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ES-335 Tuning Problems


steveb

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Hi Everyone,

 

I don't know why, but whenever I get a Gibson I always have tuning problems. I've had Fender Strats and Teles and I've never had problems with those. I just got a 335 and the G is always slipping - drives my crazy! Also had the same problem with an SG I had last year - sold it because it was doing my head in! Does anyone have any tips for me? I would love to just pick up a Gibson and play it without always having to tune my top 3 strings!

 

Many thanks,

 

Max

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You might want to stretch the strings, add more wraps around the tunning pegs, and loop back the end of the string to lock the string. You might also try going one size higher string guage for the E,B,G...strings will have a little more tension (10, 13,17) guage.

 

Does it go out of tune when you are playing? Sometimes times it goes out of tune when transporting in the case since the tuning pegs hit the bottom of the case... you might want modify your case a little at the neck support so it does not rest on the tuning peg...or use a small towel at the neck area to prevent the pegs from touching the bottom of the case.

 

Good luck..

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This is a very common complaint, and it has happened to me. With new tuning machines, the open strings going slack after tuning up to pitch is due to the strings stretching. The open strings going sharp after tuning up to pitch is due to strings sticking in the nut. If they go flat on you, just stretch them some more, as you would a new string, until they stay put (the strings enter a stable state for the tension you are applying to them in normal playing). For the nut sticking, chapstick or graphite works for me--but I also have perfectly filed slots. Check for nut sticking by pressing on the string above the nut; observe and listen,

 

Some tuning machines have too much play in them to start with, for my taste. You have to always tune up to pitch with those. I'm thinking of the original vintage style on my old Les Paul. But I've come to appreciate those and just accept them, as so many virtuoso players have done for the last 50 years. Basically, if you have new machines, you might find a tuning machine type you like the feel of more; but it will not solve the problem. Most "locking" tuners just lock the string on; some actually lock the mechanism into position so it doesn't move when you bump it. Heads up on that!

 

But this is only half the story: The unwound G string is a difficult one because the string tension is oddly lower and the actual tuning pitch is a compromise; they call it a "Tempered Interval". A lower pitched and lower tensioned guitar string will tend to sharpness when fretted; since the unwound G string has the lowest pitch and the lowest tension of the unwound strings, it goes noticeably sharp when fretted near the nut (the adjustable bridge intonation compensates for this when fretted higher up the neck). The unwound G also has the highest output! Nice, huh? Some players go back to a wound G, which is dang hard to bend but has a better sound and balanced output.

 

If you do a lot of fretting right near the nut, getting the nut action as low as possible helps, and adjustable nuts are available.

 

Interesting note--in all the time I've spent with violinists, I have seldom heard the kind of complaints about their tuners or fingerboards or strings as we hear from guitar players. And violinists have a much more difficult mechanism to make music with! I attribute this to the fact that almost all violinists have started with good teachers, who pass on the knowledge and reassure the student that good music really can be made on an imperfect thing if they just learn to accept it and do what is required to deal with it.

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Excellent comments. There's a bit of a natural tendency for Gibsons and other similar 3 to a side guitars to get "sticktion" in the nut slots because of the compound break over angle to the tuning keys. This is the worst on the third & fourth strings. A good luthier will carefully taper the peghead side of the nut slot towards the tuner, so there's not a sharp angle bend. OTOH, even though three on a side, strings on a PRS have a more straight pull towards the tuner peg. Fender-type setups with six on a side are the ideal, where the string has only to break over the nut.

 

Complicating all of this is the modern practice of using light gauge strings to facilitate with bending. Pity the poor Gibson nut, which by design has a complicated enough situation, now the tension is constantly being increased and released. The G string nut slot was already in a bind, now you go tugging on it about thirty times in a three minute tune, and expect it to slide back into place perfectly every time. The friction generated by the string sliding through the nut over & over also generates a bit of heat, swelling the string & nut with the resulting binding being a natural by product.

 

The only fixes are bone or other hard composition nuts with clearanced nut slots, removing the backside edges to minimize the breakover and a bit of graphite or other lube right in the slots. Nutsauce is reputed to work well, I've used simple pencil lead for years with good results.

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Hi Everyone' date='

 

I don't know why, but whenever I get a Gibson I always have tuning problems. I've had Fender Strats and Teles and I've never had problems with those. I just got a 335 and the G is always slipping - drives my crazy! Also had the same problem with an SG I had last year - sold it because it was doing my head in! Does anyone have any tips for me? I would love to just pick up a Gibson and play it without always having to tune my top 3 strings!

 

Many thanks,

 

Max[/quote'] I'd be willing to bet the problem is in the slot at the nut. Even the guitars that are PLEKED at the factory have issues with the nut. I have a brand new 335, same problem here, G and B string sticking in the nut when your tuning. After you start playing and bending strings it slips and is out of tune. If you look at the slots under a magnifing lamp you will see what I'm talking about. You can carefully clean it up with a nut file or fine sand paper. Using a nut lube will either solve or help with the problem. Just do not cut the slot deeper just widen and smooth the curve a little. I will be doing mine this week if I get the chance. Every Giobson I've had has the same problem and this is my fourth Gibson.

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There is nothing wrong with a Pleked guitar. Gibson's have had this issue well before they began to use the Plek. The issue is with the angle of the string over the nut and across to the tuning peg. Gibson uses a type of plastic for the nut and frankly they don't do a very good job of finishing the nut. Ultimately, replacing the nut with a bone nut that is properly cut by a luthier is the best answer in my opinion.

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Right on. I replaced the plastic with hard unbleached bone and was very happy with the results-- tone, tuning, regulation, appearance all improved.

 

I know it might make me go broke, but if I were a Custom Shop making custom 335s and selling them for $3000 to $5000, I would put in a $15 bone nut anyway. I might even crown the frets and set up the bridge saddles. What the heck!

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I've noticed this too on newer Gibsons. The only Gibson I have right now is from 1967. This guitar has no tuning or intonation issues. It is obvious to me that the nut is much different than what I am used to seeing on newer models. The slots are much wider on my '67 than anything I've seen on newer Gibsons.

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There is nothing wrong with a Pleked guitar. Gibson's have had this issue well before they began to use the Plek. The issue is with the angle of the string over the nut and across to the tuning peg. Gibson uses a type of plastic for the nut and frankly they don't do a very good job of finishing the nut. Ultimately' date=' replacing the nut with a bone nut that is properly cut by a luthier is the best answer in my opinion. [/quote']

Your right there is nothing wrong with a PLEKED guitar providing it was done right. The PLEK machine will only do what it is programed to do. The PLEK is used also to cut the nut slots. I have not seen any Gibson guitars that have the nut slots cut correctly since they have been using the PLEK at the factory. You will only benifit from a bone nut when a open string is played. The stock nut will work fine if it is slotted properly.

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It has nothing to do with whether a plek machine or a luthier cut the slot. The nut is installed prior to finishing the guitar and thus is finished in which all my luthier friends tell me is poor practice. According to them the finish on the nut can have an effect on tuning. Also you have to keep in mind what string gauge the nut was cut for. If you go up a string gauge you will have tuning problems unless you have a luthier widen the existing slots.

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Explorer is right. Don´t waste your money on tuners and other things. It´s the nut slots. It needs a lot more finishing work than on say a Stratocaster where the strings are running straight towards the tuners. And Gibson is doing a very poor job on the nut slots.

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