Newbie with tuning issues

Discussion in 'Stratocaster Discussion Forum' started by FoxRodder, Jul 23, 2007.

  1. FoxRodder

    FoxRodder Strat-Talk Member

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    Greetings, my first post here. I'm a newbie guitar person. I gave up on playing guitar about 10 years ago when I was in high school but now I want to try again. I recently picked up a used MIM strat and last week I picked up a 1994 model Korean Squier Bullet for 50 bucks as a cheap practice tool.

    So of course I'm horrible but I'm trying some light practice to get my fingers to bend and stuff. So I keep having issues with the tuning on the Bullet. First off I think it loses its tune almost everytime I strum it. I think the cheapie tuners are to blame there. The other thing is that I cant get a proper tune on it anyways. When I do an open string check on my MIM for comparison it sounds good but on the Bullet it sounds wrong. Its like I tune the strings to match each other but then they dont match the right note when compared to the MIM or an online source. Am I doing something wrong?
     
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2007
  2. GuitarSlinger

    GuitarSlinger Strat-Talker

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    Hello FoxRodder! The problem you're experiencing is common with all new guitar players, but there is an easy solution. If after you complete these few steps you STILL have problems then come back and ask more questions or see a guitar tech, but here's a couple things:

    1. Guitar strings stretch. A new instrument usually has strings that are old and thus won't hold tuning very well, I'd advise to change strings right away. Brand new, recently strung strings don't hold their pitch either, they must be stretched (often more than a couple times) until they "settle." Only then will they stay in tune.

    2. Tune all your strings to pitch with a tuner (a tuner is a tool no guitarist should be without). Stretch your strings with your fretting hand by going through and doing a large bend with all your strings. Your strings should now be flat, so tune to pitch with your tuner again. Bend all your strings again, they shouldn't go quite as flat as the first time but will still need to be brought back up to pitch. Repeat this until bending DOES NOT cause your strings to go out of tune.

    3. Make sure that you bend your strings as far as you plan on bending during play to ensure you've stretched them enough. I wouldn't stretch much more than what is necessary, because over stretching is also bad for the strings.

    4. Like I said before, this process must DEFINITELY be done with new strings, but it's still a good idea to do this before every time you play to ensure stable tuning.

    5. Last, the most important thing is to always tune UP to the note, as soon as you go past the note you have to start the process over with that string.

    Hope this wasn't confusing, good luck!
     
  3. FoxRodder

    FoxRodder Strat-Talk Member

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    Thanks for the tips. I do need to get a tuner. I've looked at a few models on guitar center and sam ash but dont know which ones are better brand wise.

    The Bullet was stringless when I bought it so I put on some new Ernie Ball 9's but didnt know about any breaking in procedures. I'll play with the bending some.
     
  4. GuitarSlinger

    GuitarSlinger Strat-Talker

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    I've used the same yamaha tuner that cost me around $20 for years and it works just fine. Especially if you're just starting out, you don't need anything to fancy.
     
  5. Strat-Talk

    Strat-Talk Administrator Staff Member

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    When I'm tuning my guitar, after I put on the new strings and get them basically in tune, I lay the guitar on a table (or my lap) and pull up on each string 2 or 3 inches and then retune again. I do this as many times as it takes to get the strings to not change by the pulling process. Sometimes it will take 4 or 5 applications of this process to get the strings to stay basically in tune.

    Also, since you bought your Squier without strings the neck moved to it's "unstrung" position. After you string it for the first time the neck will move every hour of every day until it settles into it's natural strung position. Necks are supposed to be strung and under string pressure all the time. So, being unstrung for days, weeks or months will make the neck's trussrod act on the wood in very significant ways.

    So, you'll have to expect a LOT of changes during this process. You'll most likely have to adjust the trussrod at the end of this process too.
     
  6. FoxRodder

    FoxRodder Strat-Talk Member

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    Thanks for the input guys!
     
  7. GuitarSlinger

    GuitarSlinger Strat-Talker

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    This is pretty much the same thing as doing the bending on the fretboard, except the danger of overstretching can be greater, resulting in a dead and/or untunable string, which is the only reason I recommend bending (or stretching) like you're playing.
     
