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question on getting a song sounding solid and in tune Virtual Instrument Plugins
Old 17th August 2007
  #1
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question on getting a song sounding solid and in tune

As I have been tracking an album of songs, my guitar just wouldn't stay perfectly in tune even with nit picking with the tuning and having perfect intonation. Putting delay on the guitars has helped a lot, but I've found that when I put over a piano layer playing the same part as the guitar (appregiating layering in a chorus for example), it makes the mix solid as the piano is perfectly in. The question, does anyone hear have a "choice" midi sound, sequence, or pad sound in general that you layer over a part to make the mix sounds more on (when guitars are slightly out of tune)? I would put piano over this song, except it's more of a rock song so the piano is not what I'm looking for on it...Let me know any suggestions..Thanks
Old 17th August 2007
  #2
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are the guitar strings actually going out of tune all the time or are the frets out of tune? (if the frets are out of tune, the open strings can sound perfect together, but fretted notes won't be in tune)

If the strings keep going out of tune it's probably because you have really old strings on the guitar. That or maybe your tuners are really loose? (there's a screw on the end of the pegs that you could tighten if that's the case).

If the frets are out of tune when the open strings are in tune, you need to have your guitar set up, which involves adjusting the truss rod and intonation.
Old 17th August 2007
  #3
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FYI- Truss rod does not adjust intonation, unless we are talking about having the strings pulled out of tune because they are too high.

Guitars are actually very tricky to tune, and the small compromises involved in the fabrication in a guitar can really pop out in a studio environment. Try tuning to the most common chord in the song rather than just the open strings, or find the best compromise between the two or three most common chords.

Try playing with a lighter touch, on both hands. Hard picking can pull strings sharp at the beginning of the note, and a heavy fretting hand can squeeze notes sharp between frets. There really is an art to studio guitar play, advanced techniques being strategic over-tightening of fret-hand fingers to purposely pull notes in and out of tune depending on the chord. Pretty crazy, but often necessary for simple clean chords.

What method are you using to set your intonation, btw? Also, has your nut been adjusted to optimal height. Factory shaped nuts are far too often much too high and can seriously skew the open to fretted string tuning relationship.

This is all before the fact stuff, though. Not much help if the tracking is done!
Old 17th August 2007
  #4
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You may want to look into a compensated nut. My guitar player had a hell of a time with his guitar being in tune - especially when mixed with keyboard instruments. It would measure up with numerous tuners and sounded great by itself, but in a mix certain chords or certain notes played off the B String would clash pretty bad. He had the best shop in town set it up twice and still it had notes that just didn't ring true. He had a compensated nut installed and it made a world of difference. There are a couple different models he looked into. For the life of me I can't remember the name of the one he decided on - the other one is Earvana. A Google search should find it for you.
Old 17th August 2007
  #5
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Yes, Everything is tracked. It's after the fact, but what exactly does a compensated nut do to help this out? I've had this guitar setup twice also. Seriously, the frets are all on way up the fret...The strings are fairly new...usually adding a layer of some keyboard part helps the mix big time sound in tune and the guitars sound more on...especially when the keyboard part is playing the same part as the guitar...
Old 17th August 2007
  #6
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https://www.earvana.com/technology.html

if you're putting a guitar straight up against a perfectly in tune synth keyboard, the earvana thing is probably a good investment.

but BE CAREFUL! once you have an earvana, you will NEVER be in tune with another guitar player unless they have the same setup!! so you might want to consider only doing that to your studio guitar when you do projects as such.

