Tuning and Intonation

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by Slide-o-Maniac, Jan 12, 2018.


Do you prefer to use your ear or an electronic tuners when tuning up?

  1. I only ever use an electronic tuner.

  2. I never use an electronic tuner.

  3. My instrument was tuned at the factory before I bought it.

  4. My tuning slide is welded tight.

    0 vote(s)
  1. 4th Cornet

    4th Cornet Active Member

    Players also play with different bands / orchestras / ensembles so instruments need to be tuned for the particular scenario.

    My experience is that tuning up happens after the band has warmed up if the MD notices tuning problems that haven't already been corrected by individual players. Experienced players that play with multiple bands, usually know broadly whether they need to change their slides for any particular band.

    (I played a few painful and frustrating rehearsals under one MD who would often tune the band about 3/4 of the way through the rehearsal. This was a scratch band made up from players from several other bands so being tuned early should have been recognised as an essential early activity.)
    Slider1 likes this.
  2. ari01

    ari01 Active Member

    So do I but they are marked with a pencil line
    Slide-o-Maniac likes this.
  3. Suzi Q

    Suzi Q Member

    Oh, now that’s an idea! Brilliant!
    ari01 likes this.
  4. 4th Cornet

    4th Cornet Active Member

    After a while a tarnish(?) line appears too.
    dennis78, Jack E and ari01 like this.
  5. Slide-o-Maniac

    Slide-o-Maniac New Member

    Haha. Yes, but by then the slide is probably stuck fast.
    Suzi Q likes this.
  6. Suzi Q

    Suzi Q Member

    :D;) I hope not, or I’ll never get the water out o_O
  7. Slider1

    Slider1 Active Member

    You could always try turning the instrument upside down two three times ( water should then find an escape route), works on all instruments but harder on Basses
    dennis78 likes this.
  8. Suzi Q

    Suzi Q Member

    I tend to twizzle it round in circles, imagining where the water has probably got up to, seems to mostly work!
    Slider1 likes this.
  9. rootertooter

    rootertooter New Member

    That is the best way I ever found of expelling water on a Baritone.
    Suzi Q likes this.
  10. Jack E

    Jack E Well-Known Member

    It does on mine, even though I clean and grease the slides every time I oil the valves - once a week (so they never stick!)

    Suzi Q likes this.
  11. Queeg2000

    Queeg2000 Active Member

    I was having a nightmare over Christmas playing a flugelhorn outside in the cold. My F# was very sharp indeed, though B natural was pretty good. Of course being on the second valve, you can only pull the slide out a tiny bit before it falls out and even then your palm tends to push it back in as you play, so splitting the difference and playing B a bit flat and F# a bit less sharp wasn't working either.

    The strange thing was, when we played indoors, it was a lot better. I've no switched to cornet so not a problem, though I would like to sort the flugelhorn out if possible. I'm suspecting it's not possible though and serves me right for buying cheap.
  12. Tom-King

    Tom-King Well-Known Member

    Which F# and which B are we talking about, here?
  13. Queeg2000

    Queeg2000 Active Member

    F# on the bottom space of the stave. B below the stave and on the B line were both acceptable. There's always a degree of lipping a note in with a flugelhorn, but the F# wasn't lipping that much. Don't recall any F# on the top line of the stave, so not sure how well or badly that was pitched.
  14. Euphonium Lite

    Euphonium Lite Active Member

    I use both. Whilst in a "live" situation you cant check each note electronically, there are times (eg looking at solving intonation issues across the band) where it can be useful. Its also handy to be able to show a player how far theyre actually "out" or in cases where theres a bit of doubt as to where the note should ACTUALLY be
    Other times I'll just use my ears. When playing its ears, lip, slides and tuning slide trigger. If I double check stuff at home I'll use the tuner but its not often I can be bothered to get it out of its case

    On the other options, those that play neos seem to be most likely to claim that their instrument has "perfect intonation" and therefore doesnt need adjusting in my experience, and I know several players who either dont know where their tuning slide is, or cant move it. Occasionally both. And there is no excuse for that
  15. Euphonium Lite

    Euphonium Lite Active Member

    2nd valve notes probably are one of the worst in cases where the instrument and player cant get in tune totally.

