You are here

Acoustic guitars constantly going out of tune

For all things relating to guitars, basses, amps, pedals & accessories.

Re: Acoustic guitars constantly going out of tune

Postby Alba » Thu Aug 06, 2020 10:49 pm

I've never ever stretched-in a set of new strings in probably 50 years of playing in all types of situations. They settle down enough to stay stable after about half an hour or so of good solid playing and re-tuning ... its what i've found anyway.
Alba
Frequent Poster
Posts: 1352
Joined: Sun Jul 26, 2015 12:00 am
Location: Airstrip 1, Eurasia

Re: Acoustic guitars constantly going out of tune

Postby Dynamic Mike » Fri Aug 07, 2020 2:15 am

shufflebeat wrote:
merlyn wrote:What is the problem that you think will happen with stretching nylon strings?

I was advised many years ago that nylon strings have a tendency to stretch disproportionately at weak points which would affect the mass at those points and distort the intonation along the neck.

Is that a fact, or just your gut instinct? :lol:
Dynamic Mike
Frequent Poster (Level2)
Posts: 3458
Joined: Sun Dec 31, 2006 1:00 am
Is it too late to cancel cancel culture?

Re: Acoustic guitars constantly going out of tune

Postby shufflebeat » Fri Aug 07, 2020 8:13 am

Alba wrote:I've never ever stretched-in a set of new strings in probably 50 years of playing in all types of situations. They settle down enough to stay stable after about half an hour or so of good solid playing and re-tuning ... its what i've found anyway.

That'll work.

Dynamic Mike wrote:
shufflebeat wrote:
merlyn wrote:What is the problem that you think will happen with stretching nylon strings?

I was advised many years ago that nylon strings have a tendency to stretch disproportionately at weak points which would affect the mass at those points and distort the intonation along the neck.

Is that a fact, or just your gut instinct? :lol:

Yay, once more with feline! :)
shufflebeat
Jedi Poster
Posts: 5012
Joined: Sun Dec 09, 2007 1:00 am
Location: Manchester, UK
"Dance, dance. wherever you may be, for I am the Lord of the damp settee..."

Do yourself a favour, wear earplugs at gigs.

Re: Acoustic guitars constantly going out of tune

Postby SecretSam » Fri Aug 07, 2020 1:37 pm

Dynamic Mike wrote:
shufflebeat wrote:
merlyn wrote:What is the problem that you think will happen with stretching nylon strings?

I was advised many years ago that nylon strings have a tendency to stretch disproportionately at weak points which would affect the mass at those points and distort the intonation along the neck.

Is that a fact, or just your gut instinct? :lol:

Very good. Do you do weddings and bah mitzvahs as well ?
SecretSam
Frequent Poster
Posts: 1571
Joined: Tue Oct 29, 2002 1:00 am
Location: Officially, I do not exist.
Instant gratification is actually pretty good. It's fast as well.

Re: Acoustic guitars constantly going out of tune

Postby Honch » Sun Aug 23, 2020 5:41 pm

Yes they do.
Acoustic guitars go out of tune.

Especially such as GS Mini since while they have the same gauge strings and the same original tuning they are way too short in total scale to be of any significant to KEEP in tune or intonation, onced tuned up. It's a MINI guitar with small fretboard not as long as fullgrown models. If you bang/whack with a pick or else they initiallly go up in pitch to finally settle down in right pitch and then even go too flat in pitch.

Also, all acoustic guitars, are prone to slight temperature differences in air, and moisture damp, and can shrink, expand for apparently no reason. And such things are more evident on a "too-small-scale-for-its-pitch" guitars such as Taylors GS MINI. Those guitars are meant to be strummed lightly. Ok, enough of this, since you haven't restrung it yet, it's strung by the factory. Here's a list:

1. Do not whack/strum hard with your picking hand.
2. Do not fret and press harder than necessary with your fretting hand.
3. Do not INADVERTENTLY bend the strings inside a chord, while fretting ANY chord with your fretting hand. Many does this in spite of being professionals. Sit in front of a mirror and watch if you inadvertently press the strings to the side, just because you think you get a better grip. This may be "normal" to you but...

