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G-strings (the guitar kind) Equalisers (HW)
Old 13th June 2002
High End Moderator
mwagener's Avatar
Question G-strings (the guitar kind)

Based on an idea from BevvyB here is the question:

Why do we always have problems with G strings on guitars and what can be done about it?

Sometimes we have to go through 3 or 4 packages of strings to find a G string that doesn't sound "not quite as bad" as others. In general we know that the frets on a guitar are mathematically in the wrong place, they should be "fanned" out across the fretboard rather than parallel to each other, but that would make it very hard to play. A couple of my guitars have modifications by Buzzy Featon (sp?), which works very well, but still the problem with the G string being out of tune with itself remains. When it gets really bad nothing short of retuning and punching in each bad chord will work.

Any ideas?
Old 13th June 2002
Lives for gear
drundall's Avatar

My hated subject. I've always used Peterson strobe tuners. If a guitar
has big intonation problems it gets fired instantly-I have guitars which tune
up pretty well. Fixed bridge and locking tuners like Sperzels help. If I get a
guy playing complex chords with distortion I'll turn the gain down, and try to
use a more open "class A" sounding amp. Buzzy's system is my next step-
I just got a new Peterson digital strobe tuner.

Guitars are by nature not in tune for all chords and you will usually hear it in
the B and G strings. The best is when you get a guy that can compensate
by tuning by ear---rare...

Happy tuning
Old 13th June 2002
BevvyB's Avatar

Tuning by ear

Getting a guitar to ring true is difficult.
I tune in with a tuner (yes we like those strobe tuners, Jules is a fan I know)
Then I re-tune the G string till I 'like' it
Not exactly scientific I'm afraid. When I say 'like it' I mean it sounds 'right' and 'nice' when I play MOST open chords (especially in the chords for the particular passage, if I'm playing open chords) or on bar chords (which have their own problems, and again, based on the track/song in question)
To get the extremely open Tom Petty jangalang acoustic perpetual strum thing going on I have only managed by having re-tunes for particular open chords and dropping in, or completely doubling a track knowing that some of the chords (the ones I tuned) are going to be 'in tune' to be chopped in afterwards (thus retaining feel)
I have considered actually trying to measure what this difference in pitch is and sticking a mark on my tuner where I think G SHOULD be, but I think that could be pointless 'cos where G SHOULD be keeps moving.

You've then got the other problem of then getting your current guitar to fit in with the other guitars, and I guess thats an ears only solution.

I guess 'knowing' when things are all humming along together is why some of us get paid!
Old 13th June 2002
Strobe tuners rock, the best models (not the new Peterson sadly) can sort of show a display of chords - that can help IMENSLY for the fmadd ing g string madness you are referring to..

I say this cause unlike Bev, my relative pitch is not 'brilliant'. (...he is rather golden eared)

Old 13th June 2002
Strobe tuner rock, the best models (not the new Perterson sadly) can sort of show a display of chords - that can help IMENSLY for the fmadd ing gstring madness you are refering to..

I say this cause unlike Bev, my relative pitch is not 'brilliant'. (he is rather golden eared)

Old 13th June 2002
BevvyB's Avatar

And another thing..

I think most of the guitars I have played sound better when they have NO stupid wammy bar and no locking. When you're fiddling with those little nuts to retune a string you can't really get away from the note and back again, which is a great help to finding a ringing note. I find those little tuning nuts just keep me in the same place as the problem, not drastic enough.

Anyway, enough about my nuts dfegad
Old 14th June 2002
Gear Addict
cymatics's Avatar

On the subject of tuning nightmares... I am in the middle of an album project with a band that tunes their 7 strings to G#!!!

No, I'm not making that up.

Actually, considering the fact that their strings are like rubber bands, it sounds pretty ****ing great. In a few spots, we've had to tune the bass to a particular section and punch it in. Other than that it just requires thoroughly checking the tuning any time the tape is gonna roll.

- Jon
Old 17th June 2002
One with big hooves
Jay Kahrs's Avatar
My favorite guitar is my PRS Santana SE with the hardtail bridge. I can't set the intonation. Hey, it's close enough for rock & roll right? Just check the tuning before each take and go with it. Actually, while it's not perfect it's pretty damn close. Intonation does bug me a lot, especially when someone can't hear that they're out of tune.
Old 22nd June 2002
Lives for gear
5down1up's Avatar

