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In December I bought a violin. I play a fretless bass so the thought of four strings and no frets didn't seem too daunting. I play the mandolin and its four courses of strings are tuned the same as a violin so that seemed like a head start. Why did I buy it? Ear training.
I can hear when I play an accurate major 2nd, minor 3rd, major 4th, 5th or octave. Some other intervals are getting closer with practice while others still sound like I am guessing in the dark - which is true. I am avoiding using a tuner, piano or any other means of checking my fretting accuracy, forcing me to listen to what I play and decide whether it is correct or not. It's fun and I am enjoying the challenge.
I play drums in church and at last week's rehearsal I could hear that my tom toms were not tuned relative to each other, something I hadn't noticed in the 2 years I have been playing in the band. I take that as an indication that my hearing is getting better. That's progress!
You're doing well to get notes out of a violin at all - the bowing process was a complete mystery for me when I had a go at the instrument.
Fretless bass sounds like a real challenge too, but it all sounds very positive on the ear training for you Lester.
I have found one negative to my ears becoming better attuned over the last 5 years - if I have no tuner and tune a guitar so that strings are correct in relation to each other if they are all a bit sharp or all a bit flat the guitar just doesn't sound right and I have to stop playing.
I have that same problem with tuning a guitar - but I put it down to my ears getting worse rather than better. It's bloody annoying whatever it is.,
I've mentioned this elsewhere previously. I only ever use the initial tuning process as a guide, whether using a tuner or not. I then tune relative to the chords of the key I'm playing in, not the open strings. The tuning on any instrument that can be played in more than one key is always a compromise. I also never bother tuning until I've warmed up by going through a few exercises. That gets my ears attuned, and the strings and soundboard warmed up as well. The vibration in the strings will warm them up (lengthening them by a gnat's doo dah), and the same with the soundboard loosening so it doesn't sound dull, which can also impact how you think the tuning sounds.
If I could actually play I'd be a star!
At gigs, I do really notice the effect re the warming strings expanding Reg - usually I can be seen adjusting the tuning feverishly between numbers for the first half hour or so. Jazz tunes move around harmonically quite a bit, plus there isn't always a lot of time between numbers, so I really have to tune the guitar in a way that works OK for all keys - as you say, a compromise, but when it's not right, I really notice all the same.
I can appreciate the issues playing live, especially when you may not be able to hear clearly above background noise. That's when Jocko's Strobo-jobby (can never remember the proper name) tuner with the sweetened tunings might well come into its own.
The strobo tuner is certainly a thought, although I have to admit that just tuning accurately to equal temperament works pretty well for me. I could do with just a bit more precision in that regard than my Snark gives though. I also have to contend with things such as a keyboard player who sometimes has his keyboard set a few cents flat, for some stupid reason...
Does it matter - you're playing jazz, who's going to notice?
Probably just me, and the sax player (band leader) who has a very good ear, as they say. Last night we did a gig for a beauty salon convention, of all things - I don't think a single person there really cared what we were playing...
Well, at least you're getting gigs and living the dream. Er, I think!