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bonnieprinceandy
22-08-10, 12:45 PM
Is it worth it?? I've been piping for 3 years and am competing in grade 4 solo comps, will it help me tune on my own??

Gene Mitchell
22-08-10, 09:33 PM
It will help you fine tune to perfection maybe and will definitely help you tune around a lot of noise like on the field. But your ear is the best device I believe. I just tune against the drones, Its a part of the musical ability in playing the pipes that is sadly being overrun. Like my instructor says what if your batteries die? Tell the judge excuse me do you have double AA's haha

ppyper1
23-08-10, 01:59 AM
Tuners are great for a quick fine tune before competition......I also use them to illustrate to beginners how their drones aren't steady (hook it up to a mike so they can see the tuner).....but I agree....don't use it as your only tool. Learn to use your ear.

FDPiper
23-08-10, 03:15 AM
Hi Bonnprinceandy,
I have not used the Saul tuner. Having learned the pipes when people laughed at the thought of a Star Trek communicator that everyone would carry on their belt to communicate with another person who also had one on their belt... So, I will talk in general.

A tuner is a really great tool for a day to day comparison. When the PM has been fiddling with reeds, and needs a reality check to come back into tune with the "rest of the band" - it's a great tool! I dread being at 475 one week, then at a parade the following weekend, need to tune up to 480 - the tuner will tell you where you are tuning, and help with consistency.

But by benchmarking where your chanter is on a hot dry day versus a humid/drizzly damp cold day, you will really learn how weather can really impact your tuning.

Also, when looking for a new reed, a tuner can be a Godsend. Keep in mind, the chanter is not a straight line tuned instrument. I keep a chart of where I should be for each note (how many cents above or below center). There are charts with the actual tuning of the chanter against the Korg tuner.

I come into tune, especially with the chanter, and ballpark my drones, then finish tuning by ear.

IMHO, a good tuner is a great tool to have. I have a cheapy -about $15-20 off ebay. It does the job. I have a KORG CA-40. Today it is about $15. I looked up the Saul tuner, and it is probably a great tool (I'm not dissing it), but way to pricey for my wallet ($249 - 299). If you have not purchased a cheapy to start with, you might start there. Then graduate as you feel the need. If you have a deep pocket - go for it!

UpstatePiper
23-08-10, 12:35 PM
I have a Korg tuner, and it does a decent job. I highly recommend the contact mic. You can clip it onto your drones and watch how steady you blow (or not). It's really good for finding out if you are underblowing in some particular circumstances (like when you get to a suddenly difficult part of a medley).

It's more difficult to use a tuner to tune a chanter, because you will tend to blow notes into tune against the tuner. In other words, you will naturally adjust your blowing to make the needle point in the right direction, which isn't what you want. If you have two tuners and a contact mic, you can hook the one to your drones and watch what the other one does as you play the chanter. I did that a while back and I found out that I had built in this habit of blowing harder as I went up the scale. I could tune each note well by ear, and I could make the drones be well in tune against low-a, but it wasn't so good when I started playing. I might have eventually gotten that all sorted out, but it helped a lot to have the tuners diagnose exactly what I was doing.

I'm sure there are some people who could have sorted that all out for me using only their ears, but unfortunately, none of them are ever in my practice room when I need them!

I also have a Peterson flip tuner. It's more sensitive than any other electronic tuner. It costs about us$200. You can program it with offsets for chanter tuning, and it comes with a contact mic that works for tuning drones. It also tells you what octave it's "hearing" and shows you how the harmonics are tuning, which can help diagnose reed issues. I find that with one reed in my bass drone the tuner has a lot harder time locking onto the proper octave, and the fundamental pitch is frequently not completely steady, whereas a different reed fixes both those problems. I thought I was hearing that too, but it's nice when the tuner shows the same thing that you think you're hearing.

I like to warm up my chanter and tune my drones by ear, and then hook up the Peterson tuner to see how well I did. I used to frequently tune my bass flat, and I've overcome that, but now I'm tuning it sharp. Hopefully I'll be able to zero in on "just right" before too long!

If you use a korg tuner here's a (clickable) chart you can use for the chanter:
http://i75.photobucket.com/albums/i294/bob864/th_Korg.jpg (http://s75.photobucket.com/albums/i294/bob864/?action=view&current=Korg.jpg)

Reid
23-08-10, 08:55 PM
I have the Saul Tuner. I actually bought it a while back to help moniter my blowing. It is a really good tuner. Another perspective about tuners. Many people will just tell you to use your ears. Well how do you develope a good ear? You expose yourself to well tuned bag pipes. I feel that by using a tuner to get your drones in tune with your chanter over time you will train / develope your ear. Over time you will know what your pipes sound like when in tune and will need your tuner less and less until you don't need it at all.

FDPiper
23-08-10, 10:51 PM
... Many people will just tell you to use your ears. Well how do you develope a good ear? You expose yourself to well tuned bag pipes. ...

Reid makes a great point. When you practice, always tune. The other way is to practice tuning others pipes. At band practice, offer to tune someone else's pipes. You will learn quickly who is a good steady blower, and who is not. You will also learn to listen to the wha-wha as a drone comes into tune. Until I heard this on someone else's pipes, I didn't recognize it on mine. If you are off, and the piper says its not quite there, don't worry about it, keep tuning until you get it right. That's how we all learn.

I am amazed at how many pipers don't make an effort to tune their own pipes, they just get in line to have the PM or PSgt do the tuning. Have you ever stood around, having conversations while the PM is fiddling with pipes to get them in tune. Ever keep track of who those folks are? Bet they are the same people each week. What a waste of time for the others in the band.

I don't mean to hijack the thread, but Reid makes a great point.

bonnieprinceandy
24-08-10, 10:54 AM
Thanks everyone, and I too agree with Reid. My problem with tuning is more in tuning the chanter.

Reid
24-08-10, 02:09 PM
Thanks everyone, and I too agree with Reid. My problem with tuning is more in tuning the chanter.

With out an nice tuned / balanced chanter the drones will sound off. You can tune each individual note with the saul tuner.

Armorican
24-08-10, 02:16 PM
Reid makes a great point. When you practice, always tune. The other way is to practice tuning others pipes. At band practice, offer to tune someone else's pipes. You will learn quickly who is a good steady blower, and who is not. You will also learn to listen to the wha-wha as a drone comes into tune. Until I heard this on someone else's pipes, I didn't recognize it on mine. If you are off, and the piper says its not quite there, don't worry about it, keep tuning until you get it right. That's how we all learn.

I am amazed at how many pipers don't make an effort to tune their own pipes, they just get in line to have the PM or PSgt do the tuning. Have you ever stood around, having conversations while the PM is fiddling with pipes to get them in tune. Ever keep track of who those folks are? Bet they are the same people each week. What a waste of time for the others in the band.

I don't mean to hijack the thread, but Reid makes a great point.

When teaching a group, I always get them to tune the drones of the person to their right or left. I also ask different pupils to "advise" me when setting chanters.

Apart from hopefully helping them to develop an ear, they also find out what a pain in the backside it is when people vary their blowing, when there's too much or to little hemp on the tuning pins, when chanter tape is old and slippy and so on ...

Reid
24-08-10, 05:01 PM
When teaching a group, I always get them to tune the drones of the person to their right or left. I also ask different pupils to "advise" me when setting chanters.

Apart from hopefully helping them to develop an ear, they also find out what a pain in the backside it is when people vary their blowing, when there's too much or to little hemp on the tuning pins, when chanter tape is old and slippy and so on ...

Nice, sounds like a good idea.