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Thread: Tuning Question . . .

  1. #1
    Registered User mandolin breeze's Avatar
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    Default Tuning Question . . .

    What's the longest period of time you've ever had your mandolin stay in perfect tune? Probably not something you wanted to think about . . . sorry.


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  2. #2
    Registered User Timbofood's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tuning Question . . .

    Mines been excellent for six months! Of course it's not been out of its case or played so, that's an assumption.
    Timothy F. Lewis
    "If brains was lard, that boy couldn't grease a very big skillet" J.D. Clampett

  3. #3
    Registered User mandolin breeze's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tuning Question . . .

    Well, time to go check on it! As for the tuning now, might be in for a surprise. Let us know.

  4. #4
    Registered User Timbofood's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tuning Question . . .

    Nope, it's good, I'm not poking the bear by opening the cave!
    Timothy F. Lewis
    "If brains was lard, that boy couldn't grease a very big skillet" J.D. Clampett

  5. #5
    Registered User mandolin breeze's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tuning Question . . .

    Actually, I've started a little ear training exercise. Before I go to the tuner, I'll first try and define, for example, a perfect open D by ear and see how close I come with the tuner. Then I'll tune the D to perfect pitch and attempt, by ear, to tune the open A just by listening to the open D, then on to the open E just by listening to the open A. Then I'll test against the tuner . . . then I'll have a drink.

    Then I'll grab the tuner and make the thing sound nice. Then I'll play for a bit. Then, at some point, I'll repeat.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Tuning Question . . .

    I'll bite... The more desperately it needs new strings the longer it stays in tune.

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  8. #7
    Some Ability - No Talent MikeZito's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tuning Question . . .

    I'm pretty good at ear-tuning a guitar, because I have the sound of John Fogerty's E7 'Swamp Chord' indelibly burned into my brain from playing the opening lick of 'Born On The Bayou' so many times . . . but my mandolin tuning is still in need of a LOT of work - and like AJH, a desperate need for new strings is not helping my problem!

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  10. #8
    Registered User mandolin breeze's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tuning Question . . .

    I see, kind of a trade off then . . . super dead dull sound that stays in tune . . . um

  11. #9
    Middle-Aged Old-Timer Tobin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tuning Question . . .

    I have to tune up when I start playing, then after every couple of tunes. Can't go longer than that without it bothering me. But I'm picky on the fine tuning of the pairs. To me, tuning is never really stable.
    Keep that skillet good and greasy all the time!

  12. #10
    Registered User foldedpath's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tuning Question . . .

    Quote Originally Posted by mandolin breeze View Post
    Actually, I've started a little ear training exercise. Before I go to the tuner, I'll first try and define, for example, a perfect open D by ear and see how close I come with the tuner. Then I'll tune the D to perfect pitch and attempt, by ear, to tune the open A just by listening to the open D, then on to the open E just by listening to the open A. Then I'll test against the tuner . . . then I'll have a drink.
    The problem with that idea, is that your ear/brain system will tempt you to tune in perfect fifths, and the mandolin frets aren't laid out that way. Using a tuner set to 12-tone Equal Temperament will correct it, but why not just user the tuner in the first place?

    Side note: Fiddlers do use this method, tuning their A string to A440 and then listening for the interference pattern "beats" between adjacent strings. Basically, they're putting the instrument into a Just intonation system with perfect 5ths between strings. It works for them, because they can adapt to the 12TET system our fretted instruments are in, by just using their ears and a slight adjustment of finger position. Or not adapt at all, and play in Just intonation with other non-fretted strings, which is why a Classical string quartet can sound so wonderful. But I digress...

    I always tune up every time I pick up my mandolin. Sometimes it will try to fool me, by sounding "in tune" from the last time a day or two ago. But when checking it against a tuner, all the strings have shifted a hair up or down equally. And usually it's not even that good. Tuning every time is just a way of life, with these double-course instruments and a short scale.

    My octave mandolin stays in tune much better from day to day. Sometimes I don't need to change the tuning at all, from a practice session the day before. It's the longer scale and much thicker neck that makes for more stability.

  13. #11
    Lurkist dhergert's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tuning Question . . .

    I like the first string of each course to be about half a step flat. The chords all make this really cool vibrating sound that way.



    No, really, the first thing I check before I start tuning is the ambient temperature. If it's colder than the last time I played, I warm the strings with my hands. Sometimes that's all that is needed to bring the strings back into proper pitch.
    -- Don

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  14. #12
    Registered User Ivan Kelsall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tuning Question . . .

    If the temp. doesn't change much for several days,then my mandolin will sometimes be stable & stay in tune for 4 or 5 days at a time. As i always practice to recorded music,i can tell in an instant if it's out of tune & then i simply tune up / down,
    Ivan
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  15. #13
    Mangler of Tunes OneChordTrick's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tuning Question . . .

    Quote Originally Posted by Timbofood View Post
    Mines been excellent for six months! Of course it's not been out of its case or played so, that's an assumption.
    You have Schrodinger's mandolin?

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  17. #14
    Unfamous String Buster Beanzy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tuning Question . . .

    Quote Originally Posted by Timbofood View Post
    Mines been excellent for six months! Of course it's not been out of its case or played so, that's an assumption.
    Ah, indeed the famous Schrodinger's tuning system. I've heard it works best with cat-gut strings.

    I normally register surprise if my mandolins are actually in tune, and usually tweak something just to make sure it really was, by which time it's not.
    Eoin



    "Forget that anyone is listening to you and always listen to yourself" - Fryderyk Chopin

  18. #15

    Default Re: Tuning Question . . .

