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Tuning one string changes all the other strings

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by LanOsb133, Jan 6, 2014.

  1. When I tune my low E string and go from standard to drop D all the other strings go out of tune. It makes sense, the E string is releasing tension thus the neck can pull harder on the other strings slightly taking them out of tune.

    However, is there a way to get around this or am I just going to have to suck it up and deal with it? My MIA doesn't do it and neither does my Epiphone, but my MIM P does.
  2. Are the MIM p's strings a heavier gauge than the other basses? If so then try lighter strings, if not then suck it up...
  3. Nope. 'Tis the laws of physics.

    However, the better the bass, particularly the neck, the less noticeable it is. I drop my E once a set on average, and I can't really tell.

    And as for relatively more stable necks, they are not necessarily a result of spending more money on the bass. But the odds are not in your Squier's favor.
  4. pfox14


    Dec 22, 2013
    I never experienced this problem. You have to figure out what's different about the MIM from your other basses.
  5. Selta


    Feb 6, 2002
    Pacific Northwet
    Total fanboi of: Fractal Audio, AudiKinesis Cabs, Dingwall basses
    You could... switch to fretless? ;)
  6. Arranger


    Mar 9, 2003
    You might find that it's just the temperament of the individual bass that makes one easier to drop tune than another. The natural overtones and resonant frequencies of any particular bass can either hide or enhance problems playing in a set key. Some cuts of wood and some pickup locations push certain frequencies making certain tunings less desirable. Sometimes you'll just notice dull and bright spots, but in the worst cases the tuning becomes unbearable.

    I have very few basses that will allow a quick drop from E to D without running into problems elsewhere on the fretboard. I do often find, however, that keeping the low E or D slightly flatter on the open tuning tends to interfere less with the higher strings. Our ears are more capable of accepting the lowest notes if they're flatter than if they're too sharp. The converse is true of the upper register. High notes that are ever so slightly sharp will yield a bright feel. If the high notes are flat, everyone hears it as sour.
  7. What is a fretless going to do to change the fact that the neck is pulling the strings out of tune? LOL.

    Only difference is that the MIM P is a 20 fret (21 including the nut) and the MIA P is a 22 fret (23 including the nut) and of corse that the MIM has round wounds and the MIA has flats.

    Its not a squier. I know its the law of physics but it ain't doing it on my other two basses so there has to be some sort of work around.

    It feels like the MIM's stings are lighter or roughly the same. I haven't changed them out so I wouldn't know whats on them, however even though they feel the same thats comparing flats to rounds.
  8. This was very helpful, but what you are talking about is the tuning of the fretboard and the intonation of the entire instrument are you not? I am specifically speaking about the open string tuning. For example, my bass is completely in tune up and down the fretboard, no matter what tuning I am In. However when I change my E strings tuning the G string (For example) will go slightly sharp and the entire G string is sharp. It doesn't change the intonation just simply that the string is now sharp and that I would need to retune the string.
  9. I wonder if the tension on the MIM 's strings is just higher than average/the strings on your other bass(es) are lower tension (all else being equal sort of...).

    Maybe your MIM just has a softer neck, wood is not all the same and that particular bass might just have a soft (read more flexible than average) neck. My 74 P, franken P, and Squire VM Jazz all have Hipshot D tuners and get use. None have significant tuning issues using the D tuner. The Franken P has heavy gauge strings for D standard tuning but has seen more use in standard tuning (higher tension) and the other strings still stay well within limits for live use. That said we have all read about the inconsistencies of Fender instruments over the years. You may just have one of the few that get complained about.
  10. I might also inquire about the condition of the nut, if the slots are tight or not lubed the difference in tension on both sides of the nut may contribute to more neck deflection (read warp-age). Over the years I have come to understand the importance of a lubricated nut in maintaining stable tuning with any type of tension varying device (like with Stratocaster type guitars with the oem tremolo)(locking nut excluded) be it a Strat with tremolo or a bass with a Hipshot D tuner. At least be sure the strings can slide freely through the slots, graphite (Lock-Eze) is messy but effective in keeping the nut slippery. Just my thoughts, good luck and let us know how you end up dealing with this.
  11. BassFace13


    Oct 14, 2011
    I've been through about 30 basses and on all of them, the other strings would go a hair flat when I dropped to D. But not bad enough to warrant retuning them all.
  12. JTE


    Mar 12, 2008
    Central Illinois, USA
    It's a matter of physics, but how much and if it's noticeable depends on how stable the neck is. And that's a matter of individual chunks of wood, how aged they are, and quality of both construction and material. As elctracyote said, those are all potential factors based on it being MIM and a lower price point.

