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Gibson LP Studio Won't Stay in Tune - The Saga Continues


rjames1973
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All,

 

I posted on here a while back about the fact that my Gibson Les Paul Studio wouldn't stay in tune. I ordered it new from my local GC last year. The initial problem was that the G string wouldn't stay in tune after I would play guitar solos. Now, the G, B, and high E strings won't stay in tune when I play guitar solos. I had the guitar set up with my local luthier after I received the guitar. I then had him do a second "set up," after explaining to him that the guitar would not stay in tune. When I got the guitar back the second time (about two to three months ago), it did stay in tune pretty well for a while. Now, it goes out of tune whenever I play it and start bending the G, B, and high E strings. If I were to gig with this guitar, it would be a total embarrassment on stage, as I would have to stop in the middle of songs several times to retune. I'm at the point now where I might just put the guitar up for sale on Craigslist. On the other hand, I'd hate to part with it, after spending so much money on it. What else can I do to keep the guitar in tune? Should I spend more money than I already have to have a new nut installed? Should I replace the stock tuning machines? I would appreciate any help with this ongoing issue.

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All,

 

I posted on here a while back about the fact that my Gibson Les Paul Studio wouldn't stay in tune. I ordered it new from my local GC last year. The initial problem was that the G string wouldn't stay in tune after I would play guitar solos. Now, the G, B, and high E strings won't stay in tune when I play guitar solos. I had the guitar set up with my local luthier after I received the guitar. I then had him do a second "set up," after explaining to him that the guitar would not stay in tune. When I got the guitar back the second time (about two to three months ago), it did stay in tune pretty well for a while. Now, it goes out of tune whenever I play it and start bending the G, B, and high E strings. If I were to gig with this guitar, it would be a total embarrassment on stage, as I would have to stop in the middle of songs several times to retune. I'm at the point now where I might just put the guitar up for sale on Craigslist. On the other hand, I'd hate to part with it, after spending so much money on it. What else can I do to keep the guitar in tune? Should I spend more money than I already have to have a new nut installed? Should I replace the stock tuning machines? I would appreciate any help with this ongoing issue.

I recently purchased a Gibson Midtown Standard w/Bigsby. First thing I did was change strings from .10 to .09. I tweaked the truss rod ever so slyghtly and went on to fine tune the intonation. Basically what I do to any new guitar I buy. I've done similar adjustments for my friends and they are mostly very pleased with the results.

 

The Midtown sounds and plays great but I noticed some backlash in the crummy Grover 14:1 tuning pegs. As a result the guitar will go out of tune too often to my liking.

 

I ordered a set of Planet Waves Locking tuners and am sure it will solve the problem. After I receive and install them next week I will report back.

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Try changing strings....check that they aren't binding on the nut....then check that your tuners aren't slipping. Those are prob the 3 common and easiest fixes.

 

Is it only after you bend alot? Or does it stay in tune if you play a less aggressive song with no bending?

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Dg77,

 

I have tried changing strings a few times. I started off with Ernie Balls (.10s), and then switched to GHS Boomers (.10s). Neither of those kept the guitar in tune very well, so I tried D'addarios (.10s), which I use on my Fender guitars. The D'addarios seemed to work for a while, but the tuning issue came back recently. My luthier generally changes the strings for me, which is something I'm not very good at. I have noticed a "ping" sound occasionally when I tune one of the last three strings on the guitar, although I don't recall which one off the top of my head. I have not noticed the "ping" sound on more than one string, though. As far as the tuners are concerned, my luthier did check to make sure there was no slipping (at least that's what he told me the second time I took the guitar in for a set up). I assume either a tuning machine or nut upgrade might help, but I'd rather not spend any more money on this guitar. Incidentally, a friend of mine bought a new Gibson SG Standard a couple of years ago, and he noticed the same tuning issues that I'm having with my Les Paul Studio. He tried several options to fix the issue, but finally sold the guitar, as it just wouldn't stay in tune when he would gig with it.

 

 

Try changing strings....check that they aren't binding on the nut....then check that your tuners aren't slipping. Those are prob the 3 common and easiest fixes.

 

Is it only after you bend alot? Or does it stay in tune if you play a less aggressive song with no bending?

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Searcy,

 

Yes, I have tried lubricating the nut myself, and my luthier has done the same. I have something called Nut Sauce that I've used. For whatever reason, it hasn't seemed to help in this situation.

 

If you are hearing a ping with you tune that your nut is too tight and your strings are binding there. Before you start paying the "luthier" to change parts try lubricating the nut first.

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so in the first note you have, you said that 3 months after a setup by your guitar tech the guitar started going out of tune.

 

I'll ask the simple question of: how many times in that 3 months have you changed your strings?

 

if you play often then that would need for string replacement more often than someone that has their guitar sitting for long periods of time.

 

maybe your guitar needs another adjustment due to humidity or lack there of

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Dg77,

 

Yes, he checked the truss rod during the initial set up, and I had him take a look at it again when I took the guitar to him a second time.

