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Newbie changed strings, now can't tune.

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by strummer21, Feb 25, 2008.

  1. Total noob here. I just replaced my strings on my first used bass (Squier P Bass Special) with standard Fender Strings and they don't sound great (do they break in and get better?) and even worse, I can't seem to tune them right with my tuner. I'm too new to tune it by ear, but I can tell it's off. I'm using a Matrix Sr-1000 tuner (also used) and now my E and A strings aren't registering right and the needle never stops jumping around. The D an G strings are are tuning correct, but sound out of tune when I play the same notes as I used to play with my old strings tuned up. The old strings, while totally thrashed, sounded decent and now the new strings don't have that thump and slight distortion that I like. Does this sound like intonation or bridge issues, pickups? One last thought, is it possible my Tuner is broken?Thanks for any help.
  2. coastward_kid


    Dec 8, 2007
    Is it possible that you switched string guages? That might effect yuor intonation. Do the notes sound more out of tune (relatively) as you go up the neck?

    Fender has more than a few different sets of strings for bass. If you liked the old sound, check out the specs on your bass at squierguitars.com and pick up the stock ones.

    It's also possible you don't like the brightness that is had with very fresh strings. They will mellow out consistently over time.
  3. ErebusBass


    Feb 20, 2008
    Madison, WI
    Did you stretch out the strings when you put them on? if you don't they won't hold tune until they break in.
  4. Lalabadie

    Lalabadie Guest

    Jan 11, 2007
    Maybe your strings have very strong harmonics. Try plucking them over the last frets of your neck when tuning. This is assuming the strings have had a little time to stretch.
  5. I put them on and stretched them out several times and (tried to) re-tune, but I still can't get it to tune correctly, so I can't tell if it is "holding" a tune. I can't get there in the first place. I think the answer is non-string related, either the guitar or jack or possibly the tuner itself. What are the prime supects?
  6. droskobass


    Oct 8, 2007
    Montreal, Canada
    Former Part-Time, Non-Commission Employee MOOG Audio
    did you insert the ends on the strings correctly into the hole in the tuning pegs?

    it sounds like the strings are slipping off the tuning pegs.

    Bass tuning pegs have a slot AND a Hole in the middle of the peg. put the tip of the string into the hole before bending and wrapping the strings arround the peg. also tighten the strings by turning the peg only. wraping the strings arround by hand will twist the string which could cause tuning problems and sustain issues as well.

    good luck
  7. dbcandle


    Jan 30, 2008
    Some jumping-around of the tuner is normal. When you pluck a string, the longer you hold the note without re-plucking, the more upper harmonics you get. Additionally, on a good strobe-tuner, you'll see the note go sharp as it is held (higher harmonics the longer the string vibrates). Generally, I pluck the string (with a pick) about once a second when I tune.

    I believe the P-bass special has 2 pickups; try tuning with only 1 pickup active.
  8. DeanT

    DeanT Send lawyers, guns and money...

    Did you change the gauge of the strings? You probably need to adjust the bridge saddles on the E & A strings. You also may need to adjust the truss rod a bit.
  9. tavesd


    Jul 31, 2007
    Also, try tuning by plucking the 12th fret harmonic instead of the open string. This should keep your tuner needle from jumping all around. Just lightly touch the string directly above the metal of the 12th fret, but don't actually press it all the way down to the fretboard. Pluck it as normal, then you're free to move your hand to the tuning pegs as the harmonic will continue to ring out.

    If you can remember how tense/tight your old strings were, and assuming they were in tune, you should be able to get pretty close by winding them till they feel close to what you're use to. Then use the tuner to "tune" in. I can usually get to within a step without hearing the string ring just by this.
  10. 1) Check the color codes on the strings you installed (usually a colored nut on the end of each string) and make sure each string is in the right position.

    2) Follow these stringing directions: http://www.tunemybass.com/bass_string_change/

    Your problem should be solved. Chances are you have some strings slipping because they're not installed on the tuners properly.
  11. Thanks for all the replies. Pilgrim, I actually saw that guide posted on TB and used it to change my strings. I don't think the strings are slipping. They are staying in tune where they are set, they just don't seem "in tune". The E and A that aren't registering well on the tuner actually sound more in tune than the D and G, which are reading perfectly in tune, but sound off ( I can hear it with my ear, unless I'm tone deaf). I am going to have to make sure my tuner is not broken.
  12. GlennW


    Sep 6, 2006
    Maybe you could loosen all the strings a bit and tighten the big Philips screw in the middle of the tuning peg gears. Then, use your right hand and extended index finger to put tension on the strings while retightening them. Then finish tuning up using 12th fret harmonics.
  13. Problem solved! The electronic tuner was malfunctioning. I have fixed in now and it sounds much better (in tune) just need the strings to break in a bit. That's the problem being a beginner- I can't tune it by ear yet and have to rely on my electronic tuner. Can't put blind trust in it that it will be accurate! Thanks for everyones help.
  14. ErnieD


    Nov 25, 2004
    I was going to suggest check the battery(s) in your tuner. When my battery gets low the tuner LED bounces around alot and wont let me tune my bass. But good you got it figured out already.
  15. Memo for the future: tune the G string, then tune the D to that note with your finger on the 5th fret of the D. Then tune the A to the D string, and the E to the A string using the same technique. All you have to do is match the note on the higher string with your finger on the 5th fret of the next string down.

    Know what? No matter how much people agonize over their electronic tuners, this method always gets you in tune within the limits of the human ear - and nothing else counts.

    That's how we old gaffers useta do it before electronic tuners. Training your ear is A Good Thing....and matching notes is easy.

  16. An even better trick when you don't have a tuner: The dial tone on a telephone is an A so you can tune your A string with it by ear. then with one string tuned, you tune all the others with that one. When I was a teen, my buddy would find it incredible that I could tune an accoustic guitar with a telephone. :p

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