all guitars are slightly out of tune and we all just accept that, in fact it sounds good in some cases. maybe the problem is that your ears are too good and you've spent more time in the studio analyzing things than playing guitar. i don't know your situation. but ask other people what they think about the tuning. it might not be so bad. just some thoughts.
Old 17th August 2007
  #7
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New guitar
Old 17th August 2007
  #8
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After the fact all you can do is try to cover it up. Chorus or delay on the guitar can work as can layering another instrument as there will be a natural chorus between the 2 instruments. But once you notice the guitar is out of tune - each new song it will grate on your nerves even more. The music we are doing is country/folk and many times can't support dense mixes to cover up a flat sounding guitar.
I'm not a guitar player, luthier, or math major, but I understand the basics. Notes are perfectly divisible vibrations of the string. But for some reason different strings of the guitar vibrate slightly off of this perfect point. You can perfectly tune the 6 open strings, but certain combinations of open/fretted strings will be off. This usually isn't a big problem when played as a chord as they aren't off by enough to sound terribly flat, but when added to other instruments which are spot on such as most keyboards, the problem becomes more apparent. The compensated nut resembles an adjustable bridge where the saddles (I think that's what the string grooves are called) are not in a straight line, they are staggered. It's a mathmatical placement to even out the divisions of the frets. It's made a huge difference in our music. They have them for electrics and acoustics. You can usually tell if you need one if some chords seem in tune yet others do not.
As a keyboard player I can think of a couple other things that can cause similar issues.
1) Always use the same tuner for all your instruments including keyboards
2) Don't assume your keyboard is perfectly tuned.
A) Some sample libraries may have a sample that's not perfect
B) The keyboard itself may have been slightly detuned to match another instrument
C) A certain patch of the keyboard may have been detuned for the same reason
D) Pianos have 2 tuning standards, normal and stretch. If the guitar and piano get more out of tune when the piano plays high or low registers but not in the middle - it's set to stretch tuning. Many keyboards allow you to change this.
What ever the cause (and i'm betting it's the guitar nut) you need to find it and fix it.

Here's an article on it. Many more out there. Sorry I can't remember the other company name - My buddy liked it more than the Earvana - he tried both. Parker Guitars Forum - Compensated Nuts
Old 17th August 2007
  #9
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ScottyD's Avatar
 

Tune to the chord

I agree with statement about tuning to the most used chord of the song. I have an Ibanez guitar that I love even though the B string is a nightmare. But tuning to a chord for recording works great for me. It's not much of a live guitar but hey... I still like it.

-ScottyD
Old 17th August 2007
  #10
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This is going to be a dumb question, but when tuning to a chord, do you just play the whole chord (for example Barred B at the 7th fret) and tune each string in that chord exactly to the note it should specifically be on?
Old 17th August 2007
  #11
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ScottyD's Avatar
 

True, but if your intenation is out it can help mask the problem.

-ScottyD
Old 17th August 2007
  #12
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stoneroses6300 View Post
As I have been tracking an album of songs, my guitar just wouldn't stay perfectly in tune even with nit picking with the tuning and having perfect intonation. Putting delay on the guitars has helped a lot, but I've found that when I put over a piano layer playing the same part as the guitar (appregiating layering in a chorus for example), it makes the mix solid as the piano is perfectly in. The question, does anyone hear have a "choice" midi sound, sequence, or pad sound in general that you layer over a part to make the mix sounds more on (when guitars are slightly out of tune)? I would put piano over this song, except it's more of a rock song so the piano is not what I'm looking for on it...Let me know any suggestions..Thanks
No guitar (or piano or other conventional keyboard for that matter) will ever be perfectly in tune. If for no other reason than that they are equal-temperament instruments -- they use a mathmatical approximation of interval values in order to make scales work out in such a way that we can change keys, modulate, etc. (You can read forever on the science and art behind it.)

That said, properly setting up your guitar will help. Although some guitars can never get all that close.

Properly tuning your guitar will help. Some people go with a straight equal temperament tuning... which can leave some iffy chords in some positions. Other players will tune their guitar ever so slightly differently (by a hair, as it were) for different keys.

Technique can also play a big role.

If, after tuning your guitar as best you can, you find that things sound off, it may be your finger position that is bending strings slightly. More practice and careful listening to yourself is the key to fixing that. ALSO... you may find that somewhat heavier strings (be sure not to use too heavy a string for your guitar -- some inexpensive guitars will buckle under the pressure of very tight strings and even good guitars may be damaged by tuning too high or using really wrong strings.)

An advanced fingering technique sometimes finds experienced players compensating ever so slightly for problems with tuning by their own finger positioning, micro-bending if you will. Or you might find a player applying extra finger wiggle-vibrato to a note that's problematic.


With regard to disguising out of tuneness with delay and chorus and the like... I'm just shakin' my head here. If you have no other choice and have to keep a shaky part, OK, you have to do what you have to do. But putting FX on an out of tune guitar may disguise its out of tuneness but it's not going to make it sound good -- you'll just be wondering if the problem is the guitar or the FX. IMHO.

Anyohow, hopefully that's some stuff to think about.
Old 17th August 2007
  #13
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CoteRotie's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by jchas View Post
...Snip....

Here's an article on it. Many more out there. Sorry I can't remember the other company name - My buddy liked it more than the Earvana - he tried both. Parker Guitars Forum - Compensated Nuts
Was it Buzz Feiten? Buzz Feiten Tuning System

I've been considering this myself.

