Posts
    4,406

    Default Re: Just tuning. Will it make things better?

    Quote Originally Posted by David Lewis View Post
    That's what I thought. I was on another (guitar) forum and someone said it would make it better because of the strings behind the bridge? Something... Anyway, it didn't seem right, but might have been one of those counterintuitive things that work sometimes.

    Thanks!
    There's a lot of BS about tunings on guitar websites, ranging from variations on 12 tone ET tuning (which is what fretted instruments in the Western world are designed for, and it is a compromise) to the fallacy that A440 is evil, invented by Nazis and so on.

    Your instinct was correct. The strings behind the bridge do not affect much, except perhaps the feel of the string tension.

    Just as a footnote, I play Turkish saz and Arabic buzuq, both long-neck lutes that have a lot of tied on frets in untempered tuning, including so-called "quarter tones", so I'm used to non-tempered instruments.

    They were used for music that largely did not have chords nor modulated to other keys.

    12 tone ET tuning was developed/discovered/tolerated by European musicians so as to allow for the use of chordal harmony in all keys.

  8. The Following 5 Users Say Thank You to DavidKOS For This Useful Post:


  9. #6
    Registered User sblock's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Redwood City, CA
    Posts
    2,293

    Default Re: Just tuning. Will it make things better?

    Quote Originally Posted by David Lewis View Post
    Has anyone tried it? Does it goose the tone and sound? Or is it not worth it.

    I know the basics of equal temperament. And the history. But would tuning a mando to just help?

    Thoughts? Have you tried it?
    At the risk of repeating what's been said: just tuning cannot be achieved on a conventional fretted mandolin. The reason is that the fretboard is built for equal temperament, with each successive fret being located a constant (fixed) factor of the previous one closer to the bridge -- in a strict geometric progression, specified by the twelfth root of two. Why twelfth root of two? Because, after applying 12 such factors in succession, the fret position has moved a factor of two closer to the bridge, yielding half the string length, and therefore a perfect octave.

    In fact, perfect just tuning is not even practical on a violin, either, although it can get closer. Here, the problem comes from the open strings. If these open strings were all tuned perfect a fifth apart (exactly 3/2 the frequency from lower to higher), then they will start to clash with notes that get played ever-higher up the musical scale, because a perfect fifth is "too wide" by about two cents from an equal-tempered one. If you started tuning with the lowest (G) open string, then the open E would be about 6 cents sharp of where it really needed to be. A good violinist, tuning by ear, will tend to narrow the open intervals from perfect fifths by just a teensy amount, to compensate for this effect. Or use a tuner set to 12TET! The bottom line is that even a violinist seeking truer temperament needs to avoid playing on any open strings.

    Finally, as others have pointed out, just temperament can only help out with ("sweeten"?) one or two keys, at best. The rest of the keys tend to sound worse, because you've driven their intervals even farther off the ideal! Also, any music with chromatic stuff will sound off, and so will most music with key changes. And don't get me started about the problems that can arise with chords! So equal temperament is the hands-down best choice for most modern music, including all forms of folk, jazz, classical, etc. Just temperament is mostly pursued these days by folks seeking to play Rennaissance and Baroque (17th cent) music in the Western tradition on instruments that can support it, like violins, harpsichords/claviers, trombones. Also, some other world traditions have other temperaments.

    So no, just temperament is not really a thing for mandolins, and it cannot "goose the sound," in your words. It's not merely that it's "not worth it" -- it's that it simply cannot be done with our favorite fretted instrument.
    Last edited by sblock; Mar-26-2021 at 5:20pm.

  10. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to sblock For This Useful Post:


  11. #7

    Default Re: Just tuning. Will it make things better?

    I grew up using various applications of Just temperament because my first steel-string acoustic was a 12-string with a terrible neck. This all helped a lot when I later got into instruments with varying temperament requirements - such as diatonic wire harp, pentatonic guzheng, etc.

  12. The following members say thank you to catmandu2 for this post:


  13. #8
    Registered User John Flynn's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Location
    Richmond, VA
    Posts
    8,054

    Default Re: Just tuning. Will it make things better?

    I've been told I use "un-just, ill-tempered tuning." It's a personal preference.

  14. The Following 3 Users Say Thank You to John Flynn For This Useful Post:

    CarlMjshanekwd 

  15. #9
    Mando-Afflicted lflngpicker's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    So Cal
    Posts
    1,944
    Blog Entries
    6

    Default Re: Just tuning. Will it make things better?

    I can tell by your post that I have a lot to learn about this topic. I assumed when I saw the title of the thread that it was speaking of tuning, per se. Obviously, this is some kind of structural intonation or changing of the way the fretboard and bridge are laid out? Or is it the tap tuning and shaping of the sound chamber? I should do some research. Sounds interesting.
    2020 Pava Pro A5 Torrefied Varnish
    2007 Weber Diamondback F5 Prototype
    1930's Stradolin A5
    1912 Gibson A Oval

  16. The following members say thank you to lflngpicker for this post:


  17. #10

    Default Re: Just tuning. Will it make things better?

