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The B-string problem
Old 25th September 2012
  #1
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Jpchartrand's Avatar
 
4 Reviews written
🎧 5 years
The B-string problem

Hi guys,

Is it just me or is it always hard to perfectly tune the b-string on a guitar?

It seems it's always the string that gets un-tuned the easiest >:(

Am I cursed?
Old 25th September 2012
  #2
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godotzilla's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
You're not alone. For me, the B is a string that gets a ton of bending (along with the G). That alone seems to wiggle it out of tune. Particularly noticeable on open D chords where it provides the second root.

Being a high-tension, unwound string, it's more prone to slippage. It's less irksome on my Strats and Teles, where the string trees help hold it in place
Old 25th September 2012
  #3
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Jpchartrand's Avatar
 
4 Reviews written
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Glad to know its not just me lol. I had a Mim telecaster and thought that upgrading to made in Usa would help but it didn't :-(
Old 25th September 2012
  #4
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jpchartrand ➑️
Hi guys,

Is it just me or is it always hard to perfectly tune the b-string on a guitar?

It seems it's always the string that gets un-tuned the easiest >:(

Am I cursed?
usually it is the G string.
Old 25th September 2012 | Show parent
  #5
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kennybro's Avatar
 
3 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by [email protected] ➑️
usually it is the G string.
Yes. The G needs to be tempered a few cents flat to sound right. Might be that you're hearing the G problem against the B, and targeting the wrong string.

A wound G helps, but I hate them.
Old 25th September 2012 | Show parent
  #6
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Bristol Posse's Avatar
 
5 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by kennybro ➑️
A wound G helps, but I hate them.
Plus you usually have to adjust the nut and intonation since most guitars are no longer set up for a wound G
Old 25th September 2012 | Show parent
  #7
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🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by kennybro ➑️
Yes. The G needs to be tempered a few cents flat to sound right. Might be that you're hearing the G problem against the B, and targeting the wrong string.

A wound G helps, but I hate them.
No you're far better off with the solid G. (and the heavier, the better, because it has to be tighter, keeping the intonation closer along the scale length.) The wound one is too loose and adds to the problem.
Old 25th September 2012
  #8
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1 Review written
🎧 15 years
Guitars go out of tune - the amount varies from guitar to guitar. I retune every set (45 Minutes) when gigging and more often when recording. The strings on my guitars go sharp when they sit in the case too long, and flat after I play them for a while.
Make sure you have it secure on the tuning peg to avoid slippage and use lube on the nut to avoid binding. Stretch your new strings until they stay reasonably the same pitch before playing.
Old 26th September 2012 | Show parent
  #9
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🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by [email protected] ➑️
No you're far better off with the solid G. (and the heavier, the better, because it has to be tighter, keeping the intonation closer along the scale length.) The wound one is too loose and adds to the problem.
I see what you are saying, because the core wire of a wound is much thinner than the average solid G. It seemed that when I used a wound, the guitar sounded sweeter on the open chords, but I never really kept it on long enough to really ring it out.

I was basing it on the fact that I seem to experience much less G string issue with acoustics, and I always use wound G on acoustics, but a heavier string that might have a .016 or even 17 core wire.
Old 26th September 2012
  #10
Gear Maniac
 
bluzkat's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
I have found that most tuning issues come from an improperly cut nut, or if you are having 'slippage' issues... you probably have to much string wrapped on the tuner post.

Also a little 'Nut Sauce' never hurts. heh

Old 4th October 2012
  #11
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hello people's Avatar
B string
G string
High E string

The usual suspects

G string is the worst
Old 5th October 2012
  #12
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theblue1's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Of course, different types of guitars tend to be strung differently, as well. Steel acoustics often have a wound G, while electrics and classicals tend to have a solid G. (Although I've been partial to heavy classical strings like the Savarez Rouge that have a winding on the G and B strings and a coating over those and the high E as well.)

When I was first trying to learn how to play, the difference in timbre between the D and G strings on the classical guitar I was playing drove me nuts. My ear was highly keyed to timbre -- but pretty oblivious to pitch. (And with intervals of less than a fifth or so, I often had trouble telling which was the higher of two notes. It was a bit of an uphill climb.)

The 'shift' from fourth to major third interval at the B when going up in standard tuning did drive me nuts when I was trying to figure out how it all went together. And, as I recall, for a while, it became the focus of much of my tuning trouble. Pitch pipes were little help to me starting out because I simply could not isolate the pitch from the sound and get that pitch carried over to the guitar. The timbres were too different.

But the more 'pure' tone of a pitch fork did work for me and I eventually developed a relativistic system of using harmonics and, in the case of the B string, the interval from the low E to the B and the 2 octave interval from the low E to the high.

Of course, the Equal Temperament perfect fourth is about 2 cents sharp of the actual harmonic interval, so a tiny bit of adjustment had to be built in or the G string would be about 6 cents flat relative to the low E.

The fact that the guitar is an Equal Temperament instrument means that if you put the strings in perfect (harmonically/mathematically perfect, that is, not ET perfect) tune with each other, the other (fretted) notes will be put out of whack. It is a compromise which can be tinkered, but which is largely unforgiving.

