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GUITAR TUNER FEATURE: PART ONE-WHAT THE PLAYERS USE

GUITAR TUNER FEATURE: PART ONE-WHAT THE PLAYERS USE

There’s no joy in a tune if it’s out of tune. Even the world’s finest musicians can sound cringe-worthy if their A’s are flat or their C’s aren’t sharp. Just because you’ve tuned your guitar before you walked on stage, doesn’t guarantee it’s going to stay that way for the duration of your gig. What guitar tuners are our guitarists currently favouring? In an effort to help you get in tune, we asked some local guitar heroes what, when, why and how they use their tuners. In part 2, we’ll look at a selection of tuners currently available on the market.

MGSlloydLLOYD SPIEGEL
With 9 albums, a swag of accolades to his name and 25 years performing, writing and recording, Lloyd Spiegel has certainly squeezed more into his 35 years on the planet than many do in a lifetime. It’s that unique experience combined with a relentless touring schedule and stage presence well beyond his years that has seen him become a driving force in Australian blues and one of most respected guitarists in the country, recently being named in Australian Guitar Magazine’s list of the 50 top Australian guitarists of all time. Since 2004, Lloyd has been the world-wide demonstrator and premier endorsee for Cole Clark Guitars and has been honoured with 2 signature model guitars, currently available in stores world-wide. Most recently, Lloyd has released an album, “This Time Tomorrow” which is available now.

What guitar tuner do you use?
I use the D’Addario NS micro.

What is it about that tuner which works for you?
It’s so compact that it can just stay on the headstock all the time. It’s well hidden and I don’t need to mess around plugging it in.

At what point before a gig do you tune your guitar?
I change strings about an hour before and kind of have this ritual of tuning it over that hour. It doesn’t need it. It’s just habit like checking your wallet (which I lose more often than my tuner)

Do you use alternate tunings at all?
It’s rare. I have a couple of open E songs in my show but mostly I fool around with tunings at home.

If so what are benefits to of that to your music?
The open tuning stuff allows me a lot of finger picking freedom. Those few song also allow for a break in my shows from the norm.

Had any tuning nightmare gigs?
I’ve been lucky for the most part. I did have one show when I had switched the E and B strings around. Not my finest performance.
www.lloydspiegel.com
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sarah and tunerSARAH MCLEOD
Aussie rock royalty Sarah McLeod  recently announced a new single Wild Hearts, a laid-back ode to finding fulfilment through creative endeavours.  Lifted from her self-produced new album, Rocky’s Diner – her first solo album in 12 years, the talented vocalist, guitarist and songwriter, who first found fame in the late 1990s with 3X ARIA Award winning rock band The Superjesus, has also dropped a gorgeous video for Wild Hearts, encapsulating the simple beauty in what at first appears mundane.  And due to high demand from fans wanting a piece of the action, Sarah has extended her national Rocky’s Diner tour into November and December, set to swing through Adelaide at Jive on November 5, then moving through Melbourne, Canberra, Brisbane, Perth, Fremantle, Bunbury, Bulli, and finishing up in Sydney at The Lansdowne on December 16.

What guitar tuner do you use?
I’ve always been superstitious with tuners. I won’t use anything but a Boss TU-2 , I used to use the TU-12 in the 90’s before this foot pedal version superseded it. We always make sure in The Superjesus that everyone is using the same tuner so they are calibrated.

What is it about that tuner which works for you?
Its simple and reliable and accurate. Easy to see at night and it also works as a signal cut off so you can mute your guitar when plugging in and out of it.

At what point before a gig do you tune your guitar?
Usually I tune right before we go on. What seems in tune backstage in the cold will not be in tune on stage under the hot lights so it’s best to leave them on stage while you’re setting up then tune them at the last minute before you play.

Do you use alternate tunings at all?
I use a lot of alternate tunings, yes. So it’s important to have a tuner that is easy to read in case you’re tuning in a moment of panic!

If so, what are benefits to of that to your music?
Open tunings make the music feel bigger, it’s a wider frequency and responds different sonically to straight tunings. It’s also a very creative way to write because you can just make your own tuning up and write a riff in it.

