Getting the Average Guitar (without locking tuners) to Stay in Tune?

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by 5150user, Dec 22, 2009.

  1. 5150user

    5150user Member

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    I'm talking about using good die cast tuners, say Grovers, with the guitar's intonation set fairly well, the neck straight, heavy strings, no real hard string bends, not using a vibrato bar, etc., and still wanting more consistent tuning, outside of locking tuners or a locking nut...

    What are the secrets of the trade?

    Sometimes I enjoy just playing bass instead, simply because I hate having a 6 string guitar go out of tune after 2 or 3 songs. I play a lot of rhythm with a lot of chords, and I hate to hear a string that's out of tune when I play a chord. I can play bass for hours without that problem.

    Please, do tell...
     
  2. DGDGBD

    DGDGBD Member

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    well cut and lubricated nut slots seem to be very important.
     
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2009
  3. Lowlands Erik

    Lowlands Erik Member

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    What Dave said...and

    Some guitar necks are more prone to temperature changes and sometimes it depends on where you play a chord on the neck. But most of the time I find it requires a well cut and lubricated nut. I use Nut Sauce.

    Erik
     
  4. Sadhaka

    Sadhaka Member

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    Well cut nut

    Strings that are not too old

    Most importantly, strings that are put on well at the machine head. Most people would agree that only a few winds maximum are optimal with the use of a "Tying off" technique of some description.
     
  5. newswede

    newswede Member

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    Well cut bone nut, lubrication, proper string stretching. Clapton seems to do alright without locking tuners ;) When I saw the Cream reunion he used the same guitar the whole show except for one slide number!
    it can be done. Mine stays in tune forever.
     
  6. supergenius365

    supergenius365 Silver Supporting Member

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  7. germs

    germs Member

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    How about looking in the mirror.

    REDUCE your pick attack.
    STRETCH your strings. OR change them...maybe it's time? Or more frequently?

    Also, try increasing the tension on your tuners. That's what the phillips screw head is for on the top of the tuners.

    If you're using 10ga+ and having tuning issues, then you're playing too rough.

    BUT, most guys on stage are re-tuning 2-3 songs anyway.
     
  8. Will Chen

    Will Chen Member

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    You know, all my guitars seem to stay in tune extremely well within a given time frame at a consistent temperature. I mean, I just gigged an SX with stock tuners and it stayed in tune for the entire 45 minute set. I use 11 gauge strings and a 2 mm pick with a controlled and moderate attack but also do a bunch of "pop" hybrid finger picking and bend a ton. If your guitar is going our of tune after 2 or 3 songs something's either wrong with the set up, your strings haven't been stretched correctly or need to be changed, or you're playing beating the **** out of your guitar with your picking hand. I used to have an extremely heavy right hand, but switching to the 2mm pick allowed me to significantly soften my attack and get the same response from the guitar.
     
  9. 5150user

    5150user Member

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    I stretch my strings, and I stay away from crazy bends for the most part. I also use Extra Heavy picks.
     
  10. MightyGuru

    MightyGuru Member

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    Correct nut, decent tuners and knowing how to string your guitar; stretching and winding the strings correctly. My strats stay in tune perfectly and I use the vibrato liberally with vintage style Klusons.
     
  11. Will Chen

    Will Chen Member

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    Well, maybe you need to have your guitar checked out by a tech. I pull off 1 1/2 step bends all the time and don't have pitch issues on any of my guitars (PRS SE, 2 X SX, Indiea Shape Total Natural, Highland Royal - nothing fancy, none with locking tuners).

    Are your pups up real high? Sometimes that can screw with the not only the sustain but cause the strings to sound out of tune (even though they're tensioned to pitch).

    You say you're not using the vibrato bar but does the guitar have a trem unit? If so, I'd bet it needs to be adjusted for the correct tension (or even locked down if you never use it).
     
  12. 5150user

    5150user Member

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    I lock down the trem unit if the guitar has one. I set the guitar's string height, intonation, make sure the neck's straight, etc. myself. Individual guitar doesn't seem to matter. The only guitar I've ever had that stayed in tune really well had a locking nut. Unfortunately, I traded that guitar a long time ago.

    I always use good die cast tuning keys. Grovers, Pings, etc.

    Tuning is much more consistent at stable temperatures. Also more consistent after a set of strings wears in a little. Even more consistent if I stretch the strings just before tuning the guitar. Tried tying strings onto tuning keys, tried not tying strings onto tuning keys. Tried a bunch of wraps, tried just a few wraps. Been at this 25 years.
     
  13. xzzy

    xzzy Member

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    My unmodded am.std strat stays in tune for weeks. It goes a few cents off when there's big temperature/humidity changes, but for the most part it stays pretty steady. No special magic on the nut, don't pay any particular attention to the strings, but I do stretch them out when installing them.

    This is with a some bending and moderate tremolo use.

    I've used this method of putting the string on the pole ever since it was pointed out to me, some 10 years ago:

    http://www.uncletim.com/setup.htm
     
  14. musicofanatic5

    musicofanatic5 Supporting Member

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    Getting the Average Guitar to Stay in Tune?

    My solution: above-average gtr (with a properly cut nut).
     
  15. RRfireblade

    RRfireblade Member

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    No insult intended I promise , but your having this problem on (basically) all the guitars you have and you do the setups and string installs yourself , I gotta say that problem is probably you.

    Geez , I have 20+ guitars and don't have tuning issues on any of them I can think of. Most I can pull out of the closet after years and the are still holding a tune. They may be off pitch ;) but still in tune. :p

    Most do not have locking setups on them.
     
  16. tartanphantom

    tartanphantom Member

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    Same here, I have around 30 guitars. I do my own setups and maintenance, but I have no persistent tuning problems with any of them, and about 1/3rd of my guitars have a Bigsby or other vibrato system on them. I gotta say that if ALL of your guitars have tuning issues, then it's probably a 95% chance that it all goes back to how you wind and stretch your strings.



    Quite honestly, if this is that big of a problem, then you probably should switch to violin. Guitars (and other fretted instruments) are tempered-tuning instruments and they will NEVER be in exact perfect tune, even with themselves. Very simply, it's the nature of the beast for guitars to have, at the very least, some very slight chordal dissonance. If you are blessed (or cursed) with "perfect pitch", then a guitar will drive you nuts. The closest you can possibly get to perfect pitch all the way up and down and across the fret scale is probably with a Buzz Feiten tuning system.
     
    Last edited: Dec 24, 2009
  17. jeffwith1f

    jeffwith1f Member

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    good nut and fresh(ish) strings. Prior to gigs I try to have restrung and have about 2 hours of play on a set of strings. still lots of elaticity, but the brightness seems to have ebbed.

    if you are still having tuning issues, it could be an intonation issue on your guitar, in particular for the position you play in. A guitar will never be perfectly intonated, in extreme circumstances (like comitting something to recording) you should not only ensure your instrument is intonated correctly, but then tuned relative to the position you will be predominately playing in for the song.
     
  18. Tidewater Custom Shop

    Tidewater Custom Shop Performance Enhancing Guitarworks Supporting Member

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    Try the nut solutions mentioned previously, along with this (works for me):

    [​IMG]
     
  19. baseballnolie34

    baseballnolie34 Member

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    This is probably beating a dead horse, but

    1) Well cut and lubricated nut; and,

    2) No string trees.

    I use vintage staggered tuners to get (2) to work right, and with my strat the result has been just about perfect. It stays in tune, and I do use the whammy bar (within reason).
     
  20. candid_x

    candid_x Supporting Member

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    Tune UP to pitch, never down.
     

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