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Posts: 79
Reply with quote  #1 
I haaza problem tunin' dem dar low notes.
I have an intellitouch PT-2 digital clamp on style tuner.
Works great for standard six string. It's even not half bad for most alt tunings like DADGCD. But, on my Larrivee BT 60 baritone or my F bodied Andrew White I have to resort to the harmonics on the low strings. The PT-2 just doesn't seem to register those low notes. It either shows nothing or it gets mixed up and shows the wrong letter.
How do you guys do your harp guitar sub bass strings? 
What make, model, style & type of tuner do YOU use?
What tips & tricks have you picked up?

the Dreamer
(a.k.a. Dreamin' Stephen)
Living life on the edge. Less crowded, better view.

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Posts: 282
Reply with quote  #2 

I own and have trouble as well with that brand.  I use an old fashoned matrix sr4000 (they may not even make them anymore).  But found once you get the six strings in tune usually I go by ear for the subbasses.

nate blaustein

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Posts: 162
Reply with quote  #3 

I've only built and play one harp guitar so am not an "expert" here, but Ihave the same thing happen with tuners with it and with my baritone. I resort to the most sensitive tuner I have - "my ears" and adjust accordingly.

David White

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Posts: 414
Reply with quote  #4 
     The Matrix SR4000 is no longer made.  The Matrix SR1000 is available and made for guitar and bass using the internal mike to acoustically tune (I have not tried it). I use a Korg CA 30 for the guitar neck and tune the bass on my LITM by ear. The phone dial tone in Miami is "F" so if you are really good, that's all you need.

Michael Schreiner

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Posts: 450
Reply with quote  #5 
Same problems here. Although after having the clamp replaced this year, it works a bit better on the subs. I've clamped it all over the neck and harp arm headstocks, but have yet to find the *sweet spot*. I have discussed this problem with Intellitouch, and they had no real answer. Especially knowing they work fine on upright basses. I live fairly close to them, and need to take the HG by for a visit. Seems I always forget to do that at Winfield. I have laid the tuner on top of the harp arm and it actually worked that way. Ok....other than it tends to fall off very easily! But where else can you get such customer service???? I take mine by their booth each year at Winfield, and he gives it a check up, tightens or replaces worn parts, and installs new batteries. All for free! Had one guy come up with a tuner his dog destroyed, and they handed him a brand new one on the spot.

Dennis Mitchell
Vita Brevis, Carpe Guitarum!

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Posts: 306
Reply with quote  #6 
I have a Peterson Digital Strobe tuner; kind of pricey and unfortunately not very intuitive to use, I find.  But it does have a huge tuning range, and will certainly give a readout on the sub-basses if it picks them up.  I don't usually use the built in mic with the Peterson; what works best is to plug a pickup (if your subs have one) directly into the tuner (a nice feature which some cheaper tuners probably don't allow for); I also bought the clip on pickup Peterson sells that can plug in and clip on anywhere on the instrument; sometimes this is the best thing for getting the sub-basses.  One trick is to tune the octave harmonic (12th fret harmonic, if you had frets on your sub-basses), instead of the open string.  Your tuner may be able to read the higher octave easier.  Still, I often find that the electronic tuner will disagree with my ear on the sub-basses, so I rely on my ear for the fine tuning, often matching the sub-bass octave harmonic to that note on the fingerboard, since my ears hear the higher octave better, too.


Having an open mind doesn't necessarily mean your brain has fallen out.

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Posts: 62
Reply with quote  #7 

I'm with Fred on this one.  Through the years, I 've acquired a wide assortment of electronic tuners.  Korgs, Sabines, Seikos, Intellitouch.  You name it, I've probably had one at some time.  Probably still have all of them in various instrument cases around the house.  But, none of them worked very well for the basses on the hg.  It was really a problem in the studio on our last cd.  I never had to worry about getting frustrated by my inability to play because I was already pulling my hair out from tuning.  I actually started to think my ears were going because there was such a discrepancy between what I heard and what the various tuners said, even using the harmonics that Fred mentions.  So, I did a little checking around and wound up biting the bullet and buying a Peterson VS-II virtual strobe tuner.  It was the best $200 I ever spent.  Actually helped restore what little sanity I had left.  The built in mic worked quite well in picking up the basses and they are dead-on accurate.  I only needed a tuning pickup when there was someone else trying to tune in the same vicinity.  The only thing I didn't like was that it was hard to travel with.  Not huge, but the controls and readout were exposed and I was always afraid the thing would get damaged.  Well, about 4 months after I bought the VS-II, they quit making it and replaced it with the StroboFlip, which does everything the VS-II did and then some.  The thing I found most appealing is that it folds up into a compact package that protects all the controls and readouts I had been so worried about.  It also comes with a couple of accessories, including a tuning clip for those noisy situations.  So, I bit the bullet again and bought a StroboFlip.  I had a buyer for my VS-II, so I wasn't really out any money in the deal.  I'm just as happy with the new one as I was with the old one and it's much easier to travel with.  I still have the other tuners and use them on occasion, but the Peterson is my default tuner and goes wherever the harp guitar goes.  As Fred said, they are pricey.  But, they work great.  You can check them out here:


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Posts: 89
Reply with quote  #8 
At times I have tried to use tuners but really only rely on them for a reference point and take it the rest of the way by ear against tuning forks. Yes, the old-fashioned bang-on-the-knee special.

Once I get my higher tuned strings set and then move to sub-basses, I usually find that the overall tension changes and have to continually refine the tuning across all the strings until I finally end-up with all the main strings tuned-up and then it's off to sympathetic land... if anyone needs that info I'm happy to share in another post.

In the studio I reference the Korg DTR-2000, which takes the signal directly back from the hear back system. That allows me to isolate certain mics or pickups and provides me with the most accurate possible guide.

Carlson Oracle 24-string Harp Sympitar
Carlson Taproot 18-string Baritone Harp Sympitar

Wood Dragon (debut solo album)
Harp Guitar Dreams - compilation (track 8 - Mahjabeen)
Together Alone - B. Hoyt (track 2 - Martyr's Last Crossing)
What We Don't Know (digital single) - w/ Michael Manring

Posts: 175
Reply with quote  #9 
I bought a Korg Chromatic CA-1.  Works fine with 6 sub basses in the Bennett tuning. It also has a 1/4" jack.


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