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Help -- Can't seem to keep my '61 RI tuned


joesnewmatch

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I have a used '61 RI SG that sounds fantastic' date=' but I am having trouble keeping it in tune when I bend notes on the G and B strings. Any suggestions? I'm a blues, rock and country player that needs to bend! Much thanks in advance.[/quote']

Well if they are new strings then you are going to have that issue until they "settle in". Or try changing the strings. Also keep in mind that SGs are known for tuning issues.

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Thanks for the reply. They're not new. My SG has been on its stand in the closet for a while. Felt the urge to play it today, so I grabbed it, tuned up and started picking. About a minute into some lead work, I went back to some open chords and cringed -- at least two strings were already out of tune. Re-tuned about twice since then, but it just doesn't want to stay in tune.

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This might not be the answer...

 

It could be the nut. Buy some powdered graphite from a hardware store, lift the string up from the nut and apply. What may be happening is your string(s) is getting snagged in the nut, then when you bend it, you free the string from within the nut and you're out of tune...did that make any sense? #-o Graphite is cheap.

 

Maybe it's the strings, like the other guy said. Tune one string, then tug on it a bit...not to much, you're not trying to break it. Then tune it again. You'll notice the first few times it'll really go flat. Repeat until the string stabilizes.

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Thanks for the suggestion. I had the nut totally replaced in the last year' date=' but perhaps there's some build up. Aaresz, after you started using the sauce, did the guitar really stay in tune, or was it just "better" ? Thanks for all the help. [/quote']

 

I've been using Big Bends for a few years now and it definitely keeps the strings from binding in the nut. It will not help if the slots aren't cut right to begin with.

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Thanks for the suggestion. I had the nut totally replaced in the last year' date=' but perhaps there's some build up. Aaresz, after you started using the sauce, did the guitar really stay in tune, or was it just "better" ? Thanks for all the help. [/quote']

 

I use it on all of my guitars, and it works great to correct that type of issue. If I read your post correctly yours has been sitting for a while between playing, if thats the case the strings may have stretched or humidity changes could become a factor. Checked out Big Bends website, as others have attested it does work.

 

www.bigbends.com/

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I have a used '61 RI SG that sounds fantastic' date=' but I am having trouble keeping it in tune when I bend notes on the G and B strings. Any suggestions? I'm a blues, rock and country player that needs to bend! Much thanks in advance.[/quote']

 

Don't want to teach anyone how to suck eggs, but...

 

(taken from www.fretnotguitarrepair.com)

 

"..... Checking and Adjusting Electric Guitar Intonation

 

Intonation- Having an instrument "in tune" throughout the scale is the goal of every player and luthier. Different string gauges, scale lengths, set ups, fret sizes, playing techniques and other variables can effect your instruments intonation. While it is true that there is a certain amount of compromise on equal tempered instruments, my goal is to have the best possible intonation.

 

Poor intonation is best described by saying that the notes of some chords sound in tune while others seem far from it. This condition is present even though the instruments individual strings are said to be in "perfect tune". Welcome to the world of the equal tempered scale and the quest for perfect intonation!

To help explain this occurrence it's important to realize that the differences in the strings mass, tension, length and fretting stretch all effect the notes pitch and your intonation. There are also other factors that can affect the instruments ability to play in tune which I'll mention later.

 

Scale Length and String Length The strings scale length* begins at the nut and ends at the saddle. If you look at the saddles on your guitar or bass you will quickly realize that they do not sit parallel with the last fret (with the exception of some classical guitars) as they been adjusted to alter the strings length and intonate the instrument. Some additional string length is added to the actual scale length in order to off set the sharpening of the note which occurs when the string is stretched while being fretted.

*Literal scale length can be determined by measuring the distance from the nut end of the fingerboard to the center of the 12th fret and doubling it. Compensation is added to the scale length, measuring from the nut to the saddle would actually give you a figure slightly longer than your instruments "scale length".

 

 

Factors That Can Cause Poor Intonation

 

Incorrect positioning of the saddles This error renders the strings either too long causing intonation to be flat or too short causing the instrument to play sharp.

 

High action An instrument with high action will of course cause the string to be stretched further before contacting the fret, this stretching sharpens the note slightly. High action at the nut is particularly troublesome as chords played in the 1st to 3rd position can sound terribly out of tune.

