April 22, 2013 at 4:07 pm #76570tracey-kjonegaardMember
Hello everyone! I’m new to learning harp and I’ve been using an app on my phone for a tuner called “gStrings”. I’ve always used it to tune my guitar but I’m wondering how effective it could actually be…I find it kind of iffy sometimes when I’m trying to tune the higher strings, which I would expect from a phone application. That said, do a lot of you use phone apps as tuners? Do you have recommendations for a tuner I should maybe invest in? Just wondering if there are tuners that are good specifically for harps or if I could just go to any music store and pick one up. Thanks!
TraceyApril 22, 2013 at 5:37 pm #76571
With an app, I think you’ll get better results if you use some kind of pickup like this (available under many brand names at any music store) to isolate the harp sound:
You need something like this to get the sound into the phone/tablet:
You just plug the tuning pickup into the quarter inch end and the small end into the phone. Of course, you can just use the mic in the phone, but you’ll pick up a lot of ambient sound as well, which makes it hard to get a clear signal.
I personally prefer cleartune or istrobosoft for apps, but if you’re a beginner it may be easier to tune with a standalone tuner, since they aren’t as sensitive to overtones as the apps are, and don’t waver around as much. Even the inexpensive Korg tuners work well. Just make sure you get a chromatic tuner rather than a guitar tuner.April 22, 2013 at 6:08 pm #76572JeraleeParticipant
I use a traditional Korg tuner for the most part, but occasionally I forget to bring it with me when I go down to the music school to teach. I have insTuner Lite app. It works fine for what I need it to do.
For a metronome, when I don’t have a traditional one with me, I use “SilverDial”April 22, 2013 at 6:41 pm #76573Allison StevickParticipant
I just use a Korg tuner, with a clip-on pickup so I can tune when the room isn’t silent.April 23, 2013 at 1:14 am #76574Angela BiggsMember
I tried a few apps for Windows phones, but they didn’t work well, even with a pickup (and I don’t remember their names because they were short-lived). In the end I learned to tune by ear, and I bought a Snark SN-2 just to get my first pitch and double-check my first tenth. I’ve also found it very accurate and convenient for a quick and dirty tuning of my Harpsicles — especially when I have to tune all of them at once for a class or workshop. The SN-2 is small, it picks up the highest octave better than any other tuner or app I’ve tried so far, and as a bonus, it’s inexpensive. I’ve only had mine for six months though, so I can’t speak to its durability.April 23, 2013 at 10:19 am #76575
May I ask a related question? I use a Korg tuner (no pickup) but have been thinking about adding a pickup or getting a clip-on tuner but I really can’t see an obvious place on either of my harps to clip such a thing. Whereabouts on your instrument do you clip them? Am I being exceptionally thick?April 23, 2013 at 1:21 pm #76576
Hi Lyn —
I clip mine to the sound holes in the back of the harp body. I move the clip up as I move up the harp. (I too use a Korg tuner — I think it is the CA30 model). I am not sure if you have a folk harp or a pedal harp. On my folk harp, I found the top most strings were hard to get to register. I had to try different spots until I found the sweet spot.
For the pedal harp for the top most strings and the bottom most strings, I have to clip the pickup to the action plate. I clip it at the top note area and I find that it has to touch the nut at the very top. For the highest notes this is the only way I can get them to register. For the lowest notes, this is the way I get the needle to not jump all over the place. (I am not sure what causes the extreme wavering — jumps all over the place — of the needle on the lowest notes — too many overtones?)
For the folk harp, matrix makes a really nice pick up. (I did not like the Korg one — it was way too sensitve and the needle on the tuner jumped all over the place.) For the pedal harp, the wood is thicker and so the Matrix model does not work. Seiko makes one that opens wide enough for a pedal harp. I do not remember the model number for the Seiko. I got it from Michigan Harp Center.
Some people clip the pickup to a tuning pin (I call them the “through pins”) in the area of the string that is being tuned. I have tried that (on the folk harp) but did not like it as well as the method that I described above.
