Why do some guitars' tuning drift up, others down?

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by Catfish, Dec 23, 2009.


  1. Catfish

    Catfish Member

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    I've noticed that after having been left unplayed in their case for days or weeks, some of my guitars' tuning drift up, others down. Does anybody know what factors into this? It's just anecdotal, but Gibson-scale guitars seem to drift down, while Fender-scale guitars go up - and my one Fender-scale guitar with locking tuners moves the least.

    Anybody know why? Thanks.
     
  2. Jan Folkson

    Jan Folkson Member

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    wood compresses or expands with temperature and humidity thereby affecting tuning. IMHO, locking tuners do nothing to improve tuning stability providing a non-locking tuner is strung properly.
     
  3. Bhodie

    Bhodie Member

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    Almost all the drift I have ever seen on guitars left in cases (electric), the drift is sharp. (Fender, Gibson, PRS, others)

    One luthier explained it as having something to do with the wraps on the posts expanding, which pulls the string sharp...

    YMMV
     
  4. buddastrat

    buddastrat Member

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    I'd say it's simply the neck moving due to the humidity or lack of. My tele's neck moves extreme from day to day. You can see the action change and of course, that will affect tuning.
     
  5. Catfish

    Catfish Member

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    but none seem to explain why some guitars regularly go flat while others regularly go sharp. I wonder if scale, glued/bolt-on, headstock angle, etc. might have something to do with it.
     
  6. Mickey Shane

    Mickey Shane Supporting Member

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    All mine seem to go flat in the summer and sharp in the winter. Sometimes they go sharp in the summer with a ton of AC blowing into the room.

    I say "seem" because I don't think I've really ever paid much attention.
     
  7. TresGatos

    TresGatos Member

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    Lack of use tends to send the guitar sharp through wood humidity change (drying) and truss rod force, while active use tends to send the guitar flat though string wear, bends etc.
    I don't think one particular guitar would tend to go flat where another would go sharp under the same usage situation but as we all know... wood is wood and does what it wants.

    at least that's what I've noticed....:)
     
  8. Kappy

    Kappy Member

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    All mine always seem to go sharp, which is really annoying since it takes more time to un-tune then re-tune sharp string.
     
  9. bluesdoc

    bluesdoc Gold Supporting Member Gold Supporting Member

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    To be filed under the 'life is hard' folder :D

    jon
     
  10. Kappy

    Kappy Member

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    :D I wish I could tell you how I languish under these burdens.
     
  11. Tone_Terrific

    Tone_Terrific Member

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    Mine move seasonally. Even the FR loked ones can require unlocking of the nut and retensioning as the fine adjusters range gets used up, either way, depending on season.
    Others drift as I am playing them or daily/weekly as it rains or dries. I gave up on anticipating the tune drift years/decades ago and just retune, retune,,retuenrrte
     
  12. Auriemma

    Auriemma Member

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    Like TT said, take it out of its case, strap up, and tune... then enjoy!

    Repeat as necessary.
     
  13. SgtThump

    SgtThump Member

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    It seems like the hardtail guitars I've owned are usually a little sharp when I first pick them up. I've noticed that if I just play them for 10 minutes, they go back down to their "normal" pitch. I'm convinced it's related to the strings either warming up or being stretched a little as I play them.

    It also seems like Floyd equipped guitars go a little flat. I wonder if that's something to do with the springs?
     
  14. 9fingers

    9fingers Supporting Member

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    Mine go sharp when cooler than when I tuned, flat when warmer as a general thing.
     
  15. TwoTubMan

    TwoTubMan Member

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    "Guitars used to be trees, and every so often they remind you of that."

    David Crosby
     
  16. buddastrat

    buddastrat Member

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    It was answered, it's wood and the truss rod is there to help counter the resistance but wood will still move. Some necks give in to the string's resistance, tuning will be flat. If the neck wants to straighten out, tuning will be sharp, each piece responds to humidity it's own way, or not.

    Around here, when the weather turns cold, and dry, some guitars will need the rod loosened, some tightend, and some stay fine. Heck some twist! Again, it's wood, it's organic and it moves! There's no predictable pattern across the board, so to speak.

    what is predictable is once you get to know a particular guitar, you'll know what it likes to do and know exactly what to do with each climate change. Sometimes, you find one that's rock solid and never needs any adjustment.
     
  17. Buckeyedog

    Buckeyedog Supporting Member

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    +1000
     
  18. Julia343

    Julia343 Member

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    With the weather as variable as it is this year I've opted not to have the piano tuned. I've done it before like this when it seemed to have stabilized only to have it drastically change a few days after dropping the $$$ and sound just like it did before. It's pretty stable right now, and about 1/4 tone flat across the board with little things like unisons being a little off here and there.
     
  19. toddinjax@yahoo

    toddinjax@yahoo Senior Member

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    Some guitars get warm, some get cold.
     

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