Had any tuning nightmare gigs?
Any? OMG I’ve had loads, I’ve learnt now to always re-tune my guitar before I play even if it was just tuned by the tech. Never trust anyone! I’ve had so many moments where I’ve ripped into the song and heard a giant CLANG when I’ve strummed my guitar.  It can be very shocking! I had a clanger the other day at the Factory in Sydney. I had swapped my drop d guitar to a second guitar that was in E flat. I was talking and tuning and accidentally tuned the e flat one with a wrong note in it. I started the song and it sounded shit so I stopped the song and apologised, I wanted to get it right so we started again after I re-tuned it. All I was doing though is re-tuning to the same notes and when I thought it was in tune we started again. The first half of the song only involved the bottom 3 strings so I didn’t notice until the breakdown where the high strings came in and it sounded awful. Luckily it was a breakdown where Mick the drummer was singing the bass line and holding time on the high hat. I let him continue as I quickly re-tuned the guitar finally to the correct notes. It was pretty funny because he just keep singing the bass line with a smile and the crowd all started jamming out the song blue moon over his vocal bass notes. They certainly knew how to amuse themselves in my absence!
http://www.sarahmcleod.com.au/

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DARREN MIDDLETON

dmiddletonDarren Middleton made a name for himself as guitarist with iconic Australian band Powderfinger but his two solo recordings Translations (2013) and Splinters (2015) showed that he’s an accomplished singer songwriter in his own right. Darren is currently working on his third solo album which is close to completion.

What guitar tuner do you use?
Either the on board Line 6 M9 tuner or a Korg Pitchblack

What is it about that tuner which works for you?
It’s (the Korg) very simple and clear

At what point before a gig do you tune your guitar?
A couple of times … 1hr, 30 mins and if possible 5 mins.

Do you use alternate tunings at all?
No so much live these days as I travel solo but in the past, yes a lot … when I had someone to help out!

If so, what are benefits to of that to your music?
Alt tunings are a breath of fresh air to your songs, the diff harmonic intonations can blend and change the way it makes you feel… and then influence everything that comes after.

Had any tuning nightmare gigs?
Occasionally… it’s almost inevitable … when you are counting on your tech to hand you your guitar in a certain tuning and 1 string is out …. ouch.
www.darrenmiddleton.com

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NAT ALLISON

Anyone who witnessed Nat Allison’s explosive set at the Melbourne Guitar Show 2015 or for that matter, any of her gigs, will know that talented singer, songwriter and guitarist can light up the stage with her powerful and energetic performances, featuring riff-laden rock with searing solos. Nat has played over 5000 gigs, including festivals and opening for big names such as Jimmy Barnes, The Screaming Jets, Martha Davis and The Motels, and numerous others but in recent years has been known as Suzi Quatro’s lead guitarist. Nat Allison’s current album is This One’s For You, Available now on iTunes

What guitar tuner do you use?
TC Electronics – PolyTune 2 but I also have the original PolyTune. I really believe that these are the best tuners on the market, you won’t be disappointed with putting one of these on your board!  I have one on my main board, my small spare board and in my recording studio!  PolyTune 2 & 3 also have an Ultra-precise strobe tuner setting.

What is it about that tuner which works for you?
The tuning accuracy is outstanding but what really stood out for me when I first purchased the original PolyTune was that the display visibility was incredible, for both night time gigs and daytime gigs!  I always really struggled to see the LED display on my old Korg Tuner in the daytime, I’d have to crouch down and create a shadow over it with my hand so I could see it.  Not an ideal look on stage, not to mention it took longer to tune.

At what point before a gig do you tune your guitar?
At a regular pub/club gig where it’s mostly a stable temperature I will tune about 20 – 30 minutes before and then just before I go on stage.  At festivals, particularly if the weather is very hot or very cold, the guitar tech or I would tune several times leading up to show time.

Do you use alternate tunings at all?  
Not so much these days except for the occasional drop D.

If so, what are benefits of that to your music?
When I used to play around with alternate tunings, I suppose the benefit I found would be that it creates a whole other sound and I find chords and melodies that I wouldn’t have found with standard tuning.