(Not sure of the proper terms for some of these parts of the harp…)
All Best Regards,
RichardApril 23, 2013 at 1:49 pm #76577
For me, if the harp has metal ribs (like a Lyon & Healy, for example), I clip the pickup onto one of those. I don’t have to move it on either my Style 11 or Prelude.
For lever harps, I may have to move the pickup to get the top strings of my thormahlen. (This is also true if I use the output from the built-in K&K pickup–can’t get the top notes very well using that, either.) I haven’t see any difference between the Korg pickup and the Matrix one except the packaging, having used them both–I think there are more differences between manufacturing batches within a brand than between the two. I don’t like the tuners that attach directly to the instrument, regardless of who makes them.April 23, 2013 at 2:05 pm #76578kimberly-roweKeymaster
I use the istrobosoft app and love it, but I also use the small Peterson strobe tuner as well. I prefer the strobe to a gauge tuner. Because of my personal no cell-phone on stage during a performance policy (see the [cellphone rant](http://www.harpcolumn.com/forums/performing/posts/62528) thread!), I am just not comfortable relying solely on the phone app, although it does just as good a job if you’re using the input equipment Barbara mentioned.April 23, 2013 at 2:18 pm #76579
Thank you Richard and Barbara! So much useful info there from both of you. My harps are both lever ones so it sounds as if I shouldn’t have too much trouble once I start experimenting a bit. I’m going to try my daughter’s clip-on (she plays the uke so it only tunes to four notes!) just to see what happens but I think I’ll probably be sticking with the one I’ve got but buying a good pickup. My reason for wanting the pickup is because without it I get that jumping around that Richard describes – is it safe for me to assume the pickup is the answer to that problem?April 23, 2013 at 2:35 pm #76580
Hi Lyn —
I think the pickup will stop the jumping around. And they only cost about $15.00 USD so there is not too much of an expenditure! Should be able to find them at just about any music store.
Hi Barbara —
I never thought about clipping to the metal bar. I am going to try that tonight. It makes sense that it would be an excellent place to pick up the vibrations.
All Best Regards,
RichardApril 23, 2013 at 3:39 pm #76581
Hi, Lyn. As Richard said, the pickup should make a big difference. But, if your daughter has a guitar tuner, it only listens for the open strings for the guitar, not the full range of a harp. I’m not sure they make a uke tuner, but it would be the same.
Richard, I find that usually the highest rib you can conveniently reach is the best spot, since the bass is more resonant. For me that’s usually the second or third one from the top, depending on how the sound holes are cut.April 23, 2013 at 3:49 pm #76582
Thanks again both. Yes, the four notes of the uke tuner wouldn’t be any use to me in the practical sense – I just want to try clipping it onto the harp to check that there’s somewhere it will clip. though using the sound holes on the back sounds like the answer.April 23, 2013 at 4:04 pm #76583tony-moroscoMember
I use the istrobosoft app as well, and like Kimberly I have the stand alone version of the tuner as well and the app works just as well when using the pickup that Barbara mentions.
I pretty much stopped using anything but my phone since I alway have it with me and it works so well with that app.
I have tried other tuning apps, and some work really well, but none I have found works as good as the iStroboSoft.April 23, 2013 at 7:04 pm #76584
Hi Lyn —
Just one more thing that I have found with pickups — the wire it rather thin and can break fairly easily. Avoid wrapping it around the tuner or otherwise bending it. The wire (somewhere on the inside) broke after about 2 years. Now I hang my pickup in the closet with it is not in use. I clip so to a thin something or other on the top shelf and it just hangs free. I rarely take my folk harp out of the house and I have no intent of taking the pedal harp out (ever), so I hope to not lose too many more pickups. (But I do keep a spare one…) It was funny — my teacher’s tunerstopped working, I suspected that it was the pickup os I took it home with me and tried it with my tuner and yes the wire had broken. No more than 2 weeks later, my pickup broke.
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