 

 

Hmmm...sounds like you ruled out the basics already. Has he checked the truss rod? I'm not one to recommend messing with it until youve ruled everything else out, but it could be related to that.

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Dg77,

 

Yes, he checked the truss rod during the initial set up, and I had him take a look at it again when I took the guitar to him a second time.

 

 

Try a different luthier and get a second opinion.....something doesn't seem right and I doubt it's a production issue. Maybe he's inexperienced. In 18 years of playing, 15 of which I've done my own set ups, I've not come across a guitar that simply doesn't stay in tune.

 

How are the humidity levels in your environment?

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Dg77,

 

I'm no expert on humidity levels, but it's been relatively hot in my area this summer. This weekend, the temperature was in the mid 80s, and it is expected to stay in the 70 to 80 range as we progress into the fall. I will admit that I have been keeping the guitar out of its case routinely. I keep it in a rack with my other guitars in a room in my apartment, and I try to keep the temperature in there consistent (not too warm, not too cold). I suppose I could just keep it in the case from now on, if that would help.

 

 

Try a different luthier and get a second opinion.....something doesn't seem right and I doubt it's a production issue. Maybe he's inexperienced. In 18 years of playing, 15 of which I've done my own set ups, I've not come across a guitar that simply doesn't stay in tune.

 

How are the humidity levels in your environment?

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Dg77,

 

I'm no expert on humidity levels, but it's been relatively hot in my area this summer. This weekend, the temperature was in the mid 80s, and it is expected to stay in the 70 to 80 range as we progress into the fall. I will admit that I have been keeping the guitar out of its case routinely. I keep it in a rack with my other guitars in a room in my apartment, and I try to keep the temperature in there consistent (not too warm, not too cold). I suppose I could just keep it in the case from now on, if that would help.

 

If you get a lot of fluctuation in humidity it can cause the neck to expand and contract which can throw off tuning consistency, especially if you go from one extreme to another. Toughto,say without seeing it.

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Dg77,

 

The more I think about it, the more I suspect that the tuning issue could be a result of the fluctuation in humidity in the room where I keep my guitars. As I mentioned, I try to keep the temperature regulated as much as possible, but I admit that it's not always an "optimal" environment. I have put the LP Studio back in its case for the time being. If that doesn't help with the tuning issue, then I'm not sure what else I can do at this point. Thanks for your help in troubleshooting this with me.

 

If you get a lot of fluctuation in humidity it can cause the neck to expand and contract which can throw off tuning consistency, especially if you go from one extreme to another. Toughto,say without seeing it.

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I have put the LP Studio back in its case for the time being. If that doesn't help with the tuning issue, then I'm not sure what else I can do at this point.

 

It's not an In the Case or Out of the Case deal.

At some point in time the case will 'normalize' to the room.

Cases are not sarcophagus's in a pyramid.

The case is only for protection and reduction of dust.

 

now I have read on this forum from time to time that a guitar was not 'cured' long enough and the neck was weak.

You'd have to take the guitar to an 'authorized' Gibson deal for a check out.

 

but my guitars sit on the stands long too neglected for extended periods of time and sometimes they are a few cents sharp and other times a few cents flat.

 

I think you want to bring it to a different guitar tech

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Eracer_Team,

 

I agree that leaving the guitar in its case is not the answer to keeping it in tune in the long run. The guitar techs that I go to are pretty darn good. On the other hand, they aren't "authorized" Gibson dealers. I'll have to do some research on that, but I'm sure there has to be one in my area. Thanks.

 

 

It's not an In the Case or Out of the Case deal.

At some point in time the case will 'normalize' to the room.

Cases are not sarcophagus's in a pyramid.

The case is only for protection and reduction of dust.

 

now I have read on this forum from time to time that a guitar was not 'cured' long enough and the neck was weak.

You'd have to take the guitar to an 'authorized' Gibson deal for a check out.

 

but my guitars sit on the stands long too neglected for extended periods of time and sometimes they are a few cents sharp and other times a few cents flat.

 

I think you want to bring it to a different guitar tech

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I disagree about the case issue. I have always left my guitars (both acoustic and electric) in their cases, to guard against climate issues. I live in the deep South, where we not only get temperature extremes, but humidity extremes. Winters here are very dry, and summers are very humid. Keeping my guitars in cases has kept them safe; my brother who lives across town and has always kept his out of their cases, has recently found some of his guitars developing problems.

 

My experience with humidity here suggests that's a major contributor to the problem with your intonation. Go to a hardware store and buy a cheap humidity gage (or an expensive one, that combines humidity, temp and barometer gages). Ideally, guitars need to live in about 55% humidity; if your gage shows extremes beyond that, you need to buy a dehumidifier (or humidifier). Most people think their AC will take care of the problem, but it won't for fine woods. Wood can take higher humidity better than low humidity; but it's really the swings that cause the problem.

 

Best of luck.