 

Excessive Relief The strings distance to the fret can be dramatically increased on necks that have far too much relief (dip or bow towards the center). More on relief

 

Pickups Are Too Close to the Strings - If the pickups on your electric guitar are adjusted too close to the strings the magnetic pull can cause sharpness. Correct this before intonating the instrument. A good rule of thumb is about 3/32" between the pole and the bottom of the string when the string is fretted on the last fret.

 

Worn Out Strings/Defective String Replace the strings on your instrument before intonating it.

 

A Loose or Moving Saddle , A major problem with some of the cheaper bridges is excess play where the screw is threaded into the saddle. A good deal of play here means the saddle can move itself around requiring constant readjustment. You may wish to read my article on TonePro® bridges as an example.

 

A Worn saddle Wear and tear can change the contact point of the saddles crown. The wear may lengthen or shorten the string slightly.

 

Worn Frets Frets that are badly grooved or have flat crowns can also throw off intonation. As the point of contact on the crown of the fret changes so does the strings length. Frets must be leveled and dressed to remove the grooves or replaced if necessary.

 

High Frets Fret height will also effect intonation...instruments with truly tall fret wire will play incredibly sharp if the string is fretted hard. To see for yourself what effect your fretting pressure has on the instruments tune watch the pitch of the note on our tuner when fretting with different pressure.

 

Technique Well this isn't actually a defect, it's a "style". Some players have a rather powerful fretting technique in which they place excessive pressure on the strings when fretting and if the instrument in hand happens to have fairly tall frets this is more than enough to mess with your intonation. Some players may actually have a tendency to bend a string sharp when fretting.

 

Different Tunings Most professional musicians will have different instruments for different tunings. By tuning your instrument a half step down you have changed the strings tension and will normally effect the intonation.

 

Far Less Common Issues

 

A Mathematical Error If the bridge/tremolo itself has not been positioned in the correct spot on the top you may find that the saddles have been adjusted to their maximum length without reaching the required adjustment. This is very rare, most likely to be found on a no-name, home-made instrument or something with a mis-matched neck/scale length.

 

Adjusting Your Electric Guitars Intonation

 

QUICK CHECK: Tune your instrument to pitch and fret each string naturally at the 12th fret. This note is one octave higher than the open note and should be in tune (neither flat or sharp).

* Make any and all adjustments to your instruments action prior to adjusting its intonation. Changes in string height or string gauge can effect your intonation. Intonating your instrument should be the last step in your set up.

* Put on a new set of strings, stretch them out and tune to pitch. Because the size of the string effects intonation you will need to re-adjust intonation if you change string gauges.

* Use a good quality electronic tuner. Tuners which have an accuracy of 1/10th of a cent are extremely accurate, tuners which have an accuracy of ± 2 cents are far less reliable and would be useless if you are using off-set tunings like the Buzz Feiten System requires.

* Check each strings tuning at the 12th fret, this note should be neither sharp nor flat, if it is, you will need to adjust the saddle to change the strings length.

 

Adjusting your intonation- If, after tuning the string to pitch it plays sharp at the 12th fret then you will need to increase the strings length by moving its saddle further from the fingerboard. If the note is flat, the string must be shortened by moving the saddle closer to the fingerboard.

Make sure to retune after each adjustment, recheck and adjust if necessary.

 

12th Fret Plays Sharp - move the saddle away from the fingerboard

12th Fret Plays Flat - move the saddle closer to the fingerboard

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Well, my Nut Sauce arrived in the mail last night (couldn't find any at the local GC). Changed the strings and applied. We'll see tonight how the new strings and sauce affect the tuning. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

 

Also, on a similar, but different note, the only way I manage to get my '61 buzz free is to adjust the truss rod and bend the neck more than my usual flat (Fender) necks. Is this a common issue with these thin necks? Is that the best solution or should I try raising the bridge? And, yes, it has been professionally setup and adjusted, including a fret leveling, etc.

