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Thread: Wet Tuning?

  1. #1
    Registered User red7flag's Avatar
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    Default Wet Tuning?

    Could somebody describe in detail, both the concept and the how to for mandolin? If somebody has a sound bite that demonstrates wet tuning that would be awesome.
    Thanks in advance.
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    Registered User Charles E.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: Wet Tuning?

    Here is a discussion from 2008...

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/a...p/t-40948.html

    I had not heard that term before. I guess it does not mean tuning your mandolin in the rain.
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  4. #3

    Default Re: Wet Tuning?

    I watched a doc on ZZ Top where they talked about how Gibbons got that signature guitar tone from doing something very similar- he double tracked his rhythm guitar and before the second track, the engineer lightly tweaked each tuner.

    With double-course strings on a mandolin, I imagine itís similar: have one string slightly off perfect pitch? Chorus-y effect? Bear in mind: Iím very new to the instrument.

  5. #4

    Default Re: Wet Tuning?

    Haven't looked into this seriously for a long time.
    All I can remember about it is that you want to tune all the lower strings of each pair (nearest the floor) down by say 2 Hz or as you hear the third note/ vibration increase in frequency. The third note frequency is very important, so adjust to taste and strange things will happen.
    Then the third, very low frequency note, 2+Hz, has a relationship as the fraction of the frequency of the root of the key you’re playing in, it has a relationship to the tempo you’re going to play in, a relationship to the size of the room you’re in (one of the texts I read about it described a church and it’s organ with paired pipes, even sound reflecting from a crowd of people half way across the church can have an effect, and the listener’s position),
    and the difference between the strings in each pair should increase/decrease from course 1-4, something to do with strings not being infinitely thin? -they are actually tubes that vibrate.
    -it’s interesting, good luck. If you find anything please post it here.

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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Wet Tuning?

    Usually refers to accordions which have two reeds per note and wet would be like what Simon DS describes above. Never heard it for mandolin but it is possible.
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    Default Re: Wet Tuning?

    If my pairs are ever within 5cents of each other even while I am tuning, let alone through half of one song...........it is strictly by dumb luck. I asked Peter Ostroushko something about that years ago. His response was "Do you want to spend your time tuning or playing?"

    Not saying it doesn't work.....in theory. In practice keeping everybody just close enough to perfect tuning on their own instrument likely causes that effect all by itself.

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  10. #7
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    Default Re: Wet Tuning?

    Usually refers to accordions which have two reeds per note and wet would be like what Simon DS describes above. Never heard it for mandolin but it is possible.
    Exactly correct. I play accordion and have tuned many accordions in addition to my own so know all about this. A wet sounding accordion has the reeds tuned slightly apart so you can hear the beat. How "wet" it sounds depends on how far apart the reeds are tuned and thus how fast the beats are. As the reeds are tuned closer together the beats get slower and you get the "dry" accordion sound. Tuning the reeds can make a huge difference to the sound of an accordion.
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  12. #8
    Gummy Bears and Scotch BrianWilliam's Avatar
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    Default Re: Wet Tuning?

    Nice to know: all my instruments are wet tuned.

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  14. #9

    Default Re: Wet Tuning?

    Check out some of the guys who post vids on Song A Week, it gives the instrument a fuller, medieval or Eastern European sort of tone, and works well on octaves.
    You can even hear it on old fretboards as you move up the neck on one string, but it’s much more pronounced and effective if all the strings are ‘out’ by the same amount. You will get a certain tuning where the volume is maximum but the sustain drops, and tremolo can be quite strident.
    I first heard about this in the ‘70’s from a English guy I knew who played exotic scales on the 12 string guitar, maybe it’s a long scale thing.
    Enjoy!
    Last edited by Simon DS; Nov-09-2020 at 6:42pm.

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    Registered User Bob Clark's Avatar
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    Default Re: Wet Tuning?

    Quote Originally Posted by BrianWilliam View Post
    Nice to know: all my instruments are wet tuned.
    I've had days when mine are tuned like a monsoon!
    Purr more, hiss less.

