Tuning machine or not?

Should bands be tuned up using an electronic tuner?

  • Total voters


Active Member
they tend to come in useful at trombone sectionals... any moves between 1st and 5th position can cause horrible tuning problems, so getting them to play the 2 notes till they get them in tune can help them work out where their arm needs to be...

(i just busk it... :oops: )
conductors tuners

alot of electronic tuners have a pitch-adjustment device on them somewhere...find your conductors and do your best for a fantastic bandroom prank

This is just nasty. Us conductors do everything we can to help the band and all you do is pick on us.

Extra practice for you

Poor bubby conductor want to have a cry :( :(

:evil: :evil: :evil: :evil: :evil: :evil: :evil: :evil: :evil: :evil: :evil: :evil: :evil: :evil: :evil: :evil: :evil: :evil: :evil: :evil: :evil:

Will the Sec

Active Member
I will always use one if it's available.

Some reasons -

If you use the attachment then it doesn't matter so much if people are yakking whilst you're tuning.

Even after many moons of being in bands, when I thought something was a smidgen sharp, a person who's counsel I trust would sit there shaking his head, believing it was flat.

Also, they're useful for showing people how much a note they play is varying (Beecham:- "Gentlemen, take your pick") though admittedly I used this tactic as an absolute last resort.

I found that over a protracted period that Fulham routinely and comfortably tuned 15% flat based on 440.


And as a PS - the glock provider said we should take it back! Must remind the committee about this...
Australian Euphonium said:

Poor bubby conductor want to have a cry :( :(

i dont need to cry, only when listening to you play.
:lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:

Okiedokie of Oz

Active Member
I agrffee with the general concensus. I try to avoid using it as much as possible unless contest is fast approaching, or I am coming down heavy on tuning and listening.

However I can usually tell where my tuning problems are going to lie, because I feel I know my band.

My BBb bass player is incessantly sharp, especially when he goes low. WHAT GOOD IS THAT TO ME!?!?!?!??! :roll:

I have a eupho player who, although is starting to lift his game considerably, tend to play flat.

The other eupho player, and one of my solo cornets (deputy conductor) most tent to play iinitially sharp to a tuner. However, when playing a passage they'r generally intune. Too m,uch lip, and not enough air I say to them. Blow the instrument ALL the way through and it will almost tune itself!

2 of my tenor horns, as well as my 3rd cornet player are flat on the Concert Bb and but sharp on the Eb (horn) or F (Cornet). The horns have worked out that if they listen, they can generally bend these notes in, provided I tune them in a way to find the compromise betweent he 2 extremes. The cornet player......it's the same kids as the one I made mention about the no marching practices. He's thee in body, but never in spirit.


I did a West End show where one of the horn players was a tuner obsessive. He had worked out a system of fingering on his 5 valved instrument that made every note totally perfect according to the tuner. He was so righteous about his tuning that he wouldn't accommodate anyone else's tuning, and was a nightmare to work with. He gradually went mad (that can happen in long running shows) and ended up with no friends.
In an ensemble situation tuning doesn't have absolute fixed values, but relies on constant monitoring and co-operation between the players.

Brass instrument design has to be a compromise in terms of tuning. The notes that come out of a brass tube will never be exactly in line with "equal temperament" (beware of manufacturers who claim otherwise). Trying to play them while moitoring the pitch with a sensitive visual device is dis-spiriting. I've seen lots of (particulary trumpet) players trade in instruments that would have been perfectly OK if they had just got on with listening and monitoring the pitch aurally.

Having said all that, some ot the 3rd section bands I listened to the other weekend seemed to be happy hitting general target areas rather than notes! Perhaps a tuner might awaken some sort of awareness in certain individuals. :D


Active Member
but surely we wouldn't want to be perfectly on pitch every time... I'm almost sure I'm not going mad when I say that certain notes would want to be slightly sharper or flatter depending on where they are in the chord.

Dave Payn

Active Member
Okiedokie of Oz said:
I agrffee with the general concensus. I try to avoid using it as much as possible unless contest is fast approaching,

Won't that, just as a contest is approaching, go and upset the tuning you've become used to as an ensemble? What do you do for concerts?


