Electric Guitar Tuning. How to get it right and keep it right.
Why is precise guitar tuning so critical to your sound?
Guitar tuning problems can wreck your sound. Any inconsistency in your electric guitar tuning become a problem when it is amplified and then you add distortion, harmonics and the overtones of your electric guitar interact in ways that make you sound, well crummy.
Being out of tune is obvious to some people with a good ear and may simply make other people wonder why they are uncomfortable with your sound.
The problem is that electric guitar tuning, in general, has always been a challenge because any stringed instrument is almost impossible to get absolutely perfect all the way up and down the neck. Close but hardly ever perfect.
It's taken hundreds of years for the worlds best musical ears to get it them to where it is almost right and its still not perfect.
There is a detailed explanation for it, but I'm not going to get into that because it's complicated and I don't understand it either.
Advances have been made to improve results. State of the art electronic tuners, advances in tuning machine design, bridge design, graphite nuts, compensated nuts, tuning systems and locking tuners have made guitar tuning more precise and closer to the ideal of a perfectly tuned guitar that stays in tune.
The first step is buying electric guitars that are high in quality and will be a joy to play instead of a burden to endure because its just a bad design or the components are not a good enough quality to give you the tools to work so you can stay in tune.
Inferior components like cheap tuning machines that don't work quite right or a bridge design that makes intonation difficult are out there on guitars that look great appearance wise.
Guitar nuts that are not cut right can mess you up too by binding and causing the string to slip and let out a pinging sound suddenly. This can be solved sometimes with a bit of graphite or nut lube in the nut slot but if the nut is not cut right it will still be a problem.
Any guitar you buy should be evaluated by a good guitar tech to make sure you are not making a mistake buying it.
Most of the time, this will not be a problem, if its a quality guitar.
Electric guitar tuning depends on having a guitar in good shape to start with. Take my word for it, I've made a few mistakes in this area.
Listen to your guitar tech, returning a bad guitar is worth it if they say the guitar you picked is not the best it could be.
Especially if you dropped a large amount of money on the thing. If the problem is not your fault most of the online guitar stores will pay postage.
Most of the time, no matter how good the guitar is, it probably needs a setup (setting the action, intonation, neck adjustment and making sure the frets are level to make it play right and set it up to your personal playing preferences.
By the way, leveling frets is very expensive and is in my opinion a good reason to send a guitar back to the store that you bought it at if it is not perfect.
If you are in love with that particular guitar, fret leveling is around $200.
So your most likely going seeing your guitar tech for a setup, have him or her check it carefully. It's an investment in the enjoyment of your guitar to make sure everything is right. Ok, you've got a great guitar. Good start. What can you do to get it in tune fast and keep it in tune as long as possible?
These are some ways to improve your guitars ability to hold itself in tune longer.
Once you've got your tuning stability where you want it, an electronic tuner will help get your guitar in tune fast.
Here's what I recommend.
There you go - tune it up and let's make some music.
Links to useful websites