Conn Strobo Tuner
I understand that I should calibrate to A442 instead of A440 but any idea how that is done on the Conn Strobo Tuner? I just got one and read the manual and it only mentioned A440 the CAL function seems to be mainly to calibrate the CENTS knob for zero before you begin. My Korg CA-30 has a simple up/down adjustment, am I missing something I'm kind fo new to tuning my harps.
After you calibrate the knob for 0 cents (A440), turn the cents dial to +12, and select the key that matches one blow on your harp (A for an A harp, etc). Leave it there, and tune every reed on the blow plate without touching the dial.
Now turn the dial to +14 cents, select the key to match the 2 draw (E on an A harp, etc). After tuning all notes on the draw plate in the same manner, without touching the dial, the harp will be in 7 limit JI, like older Marine Bands, with an ultra-smooth chord if executed correctly. This is the tuning you would hear on anything LW or BW recorded, as Hohner used this tuning until approximately 1980 or thereabouts.
If you don't want the 5/9 draw to sound flat for single notes, set the knob at zero and select the key to match the 5 draw note (D on the A harp, etc). This would be like the current Marine Band tuning.
You could even set the 5/9 draw to +14 cents, which would put the temperament in 19 limit JI. That sounds better to some ears if the harp will be used a lot for third position playing.
I often like to set the draw plate at +16 cents instead of 14.. Tuning the draw reeds a couple cents sharper like this works well for harder players.
Try to get the chords really smooth on the first 4 holes. The display will display multiple notes at the same time, and with practice you can discern which note is off when playing 2 notes together. This is something that only a real mechanical strobe tuner is capable of, and a real advantage when tuning chords and octaves. Virtual strobes are not the same thing- that's why they're called "virtual". After tuning the root chord, tune the rest of the harp by playing octaves.
What I've described is the same way I do it for blues harmonica players.
Before jumping completely into it, you might want to check the strobe tuner against your Korg to get a feeling about if it's calibrating right. Old strobe tuners are usually high-maintenance. Just like an old amp, they need cap jobs once in awhile, and resistors drift in value. Bulbs burn out. If it ever needs repaired, contact Peterson tuners about it, they took over the Conn company years ago. Their tech department is first-class in customer service in my experience. They also have a forum that is interesting to look through.
What a wonderful tutorial from Master Joe. I also asked Richard Sleigh, another expert on the Conn Strobe Tuner. Richard wrote me back yesterday, "I calibrate it to 440 and then turn the cents knob to about 12 -13 cents sharp and that is what I have done for the last twenty plus years and it works for me".
Keep us posted on your progress SPL20!
Dick Sjoeberg of MasterHarp offers this advise:
Additional to this (Joe Spiers) method is to check the calibration point by using a tuning fork (A 440) and placing the "ball" against the microphone head. After finding the "zero point", turn the knob +12 -13 cent.