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Post new topic Tunings - straight up 440 for other (Newman settings, etc.
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Author Topic:  Tunings - straight up 440 for other (Newman settings, etc.
Bowie Martin


From:
Wilson, NC USA 27896
Post  Posted 31 Mar 2020 8:45 am    
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I wonder how many people use the straight up 440 tunings and how many others like the Newman settings? I have heard arguments on both. Some opinions?
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Lee Baucum


From:
McAllen, Texas (Extreme South) The Final Frontier
Post  Posted 31 Mar 2020 9:06 am    
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Shocked

Uh-oh
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Tim Sergent

 

From:
Hendersonville, TN, USA
Post  Posted 31 Mar 2020 10:09 am    
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OOOOOOOHHHH!!! You might find an opinion or two on here
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Tucker Jackson

 

From:
Portland, Oregon, USA
Post  Posted 31 Mar 2020 10:26 am    
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Yeah, I remember the Great Tuning Wars of the Aughts. Let's not do that again.

Obviously, both of those tuning systems (and others that sit in between) work fine. It's really a matter of preference, so you'll have to try them out...and others, like tuning by ear, or B0b's excellent chart.

But since you asked "how many," here's probably the best data we have, even though it's ten years out of date. A Forum poll:
https://bb.steelguitarforum.com/viewtopic.php?t=186598&highlight=poll+tuning

Here's a summary of the two systems you asked about:
Equal Temperament (ET)(straight up to 0) 16%
Newman (either in Peterson tuner or on paper) 37%
All others 47%

My view of that is only 16% tune straight up, and the rest do a hodgepodge of other things that take things away from "straight up." So the hodgepodge is more popular (and there are strong arguments as to why), but still, you should do what you prefer. Just because a lot of people like broccoli doesn't mean you have to.


Last edited by Tucker Jackson on 31 Mar 2020 10:33 am; edited 1 time in total
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Ian Rae


From:
Redditch, England
Post  Posted 31 Mar 2020 10:31 am    
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I don't care much for broccoli but it's good for me.

Can't say the same for tuning discussions. I tune my guitar by ear so that it sounds right. I don't know what to call the result.

I did once tune it to equal temperament as an experiment, but it sounded dreadful like a piano. Worse actually because at least a piano has the decency to decay fairly quickly.
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Tucker Jackson

 

From:
Portland, Oregon, USA
Post  Posted 31 Mar 2020 10:35 am    
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Ian Rae wrote:

I tune my guitar by ear so that it sounds right. I don't know what to call the result.


You very likely ended up with Just Intonation (JI).

For those that don't know, the Newman (Peterson) chart is somewhat based on JI, but it makes some tweaks.
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Dave Mudgett


From:
Central Pennsylvania
Post  Posted 31 Mar 2020 12:25 pm    
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I think that tuning and then playing in tune are things that pedal steel players just have to struggle with. But I don't agree with so many that it's necessary to struggle alone and that it's not OK to talk about this stuff. I found the so-called "tuning wars" threads incredibly helpful back then. I was a guitar player pretty entrenched in tuning everything in equal temperament, and I personally found it very hard to get the sweetness in pedal steel chords I was looking for that way.

But I think, before dragging everbody into yet another discussion about how to tune, it would be highly advisable to read the extensive discussions that have occurred on this forum, where some of the worlds finest players (including many who are sadly no longer with us) gave extensive and useful information on this.

Try some google searches - e.g.,

et vs just tuning site:steelguitarforum.com

et vs ji just intonation eric west site:steelguitarforum.com

I included eric west (rip) in the second search because he was so involved in these so-called "tuning wars" and that got to a bunch of the threads I was looking for. Such as

https://bb.steelguitarforum.com/viewtopic.php?t=26894

https://steelguitarforum.com/Forum5/HTML/009330.html

https://steelguitarforum.com/Forum5/HTML/007349.html

https://steelguitarforum.com/Forum5/HTML/008862.html

https://steelguitarforum.com/Forum15/HTML/009120.html

https://steelguitarforum.com/Forum5/HTML/012697.html

https://steelguitarforum.com/Forum5/HTML/012697.html

https://steelguitarforum.com/Forum5/HTML/009017.html

https://bb.steelguitarforum.com/viewtopic.php?t=135112

https://bb.steelguitarforum.com/viewtopic.php?t=101830

https://bb.steelguitarforum.com/viewtopic.php?t=191057

https://steelguitarforum.com/Forum5/HTML/010572.html

and the infamous "Tempered Tuning Armageddon"

https://steelguitarforum.com/Forum5/HTML/007821.html

And there are more if you look. Be aware that there is quite a bit of misinformation in threads about this. But there's a lot of very useful information I can't find elsewhere - the trick is separating the wheat from the chaff.

I personally don't think it matters, per se, what other people do. For me, what mattered was their reasoning, how I could grok what they were saying, and then how could I apply and synthesize various ideas into something that worked for me. For me, it was first a matter of ear training. No tuning method, reasoning, or chart was of any help to me until I started to get my ear more attuned to hear the subtle differences in various approaches to tuning and playing. For me, it has necessarily taken a long time and has involved some experimentation, frustration, and even a little "growth pain" - I had to jettison some ideas that I was affixed to.

