Tuning Up The Band

Thanks to Jim Faulkner for raising this point at today’s workshop. As it is such a handy point, I thought it would be better posted under Hints and Tips than Lesson Feedback…

‘Did you know The Who used a harp to tune up with before their gigs? And as a classically trained musician, this never sat comfortably with John Entwhistle… what is the advantage of using a harp for tuning up?’

We’re talking about tuning up guitars here. ln lieu of an electronic tuner, keyboard, piano in concert pitch, or tuning fork, a bog standard diatonic harp is an excellent alternative. Of course you can also find pitch pipes, but what are they if not a redesigned harmonica by any other name, with some or all of the notes in the chromatic scale. A standard 10 hole diatonic in A will do the trick just as well (or any key if used wisely).

The 6 strings on a standard guitar are tuned E B G D A E, moving from the lowest to the highest string respectively.

Traditionally an A major diatonic is the best bet as it relates readily with three of the six open strings on a standard guitar and every harp player carries one! For the bottom and top strings you need to find an E. Draw 2 is the obvious option, but much better to use blow 3 as this is less likely to be off pitch from frequent bending. (You can also check that your blow 3 is in tune itself by octaving with blow 6. If they are in unison – there’s no tremelo effect – you’re safe). You can then move to the A string by blowing holes 1 or 4….or octaving both. (more…)