    I wanted to chime in here since I'm also a pianist, and I recently dove into the world of unequal temperaments. This video helped a lot in terms of understanding the subtle differences between various temperaments.

    Warning: this is a rabbit hole!



    Also, I'd love to hear if any of the historically informed instrument builders on here have input on temperament and fretted instruments.
    Eastman MD504
    D'Addario Nickel Bronze, Light
    Dunlop Primetone Triangle, 1.4 mm

    IG: @standing.wav

  18. The Following 3 Users Say Thank You to standing.wav For This Useful Post:

    CandoCarlMDavidKOS 

  19. #11
    The Amateur Mandolinist Mark Gunter's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Location
    Alvarado/Mansfield, Texas
    Posts
    3,913

    Default Re: Just tuning. Will it make things better?

    Quote Originally Posted by lflngpicker View Post
    I can tell by your post that I have a lot to learn about this topic. I assumed when I saw the title of the thread that it was speaking of tuning, per se. Obviously, this is some kind of structural intonation or changing of the way the fretboard and bridge are laid out? Or is it the tap tuning and shaping of the sound chamber? I should do some research. Sounds interesting.
    Study a bit about music history in regards to tunings - you’ll learn why the true intervals cannot be practically accounted for in any portable musical instrument, what tuning schemes were developed historically as compromises, and how 12 tone equal tempered tuning has pretty much won the day in our modern world.
    WWW.MARKGUNTER.NET
    ----------------------------------
    "Life is short. Play hard." - AlanN

    ----------------------------------
    HEY! The Cafe has Social Groups, check 'em out. I'm in these groups:
    Newbies Social Group | The Song-A-Week Social
    The Woodshed Study Group | Blues Mando
    - Advice For Mandolin Beginners
    - YouTube Stuff

  20. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to Mark Gunter For This Useful Post:


  21. #12
    The Amateur Mandolinist Mark Gunter's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Location
    Alvarado/Mansfield, Texas
    Posts
    3,913

    Default Re: Just tuning. Will it make things better?

    I highly recommend the book by Stuart Isacoff, Temperament: How Music Became a Battleground for the Greatest Minds of Western Civilization
    WWW.MARKGUNTER.NET
    ----------------------------------
    "Life is short. Play hard." - AlanN

    ----------------------------------
    HEY! The Cafe has Social Groups, check 'em out. I'm in these groups:
    Newbies Social Group | The Song-A-Week Social
    The Woodshed Study Group | Blues Mando
    - Advice For Mandolin Beginners
    - YouTube Stuff

  22. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to Mark Gunter For This Useful Post:


  23. #13
    but that's just me Bertram Henze's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    0.8 mpc from NGC224, upstairs
    Posts
    9,960

    Default Re: Just tuning. Will it make things better?

    With the fretboard being the compromise it is, compromise is the best you can do. Even the circle of fifths is mathematically not correct, because after going up a fifth 12 times you are not exactly at the 7th octave ((3/2)^12 is almost equal to 2^7, but not quite).
    I tend to lower the G course a little bit and raise the E course some, so 3rd fret on E makes a good 2nd octave over open G.
    And to avoid oversimplifying things, I am a big fan of wet tuning
    the world is better off without bad ideas, good ideas are better off without the world

  24. The following members say thank you to Bertram Henze for this post:


  25. #14
    Registered User DavidKOS's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
    Location
    North CA
    Posts
    4,406

    Default Re: Just tuning. Will it make things better?

    Quote Originally Posted by lflngpicker View Post
    ...Obviously, this is some kind of structural intonation or changing of the way the fretboard and bridge are laid out?
    It is indeed about the fingerboard and bridge, particularly in that the frets are laid out in a certain system that allows for a string to produce all the tones needed for a fully chromatic scale in 12 tone Equal Tempered tuning.

    This means that compared to "pure" tuning (such as the the harmonics on a string) 4ths are a bit sharp, 5ths a bit flat, 3rds are slightly off, etc. - but overall you can play any chord in any key without "wolf tones", that is, pitches that are so out of tune they clash.

    I've played on keyboard instruments that have been in various tuning systems, and although untempered unequal tuning systems have advantages, most of them only allow for the use of key centers that are very closely related, as modulations to more distant tonal centers will not be musically useful.

    The bridge comes into place both to hold and space the strings, and more to the point, be positioned so as to have the octave harmonic at the 12th fret match the fretted tone exactly in pitch to compensate for the defection and added tension of the string when fretted.

    There's a theory that 12 tone ET tuning was partially a result of lute players finding a compromise position for their moveable frets - one that allowed them to play most music with very little if any fret moving.

