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What Exactly Makes A String Fall Out Of Tune?

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by Bryan R. Tyler, Jan 9, 2005.

  1. Bryan R. Tyler

    Bryan R. Tyler TalkBass: Usurping My Practice Time Since 2002 Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    May 3, 2002
    I figured this belonged in Setup more than Strings.

    I often come across posts that say "my bass almost never goes out of tune," where the person seems to be stating it's the bass' construction that keeps the string in tune. Guitar strings seems to go out of tune quite often, so I've thought that lighter gauges tend to go out of tune more. The tuner I'd imagine would play a big role, but I imagine the player would have the most to do with it-I've had very cheap basses and very high-end ones, and I've pretty much had to retune them both over the same duration of time.

    Is it a combination of all these things? Is one factor more prominent than another?
  2. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    Banging into my guitarist puts my bass out of tune. Dropping it. Putting it in a gigbag.

    The only other things that really put my basses out of tune are the temperature changes from inside and outside a club. I always tune my bass at least 20 minutes before playing and then retune just before the set. I try to get the neck adjusted to the warmth of my hands also. There can be a pretty big difference if you go from 90 degree weather into a freezing cold air conditioned place.

    Thin cheap necks also cause a bass to not hold it's tune as well eaither. The temperature/humidity affects them more, and I think shoddy craftsmanship adds to it. If you bang it around I think it shifts the neck joint and everything else on the bass.

    It takes a lot to throw any of my basses out of tune - in fact it rarely if ever happens without any of the first mentioned things going on first. Even the cheapest machine heads seem to keep everything in tune.

    I'm curious to see others (more educated) thoughts on this and I'd like to add to the mix - why do Gibson guitars NEVER stay in tune. This is not an opinion, it's a fact - and something the Gibson people can't even answer.
  3. Figjam


    Aug 5, 2003
    Boston, MA
    I had a Hohner headless with the steinberger tuning system and that came VERY close to never going out of tune. It maybe needed to be tuned once every few weeks.
  4. Minger


    Mar 15, 2004
    Rochester, NY
    My Ibanez RB800 (old stuff) doesnt really go out of tune - I tune it once a week (aside from doin Drop D and whatnot) and thats more than enough to keep it in tune - even after a 3 week period it was still very close to being in tune...
  5. bluemonk


    Dec 17, 2002
    What most affects my basses' tuning is humidity changes. I like in the Northern midwest and it is very dry in the winter and moderately humid in the summer. When there is a change from one season to the next, I have to do a new setup of all my basses, especially readjusting the necks.