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Gary Biscuits

Steinberger gearless tuners for Firebird V = tuning stability?

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New to the Firebird V (just got me a 2010).  Love the feel and sound, but having some tuning issues. I set it up how I like it, so that part is good. Intonation is great. I know I can take it sharp if I push the strings hard on the frets, but that’ll bounce back after I let go. A few big bends or smashing a few hard chords, it’s out. It just seem like the stock banjo tuners aren’t holding it in tune. 

Am I missing another element that may be taking it out of tune?

I hear mixed reviews about the Steinberger gearless machine heads. Mostly good reviews, but I thought I’d put the direct question put there. 

Do Steinberger gearless tuners for Firebird V equal improved tuning stability?

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On the back of each banjo tuner you'll see a screw.  Tighten that up and that should solve your problem.

Steinbergers work well, too, but no better than the banjo once you've snugged them up.

 

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I’ve done that. They’re all pretty tight. Low E, G, and B tend to be the ones that slip. I’ve also greased the nut and saddles with graphite stuff.  I try to only wind each 1.5 to 3 turns a piece to limit stretch. Still, it’ll pop out of tune pretty quick. Is there a string winding technique I should employ?

Edited by Gary Biscuits

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Thanks for the info. Respectfully, I’ve been playing guitar and bass for nearly 30 years and changed strings many many times. If I don’t know how to do that by now...

(Parenthetically, I love that that article is like, “wash your hands before you play your guitar.” I know those are jazz guys, but what the **** are they doing? Eating dinner with their moms?)

I was more wondering how to diagnose this issue. My strings are currently only about a week old, but I have stretched them really well and I’ve never quite had this issue with any other guitar. The only thing I can reason now is that the tuners are slipping, but I can’t be sure just yet. What else could it be?

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I am totally out of ideas, the only time I had tuning stability issues on my older Firebirds was when the screws on the end of tuning pegs were loose.

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I got the Steinberger tuners with professional installation. They helped with the neck dive, but didn't still didn't keep that Firebird in tune.  No matter what I tried, that Firebird thing was just not able to be reliable guitar.  It was such a prima donna - I'd have to warm the neck with my hand before I played it (even in summer), I couldn't put bend too much, I couldn't strum hard, I'd have to check the set up routinely as measurements would slip microscopically  enough to affect the overall intonation, I tried all kinds/gauges of strings and could never find the that worked for it, etc etc etc.

I don't know if that one was just a lemon (it was a 2010, after all) or if that whole Firebird model is flawed. But I think I know more about why those are sort of sought after but aren't widely revered guitars -- they look amazing but require more work than they're worth.

In the end, I swapped that guitar for a 2005 Les Paul Standard. So much better. 

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Other things that can cause a stringed instrument to go out of tune when you play:

1.  A low quality (plastic) or incorrectly shaped nut

2.  Low quality saddles, or there is an imperfection that causes strings to bind at the saddles. 

I highly recommend installing GraphTech (or similar nut and saddles).   It resolved a lot of issues with my Epiphone BB King Lucille.  Have a luthier do the work for best results.  

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Well, I got rid of the FB, so can't make any adjustments. However, I did get a Tusq nut put in, didn't help. I also had the saddles/bridge/etc. looked at closely by a pro. He couldn't see anything significantly wrong with it. I also cleaned and lubricated them each time I changed the strings. 

Honestly, I think it was just a lemon guitar. It happens. I got it for a good price. I know now likely why. It's a shame because it was a really cool guitar....

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I would love to know the reason some guitars slip like that.  When you rule out every friction point in the string path, what is left?  The wood is bending/settling?  Truss rod is creeping?

Another thing you can try if you ever have that problem again is changing to strings with a wound 'g' string.  The theory I heard goes like this: when electric guitars were invented and people wanted lighter gauge strings, they simply didn't exist.  So what they would do is take the an acoustic set of strings and use the 'a' as the 'e', use the 'd' as the 'a' etc etc.  So the 'b' (not wound) became the 'g', the high 'e' became the 'b' and they added a super light string as the high 'e'.   By doing this, they made the 'g' which is wound on a set of acoustic strings unwound.  And supposedly that is why the 'g' on a set of electric strings constantly creeps out of tune.  Thus, someone started making electric strings with a wound 'g'. 

750-EXL110W_detail2.jpg

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