    Another footnote is the research into exactly what tuning Bach's "Well-tempered Clavier"
    was really meant for; some modern scholars suggest that the pattern of loops in the title page offer the key - and it may not be 12 tone ET but something else that still allows for use of all keys for modulation and tonal centers.

  26. #15
    Registered Muser dang's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    Omaha, NE
    Posts
    1,145

    Default Re: Just tuning. Will it make things better?

    No, just tuning will not make things better. You must also play the instrument to make things better...










    ...and I am sorry, I just felt I had to, even after restraining myself several times.
    I should be pickin' rather than postin'

  27. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to dang For This Useful Post:


  28. #16
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Feb 2018
    Location
    Guildford + Falmouth England
    Posts
    390

    Default Re: Just tuning. Will it make things better?

    Quote Originally Posted by sblock View Post
    The bottom line is that even a violinist seeking truer temperament needs to avoid playing on any open strings.
    You might help resolve something I've often wondered about. Twenty years ago I had some violin lessons, first from a professional player in Brussels (I lived there for a while), then from the same in London. They both taught violin tuning as follows:

    * Tune the A string to your tuning fork/tuner/piano/whatever.
    * Tune the E, then D, to the A so you hear the 5ths are as right as you can get.
    * Now tune G to D so the 5ths sound right
    * Check those tunings are still OK.
    * Now flatten the E, then the D very a very tiny degree compared the A, so you can only just hear the difference as a kind of difference in tone quality rather than pitch.
    * Your G should now be sharp to the D. Tune it so the D-G 5th is correct again
    * I think (but I'm not certain) they both said now tune the G down a tiny fraction you can only just hear the difference with the D. Whatever they said here, it was the same.

    I assume they were doing something to do with equalising the temperament on the violin strings, although there is an orchestral saying that goes 'No need to play out of tune when you can play sharp'. What do you reckon they might have been doing?

  29. The following members say thank you to maxr for this post:


  30. #17
    Registered User John Flynn's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Location
    Richmond, VA
    Posts
    8,054

    Default Re: Just tuning. Will it make things better?

    I would add that some mandolin players shouldn't worry about temperament, but they darn sure should "just tune" their instruments!

  31. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to John Flynn For This Useful Post:


  32. #18

    Default Re: Just tuning. Will it make things better?

    This (use of temperaments) is common to wire harpers, as we: 1) use our ears to tune, and 2) the clarity and richness of sound production makes it easy to hear overtones - thus requiring precision of tuning. Here are a few resources (from wire harp and harpsichord literature) with visual models that can help illuminate the topic.

    http://simonchadwick.net/2013/10/just-intonation.html

    https://hpschd.nu/index.html?nav/nav...thagorean.html

    http://www.earlygaelicharp.info/tuning/tables.htm

  33. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to catmandu2 For This Useful Post:

    DavidKOSmaxr 

  34. #19
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Feb 2018
    Location
    Guildford + Falmouth England
    Posts
    390

    Default Re: Just tuning. Will it make things better?

    Interesting. For those interested in this, by the way, the portable Peterson StroboPlus HD and some other strobotuners have variable, downloadable, and customizable, 'sweeteners' (ie intonation schemes) which may allow you to 'tune without tears': https://www.petersontuners.com/products/stroboplus/

  35. #20
    String-Bending Heretic mandocrucian's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    Virginia
    Posts
    3,122

    Default Re: Just tuning. Will it make things better?

    A lot of electronic keyboards, and not necessarily only the pricey ones, will let you reset the scale from 12TET to just, meantone, and a few other of the historical tunings. Keyboards designed for the Mediterranean/middle east market have more settings for all their scales.

    What sounds in tune to someone is largely a result of programming from years of repeated listening. What sounds "in Tune" is what the person is used to hearing. The classical players are so brainwashed with 12TET, so that, to them, anything else sounds horribly out-of-tune: bagpipes, old-time fiddling, balkan/greek/klezmer music, Asian music, the blues. They think because they have loads of classical "technique" playing any of that other stuff is such a simplistic snap, and it usually comes out sounding so HOKEY and SQUARE.

  36. #21

    Default Re: Just tuning. Will it make things better?

    While you're at it (electronic keyboard), scroll through the Rhythm/percussion accompaniment options and listen to/work with some of the styles/idioms you may not be familiar with; exposure to 'uneven' meters and syncopations used around the world also can be enlightening (make thngs better ) - just as important as harmonic systems.

  37. The following members say thank you to catmandu2 for this post:


  38. #22
    Distressed Model John Ritchhart's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    Mars Hill, North Carolina
    Posts
    1,014

    Default Re: Just tuning. Will it make things better?

    Not an expert on temperament but I was forced once to attend anger management classes. I heard Bryan Sutton say that he tunes to the key he's going to record in. e.g. if the tune is in C then tune the C perfectly and tune the other strings relative to that pitch. My ear isn't good enough to tell the difference I think.
    We few, we happy few.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •