Guitar tuners have certainly made a guitarist’s life easier. Tuning your guitar by hearing only is really difficult for beginners. On the other hand, professionals cannot allow themselves to tune badly since their performance is crucial to their career. Guitar tuners come in all shapes and sizes, making it a hard choice for purchase.
Have you ever wondered how a guitar tuner works and how is it able to measure exactly how close you are to a certain tone?
Not all tuners work on the same principle and there are many different types which utilize different methods. However, they all share the same functionality. Clip on tuners sort of work in a different way since they do not record the sound.
Guitar Tuners Measure Frequency
In order to understand how a guitar tuner works, you firstly need to know what does it measure. It does not exactly understand the sound that a certain string produces. Guitar tuners measure the sound’s frequency.
Frequency represents the total number of wave peaks which go through a fixed point in a certain time period. Frequency is represented in Hertz (Hz). It is a unit which represents the total number of wave crests passing in one second.
People are only able to hear sounds whose frequencies range from 8 to 14,000 Hz. Different animals have different ranges of sounds they can hear. For example, a dog whistle produces a sound which is very loud to dogs, yet barely audible by humans.
What Does Our Tuner Tell Us?
Each note is represented by a specific frequency. For instance, the A note above middle C is always 440 Hz. Middle C’s frequency is around 261.626 Hz. Each note has its corresponding frequency, even sharps and flats.
Their frequencies are fixed and they do not differ from guitar to guitar. A guitar tuner is able to correctly identify the frequency a certain note produces and compare the frequency it recorded with the frequency that specific note should really have.
If you strum a string and if the frequency the guitar tuner records match the fixed frequency for that note, that means that the note is in tune. On the other hand, if the frequency of the note is a little higher or lower than our required frequency, the guitar tuner will show that note as being sharp or flat.
Most tuners utilize a series of LED displays which show some light signals to represent your tune. If the note is slightly flat, the light will show somewhere near the center, with the center representing the note being in tune.
However, a very flat note will occur very far away from the center and the guitar tuner can even in recognize it as a completely different note.
This occurs because a very flat note has its frequency completely changed and it can appear as a whole different note to the tuner. Some tuners use different colored light to represent flat, sharp, and in-tune notes. Digital tuners offer a more modern approach by displaying the frequency measured and the frequency required.
How to Use a Tuner
Tuners usually have a microphone built-in in order to register sounds coming from an acoustic guitar. In order to tune an acoustic guitar, you need to stay in a quiet area with little or no background noise.
However, an electric guitar needs to be connected to the tuner using the standard guitar cable because an unplugged electric guitar is simply not loud enough. In order to tune your guitar, play an open note and wait for your tuner to register its frequency.
Read the tuner as explained above and determine if it needs tuning. If it does, tighten or loosen the string until you tune it perfectly. Repeat the process for every string.
The tuning process is vital for beginners and professionals alike. A beginner needs to practice tuning his guitar as it will have a great impact on his playing. Being able to feel whether your guitar is perfectly tuned is a feeling which comes from days and days of practice.
On the other hand, professionals need to take care of every detail when it comes to their performance. Simple mistakes cannot happen to a professional and that is why they need a good, accurate tuner to fulfill all their needs.