RE: Playing in tune

>From: "Harmonica Blu" <BluXpres@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>

>A quick check to my ear as to whether I or the band or solo guitarist etc.
>is out of tune just slightly is that the harp seems to sound "sour" to me.
>That's the best way I can explain it. I also find in that situation that if
>I'm playing with a band (or harp!) that is very slightly out of tune I
>really can't play with full expression. I'm spending a lot of time just
>playing as little as possible and trying to find a way to play the harp a
>little closer to the band's intonation.
>When you are struggling like that on stage it's time to ask the band to
>retune. I've had guys say, " OK, OK, Blu we're in tune, but we'll check the
>tuner anyway."  Then - Lo and Behold! - just one string is out. But that
>screwed up almost every chord or bass run! So don't be afraid to ask the
>band to check. If they are in tune and you are not, it's time to shed that
>harp for the nite, at least.
>Harmonica Blu

Amen to all that.  I find it to be a very frequent occurrence, and it 
completely throws my playing, just as you describe.  99% of the time it's 
someone else out of tune, but even so I always have a back-up harp of some 
description with me for each of my "important" ones.  And the fellers don't 
like it one bit if you ~politely~ suggest that they check their tuning, eh!  
One particular problem comes with a couple of fiddle players I know - it 
takes 'em a while to get their intonation settled in at the start of the 
session, but I give 'em half an hour before diplomatically raising the 
issue.  I've even resorted to taking my harp to the privacy of the gents' 
toilets to reassure myself that it hasn't flatted out on me (d***ed good 
acoustics in there too, but let's not start that again!).  We have one guy 
who plays a 12-string, and very good he is too, but he tunes his guitar up 
at home before setting off (it's a 30-mile drive to the session for him, and 
his guitar is subjected to all sorts of temperature regimes in transit).  
His tuning is often~ahem~suspect, but I'm not going to ask a reluctant 
12-string man to do a comprehensive retune in the course of the evening as 
life is far too short.  Unless the situation is truly desperate of course 
(how do you define that?).

One good thing about it all is that it helps to get all the "critical 
fine-tuning" talk that we have on the lists into better perspective!

Been there, done it, got the T-shirt, Blu!  Empathy and sympathy, man!

Steve Shaw

Want more than the blues?  Try Irish!

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