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Fender Tuning Problem


unclej
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one of my repeat customers brought me an american strat last week. he was asking about new tuners for it. he thought it wasn't staying in tune and that the tuners were at fault. after further questioning it turns out that what was really happening was that after he tuned it he thought that a few strings were sounding sharp when he played simple chords. i got him to leave it with me and this is what i've done so far:

i added a fourth spring and set the floating trem properly. i lowered the nut slots just a bit and lubed them. i set the neck relief, saddle height and intonation. with all that done i checked with a tuner and the only way that i could get any of the strings to go sharp was to press really hard while chording. it has pretty tall frets so there was enough travel for that to happen.

ok..he came back in..i explained everything that i had done and told him that if that didn't fix it to let me know. he came in today and told me that it was still doing it. after asking a few more questions i realized that he hadn't really explained the problem properly the first time.

when he tunes the guitar with his eight year old boss tuner and gets it perfectly in tune it sounds sharp to him. when he tunes it by ear..he says he's pitch perfect...then puts it on his tuner it shows up as flat. (i think i got that right) the G and B strings seem to be the biggest culprits. i told him that if he had a new battery in it then there were only two things that i could think of that could be wrong..his tuner had degraded over the years or his ears had.

am i right? have i missed something? anything else that could be causing this problem? he's bringing it back in tomorrow with his tuner to check it against my tuner but if i get the same results i'd like to look real smart and have an alternative. :D

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I HATE high frets. My first 15 yrs of guitar playing was on acoustics so you can guess how I play. A high nut definitely makes for sharp notes as well. Seems like you covered pretty much everything uncleJ, but you haven't mentioned whether or not you've put new strings on the guitar. Sometimes thats the culprit in these scenarios. Otherwise double and triple check your intonation. Strats are SO versatile with lots of setup features and I can't see it not happening. Next time see if you can work it out while the owner is there. Intonate it, tune it up etc. and watch how he plays. :D

On a side note... I found the ear DOES screw up now and then. When I was just beginning my ears and sensibilities didn't really know the difference. As time passed and my playing proficiency progressed I found that my ears were more sensitive to my tuning. It got to the point where I couldn't even tune my guitar on some days and it was driving me nuts.

Edited by Southpa
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the strings are indeed new..basic earnie ball slinkies but he says that it was happening with the set before as well. the two things that i'm going to check tomorrow..while he's there...are intonation and his tuner against my tuner. the high frets don't play a part in this scenario because the problem's with the strings being played open. i'll definitely let you know if i figure it out. thanks for the input.

j

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....when he tunes the guitar with his eight year old boss tuner and gets it perfectly in tune it sounds sharp to him. when he tunes it by ear..he says he's pitch perfect...then puts it on his tuner it shows up as flat. (i think i got that right) the G and B strings seem to be the biggest culprits. i told him that if he had a new battery in it then there were only two things that i could think of that could be wrong..his tuner had degraded over the years or his ears had.

So...the problem isn't with fretted notes but that he disagrees with what his tuner says. :D

That dismisses the Buzz Feiten suggestion because that deals with compensation on fretted notes, right?

I've had some tuners which seem to have a higher amount of leeway with regards to what is actually "in tune" but none that have got worse over time. Look at most "pro's" pedal boards & you'll see a Boss tuner on there.

Perhaps it isn't set at 440hz?....it might have a way of changing the concert pitch up or down.

Compare it to your own & see what happens. I imagine that his ear has started to go a bit or that he's never actually had perfect pitch.

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"Compare it to your own & see what happens. I imagine that his ear has started to go a bit or that he's never actually had perfect pitch."

frankly this is what i think is happening. i know for a fact that when i tune by ear i almost always tune to the sharp side. he does say that it doesn't happen with any of his other guitars so i guess we'll see today.

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i tune by chords so i never have that issue.

to be honest if a guitar is perfectly set up and intonated then the chords will sound so close to right as to not matter,anywhere on the neck..stevie ray neverused buzz feiten,neither did chet atkins as far as i know..but if he is heavy handed he might be pushing the notes sharp with those tall frets.i stopped using jumbos for that reason...i tend to get really heavy handed if i am out of practice

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