Just my experience. Yours may be different.
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Ian Rae


From:
Redditch, England
Post  Posted 31 Mar 2020 2:50 pm    
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Tucker is right when he suggests that I actually use something close to JI. Because I play trombone and I'm trained to produce beatless chords in conjunction with two or three other trombonists, I expect my PSG to produce the same, i.e. something that's enjoyable to sustain.

Most steel players seem to arrive at the same thing by different routes. My way is to tune in natural intervals with my thirds very slightly sharp for safety. (A perfect triad is beautiful, but if that third goes even a hair flat it's the kiss of death.)

The other method exploits the fact that even-tempered fourths and fifths are not too different from natural ones, and players who tune "straight up" and then sweeten (i.e. flatten) their thirds end up in much the same place as me, I guess.
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Lee Baucum


From:
McAllen, Texas (Extreme South) The Final Frontier
Post  Posted 31 Mar 2020 3:38 pm    
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Thank you, Dave! I was going to go through that exercise this evening.

Lee
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Kevin Fix

 

From:
Michigan, USA
Post  Posted 31 Mar 2020 6:07 pm    
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I use the Newman settings in 440.
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Jack Stanton

 

From:
Somewhere in the swamps of Jersey
Post  Posted 31 Mar 2020 6:09 pm    
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Steve Sycamore

 

From:
Sweden
Post  Posted 1 Apr 2020 12:18 am    
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But really, the Newman settings are very, very close to "straight up" JI. With JI you need to choose the key first. Fortunately on E9 PSG both E JI and A JI produce most of the same figures.

There is only one common pedal combination where JI doesn't fit. It's quite easy to adjust the result there by ear.

There is a few year old thread where JI was fully worked out with an Excel sheet. I'll try to find and post the link.

If you use JI then tuning A to 440 Hz produces a great sound that fits reasonably well with other instruments in my opinion, especially if the song is the key of A or E.
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Ian Rae


From:
Redditch, England
Post  Posted 1 Apr 2020 12:22 am    
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Steve, a tuning system is the same wherever you place the bar. Once you've found one you like, it works the same in any key.
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Steve Sycamore

 

From:
Sweden
Post  Posted 1 Apr 2020 12:27 am    
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Here is the topic I mentioned.

https://bb.steelguitarforum.com/viewtopic.php?t=312522&highlight=

As you can see Ian to design how you want each pedal combination to sound you need to consider what key for JI applies at that point.
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Georg Sørtun


From:
Mandal, VA, Norway & Weeki Wachee, FL, USA
Post  Posted 1 Apr 2020 2:10 am    
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Ian Rae wrote:
a tuning system is the same wherever you place the bar. Once you've found one you like, it works the same in any key.
Except that in JI the tuning should "fit the key you're in" regardless of what key you're actually in, which simply cannot happen on any instrument with only one fixed tuning – made worse by the fact that on guitars/PSGs same key-base notes are found all over the neck/strings.

Luckily most of that restriction can be overcome on PSGs by simply ignoring whatever "keep the bar straight and leveled" teaching one may be presented with by anyone, and learn how each string reacts in pitch in relation to all the other strings under the bar, and simply "push, angle and offset the bar" as found necessary to get the picked strings (the others don't matter) to sound in tune with each other and other instruments.
Just takes time, and ear, to learn, and one or two "compensators" may come handy since we cannot bend the bar.

FWIW: I use whatever tuning-fork or electronic tuner to get a pure "A" on 3d string w/pedal B down, and all else I tune as close to "compromised JI" as I can manage, by ear. Tuning by help of a tuner setup (regardless of preferred tuning) takes to long, and I'll have to play by ear anyway so what the heck … guess I'm lazy Smile
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Steve Sycamore

 

From:
Sweden
Post  Posted 1 Apr 2020 6:11 am    
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Quote:
Georg Sørtun wrote:
FWIW: I use whatever tuning-fork or electronic tuner to get a pure "A" on 3d string w/pedal B down


Yes, that's essentially what I do too. But I find tuning takes a lot less time when you have the settings programmed into a strobe tuner (which has different settings for a note at different octaves).

Typically if you're called into a recording session as a guest you don't have a lot of time to devote to setting up your instrument and tuning it. Likewise at a live performance, especially if several bands are billed. If you're in the ball park to begin with the strobe tuner makes it quick and easy to get nicely in tune.
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Dennis Detweiler


From:
Solon, Iowa, US
Post  Posted 1 Apr 2020 6:38 am    
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I programmed my tuner. Basically Newman temper. I tune E9th E's 440 with A & B pedals down to add the cabinet drop. This gets B pedal A notes to 440 so I'm in tune with a piano. Without A & B down this puts my E's around 442. Everything else is tuned to take out the beats and from there it's programmed into my tuner. I can tune by ear, but the programmed tuner is quicker and I don't have to annoy anyone in the club or on stage. I play a U-12.
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Tom Campbell

