Larrivee Guitar Forum

Main Forums => Recording, Pickups, Live Sound, etc. => Topic started by: jpmist on August 02, 2012, 06:55:48 PM



Title: James Taylor's Tuning
Post by: jpmist on August 02, 2012, 06:55:48 PM
This video from James Taylor (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V2xnXArjPts&feature=em-uploademail) was really interesting. I'd always tuned slavishly to the zero on my strobe tuner and just told myself, OK that's in tune.

On the video Taylor explains how he tunes and given he's been playing concerts for over 30 years I gotta give him some attention. From the high E to the low, he tunes various cents below standard tuning. -3, -6, -4, -8, -10, -12.

I tried it and thought at first it sounded pleasing, but who knows how much bias is in that, so I recorded a short ditty in Taylor Tuning and the same ditty in Standard Tuning.

Hear for yourself:  Taylor Tuning (http://This video from James Taylor was really interesting. I'd always tuned slavishly to the zero on my strobe tuner and just told myself, OK that's in tune.

On the video Taylor explains how he tunes and given he's been playing live for over 30 years I gotta give him some attention. From the high E to the low, he tunes various cents below standard tuning. -3, -6, -4, -8, -10, -12.

I tried it and thought at first it sounded pleasing, comfortable somehow, but who knows how much bias is in that, so I recorded a short ditty in Taylor Tuning and the same ditty in Standard Tuning.

Hear for yourself:  [url=http://dl.dropbox.com/u/8229375/MP3%20sample%20files/Tuning/TaylorTUning.mp3)    Standard Tuning (http://dl.dropbox.com/u/8229375/MP3%20sample%20files/Tuning/Accurate.mp3)

He also put up another video to one of my all time favorite acoustic  riffs of all time. On the CD there's a video of him playing a short guitar intro to the song "Enough to Be On Your Way" that didn't make it to the recorded cut where they did strings instead. On this video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G_YDEjB362o&feature=em-uploademail) he shows how he plays it. How cool is that! I wish other musicians shared like James does.


Title: Re: James Taylor's Tuning
Post by: rockstar_not on August 02, 2012, 07:19:42 PM
Replying to make sure I check this out later.


Title: Re: James Taylor's Tuning
Post by: rwskaggs on August 02, 2012, 10:20:58 PM
Got the standard tuning link to work, but not the Taylor tuned one....????


Title: Re: James Taylor's Tuning
Post by: rockstar_not on August 02, 2012, 10:51:03 PM
Yeah - no link associated with the Taylor tuning letters.


Title: Re: James Taylor's Tuning
Post by: Mr_LV19E on August 02, 2012, 11:02:21 PM
He just needs to get himself a Larrivee so he doesn't have to mess around with all that special tuning. That's what you get with those cheap guitars he uses.


Title: Re: James Taylor's Tuning
Post by: jpmist on August 03, 2012, 03:37:17 AM
He just needs to get himself a Larrivee so he doesn't have to mess around with all that special tuning. That's what you get with those cheap guitars he uses.

Now, now, I think my leg's being pulled  :winkin:. . . both versions done on my beloved Larrivee OO-05, dunno why the link screws up but here's the Taylor tuning

https://dl-web.dropbox.com/get/Public/MP3%20sample%20files/Tuning/TaylorTUning.mp3?w=8bb6a82f

And the more or less accurate but at least I tried tuning

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/8229375/MP3%20sample%20files/Tuning/Accurate.mp3

Sorry 'bout that.

 :roll


Title: Re: James Taylor's Tuning
Post by: rockstar_not on August 03, 2012, 04:23:04 AM
Now, now, I think my leg's being pulled  :winkin:. . . both versions done on my beloved Larrivee OO-05, dunno why the link screws up but here's the Taylor tuning

https://dl-web.dropbox.com/get/Public/MP3%20sample%20files/Tuning/TaylorTUning.mp3?w=8bb6a82f

And the more or less accurate but at least I tried tuning

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/8229375/MP3%20sample%20files/Tuning/Accurate.mp3

Sorry 'bout that.

 :roll

The JT tuning is still not working - note that it has a https link (secure) instead of plain old http.  Nice playing btw - hope I can get to that point some time.  Guess it's time to practice?


Title: Re: James Taylor's Tuning
Post by: rockstar_not on August 03, 2012, 04:30:22 AM
In thinking about this, this is a little bit like stretch tuning a piano.


Title: Re: James Taylor's Tuning
Post by: L07 Shooting Star on August 03, 2012, 05:38:21 AM
On many electrics I've set up, including my own, I find if you set the intonation the standard way (so the octave is in tune with the open string), the guitar plays sharp on the first two or three frets on the treble strings, especially B and G strings.  The 1st and 2nd frets on the G string seem to be the worst.  Less often, the B is the worst.  I don't know why this is.  I'm aware that this can happen  if the strings are too high at the nut, but I purposely set them as low as I can get away with and I still notice this problem.  Some guitars are worse than others.  I know my ears are very sensitive to "out of tuneness" so I notice it more than some other players.  It could also be my fingering technique.  I played acoustic most of my playing years and I think I tend to mash down harder than I need to on the electrics.

