I have wondered why a very useful musical feature is not
included in all music recording or live mixing consoles, no
matter how expensive: a digital tuner.
This realization led a few of my record clients to connect
a tuner, via an additional buffered output, to the output
of the monitor solo bus or even right across the stereo monitor
buss. I have also routed one effect send buss output to a
tuner input as well. That way your guitarist can tune up anytime
even while his track mix plays and he can't hear himself.
One producer I work with, Oliver Leiber, actually has a Korg
DTR-1000 rack-mount tuner installed right up in the soffit along
with his large control room monitors and video monitors. From anywhere
in his control room at anytime you can see the Korg moving to detect
and read pitch. Korg makes many different tuners including the OT-12
that has an optional CM-100 contact mic for attaching to classical
instruments for no-interference from other orchestral members also
Well, that's fine for musicians recording direct and sitting in
the control room but what about out in the studio or on a live stage?
TU-12H tuner or, one of Roland's many variants, has been a mainstay
for years especially amongst guitarists. Acoustic guitar players can
be seen balancing one on their knee so the built-in microphone can
pickup the vibrations of their quiet instrument's individual string
pitches. My immediate suggestion was to connect the tuner's input
into the guitar's 1/4-inch output jack to get the guitar's signal
directly from the built-in pickup. Works great
interference from other sound sources or noise (since the jack mutes
the tuner's mic) and you can leave the tuner plugged in all the
time without affecting the guitar's acoustic sound. But what if
your guitar doesn't have an internal pickup?
My next thought
was to plug the tuner directly into the cue system's headphone box!
If your guitar is on-mic, fader up and heard in the PA or ready
to record in the studio, there should be some of the guitar's sound
in the monitor mix and/or headphones. I find this works very well
but from time to time you may require the engineer to solo your
guitar in the cue mix if other musicians are making noises that
throw the tuner off. Obviously, any added effects like reverb,
chorus, flangers or harmonizers should be muted while tuning but
compression and EQ doesn't matter. So the next time you see your
guitar player struggling to tune up in the studio or on stage, you
may want to suggest one of these methods.