 

From:
Houston, Texas, USA
Post  Posted 1 Apr 2020 6:42 am    
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If your playing in a band you "darn-well" better be in tune with the other instruments...if that means throwing out your your favorite tuner...do it. I assure the the other band members are not going to tune-up to you.
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Dennis Detweiler


From:
Solon, Iowa, US
Post  Posted 1 Apr 2020 6:50 am    
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All musicians that I work with these days carries a personal tuner which means everyone is 440. Everyone is responsible for themselves to be in tune. If you work with a keyboardist, he'll be at A 440.
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Donny Hinson

 

From:
Glen Burnie, Md. U.S.A.
Post  Posted 1 Apr 2020 6:50 am    
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It's fine to use a tuner, but it's not good to rely on one. Your ear should always be the final judge of whether or not you're in tune. And to that end, you need to not only develop your "ear", but you need to use it regularly to maintain that capability. Playing in tune is equally important to tuning. When you're in a group, you need to find the tonal center, that sweet spot that makes you sound "in" with the other instruments. A tuner will not help you with that! If you want to use a strobe at the gig, or when there's too much noise to hear what you're doing, fine. But at home, you should regularly ear-tune, and also practice playing with recordings. That will keep your ear skills sharp! Winking
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Dick Wood


From:
Springtown Texas, USA
Post  Posted 1 Apr 2020 6:51 am    
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If I had to play straight 440, I'd sell the guitar and quit playing. I've tried it and it ain't pretty.
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Bob Hoffnar


From:
Austin, Tx
Post  Posted 1 Apr 2020 7:03 am    
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To extrapolate on what Donny says I highly suggest recording yourself playing a major scale on one string along to a drone or song reference. If you can’t play dead on perfect slowly on one string how you tune won’t make much difference .

I tuned just by ear for years. When I started playing more 3 note chords in Texas country music I switched to straight up. If I play in tune or not depends on my familiarity with the music and how much of my brain is being used to keep track of the music . Playing in tune takes a ton of focus for me.

Also I want to ad that if you can play in tune up and down one string you should be able to play in tune using any tuning method.
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Ian Rae


From:
Redditch, England
Post  Posted 1 Apr 2020 7:18 am    
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I've been wondering whether we may have been at cross purposes over this, and I think the penny has dropped.

If you tune your pedal steel in equal temperament, then any note you care to name will be the same wherever you play it on the neck and with whatever pedal or lever you use to get it (assuming that the bar is positioned accurately). This is what equal temperament is designed to achieve and although it's vital on a piano it's not particularly useful on a steel guitar where we can play in any key just by moving the bar. If you tune a piano in natural intervals and then modulate into C# (a common move in popular music) it sounds like a sack of barbed wire (I've done it - it's traumatic). But on a PSG, ET is a fix for something that ain't broke.

I tune to my near-JI at the nut and it sounds good. As I move up the frets it continues to sound the same. Now (for example) the C# I play on the 5th string with the A pedal at the nut is not necessarily the same as any other C# anywhere on the instrument, but it doesn't matter. What matters is that all chords and intervals sound good. If an individual C# requires attention as a melody note, my ear and the bar take care of it, not any tuning system.

It's relative, not absolute pitch that our ears interprete as harmonious or otherwise.

I'm not trying to be contentious, just trying to nail down what the conversation is about. The OP asked who uses a "sweetened" tuning (i.e. one that isn't painful to listen to) and the answer is most people although they all seem to call it different things Smile
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Steve Sycamore

 

From:
Sweden
Post  Posted 1 Apr 2020 7:54 am    
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Ian, I think your idea from the earlier thread has a lot of merit - to stretch the scale just a bit. Guitars suffer from the same effect as pianos where different gauge strings skew the frequencies of various harmonics, though the problem on guitar is not as severe.

A skilled piano tuner can compensate for that by proposing just how much the stretch should be for any particular piano.

On PSG doing that should reduce how much tilt of the bar is needed. But it would require a lot of experimentation, unless you have some figures to start with.

Then there is the Feiten stretch tuning for 6 string guitar where I think he changes the positions of the frets a bit if I remember correctly.
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Pete Burak

 

From:
Portland, OR USA
Post  Posted 1 Apr 2020 8:27 am    
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I didn't come up with this, but, You can prove to yourself if your Instrument is even capable of maintaining a Straight-up tuning as you play through various typical pedal/lever combos, pretty quick...
Some typical tests for this include...
Tune your 6th-string-G# straight up, then engage your A-Pedal+F-Lever together, and go back and forth between A+F/Open A+F/Open a few times as you watch your String-6-G# on your tuner.
Does the String-6-G# remain straight up the whole time?
Also...
Tune your string-4-E straight-up.
Now depress/release the A+B pedals together a few times while you watch the E string on your tuner.
Does String-4-E stay straight up the whole time?
I typically agree with Bob Hoffner when it comes to playing in tune.
I recall (IIRC) Carl Dixon demonstrating this test at a St.Louis show, and the guy said, It didn't do that before YOU touched it!
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