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Tuning Issue on a Tbird Studio

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by jbalou02, Sep 23, 2010.

  1. jbalou02


    Mar 8, 2010
    Hey TB,

    I love my '08 Tbird Studio, it really growls. It feels amazing. It's the perfect sound for me and the only other bass I ever want to own is a Tbird Studio V.

    That being said, I've been having problems with keeping it in tune. It never fails to go low by the end of every set. Not far and not so much that I feel like have to tune during a set, but I always have to pull it up just a bit, usually across the board and at the very least the E and A string before we start the next one. This happens with new strings and old, and I am consistant with the way I restring the bass, probably every 5 gigs. I use Ernie Ball Power Slinkys (55-110). Between sets the bass stays on a Hurcules guitar stand

    I was warned before I picked up this bass by a couple of people that I might have to watch the Grover tuners on the studio version, that they don't always hold so well. I haven't had the bass set up professionally since I got it, but I did a pretty thorough amateur job, got the intonation down pretty damn close, everything is tightened down as it should be, and it really plays and sounds excellent.

    So here's my question...could detuning be a symptom of a bad setup? Has anyone else had problems with or heard about Grover tuners on the studio's being problematic?


  2. Detuning could come from neck movement, if you tune a bass, leave it on a stand, the weather changes a lot without you playing it it could be out of tune the next time you pick it up.
    It can happen on shorter time frames to, like if you carried your bass outside in the cold and you play in a hot and sweaty club without letting your bass get used to it it might move a bit when it gets warmed up!
    If it happens once after the first few songs but then stabilizes i would say its fine, if it keeps doing it all through your set your tuners are probably slipping and could do with replacing.
  3. jbalou02


    Mar 8, 2010
    Thanks Carlos. It doesnt seem to be environmentally related. Changing temps certainly effects the neck, but this situation happens irregardless of that, after the bass has been acclimated to any change in temp, climate, etc. for hours. If I tune it and put it down, I can walk away for hours or days and it stays in tune just fine. It's really after playing a full set that this happens, and we play 4 a night, so I'm typically tuning between sets as well as before. Like I said, its not super far out, but enough to need tuning. I'm thinking its the tuners, but still wonder whether a pro setup would help. The bass plays and sounds really good right now, I'd rather not spend the money for a tech to work on it just to find out it is the tuners.
  4. Marton


    Sep 20, 2005
    Maybe some slipping tuners. Maybe strings get caught in the nut, and when you play, you pull on them a little. I would try to put some pencil in the nut slots, I do this on my DB, and it helps on the tuning.
  5. stiles72


    Mar 20, 2009
    Albany IL
    I've never had any issues with the Grovers on any of my Birds, (Studio, IV, or Blackbird), but the thin necks can move a little depending on how much pressure you put on the neck from simply playing and holding them. I play pretty hard handed, and almost always have to tune by the end of a set regardless of whether I'm playing my Gibsons or Fender or Ibanezes.
  6. Unless your strings are so old they dont hold tuning (i have 7 years old strings that stay in tune fine so i doubt thats it!) a setup wont change a thing...
    Maybe your tuners need tightening a bit, or changing...

    And +1 to what Marton said, try to tune up then pull on your string once or twice and check your tuning, if its flat its most likely that your strings grip on the nut, it then creates more tension between nut and tuner than between nut and bridge and when you start playing it equalizes and you end up being flat.
    I never had that issue but as marton said a bit of graphite is meant to help, or a new nut...
  7. bazzanderson


    Oct 7, 2002
    Austin, TX
    mahogany necks are just going to do that. Some more than others but yeah...my multi-ply neckthrough Gibson Tbird does it a little....not to bad but I usually have to re-tune after about 6-8 songs depending on how hot and humid it is.
  8. jbalou02


    Mar 8, 2010
    Awesome info everyone, thanks! I think this is it. I'll try the graphite trick and report back. If that doesn't do the trick, I'm satisfied its just something I'll have to live with. No sweat, the bass is so nice its worth it by a long shot.
  9. ggunn


    Aug 30, 2006
    Austin, TX
    If it did that it would go sharp, not flat. It is possible that nut squeeze makes it go flat, though, if you play aggressively, but it's while there is more tension between nut and tuner than nut and bridge, not after it equalizes.

    It's probably not the tuners slipping, though. Even cheap worm and pinion tuners hold pretty well. It would be easy to detect if it did, though; make a small mark on the peg with a Sharpie and then check it when the bass goes flat and see if it has moved.
  10. Johnny Crab

    Johnny Crab HELIX user & BOSE Abuser

    Feb 11, 2004
    What was said about the nut/graphite thing and the pull up after tuning. I make it a point when tuning to detune slightly below the "right on the money" mark on the tuner and come back up to center. THEN I bend the string up(D, G) or down (E, A) and recheck the tuning. If it went slightly flat, I tune up to center again.

    The temperature question. Do you play where it is air conditioned or cold?
    If so, your strings may be semi-cool/cold as is the neck when you start your set and then BOTH absorb heat of friction and from your hands over the course of a set. I've been in cold rooms where going flat is expected/happens and it usually happens to me and both guitarists.
  11. Also, i forgot to mention that for some reason it help to always tune going up!
    So start flat and go up to the note, not sharp and going down...
  12. jbalou02


    Mar 8, 2010
    I'm leaning towards this

    and this

    I thump pretty hard myself, and it sounds like there are some inherant characteristics in Thunderbirds that lend to this situation. The more I ponder what everyone has said, the more I'm sure of it. I notice going flat more prevalently on the E and A, which I'm banging on the majority of the time. I tune up again (always from below tuning up, bend, retune up), knock out 12 tunes, take a break and have to do it all over again. I guess this is just going to be my lot in life. It's a small price to pay, I love this bass!
  13. Or you could get in the habit of checking your tuning a bit more often!
    I usually check every 4 or 5 songs, you never know how much a bass can move, if your close to lights, smoke machines, sweaty people, strange things can happen... I always check a few times during a set even if i cant hear any tuning issues!
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    Primary TB Assistant

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