Guitar Australia

Lessons => Articles => Topic started by: Nick on January 28, 2015, 01:31:59 PM

Title: Tuning Harmonics
Post by: Nick on January 28, 2015, 01:31:59 PM
Does your guitar tune up ok? Does it sound in tune when youíre playing down low on the neck? Does it
sound out of tune when you play something anywhere but down low on the neck? Well, itís a fair bet your
harmonics are out of whack!
The scale length of your guitar is measured from where the strings are pulled over the bridge saddles, to
the nut. This length is then divided up by the frets to allow you to play notes of varying pitch. The pitch
placement of the frets is mathematically calculated based on some very important scientific calculus and
sub diatonic vectorization rasters. Short story? The scale length needs to be adjusted in order for your
guitars intonation to be accurate for the whole length of the fret board. You canít adjust where the frets
are, but by adjusting the scale length, thatís really what youíre doing. It makes sense to meÖ
Itís a quick and easy job. Youíll need your trusty electronic tuner, preferably one that can detect notes
automagically. Those are also known as chromatic tuners. You will need a screw driver of the type that
will fit the screws in the end of the bridge saddles as well.
Grab your guitar and plug íer into to the tuna. Start on the low E string and play a harmonic on the
twelfth fret. To do this, place your finger lightly on the string, directly over the twelfth fret and pluck the
string. You should have just enough pressure so the string can ring, and enough to allow for the harmonic
to be sounded.
Once you are happy with the tuning of the harmonic, play a note on the twelve fret, the octave. This note
is the same note as the harmonic. Play this note carefully, as you need to get an accurate reading.
Checking this on the tuner, it should be the same as the harmonic.
If itís pitched higher, you need an anti-clockwise turn on the saddle screw, and the opposite for a lower
pitched note. Weíre playing the game of give and take here. Once youíve adjusted the saddle, the strings
pitch will have altered also. So re-tune the harmonic and test again.
Make small adjustments! Get a feel for how much to adjust. Some things to note:
- New strings will have a more accurate tuning!
- Old strings will be harder to tune because wear and gunk alter their gauge.
- Gauge(string thickness) affects harmonics, so putting strings on with a different gauge to your previous
ones may put the harmonics out again.
- If you run out of travel in the saddle adjustment, you are doing something wrong, or your guitar needs
some professional help.
- Not all guitars have individual saddle adjustments. You will have to make do with what you have.
- If the neck of your guitar is warped(twisted) forget about getting the harmonics in tune. You need a new
- Adjusting the action and/or the truss rod will affect the harmonics.
If the harmonics were out, youíll notice a vast improvement over what you had. Barre chords and scales
will sound much better, anywhere on the neck.
Hope this little tip is of some use!