It’s not all recording tutorials and bassist bashing when Spectre Sound Studios’ Glenn Fricker gets on camera. While his field of technical mastery may be good looks, closely followed by getting ripping guitar and drum tones, he’s played a gig or two in his day.
Now this may come as a shocker, but he has a few opinions on what to do to get your band ready for the stage–angry opinions. Or, at least loud ones where his hands shake a lot. I do agree with most of them, but I have to give a little bit of pushback on the part where he calls out guitarists who tune up their guitars on stage immediately preceding their set. I mean, yes, you should certainly get those 430s locked into 440 before you carry your guitars up there, but this isn’t a mutually exclusive proposition. There’s always a chance that the tuning pegs may get knocked between when you have to put your guitar down, or back in its case, and when it’s time to huck your gear onto the stage. Or perhaps it was very cold outside when you brought your instruments in (which may have only been an hour ago) but the venue is hot and humid. Or you could just have a mediocre guitar that doesn’t hold a tuning particularly well. And hey, your pedalboard tuner is often more accurate than a little battery-powered one. Oh, and finally, everyone in your band should always have the same tuner on their board for maximum consistency, but it may be too much to ask that you also have that same tuner to spare in your guitar case or whatever bag/case you keep your spare strings/tubes/pedals/etc in. And one more last thing: occasionally you’ll play some cramped basement or VFW hall with nary a shoulder’s span to move in, much less bust out a guitar and tuner and cable.
So here’s what I’d recommend. Yes, whenever possible you should tune right before you take the stage. Ideally it should be a part of your pre-performance warm-up ritual. But ALSO tune again right before you start your set. Do it silently, obviously, and discretely. I like to touch up the tuning when (if) the sound engineer is line-checking the instruments, or even when I’d “check one two three”-ing the vocal mic. There’s usually time.
With that caveat off my chest, I can now proclaim that I wholeheartedly endorse the tips in this video.