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DONT forget to stretch your strings good.. You want to do them in such a way as to take out most of the stetch, but not all...Well.. Thats the way I do mine.. To stretch them to rigorously shortens the string life.. Just my opinion on that

 

What about your intonation.. That could be a problem too.,.. Been sitting awhile and might need a little tweekin

 

 

You must also realize that the strings in question.. mainly the G string are a habitual problem in SG and LG guitars.. Well .. They were for me as I bend ALOT!!!.. I would suggest and could be totally wrong here..but if the strings still go out of tune... Increase the gauge of string you use.. I personally prefer D'addario .10 to .46.. BUT if you havent played in awhile.. the gauge might be to tough for you to play and might require minute adjustments to the bridge if they differ to much from the previous gauge

 

Probably the reason I prefer my Jackson and the floyd.. Never breaks a string and never needs much tunning.. although.. it has been buzzing on the high e and b string here lately.. Just probably need a string change and action/intonation adjustment myself

 

Just my thoughts on this

 

Hope you get your tunning issues fixed

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Thanks for the suggestions. I use D'Addario 10/46 on all of my guitars, and play regularly, it's just that I prefer my other guitars to the SG, probably due to the tuning and stability issues more than anything else. I love the looks, the sound and the full-neck access, but mine hasn't left me fully satisfied. Not sure if it's just me and that model or if I have a real dud.

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A little word of advise from an old crazygreek. gibbys are tricky and they never set the nuts up right. You first have to or have done for you/ make sure the strings are not hanging up at the nut. If you think you got it just put a tuner on and set it close to your amp/ reach up above the nut by the tuners and push down on the string there like your trying to get a wammy out of it, of course have in tune first, if its handing up at all it will go sharp as much as its hanging up, if its not going sharp good.

 

Now the nut also need to have the string height set to as low as you can get it so when you play all the open chords there will be the least amount of fretted stretch of the strings to sound the chords, the lower the better and remember the "g" string has the least amount of tension of all the strings and you want (when setting the intonation) it in while you pick-it then fall flat after a second and try 10-52's on the sg with just a little more relief than usual.

 

Once all this **** is done and a good old gibby nuts are worked over man there is nothing better sound-in. nothing.

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Doing the 'string lock' thingummy helps my guitars stay in tune.

 

Here's a diagram to show how you feed the string back under itself so it locks itself to the post:

re-string.jpg

 

and here's what it looks like finished:

 

Restring%20A%20Guitar.jpg

 

Minimal string winds mean that there is less chance of 'backlash' behind the nut when a bend is released.

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Doing the 'string lock' thingummy helps my guitars stay in tune.

 

Here's a diagram to show how you feed the string back under itself so it locks itself to the post:

re-string.jpg

 

and here's what it looks like finished:

 

Restring%20A%20Guitar.jpg

 

Minimal string winds mean that there is less chance of 'backlash' behind the nut when a bend is released.

 

 

That is a vary slick way to string-em

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After you string them up like shown above, and the key is definitely to only let the string wrap around the peg once, then stretch the strings, re tune and repeat until you don't have to re tune after stretching... Voila, stable guitar that can you can do extreme string bends on and not be out of tune after!!

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I've been doing mine that way for years. I usually skip the 90 degree bend and just let it fold over the part of the string that's being locked. If you do use the 90 degree bend, don't use a pliars or anything else metallic to create the bend; bend it over your thumbnail or a piece of plastic. I've had problems with strings breaking at the bend and it gets worse if you bend them over metal.

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Doing the 'string lock' thingummy helps my guitars stay in tune.

 

Here's a diagram to show how you feed the string back under itself so it locks itself to the post:

re-string.jpg

 

and here's what it looks like finished:

 

Restring%20A%20Guitar.jpg

 

Minimal string winds mean that there is less chance of 'backlash' behind the nut when a bend is released.

Here it is. This is how adults string their Gibsons. This should make much difference once you get the hang of it.
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You're welcome guys. I've been stringing this way for many years now. It really helps keep things in tune. Its a bit tricky at first, making sure everything goes around and under etc, but I never was a very good Boy Scout! The hard bit is changing it around to suit the treble strings, once you've mastered the wound strings.

I don't do the 90º bend either to tell the truth. I just keep the string end pulled tight until the first wind locks it to the post. I pinched the diagram from elsewhere as it was the clearest way to describe the technique of locking the string.

 

That, 'stretching in' and the pencil lead trick keeps me harmonious! I use this locking trick on Fenders too (apart from slotted machines).

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