Active Member
I personally don't like them. Think using them to check the person the band is tuning up to is one thing (right on 440 etc). But isn't good tuning all about listening? If the players can't listen and hear how in tune they are relative to one player, on one note, how can they listen when playing in the ensemble? So surely the learning should start there with the tuning up. If conductors can't tune 2 players relative to one note.....then that is not a good sign either!! :shock:


Active Member
sparkling_quavers said:
Think using them to check the person the band is tuning up to is one thing (right on 440 etc)

Tuning to a person means that you are trusting that the band is tuning up to is able to play exactly the same frequency repeatedly.

Try this. Get a tuner with a visual scale. Challenge anyone in your band to play the same note ten times in a row and see how big the differences are. I think you'll be surprised how much variation is present from most players.

So, I have no problem with using something other than one of the brass players to sound the standard pitch and then tuning relative to that pitch (I personally favor using the bells, because they can't change pitch to match the band).

Of course, tuning of any kind is only approximate - there's no substitute for the ear in actual performance.


Thanks for your replies so far (Keep them coming).
My own view is yes they are good but only to a certain point, I certainly wouldn't use one all of the time.
I try to teach bands to listen (doesn't always work with younger members). If someone is out of tune I will very often ask them if they think that they are sharp or flat and get them to move their slide accordingly, then ask them if it sounds better or worse to them and get them to move their slide again if needed.
I also try to teach about how different atmospheric conditions etc. can affect an instrument, so that they are aware that having the slide put in one place does not mean that the instrument is in tune for the rest of their playing lives.
Listening is the key to good tuning/intonation, and I expect that there are a lot of conductors out there that do the same as me and that is to use a tuner only when you want to double check the general tuning or to use it for speed on occassions.
To be honest, if I was a conductor who had to rely on a tuner all of the time, I would ask myself, what am I doing in the job if I can't hear properly?
Tuners are useful, but should not be subject to over use (in my opinion that is).


As a player I have found a tuner useful. I don't use it all the time I just use it now and again to take a look at the "open notes" to determine if I have a tendency to play sharp or flat. Doesn't help in the band if you don't listen to other players and try to play in tune but gives me a guide as in which direction to lip the note.

I think my ability to pitch notes is poor so having used the tuner i have a better idea of what I actually play on certain notes which gives me an idea of what pitch I actually have locked into my head. For example I tend to play my G above the staff fine but G in the staff flat.

Now we all know or at least should that as a concert or rehearsal goes on and the lip gets tired you tend to pitch notes differently so you have to be aware that you need to listen harder to each other to compensate for everyones tired lips.

PS. I only got the tuner to tune up my Mandolin. Now if you want to talk about difficulties keeping an instrument in tune buy a Mandolin..........

Okiedokie of Oz

Active Member
Dave Payn said:
Okiedokie of Oz said:
I agrffee with the general concensus. I try to avoid using it as much as possible unless contest is fast approaching,

Won't that, just as a contest is approaching, go and upset the tuning you've become used to as an ensemble? What do you do for concerts?

Good point!

No, it doesn't interfere with the band's tuning. We don't fluctuate too much from the 440 mark. That being said, I did spend 2 months trying to accomodate bad bass player by tuning to 443 as an experiment.

Before rehearsals, I am usually playing myself (trying to shake the woodwind sounds out of my head!!!), and during a good blow, no matter what instrument I am playing, I always have a check with a tuner. I don't use it to check my tuning, but rather see how far out my aural perceptive of a concert Bb is out. I am usually fairly accurate, but once every so often (mainly whenever there's been a massive weather change) I may have to adjust. My instrument stays @ the band hall, as it's also where I do my private teaching, 85% of my rehearsals.

Once I have my note in my head, I tune the band to that. A lot of players in my band don't touch their instruments tuning slides in-between time so there's little movement to be made. Between that fact and the practice before hand, I can usually avoid using a tuner.


Active Member
Personally I like Them. Although our bands stopped using it ... cos it got lost at a contest! :D :lol:


Active Member
I think you should use them for gettin your tuning nearly correct, but use your ear a lot more. There isn't a sometimes or dunno option....


Active Member
The severe lack of tuning in brass banding concerns me greatly. In orchestral work you always tune up before you play. I think you should use a tuner unless you have perfect pitch, because if you are not in tune, you are not playing what is written on the page. Relative tuning is okay to a point, but you can come unstuck as most instruments are built to perform best at absolute tuning.


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