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Advice on using a tuner

2621 Views 12 Replies 11 Participants Last post by  denkii
I'm new to this forum. I have two boys. One is in his second year of sax and really likes it. The other is just starting the trumpet. I am interested in learning both.

I am wondering if using a tuner could help us in the learning curve?

Does anyone have any experience with this?
If so what kind of tuner would be best?

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I'm also new to playing sax (but I've been playing guitar for 11 years) I use a tuner everyday when I practise long tones and stuff like that. Just to keep track on where I'm at and to help me memorize which notes are sharp or flat.

However when it comes to practising intonation (even though intonation is more or less developing every time you play). I prefer using a "real" instrument as much as possible. Sometimes I hit chords on the piano with the sustain pedal and play the arpeggios on sax as the sax resonates against the piano it's really easy to hear. Sometimes I type in the chords into logic or band in a box. I think it's important to involve your ears in every aspect of your practice routine. It's just as important to know how it sounds to be in tune than how it feels.

But a tuner is a important tool. And if you buy one make shure it's a transposing one so you can change between trumpet and sax. And try to get one with a metronome as well. A metronome is even more important than a tuner!
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I'm so - so on the importance factor. Convenient yes, important? If I play a gig with a pianist who plays a piano provided by the venue, being able to tune to the piano is imperative regardless of how accurately it is tuned or how, for example things like temperature affect tuning. How we play relative to the group is what the audience hears.

Aside from the initial placement of the mouthpiece when tuning up, saxophone players constantly adjust, adapt, and maintain intonation with embouchre and their ears and periodically with a little tweaking of the mouthpiece position based upon what their hearing (or band mates) tell them.

Tuners are good learning tools to find out what we need to do (compensate) to keep our specific instrument as closer as possible to being in tune relative to itself. I personally like trying to match tones with my electronic keyboard because I grew up in an era of saxes with questionable intonation and guitar players tuning amongst themselves who constantly had me adjusting my mouthpiece... In that situation, we all could have benefited from a tuner.
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Tuners can be helpful, but I'm more with jrvinson on this - they are not super essential.
I like CDs like the Tuning CD or Cello Drones to use for long tone/intonation training. When you are playing with others it is your ears that will keep you in tune with other players. This skill can be sharpened by practicing tone matching with these CDs. Put the CD on, pick a pitch/track and match the pitch with the horn. Pick another pitch then match that. Repeat...
If you use a tuner, don't look at and play the note, play the note then look at the tuner.

If you use it as a crutch to aid tuning, it will become a habit and so you may possibly always need that crutch. Besides, while looking at the note, you are not helping your ears develop the ability to hear the note.
This article might be of some help:

very interesting article Stephen. Thanks to all of you!
In my experience, using a tuner helps to correct overall gross tuning errors. (It's good to make sure you're basically in tune before practicing, rehearsing and performing). Using a tuner for the duration of practice I don't find to be practical. During a real performance you will be using your ear in relation to the accompanying musicians to fine tune your embouchure and tuning. Not to mention certain notes in a harmony actually blend better when slightly flat or sharp rather than dead center. My suggestion is to tune your B note (on sax) before playing, but play with other musicians or even recordings to train your ear and embouchure to find that proverbial sweet spot where the harmonies blend. I used to visit a friend in Hell, MI, by the way. They lived up the road behind the party shop and bar, on the channel.
Oh, but keep the tuner on hand in case you come across a funky sounding note too.
Once you have a centered tone using a tuner is helpful, but developing good relative pitch is essential. Learning what an interval really sounds like will keep you in tune with yourself and others.
I use a tuner during warm up and scale practice
Would it be good to tune myself with the "NOTE SELECT" option on my tuner as opposed to looking at the needle? I guess it'd be similar to "Cello Drones" as guido said except the KORG tuners are kinda annoying with their sound haha.
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