That darn pesky G-STRING

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by Guitarchaeologist, Jan 3, 2013.

  1. Guitarchaeologist

    Guitarchaeologist Member

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    Why do tuning problems always happen with the G-string...

    I tune my guitar with a tuner, with harmonics, using the 5th or 7th fret deal... and then when the G string is in tune open, the 2nd fret is out of tune. Not so bad as you go up the neck, but really sucks for that wonderful open A chord. When the string is in tune for the chord, it is horribly out of tune when strummed open, making an open C chord sound just awful.

    Is this an intonation issue to be fixed with a bridge adjustment, or is it a fret/fretboard issue? The guitar is ten years old and has a Floyd Rose trem.
     
  2. electronpirate

    electronpirate Member

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    I can count on one hand in 30 years that I thought my guitar was perfectly in tune. The G string mostly.

    There's an article on this somewhere...see if I can find it.

    Edit:

    Can't find it...but someone postulated that there's something about the harmonics of the strings that the G will always 'not quite sound right' even when it is. Regardless, do all you can with intonation, make sure the nut is wide enough, and I've also found that if I go to a wound 'G', problem seems to go away.

    R
     
  3. Guitarchaeologist

    Guitarchaeologist Member

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    Never thought about a wound G.. is that something you get as a single string or do they make packs with a special wound G?
     
  4. mockoman

    mockoman Member

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    Something to do with the tension;it has the least amount compared to the other strings.
    Tune it slightly flat & see if that helps...
     
  5. Guinness Lad

    Guinness Lad Silver Supporting Member

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    Not tuning the guitar correctly is a start. Look up the Luthiers guild of instruments for a method. It goes like this -

    Tune high E
    Use high E to tune B string at 5th fret.
    Use open E to tune G string at 9th fret
    Fret G string at 2 fret and use this A to tune open A string

    I might be off a bit but the idea is no 7th fret harmonics as they are sharp and cause you to tune your guitar slightly flat.
     
  6. Polynitro

    Polynitro Member

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    trying to tune the guitar to 1 chord and expecting it to be in tune to another chord will drive you bonkers.
     
  7. RCM78

    RCM78 Member

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    Make sure the string is breaking over the nut where it's suposed to. Sometimes the string clamp acts as the nut and the string doesnt actually rest firmly on the nut.

    Tune the guitar open, capo the first fret and check all your open chords. If the tuning is still out you most likely have an intonation problem, if everything is in tune the problem is at the nut...
     
  8. gtraddict

    gtraddict Member

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    I have the same problems, even with earvana nuts.

    I can tune mine right and have perfect intonation and the 5 - 7th frets in the d and g strings do not line up right. So I sometimes leave it flat by a cent or two maybe. It seems to works when I am doing a lot of delicate chord work down the midneck area.

    But if I am mostly playing 1-4 and 9 and above it seems to line but back up for regular tuning.

    Just one of those things
     
  9. omfg51

    omfg51 Member

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    It's always the nut slot. If the nut is cut properly, it wont' sound anywhere near as bad, and if the nut is cut a certain way, you can eliminate all fretting problems with the G string. Drop the slot a little bit so that it requires less pressure to fret and the tuning issue is gone. I've had a graphite nut with a dropped G slot on my LP for a year now and it hasn't had any issues.
     
  10. Guitarchaeologist

    Guitarchaeologist Member

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    Can these issues with the nut still apply to a locking system like the Floyd Rose? I have noticed that the nut sits much higher up off the fretboard than my other guitars without the Floyd... would I file the groove where the string sits deeper, or the actual wood in which the nut is positioned?
     
  11. Guinness Lad

    Guinness Lad Silver Supporting Member

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    Just do this -

    How To Tune The Guitar To Perfection The following is a reprint of THE GUILD OF AMERICAN LUTHIERS data sheet #45.
    Many guitarists are frustrated because of their attempts to tune the guitar to pure chords (free of beats). These particular players have very sensitive ears that prefer pure intervals and reject the mandatory equal temperament. They tune their guitar beautifully pure on one chord only to discover that the next chord form is unacceptable. In too many instances they assume that there must be a flaw in the workmanship on the fingerboard. Their problem is not in the construction of the guitar. It is one of pure tuning verses equal temperament.