Anyways, to counteract this and when there is enough adjustment room, I've been adjusting the string length (on all strings) so that the pointer on the tuner is centered when the string is open and fingered on the 3rd fret instead of the 12th fret.  This sometimes results in the note being a few cents flat at the 12th fret, but not always depending on the guitar.  I don't seem to notice this slight flatness when I play higher up the neck, so this works better for me on most guitars.

Anyone else notice this tendency or is just me and my ears?


Title: Re: James Taylor's Tuning
Post by: rockstar_not on August 03, 2012, 12:40:14 PM
On many electrics I've set up, including my own, I find if you set the intonation the standard way (so the octave is in tune with the open string), the guitar plays sharp on the first two or three frets on the treble strings, especially B and G strings.  The 1st and 2nd frets on the G string seem to be the worst.  Less often, the B is the worst.  I don't know why this is.  I'm aware that this can happen  if the strings are too high at the nut, but I purposely set them as low as I can get away with and I still notice this problem.  Some guitars are worse than others.  I know my ears are very sensitive to "out of tuneness" so I notice it more than some other players.  It could also be my fingering technique.  I played acoustic most of my playing years and I think I tend to mash down harder than I need to on the electrics.

Anyways, to counteract this and when there is enough adjustment room, I've been adjusting the string length (on all strings) so that the pointer on the tuner is centered when the string is open and fingered on the 3rd fret instead of the 12th fret.  This sometimes results in the note being a few cents flat at the 12th fret, but not always depending on the guitar.  I don't seem to notice this slight flatness when I play higher up the neck, so this works better for me on most guitars.

Anyone else notice this tendency or is just me and my ears?

I think it's the nut slot height, and it's why the 'zero fret' is sometimes useful. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zero_fret

Also why I capo the way that I do, with the pad of the capo actually resting on the strings on top of the fret.  Never had a capo pull sharp when doing this compared to the exact same capo placed so it pulls strings down to the fretboard.


Title: Re: James Taylor's Tuning
Post by: Barefoot Rob on August 03, 2012, 02:12:05 PM
Intonation should be slightly flat because when you finger a note you are pushing it down which cause's it to go sharp.I get this all the time when someone comes in and tells me that on there tuner the note shows 4-7 cents sharp on the "A" string in the first fret and so on.I will then tune the "A" using a tuning fork then tune the other strings to it.I then play a variety chords up the neck and ask if the guitar sounded out of tune,in every case so far the answer is always "Yes".I then tell them to stop looking at the friggin tuner and play the guitar.Yes I understand that there are people out there that are very sensitive to hearing sharp/flatness but remember its a guitar and there are all sorts of factors that I can't explain as I'm not a scientist nor should real science be used to explain going on.I learned how to tune piano's a long time ago and if you were to use a strobe tuner on the piano after I tuned it would show up as being out of tune yet by starting with middle "C" and tuning the rest of the piano off that it plays and sound's in tune.




I'm sure this statement will add to my ignore count. :thumb


Title: Re: James Taylor's Tuning
Post by: rockstar_not on August 03, 2012, 10:52:13 PM

I'm sure this statement will add to my ignore count. :thumb

You are gonna have to do better than that to get ignored, rob!  Gotta say something good or bad about current, past or future governments, insult some type of group of people, etc. to get ignored.   :humour:

Somewhat back on topic - I like the James Taylor's online lessons.  Who here will hold me accountable to learn how to play 'Fire and Rain' and post progress of my study?  I'm a strummer, not a finger picker, but this one looks easy enough in James Taylor's hands to give it a run.


Title: Re: James Taylor's Tuning
Post by: Barefoot Rob on August 04, 2012, 03:12:06 AM
I won't hold you accountable but I'd love to see the process since it sounds like your first forray into finger style.It would be a great teahing/learning tool. :thumb


Title: Re: James Taylor's Tuning
Post by: L07 Shooting Star on August 04, 2012, 06:37:08 AM
Intonation should be slightly flat because when you finger a note you are pushing it down which cause's it to go sharp.I get this all the time when someone comes in and tells me that on there tuner the note shows 4-7 cents sharp on the "A" string in the first fret and so on.I will then tune the "A" using a tuning fork then tune the other strings to it.I then play a variety chords up the neck and ask if the guitar sounded out of tune,in every case so far the answer is always "Yes".I then tell them to stop looking at the friggin tuner and play the guitar.Yes I understand that there are people out there that are very sensitive to hearing sharp/flatness but remember its a guitar and there are all sorts of factors that I can't explain as I'm not a scientist nor should real science be used to explain going on.I learned how to tune piano's a long time ago and if you were to use a strobe tuner on the piano after I tuned it would show up as being out of tune yet by starting with middle "C" and tuning the rest of the piano off that it plays and sound's in tune.