i have no problem with that ...
i had , but its defenately a playing thing . i cant get a les paul in tune ... god damn it ... i can play on a fender or a gibson es .
i use heavy strings like a 12 e string . what dfegad me off was any kind of preamp i tried , marshall , boogie , engl ...
was out of tune , the guitar wasnt ... what the hell .
it sounds in tune on my ac30 it sounds out of tune on a engl ??? kinda strange isnt it , tube replacing ... doesnt work .
i decided to trash all those nasty " wanna be preamps & amps " .
they have cool sounds but out of tune . even though , same with stomp boxes . i stick now to some old ibanez and fulltones .
i hate it if it sounds out of tune .... ahhhhhhhhhhh .
but , quarter tuning is kinda hard to hear , too . especially if you listen to the high b and e string , your ear goes automatically " major " , but hey ... g is minor ... a tuner can do the job , but theres not many guitars in the world which are fixed that proper . you can tune single strings , but the whole guitar ... by ear .
i always check cmaj7 with an open a ( 10ths fret ) if that sound right ... it mostly works . so i do with a e5 ( 2nd fret , open e string , b , e , b , e , open e string ) ... your ears dont go for that major g# overtones . replacing parts on a original sucks ( sorry ) .
it changes the sound too much , and i dont kill my old blacky strat with some modifications .

most scary out of tune equipment , pod & ampfarm ...
Old 22nd June 2002
Some band member just cry out - 'tuning hazard' dont they?

How about the dreaded 'monkey grip idiot'? dfegad

Fretting chords with too much force on light strings!!!

That is my worst nightmare!

Or the 'heavy handed moron" that uses a plectrum with as much give in it as a filed down penny and smacks each chord into sharp tuning oblivion?

Old 24th June 2002
BevvyB's Avatar


POD and AMPFARM.....

Now, what I think you are talking about here with guitar sims etc is that when you play two notes or more the POD can't get the harmonics 'right', especially with distorted sounds. Things just don't ring true 'cos the POD can't ever possibly know how more than one note at a time would sing together properly in the electronics of the box it is trying to mimic. So things don't 'settle' harmonically like they do in real life through a real amp using 'real' distortion etc

Even though that's what its meant to do.

I love the POD, I have one. But it has its limits. AMPFARM too.

This isn't really an argument. I'm just agreeing with 5down1up..
Old 6th July 2002
Gear Maniac

i bit ot, but i always wanted to try recording distorted minor chords one note at a time (eg A on the 1st run, E on the second and G on the third)

anyone done that?
Old 6th July 2002
Lives for gear
5down1up's Avatar

what min chord is that goin 2 be maxim heh
a , e , g > a5/7
e , g , a > e min sus 4 ??? / emin11
g , a , e > g9/13

just kiddin

recording one note at a time can create a cool effect , but it doesnt sound like a "guitar" in the end . ( shure it does , u know what i mean ) .

peace yall
Old 7th July 2002
High End Moderator
mwagener's Avatar
Originally posted by maxim
i bit ot, but i always wanted to try recording distorted minor chords one note at a time (eg A on the 1st run, E on the second and G on the third)

anyone done that?
Didn't Mutt do this on a Def Leppard album?
Old 7th July 2002
Thats the folk lore!

Old 7th July 2002
Gear Maniac

whoops, i did mean a/c/e, not a/g/e (but now, i'm going to try that out as well)
Old 9th July 2002
Lives for gear
sonic dogg's Avatar
Or how bout the guy who comes in with TWO choruses AND a short delay AND two distortions and thinks it sounds in tune...he wound up using just my old ibanez ts-9 ...we put the chorus on later....Being a guitar ****** myself, it is hard to justify the fact that every time the light goes on you know you're going to be slightly out of tune somewhere...but hey...find a guitar that 'sits' in its tuning well and can handle different gauges of strings...i like to cut backing tracks with sets starting with 12's and sometimes the leads with 10's...any of them so-called players who gotta have 8's or even those 7's are just pusses.....
Old 13th July 2002
Lives for gear
chap's Avatar

g strings

on my 50 or so guitars, it seems more like a b string problem.
Almost all of the problems can be smoothed out with proper tension (I have a chart from Rick Turner)
good strings (Thomasticks?) and setup.
And Irish whiskey helps.
Old 13th July 2002
BevvyB's Avatar

Wheres this chart then CHAP?
Old 13th July 2002
Lives for gear
chap's Avatar

I'm looking, I'm looking.I may have to call Rick or look on a dead computer. Rick is very good with stuff like this. He just built a guitar for Henry Kaiser that was specifically designed to withstand
the rigors of the North Pole or (Antarctica). Either way, it seems like a long ways to go to play guitar but Ricks guitar handled it well. I'll get the chart.
Old 14th July 2002
Gear Maniac
WATYF's Avatar

I've always had more trouble with the B string than with the G string... madd Man, I hate try to get the B string to sound "just right"... (Especially on open E based chords.)

of course... what the hell do I know? heh

I just needed an excuse to make my first post so I could try oat all these groovy emoticons... These things rock!!! grggt

oh yeah... the site is ok too...


Old 19th July 2002
Great article in this months Tape Op on gtr tuneing!