    You must accept this compromise because the guitar is an instrument of fixed pitch and the strings must be tuned to tempered intervals, not pure. Equal temperament is the name given to a system of dividing the chromatic scale into 12 equal half steps. Guitarists who have been trying to tune to one or another pure chord form must learn to understand and accept equal temperament. (They might be interested to know that to approximate pure chords on all forms would require about three dozen frets within the octave.) The system of equal temperament reduces the number to twelve, thereby making manageable all instruments of fixed pitch.

    Here is what all of this means to the guitarist: You must not, at any time, use harmonic tones at the 7th fret as a point of reference (skilled piano tuners could use them because they know how many beats to introduce between 4th and 5th). Harmonic tones at the 7th fret are pure 5ths, while in equal temperament each 5th must be lowered slightly. To tune by harmonics at the 7th fret (as occasionally ill-advised) will make the guitar sound entirely unacceptable on some chord forms.

    On the other hand, all harmonics at the 12th and 5th frets, being one and two octaves above the open strings, are immediately useful as explained below. All octaves and unisons are pure on all instruments of fixed pitch. Therefore, you may use harmonics at 12th and 5th as reference tones in the following tuning instructions.

    Actually this discussion and the following suggestions are for those players who have been tuning to pure intervals. When the steps have been followed correctly the guitar will be as perfectly tuned as it could be in the hands of a professional. Nevertheless, when you have finished, your sensitive ear may notice that on each major chord form there is always one tone slightly high. If you start adjusting a particular string on a certain chord form, you only compound the problem because then the next chord form will be completely objectionable. Tune the guitar as instructed below and let it stand. How to help your ear accept equal temperament: It is easier to face a problem if we are prepared in advance and expect it. If you are one of those persons who is sensitive to pure intervals, here is what you are going to notice on an absolutely perfectly tuned guitar in equal temperament: Play an open E major chord. Listen to G# on the third string and you most likely will want to lower it very slightly. Don't do it. Ignore it. Enjoy the overall beauty and resonance of chord just as does the pianist.

    That troublesome second string: Play an open position A major chord. Listen to the C# on the second string and you may want to lower it slightly. Play a first position C chord and listen to the E on the first string and fourth string at 2. These tones are slightly higher than your ear would like.

    Now play an open position G chord. Listen to B on the second string. Yes, it would sound a little better if lowered ever so slightly. Why not try it? Slack off the second string a couple of vibrations and notice what beautiful G chord results. Now play the C chord and with that lowered second string, and you are going to dislike the rough C and E a lot more than before. Take the open B, second string back up to equal temperament so that it will be equally acceptable on all forms. Learn to expect and accept the slight sharpness of the major third in each chord (and oppositely, the flatness of the minor third in each minor chord). Train your ear to accept tempered intervals and you will be much happier with your guitar.

    PROCEDURE:
    Tuning the 1st and 6th strings: The E, open 1st string, must be in pure unison with the harmonic of the E, 6th string at the fifth fret. When these two strings have been properly tuned with each other, continue as follows.

    Tuning the 4th string: Play a harmonic on the (in tune) 6th string at twelve, and as this harmonic sounds, adjust the 4th string until the tone E on the second fret is in pure unison. Now you have the E, open 1st string, 1st on the 4th string at two, and E, open 6th string tuned pure (permissible because they are octaves).

    Tuning the 2nd string: Play a harmonic on the (in tune) 4th string at twelve. As this sounds, adjust the 2nd string until D at the third fret is in pure unison. As you have used two fretted tones for references and as the frets are positioned for tempered intervals, you now have the open 1st, 2nd 4th and 6th strings in tempered tuning.

