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Dot Studio - Tuning issues


newc1975

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I've been playing guitar for a long time – 40yrs+ - most of the time I've play an Ovation acoustic electric. Just purchased a Epiphone Dot Studio. For some reason when playing on the first 3 or 4 frets, the guitar goes out of tune – especially the “G” string. I've put new strings on the guitar, tuned open with a tuner and it sounds great just opened stringed. If I play an open D chord – the “g” string (pressed on the second fret) goes sharp. I've checked the other strings properly tuned open to the tuner and each one is slightly or annoyingly sharp on the fist 3 or 4 frets of the guitar. The 12th string is right on tune. Does anyone find this familiar? Any suggestions?

Also – I find the tuners very difficult to work with in comparison to my Ovation (it's a 1983 Custom Balladeer). Are they cheap tuners?

Thanks for any input!

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They all do that. It's compensated tuning. That is, if the frets were properly positioned so that you could have more uniform tuning, they'd be different under each string.. no straight lines.

 

Also, string thicknesses vary the intonation and tuning in different ways.

 

Choose your gauge and brand.

String the guitar and intonate it.

 

Then check the nut slots by fretting at the thrid fret. so each string one at a time.

when holding the string down at the 3rd fret, look at the distance between the bottom of the string and the first fret.

should be a hairsbreadth.

less for the unwound strings.

 

If these aren't right, they should be.

 

You want the correct relief in the neck, but I save that for last.

 

Check your action. Is it Gibson/Epiphone spec?

Figure 4/64 max measured at the bottom of the low e string to the top of the 17th fret..

or 3/64 max measured the same at the high e string.

 

That is a tick or two high, in my estimation.

We'll leave the definition of 'tick' up to the user.

 

The higher the strings are, the more they have to bend to be fretted, the more they bend the farther out of perfect, if we can ever call it that, tune the guitar will go.

 

High nut slots.. high action.. not so hot intonation/tuning.

 

I'm not going to go all the way over checking fret levelling, or truss rod adjustment.

It clearly follows that if you action is high due to uneven frets.. you have to fix the frets.

It also follows that if you truss rod gives too much relief.. that is allows a good deal of bow to the neck..

(this varys by player, gibson spec is a good starting point.. online!)

then you action will also be high, and your intonation/tuning problematic.

 

There are several accepted forumulas or methods for a cure..

first up is proper set up, as you should have that anyway.

Then you can consider some more tempering.

for instance, intonate the G string flat at the 12th fret..

this compromises more evenly when you play that pesky 2nd fret and it wont match with your open A string.

 

all of the tuning imperfections you find after a proper set up are built into the guitar. it's the design itself.

but they can be compensated out very nicely if you just approach patiently.

 

I have two new epis and an old one here.. if you got grovers you shouldn't have a problem.

the non name brand tuners on my other epi are 15 years old and still working fine.

So.. what do you mean harder to use? harder to turn? loosen the screw at the end of the tuning botton slightly.

too loose.. tighten slighlty.

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I wouldn't disagree with any of Twang's comments.

The intonation compromises inherent in guitars make themselves very obvious if eveything isn't set up as well as it could be.

If everything else is OK, making sure that the nut is cut low enough and slotted correctly is often the key to acceptable low range intonation .

All kinds of other stuff may also be contibutory factors... which can add up. Even things like slightly higher frets than you're used too, combined with slightly too much finger presuure when fretting.

[viscious circle that one. If we are used to old low and flat frets, the natural reaction is to fret a bit harder to get a good clean break point. ;^) ]

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Hello Newc,

 

Twang is spot on with everything he has told you. I am sure if he, or anyone else, got into all the specifics they could write pages on the subject. (And no, I am not being sarcastic) If you do a search on the net for "guitar set up" you will find a wealth of detailed imformation. I did when I started doing all my own adjustments. Even so, from time to time I still need the help or knowledge of a good luthier. Other than that, your problem is not unique.

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Thanks everyone for your help - especially Twang for being so detailed - for taking the time to comment. I may take the Dot Studio to guitar tech for the first time set up - assuming he knows what he's doing- to get it all right the first time. Then maintain from there.

What I meant about the tuners is - when tuning the Dot Studio I have to turn the tuners, what seems like a long time before the string changes tuning and then most of the time have to go back the other way to finally get it right. My Ovation string tuning is much more responsive to small movements of the tuners. Maybe I just need to get used to it.

Thanks again for the help!

Newc

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I have that particular problem with one of the LP-100's I have. Very irritating to say the least. On the other LP I have a different problem that begs for an explanation. While on the 12th fret on my B string, I hear both the high B, and at a much lower volume, some sort of harmonic? - which turns out to be the neck end of the string humming. No big deal, except when playing through an amp, it's that harmonic that gets amplified. I'm stumped - with my ear to the fretboard, I distinctly hear the high B, but that harmonic (something closer to a C than a :- is whats coming out the amp. WTF?

 

I haven't changed out the strings yet for better ones, but I'm doubtful that'll fix the problem.

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nut slots have to be pretty spot on.. it doesn't take much to get funky overtones.. ringing buzzing all sorts of crap!

 

I've said before I like to remove as much off the top of the nut as I can and still keep the string in the slot.

in short.. a little over 51% of the string is in the slot.. the rest you should be able to feel running your fingertip over the nut top.

the prevents any side to side vibration in a lot of cases.. it's easy to twist a nut file, see.. you think you are running it straight, but even a machine can mess up at such small increment.. then the string can vibrate against the edges instead of being held by them.

 

and pencil lead. I just keep a pencil in every case period.

And I use them sharp deep into the slots at every string change.

 

If you're string is reacting as you describe, it pretty much fits string binding in the slot.

file a bit off the top of the nut wherever the string is deep into the slot..

and use some pencil lead.

also make sure you have a uniform and fairly firm tuning action at the tuner.. by tightening or loosening the

screw at the end of the button.

If that wont do it.. it just takes someone with some more experience to do the same thing.

 

TWANG

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Everything Twang said is right on the money! If you have the guitar setup well and still have a funky g string which is quite common...try these offsets http://www.recordingreview.com/articles/articles/163/1/-Guitar-How-to-tune-the-guitar-Correctly-so-it-really-sounds-in-tune/Page1.html This is a tunining offset designed to be used on any guitar without a compensated nut and it works quite well.

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Here's your resolution.

 

I play two DOT studios. I've had the G string tuning problem forever. I changed out the nut and saddles on one of the guitars to Graphtek. A luthier put them in and set it up. I set up the other guitar. Nothing changed. Everyone goes on about the nut and its height and all. The luthier took care of that too.

One day I came across a thread where somebody was saying that a non wound G string on an electric guitar is technically incorrect. He went on to describe much about it but for the sake of keeping on track here, I'll just say he was dead on in correcting the tuning issue. I went to GC and bought an Ernie Ball wound G string. I think it's .18. I play D'Addario Elevens but they didn't have any D'Addario wound G's in stock.

 

Anyways, my guitar has not had a G string tuning issue since. It's a low cost and easy fix to try out. Good luck.

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I do find that you really have to bend it a lot farther to get the same pitch shift though.

 

I posted the thread about the wound G strings and saw many interesting arguments in favor of other cures. It does work but I can understand why lead players (me not being one) would find a wound G unacceptable for the above reason.

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