As someone who has played a lot of slide and so open chord tunings, I quickly realized that tuning the guitar to a harmonically perfect chord means that almost any fretted chords (save a straight barre) will be woefully out of tune. A great illustration of the Pythagorean comma in action.


FWIW, I tend to use a chromatic tuner (gStrings Android app), making sure to kill all the other strings while sounding the string being tuned (crucial on my highly resonant 000) and tuning twice (once rough, once fine).

But I also have finally learned what for me is the best way to do stopped-fret relative tuning. I sound the reference tone and then kill it -- and all other string vibration or resonance -- and then tune the target string to the sound of the reference in memory.

The human auditory system has a small amount of short term memory attached 'low' in the auditory system which acts more than a little like a phrase sampler (with a decaying sample ). By working from the memory of the sound, it's almost like using a reference tone over headphones (which also works great, in my experience) -- because it doesn't get the guitar resonating and so create a complex set of overtones that makes it hard to tune.

[Short term auditory memory is also, I believe, why some people find it useful to talk to themselves under certain circumstances -- that auditory memory is like a scratch pad you can jot things down on for a few moments. By repeating the recollected sound in your mind, you can bucket-brigade it to some extent and extend the duration of the information in memory a little.]
Old 8th October 2012
  #13
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Sofa King's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jpchartrand ➑️
Hi guys,

Is it just me or is it always hard to perfectly tune the b-string on a guitar?

It seems it's always the string that gets un-tuned the easiest >:(

Am I cursed?
before I got the Evertune bridges on my guitars, I had the Earvana compensated nuts, they really help the open/fretted issue with B.

theyre pretty cheap too.

best,
sean
Old 8th October 2012
  #14
Here for the gear
 
🎧 5 years
Every guitar I have ever owned has had slight issues with the G string when it comes to tuning. I have owned 6 guitars so I am less inclined to chalk it up to coincidence. The specific issue I encounter is that when tuning the G string, I must over compensate in either direction. If I wish to tune up then I have to tighten until the the string gets enough tension to actually move through the nut. If I wish to tune down then I have to release tension and then bend the string before the change in pitch takes effect. I feel that the issue is most likely the nut being too tight for the average G string. I noticed a drastic improvement when I decided to run some fine grain sand paper in the groove while I had the strings off. This also lead to the string keeping its intonation while playing. Bends would cause the string to move slightly in the nut and then "stick" upon releasing the bend.
Old 8th October 2012
  #15
Gear Maniac
 
bluzkat's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Tony,

An improperly cut nut is pretty common because a change in string gauge can easily cause the problem. A little nut lubricant can resolve this most of the time. In extreme cases you would need to have a new nut cut.

That 'pinging' sound you are hearing while trying to tune indicates the strings are binding in the nut (just as you thought).

A properly cut nut will solve many tuning issues.

Old 8th October 2012 | Show parent
  #16
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kennybro's Avatar
 
3 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tony Greer ➑️
Every guitar I have ever owned has had slight issues with the G string when it comes to tuning. I have owned 6 guitars so I am less inclined to chalk it up to coincidence..
Me too. No coincidence. It's related to why piano tuners can't tune with a strobe scope. Sounds horrid. Need to temper the chord blend.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tony Greer ➑️
The specific issue I encounter is that when tuning the G string, I must over compensate in either direction. If I wish to tune up then I have to tighten until the the string gets enough tension to actually move through the nut. If I wish to tune down then I have to release tension and then bend the string before the change in pitch takes effect. I feel that the issue is most likely the nut being too tight for the average G string. I noticed a drastic improvement when I decided to run some fine grain sand paper in the groove while I had the strings off. This also lead to the string keeping its intonation while playing. Bends would cause the string to move slightly in the nut and then "stick" upon releasing the bend.

Never tune from sharp to flat. Always flat to sharp. If you pass it up, go flat and bring it back up to pitch, and then give it a slight tug to pull out any tention hiding behind the nut. Problem is not always a pinched string, Just the pressure of the string paying in the slot can leave a touch less tension behind the nut, until you pull it out and even the tension on both sides. Problem gets worse as the break angle increases. Nut sauce helps greatly. Or, a touch of graphite, like pencil lead, soft pencil like a 2B.

Also have to watch where the string is breaking in the nut. If it's only resting at the back of the slot, that can throw the whole string out from the first fret up. The string should rise evenly through the slot and then cleanly "take off" from the neck side of the slot.
Old 9th October 2012
  #17
Here for the gear
 
🎧 5 years
If your playing live and with some soul they should all be going out of tune a bit here and there. No matter how much you stretch and tune pre show. The b and the g are always the ones that set up the open chords wrong if even a touch out of tune. Also an empty cold room at sound check completely throws off the tuning with a full house with warm bodies. We can all tune by ear but that's loud and annoying to the audience. Buy a boss stage tuner and have the output on bypass. Click in for 3 seconds between each song and silently tune er' up. Nobody knows and no one can hear. Personally I play gauges 12, 16, 24 plain, 36, 46 and 56 on all my guitars. They stay in tune much better. Tip: before each tuning give the back side of your bridge, no matter what type, a firm hit from your rhythm hand lower palm, then tune from there. Hope that helps.
Old 11th October 2012
  #18
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Cue Zephyr's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
It's G on my electric, B on my acoustic and A on my mandolin. What's the problem? I think it's the wound-plain string transition, it's where the diameter goes up again. The lowest plain string will be thicker than the core of the thinnest wound string. That's where the saddle compensation changes also.
Old 12th October 2012
  #19
Deleted 6ccb844
Guest
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jpchartrand ➑️
Hi guys,

Is it just me or is it always hard to perfectly tune the b-string on a guitar?

