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Why is the G string so hard to keep in tune with a chord?

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by shark_bite, Feb 15, 2009.

  1. shark_bite

    shark_bite Member

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    I feel like I've known for years intuitively that the G string is a little weird... usually feels sharp, especially when playing E-based power chords. Is that just because the third is played on that string in these chords? I guess I have no idea why it's the hardest string to keep in tune from chord to chord.

    This has been bugging me for a bit. I'm sure there's a good answer, but I just don't know it. What is it?
     
  2. sears

    sears Member

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    It's the temperament. Lots of people grip their guitars with their thumb over so that they can slightly bend individual notes in a chord so it rings sweetly. Once you've practiced it you don't barre anymore and squeeze chords out.
     
  3. SirAlec

    SirAlec Member

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    I have an Epiphone Sheraton II with cheap tuners so I can relate. I find that the G in an E-chord can be tuned a bit flat for maximum effect, but this will leave the G in open G-chords and C-chords sounding overly flat. For ideal tuning in open G-chords and C-chords the G should be sharper. What you could do is just put up with the slight variations in sound on the G and find a good middle ground in it's tuning that allows for you to play all chords.

    EDIT: An as sears said, grip and fingering has a lot to do with it.
     
  4. rickenbackerkid

    rickenbackerkid Member

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    Because you play a 24.75 scale with light strings.

    Try going up a gauge or two and get the guitar setup by a good tech.
     
  5. shark_bite

    shark_bite Member

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    That's not true on either counts. I experience this most with Strats and Teles, using .010s.

    I think it has more to do with the a frequency thing. I can't think of it off the top of my head, but something about using an equal tempered scale not having the same intervals between all frequencies that are a whole step or half step apart or something. I'm pretty sure this has something to do with it:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Equal_temperament

     
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2009
  6. cjcayea

    cjcayea cool as a cucumber in a bowl of hot sauce Supporting Member

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    the circle of fifths is really a spiral. this is a problem that equal temperament can not solve; G makes the compromise.
     
  7. dantedayjob

    dantedayjob Member

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    I don't have issues with the G, it's always the B for me... on every guitar, so it's not an issue of one axe that needs intonation... it's mostly in first position that it's noticeable, G and D chords in particular... I add the D on B string to my open G, on that chord and D I have to bend that string up just a hair to make the chord sound right to me...
     
  8. retrobob

    retrobob Member

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    Some guys clamp down with too much pressure when open chording.
    It results in bending the string down over the fret, sharpening the note.
    With high frets, its probably more noticeable.
     
  9. Somniferous

    Somniferous Member

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    This is the reason buzz feiten came up with his tuning system, to put the guitar into tempered tuning. Whilst this sounds great while your playing by yourself, you sound out of tune with anyone who doesn't have the system. There is a reason people with perfect pitch don't play guitar, certain notes are always out of tune with each other.
     
  10. Pietro

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

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    Worse on some guitars than others, too.

    I currently no longer have any guitar it's really bad on.

    Really light strings makes it a lot worse, too.
     
  11. guitarfish

    guitarfish Member

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    The G string is bipolar. No offense to those who are bipolar. It's a weird string. IIRC in the old days it was wound.
     
  12. natemeanie

    natemeanie Supporting Member

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    once i switched to a wound third tuning issues disappeared...
     
  13. GuitslingerTim

    GuitslingerTim Member

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    Intonate the g string slightly flat.
     
  14. shark_bite

    shark_bite Member

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    I do.

    By and large, this is less of an issue and much more of a curiosity. I'm wondering if anyone can explain the physics behind this.
     
  15. doublee

    doublee Member

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    I say your G string is a little high at the nut, try cutting it down as low as possible w/o of course fretting out, and as said above you also got to be gentle on it at the low frets, because it typically gets the index on the G ( you were speaking of the E chord) its the strongest finger and hence easy to sharp it.
     
  16. shogun

    shogun Member

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    ive found on guitars with the buzz feiten system, the first 2 or 3 frets are always incredibly flat compared to the open g string. is there any way to fix this? I tune with the 'buzz feiten method' but its still an issue
     
  17. pipedwho

    pipedwho Member

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    Not true at all.

    All BFTS does is to make sure the individual strings stay a well intonated as possible over the entire fretboard. It doesn't change the reference frequency - ie. A is still 440Hz.

    If two guitarists are playing eg. a 'G' note on a standard guitar, one on the 3rd fret 'e' string and the other on the 12th fret 'g' string, then they'll be out of tune with each other by a few cents. This tuning error is smaller (and much less noticeable) if either guitarist is using a BFTS guitar, and even smaller again if both guitarists are using guitars with BFTS.
     
  18. pipedwho

    pipedwho Member

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    The guitar probably needs to be re-intonated for your string gauge and your personal amount of finger pressure. Make sure it is done by yourself or someone that understands what BFTS is.

    Also, your guitar needs to be made for BFTS: The nut is usually moved in closer to the bridge as part of the compensation. And the intonation and tuning are offset in frequency to further compensate for this nut repositioning and the frequency error due to string deflection.
     
  19. daddyo

    daddyo Guest

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    The reason a plain G is the hardest to tune is because it is the largest solid string. A wound G stays in tune easier. Fretting the solid G creates the largest pitch error because of its size.
     
  20. Dan S

    Dan S Member

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    If the G string is a little sharp for an open E or E shape barre chords, you can't bend it flat so how does this apply to the OP's question? I usually play the G a little flat, overall, but sharpen when playing Open G a lot or flatten it a tad when playing Open E or E shape Barre chords. Is this what you do Sharkbite? others?
     

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