    So, start with easy things. Make sure the nut's cut correctly (and almost NO factory nut is cut correctly by just about any mass produced bass). Make sure wood screws that hold the neck to the body are snugged up. And make sure the tuning machines are installed solidly and the screw that holds the toothed gear to the string shaft is snugged up. If those don't fix the problem, either deal with it or get a "better" neck.

  13. Sorry dude, good catch. I meant to say MIM.

    FWIW, I have several MIM's and they do not produce an overly-noticeable tuning issue when I drop the D.

    Like JTE said, you do want to be sure everything on your bass is tightened up nice and snug (but without over-tightening, stripping things, etc.). That would include all hardware (bridge, tuners), and the neck should be aligned and firmly bolted down. I think this would improve the situation.

    I also own low-price-point basses (such as Squiers), and I really can't remember one having such an issue after being drop-tuned as to be a distraction and un-useable in that situation.
  14. khutch

    khutch Praise Harp

    Aug 20, 2011
    suburban Chicago
    All basses and necks do this to a degree. The degree is determined by how stiff the structure of the bass is. All real materials bend when stress is applied to them, some just bend more than others. Evidently your MIM is not as rigid as your other basses. Maybe your truss rod needs adjusting, maybe the neck mounting bolts are a little loose, maybe the bridge is a little loose, .... If everything is up to snuff it is just the luck of the draw and this MIM is a little more flexible than the others.
  15. Fat Steve

    Fat Steve The poodle bites, the poodle chews it.

    I had that problem on my DB, as I had to switch to drop D for a few tunes we do. I eventually just started bringing the toy bass to leave downtuned so I don't have to mess with the big girl.
  16. Other way around, really. Heavier strings would fix his issue, as the other strings would hold the neck still & stop it from adjusting as much when drop tuning.
  17. Thank you guys for all the great comments.

    I will definitely be checking out the nut to make sure this isn't it. Thanks!

    Thank you very much! The bass is new to me so this past week I just gave her a quick set up (made sure all the screws were tight. while I did this.) but I have yet to check anything like the tuners or nut. I'll definitely be checking that soon when I do the DNA removal of the bass!
  18. It's going to solve the problem because your intonation is controlled by where you put your fingers instead of where the frets are. Thus, with a fretless, only the open notes would be out of tune. All "fretted" notes could be compensated for by the player.

    The "only difference" is that they are different basses with different structural designs. The MIA P has a different neck design than the MIM with integral graphite rods to make the neck stiffer, and this is probably responsible for the difference in how they are responding to Drop D.

    If you have one bass that has the problem and one that doesn't, the "work around" is to use the bass that doesn't experience the problem. There has to be a "reason." There doesn't have to be any other "work around." But, the string thickness suggestion should reduce the problem, whether you go to a lighter E, or heavier ADG. This, however, may not leave you happy with the either the sound or feel balance between the E string and the other three.
  19. Dave W

    Dave W Supporting Member

    Mar 1, 2007
    White Plains
    Which MIA are we talking about here? It could have graphite rods in the neck, hence why that one doesn't do it. I know that doesn't explain your Epi though.

  20. regardless ITS STILL OUT OF TUNE. My finger positions would have to be varied slightly and ITS STILL OUT OF TUNE.

    I mean telling me to get a fretless is possibly one of the just worst possible suggestions I could think of. It doesn't fix my bass, it doesn't give me an idea of what I need to do to fix it, and at that point since I am buying a neck mine as well get what I had. Also there is a work around, heavier strings and checking to make sure my nut is working correctly.

    2002 MIA Dlx P 5 bolt neck.