United States Patent 3704646

A mechanical tuning aid for guitar-like stringed instruments enabling an optimum tonality and balanced tuning technique with both hands of the musician free to accomplish peg manipulation, that is, one hand for string tension adjustment with the other hand free for simultaneous strumming. The tuning aid is temporarily fastened transversely on the neck of the instrument and a button is adjustably positioned to depress the strings selectively and to hold the same depressed on the predetermined fret until the next string is tuned in relation thereto.

Davis, Richard P. (San Diego, CA)
Dunlap, Philip A. (San Diego, CA)
Application Number:
Publication Date:
Filing Date:
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
84/318, 84/319, 84/455, 984/110, 984/114
International Classes:
G10D3/00; G10D3/04; (IPC1-7): G10G7/02
Field of Search:
View Patent Images:
US Patent References:
3230816Device for tuning stringed instruments1966-01-25Sira
2961913Tuning attachment for stringed instruments1960-11-29Popkin
1697508Device for tuning stringed instruments1929-01-01Kordick

Primary Examiner:
Wilkinson, Richard B.
Assistant Examiner:
Gonzales, John F.
We claim

1. A mechanical string depressor for tuning a guitar or the like having strings and a neck with frets thereon, comprising:


Standard tuning procedure for guitars and the like is to tune the first string, say the E string, to the desired pitch and, in the case of a guitar, to tune the other E string to the octave interval. The rest of the strings are then tuned in a variety of ways, often to unison with another string of the same or different instrument. It is interesting to note that the difficulty of remembering the exact tone, while the strumming hand is used to adjust the tensioning peg, has led to at least two common expedients, vocally humming the tone of the desired pitch or relying on a second person to keep sounding the tone on another instrument. To some persons this is quite satisfactory but it is usually inadequate to achieve a perfect balance and tonality within the instrument.


In answer to the need for a means and method for aiding the tuning of a stringed guitar-like instrument, a mechanical depressor for individual strings has a cross bar with block-like elements to grasp the sides of the neck of the guitar and a button or post is mounted on the cross bar and made adjustable to press the strings one at a time onto a fret under the cross bar. This leaves both hands to do the actual tuning, that is, to manipulate the tensioning pegs and to strum simultaneously. As a method, the invention can be regarded as first securing a reference, one string tuned to a desired pitch, and then tuning another string so that the tuned string, raised in pitch by the mechanical depressor, is the fifth degree of the string being tuned and regarded as the root tone, and then substantially repeating this sequence for the rest of the strings.


FIG. 1 is a perspective view of the depressor;

FIG. 2 is a top plan view showing the unit mounted on a guitar neck; and

FIG. 3 is a sectional view taken on line 3--3 of FIG. 2.


A guitar neck is fragmentarily indicated at 10 and the usual six strings 12 as represented are the first, second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth strings, these strings being also regularly known as the high E,B,G,D,A, and E strings. Tensioning pegs are used to adjust the pitch of the strings and frets 14 on the neck 10 are regularly spaced to enable half-tone and greater changes in pitch by depressing the strings onto the different frets, all according to standard procedure.

In tuning the guitar according to this invention, a mechanical string depressor generally indicated by the numeral 16 is used to free both hands for the actual tuning. The depressor 16 comprises cross bar 18 shown as bifurcated with two arms 20 and a common end piece 22. The bars are preferably flattened horizontally and extend snugly through slots 24 in each of the blocks 26 and 28, which may be identical.

The confronting faces 30 of the blocks engage the opposite edges of the neck 10 and linear stops 32 limit the downward movement of the blocks by engaging the top of the neck.

An elastic tether 34 may be used for further stabilization of the depressor 16 when in use, this tether being looped through slots 36 in blocks 26, 28.

In a modified form of depressor, depicted in FIG. 4, the blocks 26-28 are formed with resilient lower portions 48 which are turned toward each other and frictionally engage the lower fall of the neck 10.

An individual string depressing button 38 has an enlarged head 40 which may be knurled or fretted and a depending shank 42 which may be externally threaded for vertically adjustable mounting in a slider 44. The slider 44 has a reduced midsection 46 to fit reasonable snugly in the space between the arms 20 of the cross bar 18 and is threaded to receive the shank 42 of the button 38. The lower end of the shank 42 is smooth surfaced and engages the strings to depress them selectively onto the desired frets 14.

In using the depressor 16 in tuning a guitar, the fifth or A string is tuned to the desired pitch, usually 440 c.p.s. The depresser 16 is then applied firmly to the guitar neck 10. When the elastic tether 34 is used, this tether allows the block 26 to be first removed from and then replaced on the cross bar 18 with the latter bridging the neck 10 as illustrated. The cross bar fits snugly in the slots 24 so that the depressor if firmly stationed on the guitar neck, the stops 32 further stabilizing the depressor while limiting the downward movement thereof relative to the neck.

The depressor is first positioned so that the fifth or A string can be depressed onto the second fret, raising the pitch thereof to a B tone. The sixth or E string is now checked on the seventh fret (B Tone) to make sure it is lower in pitch than the tuned A string which is depressed at B tone, since it is best to tune "up" to the desired tone. The fifth and sixth strings are now strummed with one hand, the other hand being free to manipulate the tensioning peg of the sixth string. As the pitch of the E string is raised, there will be heard the unique and unmistakable sound of beating with the A string now raised to B which becomes the fifth degree with reference to the E string considered as the root tone.

This unmistakable sound of sensible beating indicates what may be termed an Imperfect Fifth. When thus adjusted the strings are tuned and balanced. This theory of tuning although only experimental and certainly not applied to guitar tuning, is found in early musical theory in Hemholts "On the Sensations of Tone" page 335, "The grave or imperfect Fifth, a comma (of 22 cents) less than the just fifth, consists of a Pythagorean minor and a Major Third. It sounds like a badly tuned Fifth, and makes sensible beats. "

The D string is now raised to E by shifting the button 38 to the D string and tuning the latter as the fifth degree with reference to the A or second string. The G string is tuned in the same manner but the B string is tuned with the button 30 depressing it onto the third fret. This is because the interval between B and C is only one-half tone and the Fifth above G is D. Finally, the depressor 16 is returned to the second fret and the first or E string is depressed by the button onto the second fret and tuned as the above described imperfect Fifth degree above B as root tone.

The strings should now be tuned for balanced sound and true tonality.