December 11, 2023

Tuning guitar – buying guitar

Look into my eyes, thats it, you are feeling sleepy. When you awake you will have perfect pitch!

I know we have talked about tunning your guitar and intonation, but that is really ONE thing you need to learn about, and that is also why I insist so much on it.

Years of using electronic tuners with lights live on stage means I’ve lost a bit of the natural ear skill – ’cause years ago we used to just get on with it and tune up. Anyway, if you’re a beginner use your ears , not the lights it’ll do you good. Alcohol tends to impair your judgement as well if you’re a novice too.

Lately Ive been slacking and throwing down songs as fast as I can without tuning up – just to preserve ideas – but, in any jam or live situation, playing out of tune is a criminal offence.

Now, if you’re having a problem with your tuning and intonation then maybe, just maybe, you’ve got a twisted guitar neck or you need the Buzz Feiten tuning system. So what I’m really trying to say is, when you go out to buy a guitar, get yourself a gem by looking to avoid the tuning – intonation problem that the B.F.S. addresses… because my Stratocaster sure doesn’t suffer from this problem, no way. Jose!

So, what is INTONATION?

Okay so here’s the deal regarding intonation. Intonation problems are created when the length of the guitar string is not precisely matched to the length of your guitar. Why does this matter? Well, when you play a guitar you are dividing the string into different lengths in the process of fretting notes, this causes the strings frequency to increase or decrease in an inverse relationship with the strings length.

Simply put if you play your E string at the twelfth fret – an octave above open string tuning – you are dividing the string in half. Now, if the division of the string isn’t exact then the pitch of the note will be out. That is why your electric guitar has moveable saddles in the bridge – so you can check and resolve intonation problems because nothing sounds more out of whack than skipping to the twelfth fret for a burn up and finding that all your notes are just a little bit flat or sharp.

SO, if you want to Test your Intonation, plug in your tuner and for each string perform the following actions:

1. Play the open string and make sure it is exactly in tune.

2. Play the same string at the twelfth threat and adjust your bridge saddles until the string is exactly in tune.

3. Play a harmonic at the twelfth fret and double check the tuning.

4. Repeat across all strings.

5. Start playing.


Jake Edwards

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *