Tuning methods

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There are a number of ways to tune your musical instrument. This article compares the various methods.

Tune by ear

This method involves using a source to provide a known frequency, such as a tuning fork, and adjusting the instrument by ear until it sounds the same as the known frequency.

There are many web sites that will play the pitch for many different instruments and enable you to tune your instrument this way.

This option is available on the Supernifty Audio Tuner Software, however, I recommend it be used only as verification, rather than a primary tuning method - see the disadvantages of this method below.

Advantages

  • Web sites and software galore that offer this tuning method.

Disadvantages

  • You need your PC or tuning fork handy to tune up
  • This method relies on the user's ear to pick the correct frequency - many people have trouble with this method as they don't have a great ear for pitch
  • If the instrument is well out of tune, it becomes even more difficult; the user can end up tuning to one of the instrument's harmonics.
  • This method relies on the accuracy of your soundcard. At higher frequencies, soundcards tend to get increasingly inaccurate. Unless you have an expensive soundcard, expect a loss of precision.

Tune instrument to itself

Most stringed instruments can be tuned to themselves. If you are happy with one string, then you can tune the other strings based on this string.

Advantages

  • No equipment required

Disadvantages

  • Relies on the user's ear for accuracy - picking small differences in pitch is hard for most people.
  • Any inaccuracy in tuning tends to cumulate on each string.
  • You need some other tuning method to get the first string correct - otherwise you'll be out of tune compared to every other musician.

Tune via frequency analysis

This method uses software to listen to your instrument and perform frequency analysis to determine the pitch of your musical instrument.

This is the most accurate and reliable method for tuning up a musical instrument.

The tuning devices you see in the music shops rely on this method. Supernifty's Audio Tuner Software uses this method in combination with the power of today's PCs to provide super accurate tuning.

Advantages

  • Most accurate and reliable tuning method
  • It doesn't matter if you aren't good at picking pitch

Disadvantages

  • You need your PC nearby to tune up (unless your mobile is compatible with Audio Tuner Mobile)

Supernifty's Audio Tuner Software is free software that gives you both the first and third methods of tuning your musical instrument. Try it out!