In the old days, guitarists had few choices when it came to tuning their guitars.
One option was to use a tuning fork. This is a U shaped two prong fork made of steel, that when struck, resonates a pure tone at a particular pitch determined by the length of the tines.
A guitarist would use the tuning fork to tune one of the strings on the guitar to the proper pitch and then tune the rest of the guitar strings appropriately. (see "Tuning the Guitar")
Another option was to use a "pitch pipe" in a similar fashion. A pitch pipe is a device that, when blown into, produces an audible pitch.
Yet another option was to use a piano to get reference notes for tuning the guitar. Of course this depended on the piano being in proper tuning.
Nowadays, things are much easier for tuning the guitar with the advent of electronic tuners. These devices are designed with input jacks to plug in a guitar for tuning, and also have built in condenser microphones for tuning an acoustic guitar.
Most electronic tuners will have a display on the front to indicate the pitch of the string. Some analog tuners have a VU type needle that indicates the pitch of the string. Newer digital tuners will use a digital replication of a VU meter, or they may display the string pitch with the use of LED lights.
Most of these units are powered with batteries. Many use 9 volt batteries.
There are numerous styles of guitar tuners on the market. Some are simple, inexpensive units that can fit in a shirt pocket. Others are designed similar to an effects pedal to be used on the floor or on stage. Some tuners are made to easily clamp to the guitar and tunes the guitar by sensing string vibrations. Still others are made to be rack mounted.
Some guitar tuners are now available that can be attached to the guitar tuning nut on the headstock and will turn the tuning nut until the string is in tune.
A number of guitar manufacturers are now installing on-board tuners on their new guitars.
Chromatic vs 6 String
Basic guitar tuners are set up to tune the 6 strings on the guitar in a standard "E" tuning. In other words, they are capable of tuning the E, A, D, G, B & E strings.
Chromatic tuners are also available. These tuners are designed to tune "all" the notes in the spectrum, including sharps and flats. These chromatic tuners are especially useful to guitarists that play in alternate tunings such as open "E".
As you might imagine, guitar tuners are available in a wide array of shapes, styles and prices.
A good basic battery operated digital tuner can be purchased for under $10. Beyond that, there are a variety of models available that are designed for different applications and constructed of various materials.
There are models available in a modest price range of $30 to $60, and there are also upper end tuners on the market for $100 or more.
Choosing a Tuner
If you are just starting out on the guitar then an inexpensive basic tuner for about $10 will do the trick for you.
As you progress on the guitar and possibly start playing with a band, a good tuner that sits on stage, in-line with your other pedals, might be a good option.
If you plan on trying out some alternate guitar tunings somewhere down the road, you may want to go ahead and spend a few more dollars for a chromatic tuner.
Irregardless of which tuner you choose, just make sure you get one so you don't have to tune your guitar the pre-historic way, with a tuning fork or pitch pipe!
Please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions!
You're playing a gig and the set ends and you take a break. You step outside for a moment of fresh air. You talk to some friends and hang out for a while, look at your watch and head back in.
As you walk inside you glance up at the stage to see an inhebreated patron stumbling over the drums and headed right for your prize Les Paul. His knee catches the edge of the bass drum and he frantically attempts to right himself while tripping over your guitar.
This all happens is a flash, but you are seeing it in slow motion, as pictures of broken necks and shattered head-stocks fly in front of you.
The outcome of this story can go one of two ways. If the guitar is sitting in a cheap, lightweight stand, the outcome can be tragic. If, on the other hand, the guitar is snugly secured in a heavy duty stand, this may have a happy ending.
If this story sounds far fetched, think again. This is a scenario played out in clubs and honky tonks every weekend all over the world.
This is why guitar stands are worth taking a few minutes to talk about.
Guitar stands come in all shapes and sizes and which one is right for you is largely dependent on your particular situation.
Basic, entry level, guitar stands are typically of a tubular design. They have adjustable neck support heights and removable bottoms. Most fold up for easy transport. These are good stands for "around the house" and are fairly inexpensive. Some are under $10.
Basic stands also come in heavy duty models with thicker, more substantial tubing. They usually have a rubber band style neck guard to prevent the guitar from being knocked out of the stand.
In earlier models, the rubber on the neck yoke of some guitar stands had a negative reaction to the paint finish on some guitars, causing damage. This problem seems to have been rectified.
"A" Frame Stands
These stands have an "A" shape and fold up for compact storage. They do not have a neck yoke and fully support the guitar at the body.
The legs of "A" Frame stands are perpendicular to the body of the guitar, offering a more secure support base than basic stands.
Multi Guitar Stands
Multi stands can be a real space saver and come in various designs.
In the "basic stand" design, some models hold 3, 6 or even 9 guitars. These stands are also of a tubular design and the guitar "hangs" from a neck yoke and the guitar body rests against a protected stop. The body, however, floats freely and guitars can "knock" against each other.
Some "A" Frame stands are made with extra supports to accommodate 2 or 3 guitars. Again, the base of these stands keeps them fairly sturdy and the body of the guitar is fully supported.
A popular design for multi guitar stands is the "Rock Stand" style, named for the company that makes them (Warwick). The guitar is placed in a protective "slot" on the stand and it makes for easy in and out. These stands are made to hold 5, 6 or 7 guitars and are very heavy duty and sturdy.
If you want to keep your guitar close by at home, but floor space is an issue, a wall hanger might be the way to go. These are simply what the name implies. They are mounted to the wall, typically to a wall stud, and have a neck yolk attached so that you can hang the guitar up.
These are great for a music room, recording studio, or to display that vintage guitar around the house.
If you are just playing guitar at home and not venturing out, the basic inexpensive guitar stand should work just fine. If, however, you are playing gigs in clubs or at church, or you are setting up in a rehearsal hall where there might be a lot of foot traffic, the investment in a good solid guitar stand will be more than worth it!
Please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions!