View Full Version : Guitar, tuning and intonation issues

07-12-2006, 08:33 AM
I have several higher end fenders and gibsons. All custom shop. I have also had cheaper guitars over the years. It really doesnt matter if the guitar was $400-$4000 I seem to have the same issues repeating themselves that have been going on over the last year. I prefer the standards, like gibsons and fenders. I don't like the new modern guitars with all the buzzfeiten, floyd roses, etc. I know they do better with tuning and stability, but there are a million guys that have used teles and les pauls and did a million recordings. So I can't imagine I need to buy a guitar with all the new techonolgy just to get a working guitar.

Anyway, I have had these guitars set up restrung, setup again, tweaked, etc. And no matter what while recording and doing some layering, I am always getting a little tuning issue. It never fails. I am constantly having a tuning issue. I use the strobostomp and I check the intonation and 9/10 times the intonation reads nearly perfect. I understand the concept of hitting the notes too hard can sharpen or flatten a note or chord so I have been playing softer, with picks with less density. I keep all the guitars in their cases, and have them setup before every session and I still end up with issues? Its driving me mad to the point where I just feel like giving up in the studio. There are days where its literally horrible sounding to where I feel embarrassed while the engineer watches me struggle. Its a mess. anyway what is the issue. I have been mainly using a few historic pauls, a historic sg, a rickenbacker 620, and a nos 63 reissue tele custom shop. Is it the strings I use? I play GHS boomers 10 guage. I am losing my mind here fellas :crazyguy

07-12-2006, 08:55 AM
Do you mean that the guitar goes out of tune or that you keep getting out of tune notes all over the fretboard? Does this happen on all the guitars?

07-12-2006, 10:08 AM
It seems that the guitars all of them will stay in tune for a short while, but after playing a song or two they start to fade. Its not so apparent in the first 3 frets, its more up and in the 5-12 range. They also start to quickly struggle to tune up to proper pitch. Meaning I sit there fighting with the tuner. Seems to be more on the G and E strings. So mainly its a tuning, and or intonation. Its odd too because they check out on the strobo as being nearly perfect, but you start to play and can hear the tuning issues, so you retune and your out? You retune, and it still doesn't sound right but nothing you do fixes it.

teddy boy
07-12-2006, 10:14 AM
I know what your talking about! It can be a real pain in the backside in the studio. I bet it's a combination of many factors. Monkey grip, string quality, intonation and the fact that a guitar is physically impossible to get into tune in the first place. Do you use the sweetened tuning?

Jim Soloway
07-12-2006, 10:15 AM
Guitars are not really very well tempered instruments. There are pretty much always a few problems regardless of what the builder may do to overcome it. I suspect that what's happening to you is that after you've played for a bit, you're simply starting to hear those imperfections and no amoutn of tuning will get rid of them. I suspect that without even thinking about it, most players reach a point where they subconsciously compensate for the intonation flaws with slight bends and other small tricks.

07-12-2006, 10:40 AM
I think I know what the problem is. You're a drummer! :D

Sorry, I couldn't resist.

I highly recommend the Earvana nut. It is a pretty simple, reversible modification that doesn't require any special tweaking. It has made a big difference on my Fenders.

Mark Robinson
07-12-2006, 11:18 AM
How's the action on your guitars? If it is really high, you might expect some additional challenges for tuning. A professional set-up with special consideration to the condition and cut of the nut, would be a good way to get a grip on this.

Here is another question. What sort of material are you playing? Is there a lot of distortion, or is it clean? One lesson I got when starting electric guitar, as opposed to acoustic, was from a great old buddy. He watched me banging out 6 string chords with gain up, and gently said: "just use two of those notes or possibly three, the big chords will never sound concise in tuning, and clear like a two string chord when you play dirty. This may have been the best advice I've ever gotten. I see that you are a drummer, so I thought I'd throw that in.

07-12-2006, 11:19 AM

07-12-2006, 01:21 PM
Here's a possibility. I bought an Epiphone Elitist Sheraton that I loved. It played amazing .it was perfectly intonated, etc. But, every time I sat down to play it, it sounded out of tune. I couldn't figure it out. I stretched the strings, changed 'em. Nothing worked.

Then I realized that every time I rested my strumming arm on the body of the guitar and played I was somehow casuing pressure on the body and opposite pressure on the neck. This stretched out the neck causing it to go sharp. It's my only guitar that did this. It has to do with how soft the neck's wood is. And the problem is you can't fix it.

To see if this is your problem strum the guitar without resting your arm on the guitar. Then rest your arm on it. If it changes tune, the neck is soft.

Good luck.