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CS336 Not Staying in Tune

guitarz_dave

Member
Messages
347
My Gibson CS336 is a great guitar. Unfortunately, it falls out of tune frequently. I've had a good luthier do a setup, look at the nut/bridge/saddle/intonation/etc which all are fine, file the slots a little better in the nut, apply lubricant in the nut slots, etc. I'm using 10's and do not bend the strings heavily. It's mainly the G and B strings, though the others go out of tune to, though not as often. Any suggestions would be appreciated.
 

GM Reszel

Member
Messages
1,126
Hi Dave, I know you said your tech set some proper things but I'm going to make some suggestions.

1. The nut is often a problem on Gibson tilted back heads and angled over strings and the G and B are often the trouble-makers. Even though you don't bend heavily you need to try to draw all the slack storage out of the strings. This would be the string length behind the nut to the tuners and from the tunomatic to the tailpiece. To start make sure you pinch and pull the stretch each string along its length. Retune: if any strings were flat you know that's progress already. Now we need to draw out the slack storage and do the same procedure behind the nut and bridge - pinch and pull the strings, retune until you get no more flat. Always tune strings up and into tune and never down to a note (where you'll just introduce more slack storage and unmesh the tuners).

2. Instruments benefit better from a stretched intonation as opposed to hard (mean intonation). Most people will intonate their guitars mean on - pluck the 12th fret harmonic, compare it with the fretted 12th and move the saddle until the notes match. The trouble with this is there's an error in the way we divide frets and we need to soften the error a bit. When you intonate the E,A,D,G string it should actually read a couple cents flat of perfect. When you intonate the B it should read one cent sharp and the high E should be dead on like most people normally intonate strings. I've done this for a long time and it makes a big difference. It is even helpful to tune the strings the same when you're done and play the guitar this way (EADG, -2 cents, B, +1, E, 0). If you do some research you'll find there's other offsets that can be used (I know Allums uses a different one). This one has worked very well for me and tamed a lot of guitars.

3. Make sure the pickups aren't too close. Some people crank the pickups right up to the string and think that sounds best for best output but getting them too close can have adverse pull on the strings and cause weird tuning warbles. I wouldn't put the bridge pickup closer than 1/8" to the underside of the strings and the neck pickup 3/16" to 1/4" inch.

I know you say things don't seem to hold tune and doing some of these things may help the myriad of tuning issues that can occur and I hope this helps.
 

pfrischmann

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
3,414
Go behind the nut and push on the strings and see if they return to pitch. If the strings are wrapped properly and you are still having tuing issues, it's almost always the nut.

I have the same problem with my lp. In my case, the nut slots still aren't wide enough for 10's.

A little chapstick and a tooth pick to apply works great for now.
 

rob2001

Member
Messages
16,927
2. Instruments benefit better from a stretched intonation as opposed to hard (mean intonation). Most people will intonate their guitars mean on - pluck the 12th fret harmonic, compare it with the fretted 12th and move the saddle until the notes match. The trouble with this is there's an error in the way we divide frets and we need to soften the error a bit. When you intonate the E,A,D,G string it should actually read a couple cents flat of perfect. When you intonate the B it should read one cent sharp and the high E should be dead on like most people normally intonate strings. I've done this for a long time and it makes a big difference. It is even helpful to tune the strings the same when you're done and play the guitar this way (EADG, -2 cents, B, +1, E, 0). If you do some research you'll find there's other offsets that can be used (I know Allums uses a different one). This one has worked very well for me and tamed a lot of guitars.
Thanks for confirming what i've been finding with intonation as well. I posted a thread a while back about offset intonation but didn't get much response. I was intonating the D and G string slightly flat and noticing improved tuning for how I play. I didn't discover the sharp B yet and the big E and A were mean, so i'll give your strategy a try!
 

Rob Sharer

Muso-Luthier
Messages
2,822
Am I the only one who doubts that an ordinary human could detect a difference of only 1 cent?


Rob
 

rob2001

Member
Messages
16,927
Am I the only one who doubts that an ordinary human could detect a difference of only 1 cent?


Rob
In the heat of normal jamming/live situations, no.

Recording multiple tracks with different chord voicing's, and problematic chord shapes (intonation wise), yes, there can be a noticeable "pulse".

But as I found out in one of several micro tuning issue threads, some chordings can have as much as a 14 cent discrepancy which can be lessened by offset intonations. But as always, compromises are needed.

But ya, I agree, for most practical situations I doubt a 1 cent difference is very noticeable.
 

vivaoaxaca

Member
Messages
280
Am I the only one who doubts that an ordinary human could detect a difference of only 1 cent?


Rob
You may not be the only one who doubts it, but I've met a few who can hear that accurately.

The most amazing ear I've ever encountered on a human is a piano tuner. He is an amazing guy. Very meek, very professional and incredible to watch. I asked him if it would bother him if I watched him work on my piano and he assured me it would not. I guess piano tuning can be a lonely job.

As he started unpacking his tools he told me about the master piano tuner that he'd apprenticed with 20 years ago and how much he loved working with musicians and great instruments. Then he pulled out a tuning fork, hit it against his leg, held it to his ear, and started playing intervals up and down the keyboard while singing softly to himself.

"When was the last time this piano was tuned?" He asked?

"Before it was moved here." I replied.

"Well," he said, "You've got a very good instrument here. The lower strings are a little flat, but the higher strings are mostly in tune within one or two cents."

I didn't believe him until I got out an electronic tuner, but by the time he was finished I was convinced that he could hear fractions of a cent.

My piano has never sounded better and will never be tuned by anyone else.

Sorry, for the hijack. Back to your regularly scheduled guitar tuning problems.
 

Rob Sharer

Muso-Luthier
Messages
2,822
Many of my customers, bless them, would bulldoze right over a 1-cent adjustment with a meaty left hand and a heavy right.

Rock on,


Rob
 

GM Reszel

Member
Messages
1,126
Am I the only one who doubts that an ordinary human could detect a difference of only 1 cent?
Rob
The one string by itself isn't the thing you're trying to hear. It' the 6 strings collectively stretched in intonation and tuning that softens the sour tuning blow. One can hear it. Add distortion and a little bit of intonation wavering between strings becomes blaringly evident. You'll notice most acoustics have a compensated B saddle (at the very least) to sweeten things.

Heavy hand, light hand, Yeah, rock on man (in tune that is).

Do you think changing the nut from plastic to bone would make a difference?
Given it was cut properly bone should be better and yes would make a difference.
 
Last edited:

kimock

Member
Messages
12,520
Am I the only one who doubts that an ordinary human could detect a difference of only 1 cent?


Rob
Yeah, 1 cent in isolation is ridiculous. No ordinary human has that kind of pitch discrimination that I'm aware of.
People who do a fair amount of tuning work make distinctions like that routinely with two notes though. You can hear it in harmony.
It's harder to hear as octave or unison on guitar, but I'll bet most folks could get a perfect 5th in tune with one cent accuracy if they spent enough time with it.
As far as bulldozing over a one cent difference, you could probably get that on some guitars just tilting it forward or back from vertical.
No need to even resort to the hamfist thing.
 




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