    Tuning the 3rd string: As it is easier to adjust a string while listening to a continuous reference tone, you may first try the following: Play a harmonic on the (in tune) 4th string at twelve and as this sounds, adjust the 3rd string until D at the 7th fret is in pure unison.
    Double check: Now make this check to see if you have been accurate or if the instrument plays tune when fretted at seven. Play a harmonic on the (now tuned) G string at twelve, and as this tone sounds, play G on the 1st string at three. The two tones should be in pure unison. If they are not, either you are at fault or the instrument doesn't fret tune at seven. Go back to the beginning and carefully check each step up to this point. If the tones are still faulty, then readjust the 3rd string until the harmonic at twelve is in unison with the 1st at three. Do not tamper with the 1st and 4th strings because it is the 3rd string you are trying to bring in tune. When you have the 1st, 6th, 4th, 2nd and 3rd strings in tune, in that order, continue with the remaining 5th string.

    Tuning the 5th string: Play the tone A on the (in tune) 3rd string, at the second fret. Listen to this pitch carefully and now adjust the 5th string until the harmonic at twelve is in pure unison. When the foregoing steps are followed correctly, the strings will be tuned perfectly to equal temperament. No further tuning adjustments are permissible. (It's easier to play the 5th string harmonic at the 12th and then the third at the second fret and adjusting the 5th string as they both ring out---thought I'd throw that in there for you---a lot easier)

    THE GUILD OF AMERICAN LUTHIERS is a non-profit organization formed, in 1972, to promote the art of the string instrument maker. This is done through it's quarterly journal - AMERICAN LUTHIERS, convention/exhibitions, and the DATA SHEETS, one of which you have just read. The G.A.L. is an information sharing system. Membership is not restricted to practicing instrument makers.
    For more information on GUILD publications, membership, and activities, write:
    GUILD OF AMERICAN LUTHIERS 8222 South Park Avenue Tacoma, WA 98408 (206)472-7853
     
  12. crambone

    crambone Supporting Member

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    My G-string being out of whack is significantly worse on my LP Studio than my PRS Santana SE. Seriously.
     
  13. Pietro

    Pietro 2-Voice Guitar Junkie and All-Around Awesome Guy

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    All my electrics now have the BFTS which means I have fewer tuning issues, but a couple tips from when I played "regular" guitars.

    1. tune REALLY carefully and ALWAYS tune UP. Don't wind the string down to get in tune. It's a recipe for disaster.

    2. Do the John Suhr intonation method. Instead of intonating with the open string and 12th fret, try the 3rd and 15th (or is it the 2nd and 14th? either should work). I thought that worked a little bit better.

    3. Perhaps you're using strings that are just too light for you if you're having a LOT of G-string problems. Try going up a gauge before using what is, for most electric styles, a totally useless wound G string.
     
  14. bob-i

    bob-i Member

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    If any string is sharp fretting on the first few frets its usually a high nut slot.
     
  15. brokenvail

    brokenvail Supporting Member

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    I used a wound g for a long time and lived it. Some packs come with them and some makers offer them as singles
     
  16. beautiful liar

    beautiful liar Member

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    There's your answer.
     
  17. Retreads

    Retreads Member

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    Here's my amateur version...

    How to tune the guitar to perfection.
    1. Headstock or Pedal tuner used as necessary.
    2. Ignore intonation issues as you turn up the volume knob to achieve distortion.

    I'd be in for trouble if I were a jazz guy. Someday when I get serious about playing cleanly, I suppose I'll have to figure this out. Thread saved.

    :aok
     
  18. OM Flyer

    OM Flyer Member

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    Both. I'm a huge fan, but if you do a lot of bending of the G string, you're in for a workout. Worth it, IMO.
     
  19. SPSurgeon

    SPSurgeon Member

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    I have had MANY teles, some have the G string problem where when you tune the open G correctly, the note on the 2nd fret of the G string is sharp - and some do not have it AT ALL.

    There are 2 things that contribute - the nut is too high which pulls the string sharp AND/OR - the nut is too far away from the first fret.

    I have also seen (and fixed) this problem on my 335 and Epi '61 Casino.

    It's fixable but takes a bit of work.
     
  20. throbert

    throbert Member

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    Buzz Feiten was really annoyed when I brought up the subject of Earvana Nuts. He said they only sound good in the first position and nowhere else. I would have to say since I've tried both systems I would have to agree. However, I still don't think there's much to be gained on a Fender scale if you temper your instrument as others on this thread have suggested. However, I found the BF System to be really useful on a Gibson Les Paul scale.
     

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