Guitars: Gibson Powertune Automagically Tunes Up Guitars, Tin-Eared Guitarists Rejoice
Thanks to Gibson’s Powertune system, now even tin-eared guitarists can push a button, strum the guitar a few times, and then it’s as if a ghost has taken over the machine, turning the tuning pegs until the guitar is accurately tuned. It tunes each string to within .02 cent, which is pretty damn close to perfection. It can tune to the default A440, or it can tune the strings to pitches that are relative to a note of your choice. You can also store a variety of tunings and quickly call them up. Hey, this could really be useful.
Any guitarist who relies on a tuner exclusively is… well, how do I say this nicely… a beginner, somebody without any sense of pitch, deaf??? The well-tempered scale is always a compromise. Play an E major chord on the first fret, followed by the C major chord on the first fret – the third string (G) will sound out of tune for one or the other. You will notice me checking and often adjusting the third string before starting “Snakecharmer”, where I use that open C chord. The electronic tuner might not even register a change, but I have to adjust the third string to sound better for the C chord – and there is no E chord in that song.
On the other hand, rock guitarists – who are more likely to buy a Gibson – play so loud that pitch really does not matter. At volumes over 100db the ear is less and less able to perceive pitch. At 120db the Gibson Powertune will always sound in tune. It’s hard to sound out-of-tune at that volume. I don’t remember the rate of decline of pitch at that volume, but it is a shocking amount.
Check this out:
The ratio between the threshold of pain and the threshold of sensation is on the order of 130 dB, or ten trillion to one.
How is that for contrast? The ratio between the softest perceptible sound and the the loudest (threshold of pain) is 1 : 10,000,000,000,000.
I was actually looking for data regarding pitch-degradation at higher volumes when I ran across the above statement, but the site only writes:
…increasing loudness seems to shift low and middle register pitches down and high register pitches up.
I also ran across this:
Helen Keller famously said that if she had to choose between being deaf and being blind, she’d be blind, because while blindness cut her off from things, deafness cut her off from people.
Back to practicing guitar now…
In a way, this is kinda sad…
Quoting Robert Fripp:
“The musician has three instruments: the hands, the head and the heart. Taken together, these comprise the human instrument that the musician must learn to play in order to place themself at the service of the musical impulse. It is not strictly accurate to suggest that we learn to play our human instrument in order that we may then play our musical instrument. In practice, we learn to play ourselves in the context of applying ourselves to acquiring executant, conceptual and musical skills. For example, when we tune an instrument we are tuning ourselves.” -Robert Fripp’s diary December 30, 2000.
I guess Robert pretty much sums it all up right there. I think of this quote every time I tune.
i have been playing the guitar on and off for about 2-3 years, mostly i dont use a tuner (because sometimes its actually wrong, dont know if itsbecause i dropped it?) sometimes i do though, more out of laziness than lack of tone…maybe i should ween myself off of it..ahaha