Had any tuning nightmare gigs?
(Not sure if this below is worth mentioning but I thought I’d answer anyway…)
I’ve had minor tuning issues over years with guitars that after X amount of gigs just need a little TLC, a fret dress and set up etc.  I remember when I first purchased my White Falcon it wouldn’t stay in tune particularly after soloing.  It needed a set up by someone who knew these guitars well and who could do the required work in order for it to stay in tune.  This happened mainly because of the Bigsby Tremolo arm.
http://www.natallison.com/

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GWYN ASHTON
Gwyn-Ashton-promo1
Acclaimed UK-based blues rock guitarist Gwyn Ashton paid his dues in Australia throughout the 80s and 90s playing with local music legends such as Stevie Wright, Jim Keays and Swanee. He left our shores in 1996 and has gigged extensively in the UK, USA and Europe ever since. He’s toured with B.B. King, Johnny Winter, The Yardbirds, Peter Green and has many high profile admirers such as Led Zeppelin’s Robert Plant. Gwyn has just released a fabulous new one-man lo-fi garage stoner distorto blues-rock album called Solo Elektro, full of chord-crunching fuzz guitar, dirty octave dividers and slamming kick drum. It’s a 100% explosive live-in-the-studio recording, sounding retro, with a modern evolution, as heard on the riff-pumped ‘She Won’t Tell Me’. If you like Sgt Pepper, Jack White and The Black Keys, you’ll LOVE Solo Elektro!  

What guitar tuner do you use?
I have a TC Electronic mini tuner on my board. I’m not into clip-on tuners. I like having a mute switch and I think they look pretty naff onstage.

What is it about that tuner which works for you?
Fast response, mute switch, true bypass, small footprint.

At what point before a gig do you tune your guitar?
In the soundcheck. Backstage, before the gig, between songs at the gig, sometimes in the middle of a song while I’m playing.

Do you use alternate tunings at all?
Yes, quite a few. I tune all my regular flat-picking guitars done a whole tone to `D’.
My slide guitars are in open C# (‘D’ tuned a half tone down), open C# with the top down to ‘B’, sometimes C# G# C# F# G# C# and ‘F#’ (Open ‘G’ tuned a half step down) and open F#m.
One of my 12-strings is in B7 tuning.
12-string C G C G C E
12-string for flat picking – down a whole step to ‘D’.
Weissenborn – mainly CGCCGC and open ‘C’ major.
Electric lap steels down to open C major.
Baritone guitars down to open ‘B’ or ‘A’.

If so, what are benefits to of that to your music?
There are more voicings in alternate tunings. Guitars resonate differently and with open tunings the slide works better.
As I play mainly solo or with just a drummer I find that tuning down a whole step better for low end. Good for vocals, too.
Being as there’s less tension on the strings, I get to use thicker gauges which also helps to fatten up the tone.

Had any tuning nightmare gigs?
Only if I don’t get enough time to set up before a show.
http://www.gwynashton.com/

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JIMI HOCKING

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Jimi Hocking is a songwriter, singer and guitarist of the highest calibre, the electric love child of T-Bone Walker, BB King and Jimi Hendrix. He struts the stage with his band, playing his ‘showy’ guitar style while pulling all the classic stunts … behind the head … the duck walk … even the splits! Jimi is in his element live on stage, whether it be a small cafe or a massive festival. His combination of banter and story-telling, wailing guitar and mandolin with superb songwriting and performance makes Jimi one of the ‘must-see’ acts in blues today.

What guitar tuner do you use?

I have a Korg Pitch Black in my Jets rig, and I use a clip on Snark for my Blues & solo shows.

What is it about that tuner which works for you?
I like the Pitch Black, it is accurate and I can do a quick mute to tune on the fly.

At what point before a gig do you tune your guitar?

I tune when I set up, then right before the performance, when I have the Pitch Black I also tweak as I go.

Do you use alternate tunings at all?

We use Drop D in the Jets quite a bit.

If so, what are benefits to of that to your music?

Paul likes writing in that tuning, and we like the sonic area for vocals.

Had any tuning nightmare gigs?
Oh sure … I used a Gibson robot tuner one time, I knocked it into open G tuning and couldn’t find my way back in the dark … it was pretty embarrassing.
http://www.jimihocking.com

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