Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

447 Hz tuning

What’s up with the Earls of Leicester tuning to 447 Hz? I didn’t know people did that and it took me a while to figure out how to play along with them on YouTube.


What I found…

" I was speaking with Jerry Douglas a short time back for a magazine article on the Earls of Leicester and we somehow got on the subject of tuning and pitch. It was too technical for a general audience so I never included it in the article I wrote (for the Canadian music magazine Penguin Eggs) but thought it would be of interest to my fellow nerds here on the Cafe.

In getting “as close as we can to channeling these guys,” Douglas said the Earls pay homage to Flatt and Scruggs not just with the clothes, the instrumentation and the sound, but also the pitch. Standard tuning, as we know, is based on A = 440 Hz. But Douglas said the Earls tune to A = 448 Hz (which explains why you may be driving yourself mad attempting to play along).

That’s just a shade off the tuning used by Flatt and Scruggs, which Douglas said was based on A = 451 Hz.

“When I was learning to play with a Flatt and Scruggs record, I had to tune up. I thought ‘why does this sound so bad? I’m exactly in tune with this pitchfork’ or whatever,” Douglas said.

Johnny Warren, the Earls’ fiddle player and son of Flatt and Scruggs fiddler Paul Warren, shed some light on why that is so. “Johnny says that whenever he saw the (Flatt and Scruggs) band tune up for a show, Lester Flatt would hit his D string on his guitar and everybody tuned to that. Lester tuned to a feeling. It certainly wasn’t tuned to a pitch pipe or anything.”

Douglas remains a firm believer in tuning to the vibe and frequency of a band, rather than each member being a slave to their individual electronic tuners. Not all electronic tuners are exactly the same, he says, which is why he tunes to Shawn Camp’s guitar (based on 448 Hz) in the Earls."

LOL, someone posted… I love the irony of Flatt, being Sharp!


Was it perhaps overcompensation? :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:


No he was just a smart (sharp) dresser :rofl:

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Wow that takes my level of respect for the Earls to a whole new level! Thanks for finding that.

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