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Mandolin harmonics for tuning

McGrath of Harlow 26 Apr 07 - 09:14 AM
Sugwash 26 Apr 07 - 09:36 AM
Grab 26 Apr 07 - 10:08 AM
McGrath of Harlow 26 Apr 07 - 12:58 PM
The Fooles Troupe 27 Apr 07 - 09:27 AM
Mark Clark 27 Apr 07 - 11:39 AM
Smokey. 15 Apr 11 - 11:06 PM
Smokey. 15 Apr 11 - 11:30 PM
The Fooles Troupe 15 Apr 11 - 11:52 PM
s&r 16 Apr 11 - 04:29 AM
Smokey. 16 Apr 11 - 04:41 PM
Smokey. 16 Apr 11 - 04:58 PM
Smokey. 16 Apr 11 - 05:07 PM
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Subject: Harmonics for tuning mandolin
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 26 Apr 07 - 09:14 AM

When I'm playing a guitar in standard tuning I often use the harmonics as a way of checking the tuning is right. (Fifth fret on the low E with 7th fret on the A, and so forth.)

Just now it occurred to m thta I don't know how to do that with strings in other tunings, more especially if I'm playing a mandolin.

Any advice on harmonics for mandolin and similar? Or for that matter for other tunings on guitar.


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Subject: RE: Mandolin harmonics for tuning
From: Sugwash
Date: 26 Apr 07 - 09:36 AM

The harmonics for tuning a mandolin (and tenor banjo) are found on the 7th and 12th frets i.e to tune the g string, hit the harmonic on the 7th fret then reference it with the 12th fret harmonic on the d string.

Hope that helps


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Subject: RE: Mandolin harmonics for tuning
From: Grab
Date: 26 Apr 07 - 10:08 AM

Same thing on guitar for dropped tunings.

Drop-D for example, 7th fret harmonic on low D against 12th on A. Or of course you can do 12th fret harmonic on low D against open higher D, or 5th fret on low D against 12th fret on higher D.

Or open G, DGDGBD for example. 5th on low D against 7th on low G, but then 7th on low G against 12th on middle G. And of course you can use open string, 12th fret and 5th fret harmonics too.

Graham.


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Subject: RE: Mandolin harmonics for tuning
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 26 Apr 07 - 12:58 PM

Thanks - I should have been able to work it out for myself, I suppose.

And of course the open string insted of the 12th fret would work as well, as Grab said there. Now I understand what fiddlers are always doing when they check their tuning.

They always say tuning by harmonics doesn't give quite the right result - but I've always found it sounds pretty good to me.


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Subject: RE: Mandolin harmonics for tuning
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 27 Apr 07 - 09:27 AM

"They always say tuning by harmonics doesn't give quite the right result"

Ah... temperment.... shhhh! :-)


;-)


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Subject: RE: Mandolin harmonics for tuning
From: Mark Clark
Date: 27 Apr 07 - 11:39 AM

Because, as Foolestroupe has mentioned, of temperament issues, only perfect fifths, unisons and octaves should be used for tuning. Fortunately, mandolins are tuned in fifths so this is no problem.

First, of course, your bridge must be in the right place. That is the harmonic a the twelfth fret must exactly match the fretted note at the twelfth fret. If that isn't so, your mandolin will never play in tune.

I keep a digital tuner in my mandolin case to use in loud situations but it's really a second choice. To begin, be sure each string is within a semitone or so of correct pitch. This is so the instrument will already have distributed the string tension and you won't have to spend time retuning strings you've already tuned.

If you are in a situation where you can hear to tune you want to tune the A string to an audible pitch reference such as a good quality tuning fork or the A reference tone on your electronic metronome. Listen for the "beat," the wavy sound you get when two sounds are close but not exactly together. Tune the beat completely out of the third string and the tune the fourth string to match it.

Now, making sure the first string is slightly flat rather than sharp, play the first and third strings together and listen for the beat. Even though they are not the same note, you will hear a beat as they approach the perfect fifth interval. Tune the beat to "zero" as before then tune the second string to match the first.

Repeat this procedure with the fifth and sixth pairs using the A string as a reference. The G string cannot be tuned against the A string in this way but must be tuned against the D string so make certain the D string is correct.

When all the strings have been tuned, you can strike a harmonic on the G string at the fifth fret and it should match the G note played on the E string at the third fret. Don't use this harmonic to tune, only as as rough check on the whole process. If it's off, check the perfect fifth intervals between adjacent pairs again. If they are correct, your bridge may not be in the right place after all. Either that or your fretboard is incorrect.

      - Mark


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Subject: RE: Mandolin harmonics for tuning
From: Smokey.
Date: 15 Apr 11 - 11:06 PM

If you tune by comparing the 12th fret harmonic with the 7th fret harmonic of the next string up, starting at the bottom, you'll end up with a top string that is 5.88 cents too sharp. Or if you go backwards you'll have a flat bottom - take your choice.

I'd explain why, but I can hear Foolestroupe gnashing his teeth.


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Subject: RE: Mandolin harmonics for tuning
From: Smokey.
Date: 15 Apr 11 - 11:30 PM

I'll say that properly:

If you tune by comparing the 7th fret harmonic with the 12th fret harmonic of the next string up, starting at the bottom, you'll end up with a top string that is 5.88 cents too sharp. Or if you go backwards you'll have a flat bottom - take your choice.


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Subject: RE: Mandolin harmonics for tuning
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 15 Apr 11 - 11:52 PM

"if you go backwards you'll have a flat bottom"

Ah so that's how Flat Bottom Blues originated ...


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Subject: RE: Mandolin harmonics for tuning
From: s&r
Date: 16 Apr 11 - 04:29 AM

Try this test to see if you can hear five cents difference,

Stu


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Subject: RE: Mandolin harmonics for tuning
From: Smokey.
Date: 16 Apr 11 - 04:41 PM

No problem Stu, but whether one could detect that within a mix of instruments is a moot point..


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Subject: RE: Mandolin harmonics for tuning
From: Smokey.
Date: 16 Apr 11 - 04:58 PM

9/10 on the scoring, but I find the descending ones much more obvious than the ascending. I can hear 2 cents going down ok, but not up. Of course, that test is not the same as hearing the two simultaneously, when it becomes very obvious. It's a useful gauge of the ear's fussiness though.


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Subject: RE: Mandolin harmonics for tuning
From: Smokey.
Date: 16 Apr 11 - 05:07 PM

Hmm, on taking their advice, it's considerably clearer through headphones - 5s are obvious, 2s = 8/10, 1s = 6/10 (probably luck, but I think I can hear the downs). Still, the downs are clearer than the ups and I know of no reason for that.


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