John
Old 17th August 2007
  #14
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jchas's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by CoteRotie View Post
Was it Buzz Feiten? Buzz Feiten Tuning System
John

Yep, that's it - thanks. Heres a picture to see what it looks like.

And Stoneroses, once you hear the difference you'll decide to scrap the FX, the layered keys, and erase the old takes and retrack, at least I did, it was worth the extra time and effort.
Old 17th August 2007
  #15
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CoteRotie's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by jchas View Post
Yep, that's it - thanks. Heres a picture to see what it looks like.

And Stoneroses, once you hear the difference you'll decide to scrap the FX, the layered keys, and erase the old takes and retrack, at least I did, it was worth the extra time and effort.
I hear it's pretty good. The Peterson strobe tuners support it. I'm not sure that "Buzz" is a good name for someone who's working around your frets, though heh

John
Old 17th August 2007
  #16
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ScottyD's Avatar
 

How much does a mod cost? How many guitars ship with the Buzz Feiten system?
Old 17th August 2007
  #17
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jchas's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by CoteRotie View Post
I'm not sure that "Buzz" is a good name for someone who's working around your frets, though heh
John
heh I was thinking the same thing but thought the guitar players would think it was one of the 'Keyboard Player Jabs'

As far as the cost. I think it depends on your local luthier. The part wasn't expensive.
Old 18th August 2007
  #18
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Unclenny's Avatar
If there are specific places that jump out at you you might consider using your favorite pitch correction software (judiciously) to soften the blow.
Old 18th August 2007
  #19
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kafka's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by theblue1 View Post
No guitar (or piano or other conventional keyboard for that matter) will ever be perfectly in tune. If for no other reason than that they are equal-temperament instruments -- they use a mathmatical approximation of interval values in order to make scales work out in such a way that we can change keys, modulate, etc. (You can read forever on the science and art behind it.)

Ding Ding Ding! We have a winnah!

Guitar and piano are often a real PITA to get in tune with each other, for the reason stated above. The solution is often a question of arrangement. i.e. careful construction of the parts so they don't conflict so obviously.
Old 19th August 2007
  #20
Well... by invoking equal temperament (as opposed to just intonation, which uses precise mathematically correct intervals but does not allow modulation in any conventional sense) I was more talking about how a piano or guitar can't, in a sense, even be in tune with itself (in important respects) because of the tradeoffs of equal-temperament.

But, for sure, guitars seem to all but defy ultra-precise intonation across the neck.

Even using harmonics as so many of us do to tune most of the strings can lead us off the proper equal-temperament pitch. An equal temperament perfect fourth is (a relatively small) 2 cents sharp (actually 1.96 cents) from a mathmatically precise just intonation perfect fourth. So, while our ear wants to pull us down to the "true" fourth, if we want the guitar to tune properly across the neck, we have to learn to tune the next string to a slightly out of tune interval that's about 2 cents sharp of what the harmonic suggests.

BTW, the fourth is among the closer approximations...

An equal tempered minor second is about 11.73 cents flat from the just intonation. A major seventh is the same interval sharp.

Here are the differences in cents between equal from the mathematically correct just intonation intervals:

equal temperament
unison: same
minor second: 11.73 flat
major second: 3.91 flat
minor third: 15.64 flat
major third: 13.69 sharp
fourth: 1.96 sharp
dim fifth: 17.85 sharp
fifth: 1.96 flat
minor sixth 13.69 flat
sixth: 15.64 sharp
minor seventh: 3.91 sharp
major seenth: 11.73 sharp
octave: same


Keep in mind that THIS is what we're accustomed to think of as "normal" because of the predominance of keyboards and guitars in our music.

But where musicians have freedom to hit "in between" the piano key notes, they typically shade their tone up or down (from the piano pitch) to better fit harmonically with other voices/instruments in the music. That's why the harmony from a good horn section or really tight singers can seem so unworldly... we're so accustomed to the unharmonic intervals that keyboards and guitars lock us into.

All the same, without equal-temperament, we wouldn't be able to modulate as we do now... most of our western music would be unplayable. Trade-offs.

There have been some attempts to create dynamic intonation systems for synthesizers. By "reading" the current harmonic context, such a system attempts to "recenter" the harmonies pitch wise in such a way that the harmonies are correct or at least closer but, in order to fit better with other instruments that may be using equal-temperament, the "center" of the harmony is moved slightly, pitchwise. Fascinating stuff but... probably a little beyond the topic of this thread. What was that topic, anyhow? Oh yeah...

heh
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