4. If you're grown up, and raised on full scale acoustic guitar with thicker gauge strings, your fingers are accustomed to that, and then when ...
5. ... faced with a lesser guitar with less string tension and thinner gauge strings (both can have adverse/exacerbate effects) you tend to do by feel and do not hear or see that the same fingering pressure does not work here.
6. GS MINI is a steel string guitar as far as I know. If not it is gut string nylon...
7. And as such they never plays in tune at all, and that is my experience, which is the main reason I left those behind a long time ago. They're never in tune...maybe in open strings position, but doesn't intonate even decently higher up the fretboard.

But I have yet to see any Taylor GS MINI with nylon string. Due to that it is impossible to use anything but ball end steel strings on those. Although nylon strings with ball ends does exists. But even that would render Taylor GS MINI totally impossible to get anywhere near in tune anyways...

Period
Honch
Regular
Posts: 71
Joined: Mon Dec 25, 2017 12:56 pm

Re: Acoustic guitars constantly going out of tune

Postby CS70 » Sun Aug 23, 2020 9:26 pm

Honch wrote:But I have yet to see any Taylor GS MINI with nylon string. Due to that it is impossible to use anything but ball end steel strings on those. Although nylon strings with ball ends does exists. But even that would render Taylor GS MINI totally impossible to get anywhere near in tune anyways...

Period

Gotta say, I have plenty of acoustic guitars and they are just fine to play and keep in tune.
Also tried a GS Mini (for a good half an hour in a shop) and didn't have the impression it went out of tune in the time period :D But what do I know.
User avatar
CS70
Jedi Poster
Posts: 6030
Joined: Mon Nov 26, 2012 1:00 am
Location: Oslo, Norway
Silver Spoon - Check out our latest video and the FB page

Re: Acoustic guitars constantly going out of tune

Postby Sam Spoons » Mon Aug 24, 2020 10:31 am

Honch, I agree with what you are saying about over-fretting and hard strumming affecting pitch, especially with lower tension strings and/or shorter scale lengths. I also agree that intonation on all guitars is a compromise. But, I disagree that steel strung* acoustic guitars always go out of tune (not even when subjected to hard percussive strumming and not even shorter scale length ones, I have/do both with no tuning issues). Like CS, the GS minis I have played have been fine WRT tuning stability.

Most tuning stability issues come down to poor restringing practices and this has been discussed up-thread with appropriate advice given to the OP.

* Nylon strung guitars are inherently less stable than steel strung but classical players seem to cope well enough with keeping them in tune for the duration of a piece.
User avatar
Sam Spoons
Jedi Poster
Posts: 13300
Joined: Thu Jan 23, 2003 1:00 am
Location: Manchester UK
Finally taking this recording lark seriously (and recording my Gypsy Jazz CD)........

Re: Acoustic guitars constantly going out of tune

Postby Honch » Mon Aug 24, 2020 7:02 pm

Sam Spoons wrote:...But, I disagree that steel strung* acoustic guitars always go out of tune (not even when subjected to hard percussive strumming and not even shorter scale length ones, I have/do both with no tuning issues). Like CS, the GS minis I have played have been fine WRT tuning stability.

Most tuning stability issues come down to poor restringing practices and this has been discussed up-thread with appropriate advice given to the OP.
Yes, the restringing practices has been dealt with so I provided additional. Now, if you're in a different room, place, stage or outdoor stage (very rare these days, but it will come back again) they DO get more out of tune than solid body electric guitar equivalents due to atmosphere, temperature, and damp effects. Especially moisture can wreak big havoc on tuning NO MATTER how good the guitar is strung up, stretched and maintained. The wood, expands, contracts, and shrinks, although the temperature is equal warmth like indoors, so the actual steel string doesn't shrink or expand due to temperature changes.

There are only one type of acoustic steel string guitars that are impervious to moisture, and those are those expensive graphite, molded gutiars like Rainsong, Composite Acoustics and the like. Since it wasn't that I was sure about my thing that acoustic guitars goes more out of tune than solid body electric guitars. No matter the quality of guitars.