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I had the same problem with my Studio. Was ready to scrap it when I came to this forum and shared as you have. I was contacted by a Gibson service rep who referred me to an authorized Gibson luthier. They told me if the authorized Gibson luthier could not get the guitar right, they'd make it right one way or another. Stop fooling around and contact gibson for a full evaluation. If its beyond the warranty, it will be on your dime (maybe $75), but when it's done, you'll either have the guitar of your dreams, or acknowledgement that yours is unfixable. Then, you'll know your next step with Gibson.

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I just received the Platet Waves Auto Trim Locking Tuners yesterday and installed them last night. I am overjoyed with this purchase. Not only do they look great and make it too easy to change strings the 18:1 turning ratio makes it easier to tune up accurately. It stays in tune much better as well.

I now own three Planet Wave products and each one of them perform better than expected. I am not affiliated with them in any way except being a stisfied customer.

 

I think the original poster may have issues beyond what new tuners can solve and the suggestions to let Gibson make the call is the best idea.

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Hockeygrad,

 

Thanks for your reply. I'm almost at the point of scrapping my Studio, but am going to try to set up an appointment with a local Gibson service rep to look at the guitar. The funny thing is I tried to select my state on the Gibson website that allows you to find local service reps, but nothing happened. It might have been a temporary glitch on the company's website, but I'll try again. I've had the guitar for about a year and a half now, so I'm not sure what the status is on my warranty.

 

I had the same problem with my Studio. Was ready to scrap it when I came to this forum and shared as you have. I was contacted by a Gibson service rep who referred me to an authorized Gibson luthier. They told me if the authorized Gibson luthier could not get the guitar right, they'd make it right one way or another. Stop fooling around and contact gibson for a full evaluation. If its beyond the warranty, it will be on your dime (maybe $75), but when it's done, you'll either have the guitar of your dreams, or acknowledgement that yours is unfixable. Then, you'll know your next step with Gibson.

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Thanks for the follow-up on the tuners, CowboyBillyBob1. I'll definitely keep those in mind, if I need them in the future. I'll keep you all updated on how things turn out, after I get connected with a Gibson service rep.

 

I just received the Platet Waves Auto Trim Locking Tuners yesterday and installed them last night. I am overjoyed with this purchase. Not only do they look great and make it too easy to change strings the 18:1 turning ratio makes it easier to tune up accurately. It stays in tune much better as well.

I now own three Planet Wave products and each one of them perform better than expected. I am not affiliated with them in any way except being a stisfied customer.

 

I think the original poster may have issues beyond what new tuners can solve and the suggestions to let Gibson make the call is the best idea.

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I feel for your frustration! After 45 plus years of setting up my guitars, the majority of the tuning issues is the nut slots. To check if it binds, do a heavy bend and check the string tuning. If it is flat...the string binds on the nut. Now press hard behind the nut, if it goes sharp...the string binds. This is assuming you installed the string properly and stretched them to seat the strings on their respective tuning posts.

 

Lubricating does help; however, I am surprised your luthier was not able to dress the nut slots in minutes! Get another luthier. Or you can fix it by using a folded 1000 grit sandpaper and sand the sides of the binding slot then lubricate.

 

Perhaps you can post close ups of the nut and also the tuning post... hard to diagnose pictures; but it might reveal if the slots where properly angled or too deep a slot causing more sidewall pressure, etc.

 

[rolleyes]

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I have had the same problem on a ES 335. It is so subtle its easy to miss. Its the nut slots. Sounds like you have the classic case of the nut grooves grabbing the string and not allowing it to go back to normal tuning after a bend. Plus keep in mind the nut and the strings expand in heat and contract in the cold, so you can have potential problems coming or going.

 

Have the luthire either replace the nut or sand out the nut grooves (very carefully)

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This is almost certainly an issue with the nut slots binding. Gibson guitars have a wide headstock that bends back at a steep angle. This means that the strings need to move left or right inside the nut slot and move back. This is a recipe for the strings sticking in the slots.

 

You could have the nut replaced by a good luthier. I'd also look into a Teflon based lubricant for the nut slots. It's the only thing that worked like a dream for me. Graphite and oil didn't help at all.

 

Another slight possibility is that the bridge is shifting. I bought a Les Paul Custom new in 1991, and it came from the factory with a slightly small screw holding up one side of the bridge. This allowed the bridge to suddenly shift forward and backwards, throwing the guitar out of tune. I think it took me 20 years to finally figure it out (and fix it for $20).

 

I hope this helps.

 

Mike

 

PS - I've been waiting for over a year for Gibson to give me clearance to post to the Talk To Henry forums. I think that's pretty crappy.

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PS - I've been waiting for over a year for Gibson to give me clearance to post to the Talk To Henry forums. I think that's pretty crappy.

 

 

There was hardly a reply by Henry on that forum anyways.

 

It was created just after Gibson's flood and the plant was shutdown for a while, it was just briefly there for PR.

As this subject was killed in your other post about it. I won't say any more about it here.

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