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How do I make a bass STAY in tune?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Whitenoise17, Feb 12, 2018.


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  1. Whitenoise17

    Whitenoise17

    Aug 6, 2016
    East Side
    I like to play really aggressively almost like slapping, the but with my fingers, to get a really bright, chimey sound, but when I play like this, my bass goes out of tune really quickly.
    How can I keep my bass, and any other basses I buy in the future, from going out of tune, aside from barely touching the strings when I play?
     
  2. Stumbo

    Stumbo Wherever you go, there you are. Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 11, 2008
    Intergalactic Mind Space
    Song Surgeon sofware
    Try stretching the strings.

    Does it stay in tune when you play lightly?
     
    Plectrum72, Bassbeater and MattZilla like this.
  3. Zooberwerx

    Zooberwerx Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2002
    Virginia Beach, VA
    Do a proper string install...all-too-frequently overlooked.

    Riis
     
  4. MattZilla

    MattZilla

    Jun 26, 2013
    CNY
    +1 on stretching strings during+after install. But also- this is sometimes the difference between a $1800 bass and something less... case in point: my three Fenders (an mim, a cij, and an mia) and my one Epi all regularly failed to make it through two hours without the neck deciding to bend one way or another, but my German Corvette could go months without one string scootching a cent. I tend to play unreasonably rough from time to time, regardless of genre. If the vette didn't fail to just sound like "bass" the way a cheap ole P does, I'd still have that silly, super stable bass guitar.
     
    Kippo and Artman like this.
  5. Gorn

    Gorn

    Dec 15, 2011
    Queens, NY
    Make sure not to do this:
     
  6. Whitenoise17

    Whitenoise17

    Aug 6, 2016
    East Side
    I stretch the strings whenever I put new strings on.
    It’s stays in tune when I play lightly, but whenever I dig in, it shifts out of tune. It is a $300 Ibanez GSR, so it’s not of the highest quality ever. The next bass I buy will DEFINITELY be of a much higher quality.
     
  7. Zooberwerx

    Zooberwerx Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2002
    Virginia Beach, VA
    Tell us more about your install process including witness points at the post / nut / bridge, string wraps & positioning on the post. Include pics if possible.

    Riis
     
    TrevorR likes this.
  8. saltydude

    saltydude

    Aug 15, 2011
    Boston
    I’d start with making sure your neck, Bridge tuners and everything else is tight.
     
    ThinCrappyTone likes this.
  9. I pull them like a bow and arrow. I think having a good quality solid nut helps. Tuning after pummeling the strings for a few minutes helps. I get best stability with a hex-core string, but that could just be dumb luck.I would start with trying different string types. Make sure the nut is in good condition and not catching or dirty.
     
    Artman likes this.
  10. Whitenoise17

    Whitenoise17

    Aug 6, 2016
    East Side
    I change strings one at a time, from lowest to highest pitched.
    I measure each of the old strings and make sure I cut the new ones to that length.
    I’m not at home at the moment, so I can’t get you pictures of mine, but this is what it looks like. It’s a GSR206B B84C6441-7CFF-48C4-98AE-AFB68AEBC3F4.
     
  11. Gorn

    Gorn

    Dec 15, 2011
    Queens, NY
    You might be playing so hard that detuning the strings is an unavoidable result even if everything is how it should be. I've seen players who say they're heavy handed and it's an understatement. I understand the technique you're describing and I bet you can achieve the same sound with a softer touch.
     
  12. Whitenoise17

    Whitenoise17

    Aug 6, 2016
    East Side
    I tune every few minutes, but it just keeps going out of tune. How do I know if the nut is catching?
     
  13. Zooberwerx

    Zooberwerx Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2002
    Virginia Beach, VA
    Do you set your witness points and, if so, where? As mentioned, it's a good thing to make sure the string does not bind in the nut slot...it should slide easily.

    Riis
     
    dbsfgyd1 likes this.
  14. Whitenoise17

    Whitenoise17

    Aug 6, 2016
    East Side
    What is a witness point?
     
  15. lz4005

    lz4005

    Oct 22, 2013
    If it gradually goes out of tune the strings may be slipping on the posts from not being installed correctly.
    If it suddenly slips it's probably because the string is getting caught in the nut and then letting go.
    Make sure the slots are wide enough and lube them.
     
    BassmusM6674 and Bassbeater like this.
  16. ThinCrappyTone

    ThinCrappyTone Mostly harmless

    Oct 1, 2011
    Massachusetts, USA
    I’m thinking your tuners may have come loose. Try tightening the nuts on top and screws on the back.
     
    Westsailor, pudgychef and ELynx like this.
  17. Mechayoshi

    Mechayoshi

    Dec 7, 2015
    Tennessee
    This. People are always thinking their tuners are suspect when it’s more likely to be a problem with the nut.
     
    Bassbeater likes this.
  18. This guy right here^^^
     
  19. Zooberwerx

    Zooberwerx Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2002
    Virginia Beach, VA
    Ding-ding-ding! We have our answer!

    There is a standard-of-practice when installing bass strings which promotes performance, longevity, and stability of tuning...stretching is not among them. Here's a primer which is valuable although somewhat lengthy...read it, learn it, live it:

    Stringing, Tuning, Intonation and Witnesses

    I'm of the impression you're omitting essential steps which may result in the deficits you've mentioned. Here's a handful of tips...not all-inclusive but it's a start:

    *Clean nut slots (not binding)
    *Adequate strings wraps (3+) with the lowest "hitting the deck" (headstock).
    *Full thickness wraps do not hit the post.
    *Force the wraps around the post with your free hand while tuning up.
    *Allow ball-end of string to spin freely until it finally engages the bridge "anchor". This prevents the string from twisting upon itself.
    *Forcefully depress the string downward on the fretboard side of the nut & bridge. This produces a clean bend / break which delineates the string's "speaking path". These are witness points.

    Riis
     
  20. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    You can lubricate your nut slots with pencil lead (graphite). Loosen the strings just enough to pop them out of the nut, rub the slots with the lead, blow out the dust, retune.

    Also check for nut and bridge wear, rough edges that may hang up the strings.
     
    climber, nolezmaj, saabfender and 3 others like this.