Old 23rd July 2002
Lives for gear

I have perfect pitch (I was born with it, didn't even take the tuning-fork-on-the-finger guy's course), so I don't use my tuner, unless I've been drinking. When I tune the Les Paul for use with distortion, I usually end up having to flatten the G a few cents, and to a lesser degree the B as well. This gives me the most even colors over the most places on the fretboard, and the least amount of "beat". On the acoustic I first tune the B (with a digital strobe tuner), since B is the hardest note in the universe to tune. Then without the tuner, I tune the whole guitar to the B and low E, compromising sonically between the E and G chords. Your results may vary, unless you play just like I do, and it also depends on good mechanical intonation on the guitar to begin with.

But it will always be a compromise with any stringed instrument, because they keep getting sharper as you go up than the math that represents them and the difference becomes more acute as you approach the seventh great note, which is B, and hence the problem with the relationship between G and B, which is right in the middle of where we guitar players need our **** to sound good and is why I enjoy playing my bass more and more anymore.

Old 25th January 2014
Gear Head

Yep, I've had some g string troubles with guitars in the past and am actually having some trouble now! I've actually sold a few guitars over it because it's like my ears are so sensitive to the fact the string is sounding slightly off on some chords. It drives me insane and I end up spending all of my time trying to get the string in tune. If I tune the g string to pitch, when fretted on the 2nd fret particularly, it sounds horribly sharp. So an A chord and D Chord etc sound way out. So to compensate ill tune the g string slightly flat and those chords will sound much better but then I play an opem C chord and it sounds awful because the g string is flat. Can't win! I do have guitars that I don't have this problem with or its far less apparent but I've found usually cheaper ones are the worst. I have one right now that I'm actually considering now selling because of the g string. I just can't get it right and if pretty much renders it unplayable for me because I just spend the whole time tweaking the tuning.
Old 25th January 2014
Lives for gear

I can get MY guitars fairly close, but when I did a lot of repairs, there were definitely problems. A lot of it Operator Failure--one guy in particular would trade guitars, use different brands of strings, and constantly complain about his tuning. I got rid of him by suggesting he stick with one guitar and one set of strings and adjust himself to THEM. One of those gospel boys who bought a Fernandes strat because it was labeled "Revival Series", lol.
Old 25th January 2014
Two issues play big in this area of concern, temperament and inharmonicity of strings.

As with conventional keyboards (including digital, synths), the imposition of 12 Tone Equal Temperament is a necessary compromise that allows us to modulate and change keys, at the cost of slightly out of tune intervals (on all but octaves). This is normal and natural and the development of ET allowed the development of European (and now other) music over the last 4 or 5 centuries. But it does mean that doing that, intervals played on 'perfectly tuned and tempered' keyboards and guitars (as though the latter actually existed ) will be out of tune from around 2 cents to almost 18 cents. That's the way it's designed and has to work.

While we can readily calculate the amount of 'out of tuneness' of 12TET intervals compared to mathematically perfect Pythagorean values of Just intonation, the inharmonicity of strings, especially wound, metal strings, can be somewhat more difficult to predict, since it changes with composition and construction from string to string. But, in general, overtones of such strings sound at a higher than 'expected' frequency (above the actual octave values), potentially conflicting with other 'perfectly tuned' higher strings. It is this inharmonicity which gives rise to the common practice (particularly when tuning traditional pianos) of stretch tuning.

Equal temperament - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Inharmonicity - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Stretched tuning - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Old 26th January 2014
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brockorama's Avatar

Nice thread revival. I lean towards G and B a slight bit flat as well.
Old 26th January 2014
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JoeyM's Avatar
Care & feeding of g-strings is pretty straightforward.
For something important I'll carefully solder the string wrap down at the bridge end before installation (not while the string is on the guitar), then rub sharp pencil over the bridge saddle (graphite!), and the string slot(s) of the nut, and then the hard (or strange) part, winding just right around the tuning posts. This is where everybody does it different and no one knows why 1/2 a wrap can stay in tune better than 20 wraps. Mine usually go wrap-lock (as per Gibson instructions) and clean, linear wraps to the bottom of the post, so there's a hair bit of pull-down so it doesn't buzz at the nut.

Back to the soldering stage though, of course you don't want excessive heat making that tiny string brittle, so just melt & run.

This is what I do for a gig or recording, because the humidity and other factors up here can amplify the weakest link into the weakest-est link
Old 26th January 2014
Lives for gear
AfterViewer's Avatar

Play a Hendrix Strat when I jump on electric to record but haven't been playing 6-string steel, 12 string, or bass over the last 6yrs to play Spanish/Arabic nylon only. Keeping a classical guitar in tune for most people (while playing) is usually a bit of a project. One thing that makes it easier for me to play is that I tune all my strings (by ear) a hair flatter than equal temperament standard, on any guitar I am playing. It delivers a more Delta-Wave sound and allows me to bend sound for expression. Finding a set of strings for a particular classic guitar that delivers what you like can also be challenging. I play on Ernie Ball's Ernesto Palla strings, exclusively, as they sound excellent, especially after extended use.
Old 28th January 2014
Lives for gear

Hendrix suffered the same problem....he never could to get his guitar in tune.
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