  8. FoxRodder

    FoxRodder Strat-Talk Member

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    I did some bending of the strings and then some tuning earlier today. I was having problems but I think I got it to work. I think part of my problem was the tuning down instead of up to match. I was just doing whatever. Right now it sounds musical when I slowly pick each string open where before it sounded like crap. I'm going to look into a tuner for sure soon.

    Right now my priority is learning to manipulate the strings(learning to play) but I still want it to sound right.
     
  9. GuitarSlinger

    GuitarSlinger Strat-Talker

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    Absolutely man, it's impossible to progress if you're not even sure if you're in tune. Make sure you bend, tune, bend, tune, etc. Until the bend results in NOT going out of tune. Of course, this process will be efficient once you have a tuner, because right now you probably have no way of knowing if you're in standard tuning or not, as your ear might not be developed enough to tune to a song that you KNOW is in standard.
     
  10. Strat-Talk

    Strat-Talk Administrator Staff Member

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  11. bobthecanadian

    bobthecanadian Strat-O-Master

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    Hi FoxRodder,

    When you have gotten the rest of this stuff all squared away it is also a good idea to lube your nut. Use a pencil and draw across the top of the nut will put some graphite in there. This helps the string not bind. Sometimes I get lazy, use a Q-tip and wipe a little petroleum jelly in there. What ever way you choose, have a lubed nut keeps things moving nice and smooth. You might want to check out how the strings glide over the bridge saddles as well.

    Cheers,

    Bob
     
  12. FoxRodder

    FoxRodder Strat-Talk Member

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    Bob that sounds like a good idea because when I'm tuning I hear what sounds like the strings binding on the nut. I was also wondering if I should look at putting a new nut on because I cant seem to get rid of the fret buzz no matter how high I raise the saddles. Its hard to find all the information I want.
     
  13. Strat-Talk

    Strat-Talk Administrator Staff Member

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    Ah ha! This is what I was talking about. NOW you need to have the truss rod adjusted or even a shim put in the neck pocket.

    Now that the neck is settling into "strung" position, you'll have to have the neck adjusted to get rid of the buzz.

    A pro setup right about now would be best if you're not up to speed on doing this yourself.
     
  14. GuitarSlinger

    GuitarSlinger Strat-Talker

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    Yes, you honestly need to go see a tech because there is no way for any of us to accurately diagnose the problem unless we have the guitar in our hands. I haven't had a strat yet that hasn't needed the nut filed in some way, but thats just my experience. Go see someone!
     
  15. FoxRodder

    FoxRodder Strat-Talk Member

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    I passed by guitar center this morning and picked up several goodies. I picked up a Seiko tuner to get my tune straight. Now I'm probably more confused. When I tune the strings with the tuner they sound good when I pick each one open. When I do the 5th fret comparison 4 5 6 sounds off and 1 2 3 sound fine. Perhaps my understanding is flawed.
     
  16. GuitarSlinger

    GuitarSlinger Strat-Talker

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    Does it sound OK when you play a chord? Maybe your not hearing a change in pitch so much as a change in tone.
     
  17. FoxRodder

    FoxRodder Strat-Talk Member

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    I just matched it up to two of the online guitar tuning references and it sounds right. It sounds good too. Apparently I just dont know what I'm supposed to be listening for when tuning to the sound. I'm honestly too ignorant to know the difference between tone and pitch and what not :-|
     
  18. GuitarSlinger

    GuitarSlinger Strat-Talker

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    When I say tone I'm referring to the actual characteristics of the sound, pitch refers to tuning.

    After your guitar is tuned up play the 12th fret of your 6th string (the lowest and thickest string, E). That note is E.

    Now play the second fret of your 4th string (from the bottom). That note is also E.

    What you should notice is that while they are the same note, they don't sound the same. The first E you played should be more mellow,bass heavy while the second E you played has a more direct, punchy sound.

    If you play the seventh fret of the 5th string (the A string) you'll play yet another E that sounds different than the first 2. All of these notes are at the same pitch. All the notes have a different tone.