Alright, let’s split these words up
STANDARD – so a Music conference got together in 1939 and these music ‘peeps’ decided that concert pitch was going to dial in their “A” note into 440hz.
Ok so what’s the big “D”? Well there are these things called tuners and an old school way (but still very current because of it’s accuracy) was to use these things called “strobe tuners”. Check out the company Peterson to buy one of theirs! Anyways so when a musical sound was played, a strobe light, yes, just like a strobe light at a rave in the 1990s, would react to the sound and blink faster or slower depending on how it was calibrated. This would tell us which frequency our musical note was resonating.
So what we’re getting into here is sounds getting analized and transferred into information we can intellectually understand. Cuz lets face it – how the heck do we describe notes, and musical sounds?! It is more of a feeling isn’t it?
So you can see why they figured out a standardized, global pitch – SO YOUR GUITAR WOULD BE IN TUNE! Ok, and other instruments too! This way when massive orchestras would get together and rock out, they would all have some sort of reference. Let’s face it, things sound a lot better when they’re in tune!
So lets get to the word GUITAR now. We have an A string that’s calibrated to 440hz for sure! it’s the second biggest string on the guitar.
So going from big to small, we have E, A, D, G, B, and little e.
So that brings us to our next word, TUNING. Because that’s what we call standard guitar tuning.
The Perfect 4ths
The guitar is tuned in this musical relationship called perfect 4ths – lemme show you. Let’s count how many letters there are between E and A – 4, right? Make sure that when you count E, that gets a finger. Ok, what about A to D? A B C D… there’s 4 there and so on. BUT! When you get to G to B, how many is that? Yup, that’s 3, and we call that musical relationship/interval/harmony a Major 3rd. Then we’re back to another perfect 4th from B to E.
So where did standard guitar tuning come from? I donno! It doesn’t really make sense as far as I’m concerned! It’s tuned like an Emi7 add4! I’m sure there’s some kind of explanation for it somewhere. But I’m sure the designer of the guitar and the designer of standard guitar tuning wasn’t expecting the guitar to be the forefront of a cultural movement one day.. you know what I mean? There are thousands of instruments and many guitar like/stringed instruments out there that we don’t even know about. Something about the guitar stuck to our culture like glue, and is a very powerful instrument for many styles of music.
Everything from classical to hard rock can share the same tuning across 6 strings. It’s pretty cool!
So kinda like house sitting for a friend or family member, you get stuck with it sometimes. Standard guitar tuning is a lot like that!
Although there are so many different ways to tune your guitar, we shouldn’t feel limited. Great bands like The Rolling Stones and Big Wreck have almost all of their songs in altered tunings. It’s a very common thing. Also more current pop acts like John Mayer and The Goo Goo Dolls are also well known for un-standardized tunings!
The most common though, is to have your tuner calibrated to 440hz, which resonates an A note and tune your others strings (big to small) E A D G B e.
The argument is – IS 440 THE MOST MUSICAL FREQUENCY? I’m going to do more investigation on this and get back to you. There is a lot of music related with therapy, meditation and an entire science behind different frequencies, what they do, how they affect us and more. It’s really fascinating and when you think of it, it kinda makes sense! There’s something about music and how different songs and genres make us feel emotions – just by listening to it. So I would say this is a pretty cool topic that I’ll update you on!
If you’re looking for a tuner and own an iphone, ipad or ipod – you can download the Will Ripley Guitar Tuner from the App store. Just search for Will Ripley in the App store and you’ll find it. It’s really accurate and easy to use. I use this tuner in a free video titled “how to tune your guitar” this will teach you tricks and tips on how to tune your guitar effectively. It is a HUGE deal. Playing an intune guitar separates a good guitarist from a bad guitarist. It’s that simple!
If you want a physical tuner to keep in your case, Korg makes a really good tuner that’s accurate. You can pick one of these up anywhere from $10-$25.
I hope you found this helpful and interesting!
Keep on rippin’ it up!