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Jeff Spencer


From:
Queensland, Australia
Post  Posted 30 Apr 2017 3:11 am    
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Hi all.
Just did some overdubs today for a recording of a singer acoustic guitarist. (Think Ray Lamontagne - Eric Haywood) I normally temper tune and I played my Zum U12. Upon listening back I could hear 'out of tune' parts/strings/overtones. Notwithstanding poor form on some passages I couldn't help be really disappointed. I sensed the tech was wondering what was happening too. I retuned and tried again but I left the session disappointed and questioning all my playing. For seasoned session players, do you temper tune or straight up 440?
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Brendan Mitchell


From:
Melbourne Australia
Post  Posted 30 Apr 2017 3:48 am    
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Jeff , Inam seldom happy with what I hear on listening back . I don't have any answers re tuning but feel it's always a better result when I know the song well . This is what seperates the pro's from hobbyists like myself . I much prefer playing live where all my out of tune notes are only heard once !
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David Mitchell


From:
Tyler, Texas
Post  Posted 30 Apr 2017 4:01 am    
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Sometimes another instrument out of tune will make you sound out of tune. Also if you are not use to playing under a microscope day in and day out like those that make their living playing sessions you can only get better and resolve any tuning problems by recording yourself daily and playing it back with a good in tune Nashville record. If you are not playing out of tune at home then someone else in the band has that problem. Recording magnifies a multitude of sins whatever instrument you are playing.
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Jack Stoner


From:
Inverness, Fl
Post  Posted 30 Apr 2017 5:02 am    
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I've tracked steel on several songs for other (not local) studios, including one for a studio in Australia and another in New Zealand. I tune using the Newman sweetened settings in the Peterson tuners. I've never noticed anything out unless I didn't play on fret. I've done a lot of steel on songs by singers in my home recording studio (I use Cakewalk Sonar) and a couple of steel instrumental CD's.

I used to be the staff steeler for Big K records in Kansas City. After laying down a steel track and listening back many times I would hear a mistake that no one else caught.

Like was pointed out if someone else is out of tune it can make you think you are out. I've had occasions on stage where I checked my tuning (with my Peterson) only to find out I'm OK and it was another instrument that was out.
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John Sluszny


From:
Brussels, Belgium
Post  Posted 30 Apr 2017 10:18 am     Re: Studio recording - tuning help
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Jeff Spencer wrote:
Hi all.
Just did some overdubs today for a recording of a singer acoustic guitarist. (Think Ray Lamontagne - Eric Haywood) I normally temper tune and I played my Zum U12. Upon listening back I could hear 'out of tune' parts/strings/overtones. Notwithstanding poor form on some passages I couldn't help be really disappointed. I sensed the tech was wondering what was happening too. I retuned and tried again but I left the session disappointed and questioning all my playing. For seasoned session players, do you temper tune or straight up 440?

Give us a clip to listen to,maybe we could help you !
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Frank Welsh


From:
Upstate New York, USA
Post  Posted 30 Apr 2017 11:44 am    
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Jeff, perhaps it would be helpful if you identified the type of "temper" you used for tuning on that recording. Was it "equal temperament", "just" temperament or some variation thereof?

Just saying because "temper" has so many different meanings in the pedal steel world.
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Dick Wood


From:
Springtown Texas, USA
Post  Posted 30 Apr 2017 12:01 pm    
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If you are temper tuning and taking the cabinet drop of your guitar into account and it sounds good but still sounds off with the mix then it's going to come down to your bar placement/technique.
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Greg Lambert


From:
Illinois, USA
Post  Posted 30 Apr 2017 12:33 pm    
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I have found the bass player will often press to hard on the frets which will sharpen the note. This wont be noticed with a guitar but with a steel it sticks out like a sore thumb on a recording. You can get by live when your 50% visual and 50% audio , but when your 100% audio , like listening to a cut , then its more obvious. Guitar players are also notorious for this.
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Jeff Spencer


