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Detuned guitarrist?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by nanymoa, Sep 24, 2013.

  1. Dear colleagues of Talkbass.

    I address you today in concern, for I'm getting sick of an issue with my band's singer/rythm guitar player. He has a serious tuning issue, and I know he knows.
    I have mentioned it, but never discussed the issue with him in depth because he finds it frustrating and we can all tell it bothers him a lot. And still haven't find what's causing it, so if i don't have a solution or suggestion to offer better not to poke him with it.
    He has a clip-on tuner which he uses at the beginning of the rehearsal or show, but his guitar holds no tune, mostly on the g-string. After a song, maybe two songs he has to re-tune, and it's waaay off. Sometimes he finishes the song with a tuned-ish chord we musicians find akward detuned, but most people can't tell. You know.
    At first we thought it was his crappy guitar, but then a friend lent him a MIJ Fender Telecaster for a couple of months, good guitar, kinda heavy but it played like butter. Same issue, not as often. 3 songs = serious re-tune. Then he got an ugly epiphone SG, I took it, played it for long periods of time and it kept decent tuning. Not the same with him. Two songs and re tune.
    Now, we think he got tired of the guitar problem, he saved some cash and last month got a brand new MIA Gibson Les Paul Studio. Not a top notch guitar, but great guitar! I LOVE it! Plays wonderful, beautiful tone, very well made. SAME POROBLEM!
    What do you think it could be? Is he pressing too hard on the G string? Is he just bad luck and gets crappy dog-guitars even when intends to buy a decent one?
    He's not a great player, but holds decent timing, plays interesting chords, has good ideas, is a great singer, we have a lead guitar in the band so his function is very necessary, and it's just the tuning issue, he's fine as band member.
    He's about to have it looked by a guitar tech, but i really don't think it's the guitar at all.
    It's not a rant at him at all, I'm finding it frustrating too. Please comment.
  2. Stormer


    Jul 24, 2012
    Does he string the instrument properly?

    You mentioned that you played his guitar yourself it it held decent tuning, so I think he needs to work on his technique.
  3. Fat Steve

    Fat Steve The poodle bites, the poodle chews it.

    I literally beat my guitar like it owes me money, and my POS Epiphone LP2 stays in tune. I've never seen a technique that will constantly make a well setup and strung guitar go out of tune like that. I have a feeling he's not stringing it up right, like not thoroughly stretching the strings enough.
  4. I took a look at it the other day, it's seems strung ok.
    I've also thought of a technique issue, he's kind of a big fella' with big hands. Even though he might find it tikly, I'll have him come over with his guitar and jam for a while, in a non-rehearsal type of encounter to see if there's an ovious issue we are not watching in the rehearsal.
  5. Otherwise I'll buy him a new set of strings under the condition he let's me re-string it.
  6. groooooove

    groooooove Supporting Member

    Dec 17, 2008
    Long Island, NY
    it's not technique, i've abused many guitars and strings and as long as they're not brand new its fine.

    +1 to "its probably strung wrong."
  7. Bassdirty


    Jul 23, 2010
    I personally have "known" someone that had the same prob, while the other guit was almost always perfect.Still don't know why, but maybe check these:

    this may sound a little obvious.. but when he tunes, does he tune "up" to the note? (rather than down) Sorry, it had to be asked, but it's critical.(and ya never know, maybe some people might not know.)

    Also maybe hes pushin REALLY hard on the strings - which would pull some of the strings a lil sharp. ( i used to do this on a D chord sometimes :bag:, bad habit from being used to heavy bass srtings.) so, technique I guess?

  8. nojj

    nojj Guest

    May 20, 2013
    I'd try heavier gauge strings,
    and making sure his pups aren't too high.
  9. valus


    Sep 12, 2013
    Memphis, TN
    I bet he's not stretching the strings properly...
  10. +1 review technique
    +1 re strung .10's at least
    +1 stretch after new set and temperature changes

    Let's see how it comes out. Any good and stable guitar string suggestion? I'm mostly a nylon guy when it comes to guitar.
  11. Fat Steve

    Fat Steve The poodle bites, the poodle chews it.

    Been using these for 10 years. Medium life, good sound, great price. They also stretch rather well.

    Or you can go throw away good money on a set of Elixir's.
  12. valus


    Sep 12, 2013
    Memphis, TN
    I use EB Slinkys, but all of them are stable if properly installed.
  13. russpurdy


    Apr 16, 2013
    Ive been a guitarist for longer than a bassist and those G and B strings are tricky to get to play in tune when using alot of open chords. Here is what has always worked best for me...

    Get a set of 10 or 11 gauge strings with a WOUND G string. They are heavy enough that they don't pull out of tune easily and the wound G really helps open chords ring nice and stay in tune. They are harder to bend and solo on but they are great for rhythm and chords. Make sure all the tuning keys are working properly and that there is no binding at the saddles or nut. If you hear alot of "pings" when you tune up and it seems like the string jumps a little then you have binding. Take it in and have a tech widen the slots slightly. To help with this, get either some Big Bends Nut Sauce or use lip balm or ground pencil lead to lubricate the nut slots and keep the strings moving freely (lots about this on the net). When stringing the guitar, stretch the heck out of the string (tune it to pitch, then hold it down at the nut and stretch it until its out of tune. tune it up again and then stretch it again until it stays close to pitch when you stretch it). Lastly, as others have said, make sure he is tuning UP to the note. If not there will be slack on the string and he'll gradually pull it out of tune as he plays.

    The wound G will help if he is unknowingly bending the strings sour as he plays and everything else will help is there is a mechanical issue.

    If he still goes out of tune consistently after all this then you need to find a new guitar player, yours is broken.
  14. 4-stringB


    Jun 10, 2010
    +1 on Bassdirty.....Binding at the nut? I find with rounds, that I have to equalize the tension between the headstock portion of the string with the main part of the string, otherwise, once I start playing, any disimilarities in tension will show up at the most awkward moment.
  15. john m

    john m Supporting Member

    Jan 15, 2006
    and stringing the guitar correctly

  16. valus


    Sep 12, 2013
    Memphis, TN

    Friends don't let friends use wound Gs.

  17. TuneIn


    Jul 24, 2013
    He may be anchoring his strumming hand causing pressure.
    Make sure his string isn't wound the wrong way on the tuner...doh!

  18. Ric5

    Ric5 SUSPENDED Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 29, 2008
    I convert 4 string Rickenbackers to 5 string basses.
    perhaps the nut is too high.
  19. JakeF


    Apr 3, 2012
    Being part of string smashers anonymous with a vice grip one thing I have learned is you can affect the tuning of the instrument with...

    1) bending the neck. Serious, you can wiggle the neck with your hand and it will detune like clockwork. It is just a matter of grip for this.

    2) Hard fretting makes the note go sharp, THEN flat when played open.

    3) Make sure he isn't bending strings when doing normal fretting of chords. This can quickly cause string stretching.

    4) Make him use 11s at minimum. My acoustics are 13s, my electrics are either 11 or 12 minimum. (11 for the Floyd shred guitar). You don't have a true gorilla grip till you move up in string size (and don't tune down).

    5) be wary of the truss rod. If it doesn't have enough ummm....bow/whatever the instrument may have trouble maintaining even tension.

    Solutions. 1) Don't bend neck, the power should go into the strings and then you learn how much the neck can take. Truss rod relates here.

    2) Technique. Guitars can't be perfectly tuned, BUT we can correct some issues. If it is a little flat, pick harder! Attack effects intonation. If he is hitting all of his strings but G harder, well, the G may seem flat.
  20. JakeF


    Apr 3, 2012
    Adding that I like the wound G idea.