Guitar Tuning Nightmares & How to Vanquish Them (or at Least Feel Good Trying) | Tape Op – the Creative Music Recording Magazine
As a guy who’s been recording guitar bands for 14 years now, I have to admit to a problem: I have a painfully accurate awareness of tuning. This means I hear tuning discrepancies some people might not notice consciously; other people might just feel slightly uncomfortable without knowing why. Many of us who are engineer/producers have this blessing/curse. As a wee lad, I would turn on the radio and find myself thinking “Wow… Hendrix is out of tune there!” or “Rod Stewart’s way sharp on this whole song” or “Why is that organ part so out of tune with the guitars?” And some classical orchestral music drives me nuts for this reason. Yup, a curse. In less-commercial pop music (i.e. “indie rock”) you can get away with more, if you’re good. Sonic Youth and Pavement just wouldn’t be the same if they were always in perfect tuning… but not many bands are capable of trumping imperfect tuning with their sheer force of personality, and you shouldn’t assume your band is one of them. In the studio, of course, my ear for tuning is a blessing… but if I get fatigued, it can transform into the Beast That Ate The Session, as my ears start playing tricks on me. I finally resolved to learn as much as I could about potential “tuning nightmares” so I could better defend myself.