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  17. #11
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    Default Re: Wet Tuning?

    The "Echo Harp" harmonica works with double reeds tuned slightly apart. The resultant interference between the peaks of sound waves from the two reeds produces a "warbling" effect that's quite distinctive. I've only heard "wet" tuning for free reed instruments, but any instrument with two sound-producing strings, reeds, etc. that are generally tuned in unison, can get the effect by slightly raising or lowering one of the pairs.

    Should not be confused with tuning one of the mandolin paired strings to harmony with the other, as in Monroe's Get Up John tuning. I used to raise one of my A strings to C# for Reuben's Train. Broke a few that way.
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    Default Re: Wet Tuning?

    Get a Peterson Strobe tuner, then you can either be very in tune, or as discussed slightly outa tune.
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    '`'`'`'`'`'`'`'`'`'`' Jacob's Avatar
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    Default Re: Wet Tuning?

    In very large marching bands, we used wet tuning, slightly out of tune with each other, to make the brass sections sound even bigger.
    Not sure Sousa would've approved.

  20. #14
    Registered User John Kelly's Avatar
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    Default Re: Wet Tuning?

    Quote Originally Posted by BrianWilliam View Post
    Nice to know: all my instruments are wet tuned.
    Nice one, Brian. I often hear it in pub sessions as the evening progresses and temperature and humidity change as the evening goes on. We call it "Pub Tuning"!

    Seriously, Scottish and French accordion players have a fondness for the Musette tuning, where the instrument has (usually) triple reeds for each note, tuned one in pitch and the other two slightly above and slightly below, giving a "beat". As Allan Hopkins said, Some harmonicas are tuned this way - I have a couple I use for playing Scottish waltzes.
    Last edited by John Kelly; Nov-10-2020 at 5:00am. Reason: typos
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    but that's just me Bertram Henze's Avatar
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    Default Re: Wet Tuning?

    two oscillations with slightly apart frequencies produce one oscillation with a tone frequency between the two and an enveloping volume modulation (pulse) whose frequency is equal to the difference of both.
    The tightrope walk for tuning a mando this way is to make the pulse fast enough to be barely audible, but not too fast (making an unpleasant shrill noise). This is also the secret behind the sound of western saloon pianos that have been shot at a sufficient number of times.
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  23. #16
    Be Wild Zach Wilson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Wet Tuning?

    This time of year here in Seattle everything is wet. It'll dry out in 6 months or so... probably around the fourth of July

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    Registered User Drew Egerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Wet Tuning?

    drives me absolutely nuts when my pairs are not in tune with each other. Guess I prefer my mandolin dry
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  26. #18

    Default Re: Wet Tuning?

    Quote Originally Posted by Drew Egerton View Post
    drives me absolutely nuts when my pairs are not in tune with each other. Guess I prefer my mandolin dry
    Me too, in fact that’s one of the reasons I bought the octave I play.
    If a pick an open G D A or e note then it’s really centred on that particular note, not even much octave or upper fifths resonance. In fact in that sense (to my ears) it sounds like a mandolin.
    Wet tuning can be great in the winter though -the occasional slow, sombre and tragic G minor or D minor medieval tune.
    Just a couple of doublestops in this tuning and noone’s smiling in the audience.

  27. #19
    but that's just me Bertram Henze's Avatar
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    Default Re: Wet Tuning?

    Quote Originally Posted by Simon DS View Post
    Just a couple of doublestops in this tuning and noone’s smiling in the audience.
    I am. Exactly my cup of tea.
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  29. #20
    Registered User foldedpath's Avatar
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    Default Re: Wet Tuning?

    Quote Originally Posted by Simon DS View Post
    Me too, in fact thatís one of the reasons I bought the octave I play.
    If a pick an open G D A or e note then itís really centred on that particular note, not even much octave or upper fifths resonance. In fact in that sense (to my ears) it sounds like a mandolin.
    I've been playing my OM a bit more lately. Before the pandemic it didn't get much love because I don't bring it to sessions, but now I'm able to get a little practice in on instruments like this that I only play at home.