I'm sure this statement will add to my ignore count. :thumb

Rob, I understand your point completely.  A guitar is an "even-tempered" instrument and there are trade-offs in tuning that can't be avoided.  Ultimately, one has to tune/intonate  to whatever compromise is best for his/her particular style, etc.  I agree there is a point where you just tune it best you can and  then play the effing thing.  And that's what I end up doing out of necessity.  BUT I can detect, with my ears, 2 or 3 cents and sometimes it drives me crazy.  I'm always tweaking to make it even better!  I definately agree with setting the intonation slightly flat at the octive if the notes on the lower frets will play in tune with the open strings surrounding them.  On many guitars, this isn't even an issue.


Title: Re: James Taylor's Tuning
Post by: cke on August 04, 2012, 12:46:23 PM
I think Taylor likes the sound tuned that way (and why not!)  But the secret is he has a tech off stage tuning all his guitars for him.


Title: Re: James Taylor's Tuning
Post by: Barefoot Rob on August 04, 2012, 02:27:39 PM
Kurt yes it will drive you insane and its worse for those like you who can hear it.For me its getting people to understand why it happens and excepting that it can't always be cured.I double check the intonation by getting the harmonic at the 19 fret and fingering the note on the at the 7 fret of the same string.This allows me to get as close as possible too having both octive's of the guitar in tune with each other.


Title: Re: James Taylor's Tuning
Post by: Mr_LV19E on August 04, 2012, 06:47:48 PM
I start with the tuner and then tune using the harmonic's off the 5th and seventh frets. This seems to work best at being in tune anywhere in the first 12 frets.  The electronic tuner (Snark) only gets the tuning close in my opinion, I can hear a pretty big change in tone from flat to sharp while the needle is in the middle (supposedly in tune).


Title: Re: James Taylor's Tuning
Post by: Mr_LV19E on August 04, 2012, 07:34:48 PM

Somewhat back on topic - I like the James Taylor's online lessons.  Who here will hold me accountable to learn how to play 'Fire and Rain' and post progress of my study?  I'm a strummer, not a finger picker, but this one looks easy enough in James Taylor's hands to give it a run.

I just watched that video and wow, the way he plays it is a lot easier than the way I do it.  :laughin:  I learned it from a James Taylor songbook from 1971 that had piano and guitar sections, the guitar section was done by Happy Traum. Maybe he has changed the way he plays it in 40 years.


The intro in the book is only done once then the verse uses   

A                   Em7                      D                     A
Just yesterday mornin' they let me know you were gone
                 E                            Gmaj7
Susan, the plans they made put an end to you


Chorus uses

D      D/C#   Bm7      Bm7/E        A
        I've seen fire and I've seen rain
          D       D/C#        Bm7                Bm7/E    A
I seen sunny days that I thought would  never    end

In the video it appears he is playing a D/B instead of the D/C#.




Title: Re: James Taylor's Tuning
Post by: GGBB on August 21, 2012, 09:33:09 PM
I rarely use a tuner at all any more, because the only public playing I do is with the worship band and we all have to be in tune with a piano which is never spot on.  (It gets tuned a couple of times a month but it has some kind of drift problem.)  And when I'm alone, I don't need to be spot on either.  So I am always tuning by ear, using octaves and harmonics and just listening to two strings at a time.  I think if you have enough experience playing and listening and know the quirks of your guitar well, ear is the best.  Even on the odd occasion that I do use a tuner, I always make some adjustments afterward.


Title: Re: James Taylor's Tuning
Post by: rockstar_not on August 22, 2012, 05:42:05 AM
Take note that JT's capo technique will cause uneven out of tune-ness across the strings.  He has the capo on the low e right on the fretwire while the high e is about halfway between fretwires.  This will pull the higher stings more sharp than the lower strings, which would make it necessary to progressively tune down slightly as you go from low to high strings.


Title: Re: James Taylor's Tuning
Post by: jpmist on September 01, 2012, 02:15:28 AM
I wondered why James Taylor angled the capo that way until I tried it. It certainly does give me a bit of extra room there when my fingers get jammed against the capo doing some ridiculous chord one fret off. I suppose he adjusts his tuning to correct for whatever pull the capo has on the string. I'd always place the capo as much as I can on top of the fret w/o it damping the string.

I've finally gotten around to fixing the links to the sound samples I reference in my original post.

Accurate tuning http://snd.sc/PILwfv

Taylor tuning http://snd.sc/PILmoE

(I'm liking SoundCloud already. . .)

I honestly can't hear the difference. . .