From:
Queensland, Australia
Post  Posted 30 Apr 2017 3:04 pm    
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Thank you all for your replies. This is most helpful. Brendan, I was sent the MP3 of the mix for reference a couple of weeks prior but never sent charts despite a promise to. This resulted in me working out the chords.....as best I could. The progression was not easy to follow so this did not help and I was frustrated. I'm certain now that cabinet drop didn't help which the Zum is prone to. Couple this with wanting to present a good result and focusing so hard on the chord progression changes resulted in sloppy bar placement😔I asked for the bass to be taken out of the mix in one take and that helped somewhat. I've checked my tuning chart that I got with the guitar and against Jeff Newman's chart and it is different. I always assumed it was the same!! Jack, I have a Peterson tuner in the cupboard I never quite got to understanding, I'll dig it out now. 🤔I've always settled with the Boss floor pedal tuner.
As has been stated - no where to hide in the studio!! Now for some woodshedding on 'tuning'
Thank you all for advise....most helpful! Idea Idea
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Dave Campbell


From:
Nova Scotia, Canada
Post  Posted 30 Apr 2017 3:22 pm    
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i have a tendency to tense up in those types of situations, which results in me pushing down hard on the strings. the result is bad tuning.
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Paddy Long


From:
Christchurch, New Zealand
Post  Posted 30 Apr 2017 3:34 pm    
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Jeff get yourself a Peterson tuner. I use the stroborack in my studio rack, but the StroboPlus HD is the one you want - nice and portable and has cellphone like Lithium battery which you can charge via USB.
They are very precise and will remove any tuning issues with the guitar - they have a Universal tuning preset as well. The rest is about your bar placement - and your right, in the studio there is no place to hide, so at the very least a better tuner will remove any angst about the guitar being in tune. Very Happy
I will tune up your Zum Uni when I come over in June and you can see (and hear) for yourself mate.
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Bob Hoffnar


From:
Austin, Tx
Post  Posted 30 Apr 2017 4:32 pm    
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In order to make it so people would give me money to record with them I developed this:

http://www.bobhoffnar.net/intonation.html

I usually send it out as a download these days but I can burn a CD easily enough.

It's all about ears and hands.
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Tim Heidner


From:
Port Arthur, TX
Post  Posted 30 Apr 2017 5:43 pm    
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I just paypal-ed you for a CD, Bob!

edit: or a download is fine, too. I just saw that.
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Brett Lanier


From:
Vermont
Post  Posted 1 May 2017 8:20 am    
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A strobe tuner with presets is a great tool but in the studio you really have to tune to the track. Much of the time that means making adjustments without referncing a tuner. Getting your ass kicked in the studio is a good thing though, you always come out the other side a better musician. I feel like it's happened to me enough times already, but I know it'll happen again.
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Greg Cutshaw


From:
Corry, PA, USA
Post  Posted 1 May 2017 9:22 am    
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I agree with Greg above. I de-tune my bass guitar parts 5 cents and the fiddle 8 cents. On capo'd up rhythm guitars I tune them with the capo on. Try to avoid overlap on lead instruments unless they are twinning. Listen to a lot of in tune steel guitars on record and you will notice the steel way out front or way in the back but not clashing with other instruments. For recording you have to move the steel bar close to the frets and then tune by ear to get the steel to bland in with the whole collection of other instruments. Rarely will you place the bar directly over any of the frets. Listen close to live steel shows and you will hear lots of out of tune parts. Not that they sound bad but when the backup band starts to get too loud, you can begin to hear the steel tuning produce beats with the other instruments.
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Paul Brainard


From:
Portland OR
Post  Posted 1 May 2017 12:45 pm    
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My few cents: it's always easiest to intonate from the bottom up - so you definitely want the bass in there to track along with. If it's out, then all hope is lost anyway. Often it is helpful to pull other instruments out, especially strings, some guitars. Piano is a problem, since they are tempered but differently than we do - so you can either leave it in & try to work with it or leave it out and let them go back and a/b them to decide who they think is out worse later on! Probably if they isolate the steel they will realize it is the most in-tune thing on the track, at least by itself. . .

The other big solution is VIBRATO! You'll never get all the chord tones in tune with everything else, so sometimes your best option is to obscure the issue. . . and, it sounds nice! My philosophy is as long as you have it surrounded, you're considered close enough in many situations.

