Can't keep my low E in tune

Discussion in 'Tech-Talk' started by DelBoy, Jan 15, 2021.

  1. DelBoy

    DelBoy Strat-Talk Member

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    Hello, i recently bought the MIJ 91 ST57.

    Neck is straight, strings are low, intonation is perfect, trem is tightened, nut is pretty low (visible finish scratch near the nut on the headstock, so someone tried filing it down), added graphite from pencil, pickups are down with the pickguard... And low E string sounds out of tune, especially when i play triads, example "Snow" by RHCP.

    So i tried changing the low E string, because maybe strings are too old (doesn't feel like it), and same thing persisted. I did not change other strings. It's driving me crazy. Anyone else had similar issue?

    I've read some people saying that it's normal that guitar is not perfectly in tune on all frets, i understand that, but it shouldn't be that audible, my SG keeps tune great
     
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  2. ido1957

    ido1957 Senior Stratmaster

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    This is a common complaint, and all my Strats suffer from the same problem. My experience:
    1) If the string is sharp and you cannot adjust the saddle and further back, cut or remove the spring and move it back.
    2) I tune my E string slightly flat 99% of the time. Sometimes if I am playing certain songs that require a big bottom E, I tune it to pitch specifically for that song.
     
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  3. DelBoy

    DelBoy Strat-Talk Member

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    Yeah i removed the string, and intonation is spot on. But it sounds off, and frets are pretty low with 9's. So pressing too hard is not really an issue.

    Tuning e string around -12cents makes guitar sound better yeah.
     
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  4. Triple Jim

    Triple Jim Guy Who Likes to Play Guitar Silver Member

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    Strat-itis maybe? Try lowering the neck and middle pickups so they're flush with the pick guard and see if there is a change.
     
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  5. DelBoy

    DelBoy Strat-Talk Member

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    I did, not a case
     
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  6. Triple Jim

    Triple Jim Guy Who Likes to Play Guitar Silver Member

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    Sorry, I missed that in your original post.

    How is the height of the nut slot? (fret on third fret and measure E string clearance to first fret)
     
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  7. Bob Spumoni

    Bob Spumoni Senior Stratmaster

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    My Tele has a blatty low E, had it from day one. I tried everything: changed pickups, everything with the bridge, nuts, strings. The only thing that helped was heavier strings: seems to prevent the low E from boinging all over the place when you hit it. The problem persists to a degree, however, so I can't really say I hit upon a solution - the heavy strings - but it did help some.

    Of course maybe you're wedded to 9's, so I'm no help at all!

    PS: My lame-oh theory is that this guitar just has an unfortunate resonance around those frequencies. Maybe I should screw a piece of scrap iron to the headstock or something: change things up in the resonance department. (no)
     
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  8. DelBoy

    DelBoy Strat-Talk Member

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    Nut is pretty low, when i press on the 2nd or 3rd fret there's barely any movement on the first/second fret.

    It could be that overtones create that odd dissonance. Because when i check independent notes on the tuner it's pretty much tuned right.
     
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  9. Hydr0

    Hydr0 Senior Stratmaster

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    Is it possible the tuning peg on the low e string is faulty?
     
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  10. Triple Jim

    Triple Jim Guy Who Likes to Play Guitar Silver Member

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    If you press the second fret the string is against the first fret. My question is about the string-fret clearance when you fret at the third fret and measure between the string and first fret.
     
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  11. DelBoy

    DelBoy Strat-Talk Member

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    Could be they are a bit "thick" to turn, but i doubt it because i tune it perfectly and i can check the tuning after playing and it's still roughly in tune.


    Clearance between string and fret when pressed on second or third fret is smaller than a width of the thinnest pick i have (i don't have proper measuring tools). Also tried putting a small piece of paper inside the nut slot to raise the string if the nut is cut too deep, but problem persists.

    The only thing that could be the issue is with the saddle somehow, or god forbid it has a factory flaw.
     
  12. ido1957

    ido1957 Senior Stratmaster

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    Just wanted to add that I use 9-42 strings also. I can't (or won't really) play anything heavier. However, from experience 10's will make some problems go away, but I don't enjoy using them and they are more of an issue than tuning for me.

    A guitar that won't tune properly is so distracting, I can't play it. My LPC sat in it's case for a few years because the nut was *******. After hunting around town, the 4th guy I took it to installed and cut a new nut, solving what I think is one of Gibson's biggest problems out of the box (for me at least)
     
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  13. dirocyn

    dirocyn Senior Stratmaster

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    Let's clarify a little. If it's in tune open, it's also in tune at the 12th fret (correct intonation), but some of the other notes are audibly out of tune?

    Is the low E saddle sitting level, with both adjustment posts in contact with the trem plate?
     
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  14. BigNorm

    BigNorm Senior Stratmaster

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    You can keep playing with 9's, but try 9-46 instead 9-42. That's what I have on all my guitars and I don't have any tuning issues. You won't feel much the bigger size on the 3 lower strings. I also use NYXL D'addario. I think they are the best strings on the market IMHO.
     
  15. DelBoy

    DelBoy Strat-Talk Member

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    Correct, and yes they are all leveled (both screws of every saddle is the same height), and they contact the plate of the bridge.
    When you play barre chords it's not so noticeable, only if you emphasis the low e (fretted) you can hear it's a bit sharp. But alternate picking the "C shape" in the mid fretboard is very noticeable, also combination of fretted and open alternate picking (like for example don't fear the reaper intro) is also very dissonant.

    I don't have the same problems with my SG even though they are notorious for tuning issues, and it has also 9's and even taller frets than strat, so if i'm pressing too hard it would be even more noticeable on SG.

    EDIT: Yeah looks like i'll have to move to 10s, or at least on wound strings
     
  16. dirocyn

    dirocyn Senior Stratmaster

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    Another thought--we know this nut slot has been "adjusted" by someone who didn't know how not to scratch the guitar. If the break point of the string is at the headstock side of the nut instead of the bridge side of the nut, that would effectively add up to 1/8" to the scale length. You might perhaps be able to adjust the saddle to get it also in tune at the 12th fret, but all the frets will be in the wrong place and will sound out of tune.
     
  17. Bob Spumoni

    Bob Spumoni Senior Stratmaster

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    Nice. Worth a look.
     
  18. Richard McKay

    Richard McKay Strat-Talk Member

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    When your guitar goes out of tune, something moved. I know that sounds silly, but that's the logic. So is the neck moving?, Is the string stretched? Is the tuner slipping? Look for the movement points to diagnose the issue.
     
  19. Audiowonderland

    Audiowonderland Strat-Talker

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    Is it more obviously out of tune near the nut vs near the pickups? Have you put a tuner on it and checked what it reads at various frets?

    I am wondering about both the slot height of the E string and if the issue is actually the other strings are out. If the slot height was corrected for the E for example but not the others, maybe its not the E string that is out
     
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  20. Audiowonderland

    Audiowonderland Strat-Talker

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    Yes, if the break point from the nut is not the very front edge, that could cause issues too