    Bowl back mandolins are the worst - even when they're in tune, they're not ...

  19. #16
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    Default Re: Tuning Question . . .

    First as stated above, perfect tuning on a fretted instrument does not exist. As one who started playing before electronic tuners I do just opposite of OP. The tuner gets me in the ball park then I fine tune. After years of tuning I know how I think equalize the temperament, and the mandolin don't sound in tune to me if it's perfect by the tuner. I think this is true of anyone that learned to tune to a pitch fork instead of a electronic tuner.

  20. #17
    Registered User Ausdoerrt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tuning Question . . .

    Quote Originally Posted by Timbofood View Post
    Nope, it's good, I'm not poking the bear by opening the cave!
    I dub thee... Shroedinger's Intonation! Until you open the case, the mandolin is both in tune and out of tune at the same time!

    P.S. Of course it's out of tune, who am I kidding
    Mandolins: The Loar LM-220; Lyon & Healy Special A #103; Epiphone Mandobird VIII
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  21. #18
    Registered User Louise NM's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tuning Question . . .

    Mine has stayed in tune remarkably well. After being away for a few days and coming home to a weather change, the E strings had gone a bit flat.

    I have been tuning the As, then tuning the rest of the instrument by using the frets at the fifths. I guess that takes a leap of faith that the instrument is ideally fretted.

    The whole subject of intonation is gigantic, and a couple of good books came out about it a few years back. (If anyone is interested, I'll give you the titles.) For example, if you tune in perfect fifths, the E and G strings will be too far apart. The fifths have to be a few cents sharp. Headache inducing.

  22. #19
    Middle-Aged Old-Timer Tobin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tuning Question . . .

    Quote Originally Posted by Louise NM View Post
    The whole subject of intonation is gigantic, and a couple of good books came out about it a few years back. (If anyone is interested, I'll give you the titles.) For example, if you tune in perfect fifths, the E and G strings will be too far apart. The fifths have to be a few cents sharp. Headache inducing.
    Did you mean flat? If you tune to perfect fifths, like you said, the bottom-to-top strings will be noticeably different. But to get them to equal temperament, the fifths have to be slighly flat of a perfect fifth, not sharp.

    It drives me crazy, because my A-E fifths always sound sour when done according to the tuner. I have to sweeten the E course slightly sharper than the tuner says is acceptable (closer to a perfect fifth) so that it sounds good when played open with the A course.
    Keep that skillet good and greasy all the time!

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  24. #20
    Registered User Randi Gormley's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tuning Question . . .

    You would think if the session is loud enough, it wouldn't matter ... for the actual 'staying in tune,' I can not fuss with it for maybe an hour, provided i'm only playing with my-husband-the-guitar-player. There's a guy in our group who insists his mandolin is never out of tune and there must be something wrong with mine because i'm always adjusting it. What he doesn't realize is I'm always adjusting it because it doesn't match with his and it drives me nuts. And if I match his, I don't match the whistles or that one fiddler who's going deaf and is always just a little off.

    speaking of not matching, I was at a session Wednesday with guys I play with on a regular basis and one of them never tunes -- not his banjo, not his fiddle -- his banjo is always (and I mean always) off. When we suggest he tune up while the rest of us tune, he'll make a couple of ear passes (I've never seen him use a tuner on the thing) and feel he's fine. Wednesday, everybody who has an instrument that tunes kept stopping and trying to tune up. One fiddler even left the circle to go some place quiet to tune up -- not good. I was dead on with my tuner but it didn't matter -- I eventually gave up and tuned the entire instrument sharp just to be able to sit next to this guy. For those of you who are assured in your ears, your tune-by-string-on-the-fifth-fret-or-whatever or other methods, please remember that age affects what you hear and if everybody around you is always tuning -- maybe it's you.
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  25. #21
    Registered User Timbofood's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tuning Question . . .

    Quote Originally Posted by Tobin View Post
    I have to tune up when I start playing, then after every couple of tunes. Can't go longer than that without it bothering me. But I'm picky on the fine tuning of the pairs. To me, tuning is never really stable.
    All right, I will admit Tobin is not the "Lone Ranger" when it comes to getting string pairs as close as humanly possible, I am the same way. If I opened the case right and woke the bear, I would need to twist his tail for a while before it got close then, pick for,a half an hour and go back in and retune. But, I'm not going to get that started right now. Maybe tomorrow.
    Timothy F. Lewis
    "If brains was lard, that boy couldn't grease a very big skillet" J.D. Clampett

  26. #22

    Default Re: Tuning Question . . .

    Aww, you all beat me to the Schrodinger's mandolin joke.

    To answer the question, I've had mine still be in tune the following day.

  27. #23

    Default Re: Tuning Question . . .

    Before every practice session or jam, and several times during, depending on the temp, humidity etc...

    Tim Obrein
    "I don't tune for me because I don't care. I tune for you because you care"

  28. #24
    Registered User mandolin breeze's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tuning Question . . .

    It's always amazed me to watch videos of say Grisman, Thile, Bush or any master playing live. Sometimes they'll just adjust a single string or two on the fly, mid song, maybe holding the instrument up a little closer to their ear, all the while everyone is miked to the hilt. It's amazing that first they can immediately realize a problem and second how effortlessly they can retune on the fly, mid song . . . and you know they nail the pitch. They want to sound perfect, these sessions, concerts, videos are now archived on YouTube and elsewhere forever . . . . thank goodness.

  29. #25
    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tuning Question . . .

    Not being so temperature or humidity change sensitive, like wood,
    My Carbon Fiber Mix A5 stays in tune an extraordinarily long time.







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