I remember a tv flick or video of the old days where Bob Dylan kept getting his pristine Martin guitar going out of tune during the song, while his backing band with electric instruments didn't. Same with old prog band Jethro Tull where Ian Anderson tries to tune his acoustic guitar all of the time, curses, and swears, but the rest of the band, bassist, and electric guitarist Martin Barre has no problems.
Honch
Regular
Posts: 71
Joined: Mon Dec 25, 2017 12:56 pm

Re: Acoustic guitars constantly going out of tune

Postby Honch » Mon Aug 24, 2020 7:13 pm

And another anecdote, about how hard one is playing strumming the guitar. Believe it or not it is the same with acoustic Grand Pianos too. It's just a perception of the player or the producer, but legendary sound engineer that passed November last year, Jan-Erik Kongshaug were often required to call in his piano tuner TWICE the same day, to tune his Steinway Grand in the studio again.

He said to the artists/pianists that "you should've recorded the ballads first, and not start with the high intensity stuff, you whack the piano out of tune". Of course not any pianist could hear this but he sure did. And when his piano tuner arrived he wen't "yeah...hmm..well it sure has drifted from what it was earlier today when I left". So he had to do a touch up before they could continue recording the piano. Mind you, from PLAYING only.
Honch
Regular
Posts: 71
Joined: Mon Dec 25, 2017 12:56 pm

Re: Acoustic guitars constantly going out of tune

Postby Sam Spoons » Mon Aug 24, 2020 7:25 pm

Well, piano's excepted, tuning the instrument at the beginning of the set is the norm so that takes care of moisture* and, to some extent, temperature changes (which can simply shift the whole instrument up or down a few cents), once you've done that it should stay in tune for a few tunes at least. If it doesn't it's a setup or stringing issue.

My Emerald X7 is carbon fibre and is super stable, to the extent that when it arrived after 48 hours in the tender care of 'Parclefarce' it was in tune, slightly flat 'cos I guess my studio was warmer than the retailers showroom but in tune with itself. Pretty impressive and I would not have described it as expensive or high end when I bought it for £850, since then, 4 years ago, prices have risen sharply partly due to Brexit and the falling pound, they now cost around £1700 which is getting up there.

Either way, I play pretty hard with super stiff 3.5mm 'Gypsy Jazz' picks but rarely if ever experience tuning issues with any of my guitars, electric or acoustic. If I do I can pretty much always trace it back to a setup issue.

* IME changes in humidity will not affect a tone wood acoustic over a timescale of less than a few hours (hotel air-con to tropical rainforest excepted).
User avatar
Sam Spoons
Jedi Poster
Posts: 13300
Joined: Thu Jan 23, 2003 1:00 am
Location: Manchester UK
Finally taking this recording lark seriously (and recording my Gypsy Jazz CD)........

Re: Acoustic guitars constantly going out of tune

Postby CS70 » Mon Aug 24, 2020 7:44 pm

Well instrument need to acclimate, and depending on the venue, when the public comes in, you check the tune. Once again, my band plays acoustic guitar routinely on stage, and I never notice a problem. What we do is that - since we use capos - we have a couple acoustic with the tuning set nice for that capo positions - so we bring three.
User avatar
CS70
Jedi Poster
Posts: 6030
Joined: Mon Nov 26, 2012 1:00 am
Location: Oslo, Norway
Silver Spoon - Check out our latest video and the FB page

Re: Acoustic guitars constantly going out of tune

Postby Honch » Tue Aug 25, 2020 1:46 pm

Sam Spoons wrote:* IME changes in humidity will not affect a tone wood acoustic over a timescale of less than a few hours (hotel air-con to tropical rainforest excepted).
* ME is opposite. You said it, when you mentioned air-con. Air-con wreaks havoc on tuning too, depending. Most air-con cools it down to 14-15 centigrades and that will shrink both wood and strings. This is evident on electrics too. And in mediterranean countries like Spain (home/origin of most acoustic guitars) Italy, greece, there is problems. Sudden humidity on stage, combined with PAR 64 spotlights can be detrimental. Say you start your outdoor show at sunset when the sky is clear, and then carries on into the night with stage lights turning on, and the comes the occasional downpour of rain, in spite of that your stage has enough cover. Yes, Emerald, and Rainsongs doesn't drift as much. Tonewood guitar does. And it's the body, not the strings.

