If you go to a gear board like The Gear Page and search on tuners, you’ll see a lot of talk about a tuner’s “cents.” A “cent” is hundredth of a 1/2 note. People like to talk about “cents” to compare the accuracy of the tuners that they use. In general, if a tuner is within 1 – 2 cents accurate, it’s not a bad tuner. Some, like the Peterson strobe tuners, are even more accurate, as in 10ths of a cent. All penis size comparisons aside (this happens on the boards a lot: “My tuner is more accurate that yours” kind of bullshit, I was amazed to see a video of James Taylor explaining how he tunes his acoustic guitars, and it’s the first time I’ve ever seen “cents” used in this way.
Check out the video:
I have to admit that I’ve spent years hitting the exact center of the gauge when tuning my guitar. But what JT explains is something I’ve never seen before explained, BUT to be fair to myself, I have experienced this sort of “off” tuning with my Peterson StroboClip before I broke it. 😦
Peterson has what are called “sweeteners” built into all their tuners, which is why if you use a Peterson tuner, you need to pick the instrument you’re tuning. These, I believe, are similar in effect to what JT is talking about in that because of the construction and shape of different stringed instruments, you have to make compensations for each different string so that they “play” correctly.
When I first started using a Peterson StroboClip, I felt that after I tuned, my individual strings sounded just a little off. But when I actually played, the sound was so much better. My chords sounded so much more in harmony. I think this is the key to what JT talks about in the video.
I haven’t tried this yet as I’m writing this during a break at work, but I’m going to have a recording session tonight and will try it out.
Thanks JT! Even after all these years, I’m still learning stuff from you!