    1) - If your instrument has a tuning slide trigger - and theres plenty of higher brass now have these - then you can bring the note downward by using that (only works if youre sharp)
    2) - If it hasnt got a mainslide trigger, then try playing f# on all 3 - it will almost certainly need a lot of trigger (3rd and 1st if equipped) or the slides pulling (if no triggers) as you'll likely be very sharp now - if you were a long way out in the 1st place it may be still difficult to sort
    3) - Bs can be played on 1&3 for the middle one - less sharp naturally than the F# but will still need triggering. Lower b's there is no alternative
  16. sop@55

    sop@55 Member

    And I thought my flu was bad enough to commit hari kari..........
  17. Mello

    Mello Active Member

    Just as a matter of interest.. I have played as a soloist with Bands of all sections , countless times ( certainly well into the 100's ). I confess to never having formally tuned up with my accompanying band in the normal sense ( ie with a tuning note from another player or machine ). Some players ( not all I grant ) seem almost obsessed with the procedure.....and often its not been necessary . Obviously within a band there has to be compromises , specially with children and leaky instruments , but once a general sound is established as a unison pitch - that has to suffice.

    I have observed many bands tuning up which has proved an exasperating experience, simply cos they tune up in a manner which is more often than not very unreliable. I do not claim to have perfect pitch .
    They usually start by Mr principal Cnt holding a C , the 2nd man then plays alongside -adjusts if out of tune, and if in tune stops to be replaced by the 3rd man joining the Principal . & so it goes on.

    As has been said in an earlier post , a good player with a reasonable ear will aim for the set note and usually is in tune, Therein lies the problem. Even when a player has been adjusted & played together it sounds ok ,,, there is a big chance they will be out of tune when starting a piece. A very famous conductor used to state the obvious . When a player plays a note solo, without hearing it first , it can often be either sharp or flat ....but when hearing it held is often reasonably in tune.. So he used to tune the band ( all fine players ) thus.

    Every player in the band should get their instruments warm & keep them warm until directed. Every player will be asked randomly , to play a crotchet C ( or G ) when pointed to .and then ONLY a crotchet ...no longer .
    Player one also only plays a crotchet . Then the MD simply goes along the rank or round the band as above.
    The affect will probably sound like fat . forte quavers .....ie purp . parp . peep , parp , purp!
    It will be VERY obvious who is sharp or flat, and the MD doesnt spend time , he simply says to each player as he moves along flat , sharp , flat , ok etc without stopping , then he will just go back to the various suspects , randomly again after the offending players have altered their slides.

    He took the view that when a player strikes a note (say a minim ) he will hold it at the pitch he strikes it at . THAT strike (or start ) is the point where the tuning should be measured , not at the end . Once satisfied, all are striking 'in tune' then he will just do a couple of chords. inverting at will . and off we go . ten minutes at the very most ...all done.
    Just thought I would pass it on as it always seemed to work , even the final polishing reh before the RAH contest, (if he thought it necessary), but as I said earlier all were good players.
    No doubt there will be many who dont agree , thats fine, stick with what you believe best - even with machines , it is not my place to say whats right or wrong.
    Cheers Mello
    Leveridge96, GER, ari01 and 4 others like this.
  18. euphfiend

    euphfiend New Member

    If you tune a chord with an electronic tuner e.g CEGC with each person playing their note so the tuner is bang in the middle, the result will only be in tune in the way that a piano is in tune, i.e. in equal temperament. That doesn't actually sound very nice, because equal tempered intervals are different to the perfect intervals that we're aiming for. A third for example should be a ratio of 5:4 between the two notes. If you set the C to be spot on with a tuner, you will find that an equal tempered E is about 17 cents sharp of the perfect 5:4 ratio and will be audibly discordant - you will hear some beating between the two pitches. Drop the pitch and the beats will disappear and the third will start to ring. But your new "in tune" E will be woefully flat if you want to use it as the tonic of an E chord. It will also not be right if you want it to be the fifth in a B chord. Equal temperament solves this problem by using the 12th root of two as a device to break the octave up into 12 equal steps. But this really means that everything is equally out of tune. As someone else said, the tuner is a good source of information and not with out value. But unless you're aware that the correct pitch of a note depends on its position in the chord, it will lead you astray. Unless you want to sound like a piano, and you really don't.
  19. Kiz7

    Kiz7 Member

  20. 4th Cornet

    4th Cornet Active Member

    Did you mean fourth? Great explanation btw (trusting that it's correct as written with authority :)) - thanks.
    mikelyons likes this.