    Something I've been noticing is how the OM has a degree of "zing" in the tone that isn't in my mandolin, even when I'm taking a lot of time to get the pairs in unison with a Peterson StroboFlip tuner. The mandolin has a very pure tone, I only hear single notes when it's carefully tuned. The OM buzzes a little. And no, it isn't fret buzz or poor intonation, the setup is about as perfect as it can be.

    I think it's mainly due to the longer scale (22") and more flexible strings. The pick attack gets the unison string pairs oscillating a tiny bit against each other, no matter how carefully you tune them. The zing or buzz is reminiscent of the sound of the pipes, and I love that for playing the slower Irish and Scottish tunes. I wouldn't call it "wet" though, because that implies an intentional tuning to get the effect.

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  31. #21

    Default Re: Wet Tuning?

    I try to get that plonk sound by picking into the octave. I’m guessing that if you strum across the body of the instrument instead of into it, then there’s more chance the strings will hit each other, also if the pick arrives slowly then the two strings will be released to vibrate into each other?

  32. #22
    Registered User Eric Platt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Wet Tuning?

    Quote Originally Posted by foldedpath View Post
    I've been playing my OM a bit more lately. Before the pandemic it didn't get much love because I don't bring it to sessions, but now I'm able to get a little practice in on instruments like this that I only play at home.

    Something I've been noticing is how the OM has a degree of "zing" in the tone that isn't in my mandolin, even when I'm taking a lot of time to get the pairs in unison with a Peterson StroboFlip tuner. The mandolin has a very pure tone, I only hear single notes when it's carefully tuned. The OM buzzes a little. And no, it isn't fret buzz or poor intonation, the setup is about as perfect as it can be.

    I think it's mainly due to the longer scale (22") and more flexible strings. The pick attack gets the unison string pairs oscillating a tiny bit against each other, no matter how carefully you tune them. The zing or buzz is reminiscent of the sound of the pipes, and I love that for playing the slower Irish and Scottish tunes. I wouldn't call it "wet" though, because that implies an intentional tuning to get the effect.
    Yes, getting the same sort of thing on my OM even though it's just 20" scale. Thing is, I hear it, but others don't. Just heard a recording from a couple of weeks ago and while I could hear the instrument just fine in a group setting, it had none of that specific zing. Sometimes I think our ears are just too used to something needing to sound a certain way, and when it doesn't, even if it's fine, then it sounds wrong.

    Will admit to sometimes not tuning as critically when playing with certain accordions. Just because I don't think I sound as good when am trying to get it dead on when the other instrument is naturally off a touch.
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  33. #23

    Default Re: Wet Tuning?

    Peterson has a "sweetener" for mandolin, but I haven't used it. Does anyone know if it is intended to produce a wet effect?
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    Registered User Bob Clark's Avatar
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    Default Re: Wet Tuning?

    Quote Originally Posted by Drew Egerton View Post
    Guess I prefer my mandolin dry
    Just as I prefer my wine.
    Purr more, hiss less.

  35. #25
    Registered User foldedpath's Avatar
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    Default Re: Wet Tuning?

    Quote Originally Posted by standing.wav View Post
    Peterson has a "sweetener" for mandolin, but I haven't used it. Does anyone know if it is intended to produce a wet effect?
    I have a few newer Peterson tuners with that "sweetened" mandolin tuning but I've never been able to figure out what it's supposed to do, and I can't hear any improvement in the tunes I normally play when trying it.

    On a short scale instrument like mandolin, tuning is so finicky that "sweetened" tunings that might be useful for longer scale instruments like guitars and basses are probably not all that useful here. Maybe a dive into the Cafe archives will reveal something about it.

    The only Peterson sweetened tuning I've ever found useful is the perfect 3rds for Dobro slide guitar. when tuned open E or D. That one really works, but it's a whole different universe than those of us using fretted instruments designed for 12TET tuning.

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