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Tuning stability: Les Paul vs PRS


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I have two awesome-playing and sounding Les Paul Studios, one a Premium plus beauty (chambered) and the other a hand-rubbed cherry all mahogany one (also chambered). The necks on these axes are really stable, and I use Super Slinkys (.009) with incredibly low action...usually, the high E string is between 30 thousandths and 45 thousandths above the 12th fret. Fretwork (post-factory) is superb. I definitely know how to wind a string, BTW.


But Over two years of owning these LPs, I have found they have more "difficult," or "high maintenance " days than my PRS MC Carty, or my 1993 PRS EG. In fact, the PRS axes are comparitively rock-solid in terms of tuning and intonation. I can bend strings like a madman on the PRS axes, and rarely have to retune. But with my LPs, one day they're ok, and another they may have severe personality problems, and require constant retuning. I change my strings often, always use the same brand, and I always stretch them well.

Now, I know there are a host of about 6 factors in a "tuning issue". By beef, is that I bend strings alot. I play with a very light touch, though. I teach guitar about five hours a day, and I've been playing about 30 years. Since I have tendonitis, I'm all about form, to avoid pain or discomfort. Thus my addiction to the Les Paul...NOTHING in the world plays or sounds like them. Jeff Beck (Blow By Blow) tone and Jimmy Page....dead on. Pete Townsend...etc. A LP is just incomperable for sound.


But I wonder, will my Les Pauls EVER behave as predictably as a McCarty? I love the McCarty, but is is in some way a bit (and I mean this is a relative term) ...sterile, compared to a great LP.


I am trying to justify buying a PRS SC245 (the 24.5" scale singlecut), to take advantage of the low string tension. But Geez, despite PRS' undeniable quality, the price HURTS. And it ain't a Les Paul, for tone, either...It's still more true to the PRS tone-surprising, for it's very short scale. Still, there's a lot to be said for a guitar that needs few adjustments.

I think Ive'narrowed the LP's problems down to one issue (it isn't string winding, and it isn't a heavy touch, or neck instability. It isn't poor nut slotting or saddle slots ( I have two top-notch techs, and they both did their best work) I think it's the intense break-angle between the tailpiece and the saddle, and then the break angle at the nut. (Incidentally, I'll bet that a wraparound bridge like on the MCCarty- or a '54 Les Paul would keep it's tuning better with bends, than on a tune-omatic Stop tailpiece.)


Anybody else ever narrow the problem down? Also, anybody out there own an sc245, and any comments on it's tuning stability with bends? Is it as good as the 25" scale PRS axes?


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Hey Dom:

You either don't bend strings, or you have a very rare LP. I have yet to ever play a Gibson that stayed in tune like a PRS...I think that with the more complex geometry of the string course on a stop-tailpiece LP, andwith the strings fanning out toward the tuners after a sharp drop at the nut,, any and all other variables (barometric pressure, humidity, temperaturestring age and irregularities, tiny issues with string winding, etc.- that Lps are just more sensitive. I wish mine would behave the same from day to day like my time-tested PRS axes. Sadly, I think the LP sound would be lost if those quirks of geometry were eliminated.

Thanks for replying.

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Jocko said that he has a LP and an SG that are his most stable axes. Oh, man, I'm waiting for the day I can say that.

Angus Young once said that some of his SGs were good for two notes before going completely out of tune, while others seemed impossible to knock out...and we all know his wild vibrato.


One of these days, I suppose.


Hey Jocko, do you think that the stop tailpiece is a contributor to strings going wonky after being bent?

I ask, because I might hunt for a '54 VOS, due to their wraparound-which seems to be a better bet for not hanging strings up.


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If I want my SG to go out of tune I'd have to either use the tuners or yank the string to almost breaking point (beyond a bend on the fretboard). It may go about one little mini knotch on the tuner if I almost break the string.


I don't know why some people have such bad problems and I don't. Honestly. I've never gotten my guitar set up by a tech (I set it up myself) and I've never touched the nut slots.


I usually tune guitar before I jam on Fridays.

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You have to justify a purchase of 60 bucks.... Wow must be married

You hit the nail on the head. One year in 10 days! I was unaware that they are that cheap. I know the introductory level Grovers are around $60, but if I am doing the swap, I'll spring for the best ones that I can buy.

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I have been thinking about switching to Grovers. If the band starts picking up more gigs I think I can justify the purchase.


Got Grovers on my R9 and I def. like them more than the Klusons which I have on my studio and I had on my R9 for about 6 months. Even with the Grovers the R9 does not keep a tune as well as the PRS Custom 22 I just got- but only when I do extremely dramatic bends (over 1 1/2 whole steps). I would say that Grovers are worth it, they aren't too expensive. I got mine on ebay for like $60.

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I notice more tuning issues, with humidity changes, than anything. And that goes for my Gibson, Fender, Gretsch an Rickenbacker guitars.

Don't own any PRS guitars, as they've never appealed to me, for some reason.

Temps are not much of an issue, as I keep and transport them, to and from gigs, well within tolerances. They're never left in the car (summer

or winter)...in fact, they're "babied," compared to what some folks, I know, do. Sometimes, there is very little, if any tuning needed for days

on end. Other times, they won't stay in tune, for an hour at a time....sometimes even minutes. It's always been this way.

A well cut and lubricated "nut," does wonders...but even so, they can just get ornery, at times.



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I'm a little suprized with some of the posts...I guess I'm wierd, but when I pick up my guitar, I simply kick on my tuner and re-tune. I drop the pitch and bring it back up till all is green. I don't just start playing..I always tune first.

So I can honestly say that my Les Paul stays in tune for as long as I play it.:-k

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You hit the nail on the head. One year in 10 days!



Congratulations! Happy early anniversary!


... I hope she's becoming your best friend, as well as your best girl... takes a while sometimes, but it's a neat place to be...


(7 yrs for me...






...... holy $417, I'm old...)

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