However, it can be that you do have to really touch up the tuning in between numbers all of the time, if your songs are of the average ones like 3:50 minutes. That's my experience simple as that, no matter how good you have secured the windings of the strings.

Regarding the setup and the strings ending around the tuning posts. You have to check at the peg/pin end too and the bridge. The ball end may be inadvertently set below the pins/pegs end so it resides on the edge a bit too far below. And it can be set too high up far into the channel where only the pin should reside, but if so, you'll see it that the pin isn't pushed down properly. So you have to slacken the string a lot, and then tug it. You should not be able to loosen the string pin/peg by string force, and drag the string right up in the air and the peg follows with it. It can be worth looking at it at that end too.


http://www.fretnotguitarrepair.com/imag ... te-pin.jpg

http://www.fretnotguitarrepair.com/imag ... iagram.jpg

https://www.ibanez.com/eu/products/deta ... t_3137.jpg

Thus: So if you have this sorted out, and it is a thing you must check, it's evident that acoustic guitars are more prone to string slippage (and going out of tune) than their electric solid body counterparts. And I am pretty adamant about this. The above thing you can't detect until it's too late, and isn't the first thing you should suspect.

http://www.fretnotguitarrepair.com/repa ... -plate.php
Honch
Regular
Posts: 71
Joined: Mon Dec 25, 2017 12:56 pm

Re: Acoustic guitars constantly going out of tune

Postby Honch » Tue Aug 25, 2020 1:55 pm

Look people.
I have even read (I am trying to find it on the internet now) an interview with Martin CEO some 10-15 years back. The grandson of original founder C.F Martin that he said in the late 80s that "The tone within any acoustic lies there. The greatest tone lies in that the guitar is constructed and designed on the verge of collapsing if you don't take care, that's where the tone lies".

And if you construct any guitar like that to exist and function on the borders / just right of it/ before it collapses, or starts to bend and quirk, it's inevitable that it's going out of tune more easily. Especially Martin or Taylors, and high end. Why they have to cost major dough to produce this as they sure have a past date and so on beats me.

Mind you, that I am always comparing to the electric solid body guitar. They can also go out of tune, but in comparison, acoustics are a bit worse always. And nylon string classical guitars, don't get me started....
Honch
Regular
Posts: 71
Joined: Mon Dec 25, 2017 12:56 pm

Re: Acoustic guitars constantly going out of tune

Postby shufflebeat » Tue Aug 25, 2020 3:13 pm

Honch wrote:The grandson of original founder C.F Martin that he said in the late 80s that "The tone within any acoustic lies there. The greatest tone lies in that the guitar is constructed and designed on the verge of collapsing if you don't take care, that's where the tone lies".

Okay.


And if you construct any guitar like that to exist and function on the borders / just right of it/ before it collapses, or starts to bend and quirk, it's inevitable that it's going out of tune more easily.

Sorry, I don't see the logical progression there. It may be true but I can't see any reason why it would be connected to the previous statement.

Especially Martin or Taylors, and high end.

Tuning problems in my experience are often a case of failing to deal with the problem in design and manufacturing. Serious manufacturers tend to include these issues in the design brief, others don't.

Why they have to cost major dough to produce this as they sure have a past date and so on beats me.

That makes no sense.
shufflebeat
Jedi Poster
Posts: 5012
Joined: Sun Dec 09, 2007 1:00 am
Location: Manchester, UK
"Dance, dance. wherever you may be, for I am the Lord of the damp settee..."

Do yourself a favour, wear earplugs at gigs.

Re: Acoustic guitars constantly going out of tune

Postby Sam Spoons » Tue Aug 25, 2020 3:25 pm

By far the least stable tuning on all my guitars are the two Strats, both have working tremelo's set hard to the body. When setup and maintained they are fine short of dive bombing whammy abuse...

Intonation is always a compromise and you could say that equal temperament means that all instruments are out of tune all of the time anyway. Even instruments tuned in just temperament are only in tune for the key they're tuned in and then for only chords and notes close to the tone centre.
User avatar
Sam Spoons
Jedi Poster
Posts: 13300
Joined: Thu Jan 23, 2003 1:00 am
Location: Manchester UK
Finally taking this recording lark seriously (and recording my Gypsy Jazz CD)........

PreviousNext