And in the end, a good mix will actually make these issues fade in importance - the EQ, panning, compression, etc. all help to separate things in your ear that would otherwise rub against each other. I pretty much guarantee that there are a number of your favorite hits that are far more out of tune than you probably realize, if you listen closely. ..
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Ricky Davis


From:
Buda, Texas USA
Post  Posted 1 May 2017 3:46 pm    
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It is NOT how you tune your steel(cause you gotta put the bar on strings at some point...then what???. IT is NOT the tuning of the other instruments you are playing with. it is ONLY about your ear for intonation and how far along it is. If you are playing out of tune; don't RETUNE you pedal steel to whatever suggested tuning solution there is these days...> ONLY WORK ON YOUR INTONAION.....Period. Read Bob Hoffnar's comment and link and that is the only way to progress YOUR intonation....Period!!!
Ricky
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Jeff Spencer


From:
Queensland, Australia
Post  Posted 2 May 2017 4:02 am    
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I really express my appreciation to all the comments and advise here. I am taking it all in trust me. To ignore the depth of experience here would be arrogant and fool hearty.
THANK YOU.
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Fred Treece


From:
California, USA
Post  Posted 2 May 2017 8:37 am    
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Up-vote for Bob Hoffnar and Paul Brainard.
My hat's off to anybody who gets paid to record on this instrument.
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Greg Cutshaw


From:
Corry, PA, USA
Post  Posted 2 May 2017 10:52 am    
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Here's a song recorded in my home studio with the instruments tuned according to my suggestions above. The steel was tuned using the following Peterson StroboPLUSHD settings:

SE9 Peterson E9 Pedal Steel Sweetener 1 SE9
SP9 Peterson E9 Pedal and Lever Offsets for SE9

http://www.gregcutshaw.com/Samples/I%27ll%20Fly%20Away%20Williams%20Steel.mp3
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Frank Agliata


From:
Jersey Shore, USA
Post  Posted 2 May 2017 11:52 am    
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Bob Hoffnar wrote:
In order to make it so people would give me money to record with them I developed this:

http://www.bobhoffnar.net/intonation.html

I usually send it out as a download these days but I can burn a CD easily enough.

It's all about ears and hands.


Thanks Bob, excellent training aid. Even just noodling around with the drone playing really helps line up your bar to the proper pitch . . Cool
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Bob Hoffnar


From:
Austin, Tx
Post  Posted 2 May 2017 12:12 pm    
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Frank,
The low single note cello drones are tuned normal like a piano. The other sine wave chords and notes are in a just tuning so they won't always line up where you think. With those just listen and move your bar to get the beats out. Let your ears guide your hands.
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Bob Hoffnar


From:
Austin, Tx
Post  Posted 2 May 2017 12:14 pm    
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Also... Do not tune to the tracks ! Tune how ever you tune and make it work. It's hard enough playing the pedalsteel without having to tune different for every situation !
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Mark van Allen


From:
Watkinsville, Ga. USA
Post  Posted 2 May 2017 1:30 pm    
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In studio playing I have found bits of most of the advice here to be… useful. I would agree not to "tune to the tracks" unless they're so far out you can't comfortably play without it, as when somebody builds a session around an out-of-tune acoustic piano.
I have occasionally found myself trying to ride the middle ground between, say, a sharp violin and a flat bass… and in fact, with some judicious listening/ phrasing a steel part can bring two disparate parts like that into a little better harmony. Sometimes it's just hopeless, and I have asked for a part or two to be recut before coming back to overdub. Every time the producer has said something like "yeah, we heard that, but we were hoping not to have to recut (replace) (tell the artist he's out of tune) (etc.) Sometimes those issues are resolved by just dumping the offending part.
I have to say most professional sessions present no such problems and are usually a joy to play over.
Another oddity for me- I have done many sessions on many guitars over the years, each with it's own idiosyncrasies, but a few years ago I had a fairly new guitar by a well-know builder which gave me fits in the studio. I would have it in good tune, play a pass, and it would be out of tune somewhere- one of the pedal throws, or something, tune it up and the next track same thing but what would seem like a different issue on a different string. I never could track down the problem, and if it had been my first sessions it would have made me crazy.

All in all I have to agree with Ricky- it's gonna be in y9our own ear, and ear training. There are ways to improve intonation with close listening and concentration on your hand/ear connection. I strongly suggest Bob Hoffnar's long tone CDs to help with that.
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Mark van Allen


From:
Watkinsville, Ga. USA
Post  Posted 2 May 2017 1:35 pm    
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And thanks for those, Bob!
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