Chuck the techs. I'm going back to pitch pipes.

April 30, 2012 at 12:53 AM · After using an android app, tone generator on my metronome, a tuner, pitch pipe and a tuning fork, I've decided that I'm going back to old-school gadgets rather than tech trends. For some reason, all the electronics seem to go through a Doppler effect (IE: the pitch changes when I get closer to the speaker). It's very irritating.

But I tune to pitches from 440 to 442. So does anyone know where I can get a non-440 tuning fork/pitch pipe? Glaesel and Kratt only sell 440 pitch pipes, and the tuning fork I possess is 440.

Did anyone else notice the Doppler effect? Or am I doing something wrong?

Replies (25)

April 30, 2012 at 01:04 AM · I would just say to try and not move while tuning.

April 30, 2012 at 01:08 AM · Good luck getting a pitch pipe that's really 440.

April 30, 2012 at 07:36 AM · Google provided

naturally forks also suffer the Doppler Effect. I personally like the pitch forks make better than tone generators or pitch pipes.

April 30, 2012 at 10:42 AM · I'm not too sure about this. It is possible to sharpen a tuning fork's pitch 'by filing the ends of the prongs' and, for that matter, to flatten it by filing 'between them at the base' ( A_Dictionary_of_Music.../206). What is much less certain is how you can regulate the pitch to, say, A443 as the result of your filing. This procedure may not work with such exactness.

April 30, 2012 at 11:20 AM · Maybe you are adding pressure to the A string when you lean in to tune. Get yourself a clamp on tuner like the Snark, no fiddling around.

My guess is that you would have to be running a good 20 mph at the tuner for the doppler effect to kick in.

April 30, 2012 at 01:06 PM ·

April 30, 2012 at 01:08 PM · And John, what frequency do they resonate at if you, say, hit the barn door with them?

April 30, 2012 at 06:38 PM · I use a tuning fork on a resonater box (at 440) that is struck with a hammer. This rings loudly and for long enough to tune to easily. I too find an electronic sound unpleasant to tune to.

This device is made by Wittner and one is able to purchase additional forks for different tunings and pitches.

Cheers Carlo

April 30, 2012 at 09:21 PM · "Back of the envelope" calculation:

If the distance from your arm to your ear is 1 meter (for me it's just slightly less) and you bring the fork from the table where you struck it with your arm fully extended to your ear in a half second (I do it faster than this) and your tuning fork is A-440, then while it's moving toward your ear you will hear the pitch as A=442.

April 30, 2012 at 09:36 PM · The apparent pitch of a tone will vary a little according to its volume, but by how much, and in which direction, depends on the frequency of the tone as well as the individual person.

Also, our two ears, used seperately, e.g. (one earbud only) may not even quite agree with each other!

To make things worse, it is harder to judge pitch with precision in a "pure" sinewave-tone, such as a tuning-fork (where I come from a "pitch-fork" is for shifting hay!) A "buzzier" tone is best.

Remember, the first condition for making music is silence....

April 30, 2012 at 09:54 PM · Just touch the base of the tuning fork to your front teeth--that will help with your perception. Or touch it to your bridge.

April 30, 2012 at 10:34 PM · I'm starting to feel like I am in a Electric Guitar Forum

April 30, 2012 at 10:42 PM · Don't poopoo the guitarists. They generally have a better sense of rhythm than a lot of us. My father's a guitarist (amateur) and I've learned a lot from him.

I think I'll check out the tuning forks from Wittner. I insert them in my ear. Since it vibrates directly into my ear, I tend to get a truer pitch.

May 1, 2012 at 02:45 AM · I used to put the tuning fork on my head but it bothered the people next to me. Too resonant.

May 1, 2012 at 01:27 PM · Haha, Patrick, that was perfect!

May 1, 2012 at 01:35 PM · John I was thinking the exact same thing, we can get to "OCD" in the music world. If it sounds in tune than it is in tune. I was working with a guy who insisted that we all tune from the same tuner. His rational was that every tuner's 440 was different. In reality I doubt anyone could tell or hear the difference.

May 1, 2012 at 11:28 PM · Well, a human ear CAN discern 1 Hz difference...

It's just irritating that as I move in toward the tone generator/tuner, the pitch starts to differ. If you use tuning fork/pitch pipe, the sound resonates through your own jaw/cranium so it's less likely that the sound will differ.

I did find a 442Hz tuning fork, though. Thanks to the person who recommended Wittner!

May 2, 2012 at 12:05 PM · Great idea John - the one thing missing from my practise studio - an oboist! And won't the guys in the quartet be surprised when I turn up with my own PTO!! Where can I order one?

PTO Personal Tuning Oboist

May 2, 2012 at 12:50 PM · Strobe tuners are the most accurate


Usefull if you are into pro recordings

May 2, 2012 at 12:54 PM · charles - are they 'tempered'. or am I confused?

May 2, 2012 at 08:08 PM · The oboe, unfortunately, is hovering around 435Hz usually. She never quite get up to 440Hz. Ergo I need to tune beforehand and adjust accordingly.

May 4, 2012 at 03:04 PM · Yes Elise, PTOs definitely are tempered.

I recommend getting an even tempered one if you expect him to stand around all day while you play in a quartet. However, a merry tempered one could be more interesting and may help if you are playing fiddle music. At all costs avoid the bad tempered, nasty tempered and cranky tempered PTOs- they are likely to throw their instrument at your head with no warning if you play a wrong note. If you play violin in a variety of styles you may have to buy a full set of variably tempered oboists but these can get expensive.

May 6, 2012 at 06:02 PM · Laughing at the oboist comment! I used to play in an orchestra where the concertmaster (a wily veteran) would wait for the oboe A, then play his open strings while fake-turning all 4 of his pegs. That always cracked me up, since he only did it a few times a season and we never knew when it was coming.

May 7, 2012 at 03:41 AM · The oboist varies so much in my orchestra that I always recall that special story from Thomas Beecham;

One day, as the orchestra members were settling down, Beecham signalled the oboist for an A. Unfortunately, the new oboist had a powerful vibrato. After the orchestra members were thrown into confusion, Thomas Beecham said, solemnly:

"Gentlemen, take your pick".

I think my oboist is really just picking.

May 8, 2012 at 07:18 AM · Momoko, been there. Conductor to oboist - "Can we have another A?" And that's just what you get - another A. Totally different from the first one. But even worse is the oboist who can hit 440 - and insists on keeping to it. So during the concert most of the wind tend to go up and this clot insisted on being the "only one in step".

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