It seems it's always the string that gets un-tuned the easiest >:(

Am I cursed?
Your not at all.. Trick is, tune everything else in and then harmonic / ear tune the B string.. Easiest way or you can be there for ages with a tuner..

I would never pick up a 7 or 8 string on a floyd rose.. I would probably loose it..
Old 12th October 2012
  #20
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Jpchartrand's Avatar
 
4 Reviews written
🎧 5 years
This thread has generated way more feedback than I was hoping for. I'm considering getting evertunes now. Thanks a lot guys!
Old 12th October 2012 | Show parent
  #21
Deleted 6ccb844
Guest
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jpchartrand ➑️
This thread has generated way more feedback than I was hoping for. I'm considering getting evertunes now. Thanks a lot guys!
Or you could just learn how to quickly tune it in.. Up to you, it's your money
Old 12th October 2012
  #22
Lives for gear
 
🎧 5 years
yeah, the g and b are the usual culprits for me. But takes a while of playing to go out of tune. But no other strings ever go out of tune except those 2. idk why. I don't do much bending at all either. I don't play live so never much of an issue for me, just a little knob twist once and a while fixes it back in tune.

Learn to tune by the vibrations if you don't already. It makes tuning it back very quick and simple.
Old 12th October 2012 | Show parent
  #23
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theblue1's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cue Zephyr ➑️
It's G on my electric, B on my acoustic and A on my mandolin. What's the problem? I think it's the wound-plain string transition, it's where the diameter goes up again. The lowest plain string will be thicker than the core of the thinnest wound string. That's where the saddle compensation changes also.
This is also how it seems to me. First there is the change in timbre, then there is the change in inharmonicity between wound strings and plain.
Old 13th October 2012
  #24
Gear Nut
 
Tom Hicks's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
I just saw the John Lennon in New York documentary on my local PBS station. It seems he deliberately slightly detuned his D string. His Aunt Mimi used to ask him which one was him on the record, and he wanted to be able to point out his guitar sound to her.

I use pencil lead as graphite lube on the nut whenever I change strings, and detune the G about 3 cycles a second at the harmonic on the 7th fret, as compared to the harmonic on the D string 5th fret.
Old 7th November 2012
  #25
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 10 years
i got over 20 guitars and 19 have Earvana nuts. The 3 acoustics also have the Earvana bridges. Can't live with out Earvana, i just factor it into the price of a new axe when i buy it.
Old 7th November 2012
  #26
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Silent Sound's Avatar
 
5 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
You could do what the violinists do and just throw some wicked vibrato on all your notes! Just kidding.

For me it seems to be the low E string that gives me the most problems. But I tend to bend that one a lot, so that would make sense. After that, it's the B string. Again, I tend to bend that one a lot too.

I do want to warn all of you guys using pencil lead. Pencil lead is a combination of clay and graphite, and depending on how hard it is, it could be mostly clay, which isn't good for your nut. So if you do use pencil lead, make sure to use the softest lead available, as it will have a higher content of graphite.
Old 7th November 2012
  #27
Lives for gear
 
🎧 5 years
I found when i started to string my guitars properly and stretch the strings fully i got much better stability but if one string is to go out of tune it will be G
Old 7th November 2012
  #28
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🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by jasyr ➑️
i got over 20 guitars and 19 have Earvana nuts. The 3 acoustics also have the Earvana bridges. Can't live with out Earvana, i just factor it into the price of a new axe when i buy it.
I've struggled to find the right earvana nuts for my guitars in the UK but really wanna try one!
Old 8th November 2012
  #29
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2 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
There's also the Buzz Feiten solution.

Info here: Buzz Feiten Tuning System
Old 9th November 2012 | Show parent
  #30
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John Eppstein's Avatar
 
58 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tony Greer ➑️
Every guitar I have ever owned has had slight issues with the G string when it comes to tuning. I have owned 6 guitars so I am less inclined to chalk it up to coincidence. The specific issue I encounter is that when tuning the G string, I must over compensate in either direction. If I wish to tune up then I have to tighten until the the string gets enough tension to actually move through the nut. If I wish to tune down then I have to release tension and then bend the string before the change in pitch takes effect. I feel that the issue is most likely the nut being too tight for the average G string. I noticed a drastic improvement when I decided to run some fine grain sand paper in the groove while I had the strings off. This also lead to the string keeping its intonation while playing. Bends would cause the string to move slightly in the nut and then "stick" upon releasing the bend.
Never tune down, always tune up. If you go too far drop the string noticeably flat and try again. If you try to tune down your guitar will never stay in tune.
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