9 Reasons Your Guitar Won't Stay In Tune
Tuning your guitar is one of the basic guitar lessons that all guitar players or beginners need to master.
Be it using an electronic guitar tuner, a tuning rod, or using your ears, tuning your guitar to perfection is mandatory to bring out the perfect sound.
No matter how expensive your guitar is or what gears you are using, if your guitar is not in tune, all the effort will go down the drain.
Though, sometimes the guitar just won’t stay in tune regardless how much you try.
Common reasons are either brand new strings or the strings are old or rusted. But sometimes the reasons are beyond strings.
Here are a few common reasons why your guitar won’t stay in tune.
- String Quality
The string quality matters for a lot of things apart from longevity. Depending on your string type, it will also affect how long your guitar is in tune.
Which is why professional guitar players invest a lot in their strings.
Obviously you wouldn’t like your guitar to get detuned while you are in the middle of a song or a guitar solo. That would be a horrible experience.
If you are using cheap quality guitar strings, they would soon start causing string buzzing, or won’t straighten out completely and often fall out of tune.
- String Size
Sorry to break the bubble, but there are things in our life which alter the outcome because of size, and string size is no exception.
And in string size, it’s not the length, but the girth that matters.
If you are buying a new guitar, take a note of the string size it came with. That’s the ideal string gauge for your guitar. Using a different string gauge is not that serious if you’re using a single step higher or lower string gauge.
However, if you decide to jump double or triple gauge, that’s when it will start causing trouble by binding near the nut.
This will eventually force your guitar to fall out of tune.
So, if you are planning to use different string sizes, it is advised to consult a guitar expert who can adjust the truss rod and provide you further advice to keep your guitar in tune.
- Unstretched Strings
New strings need to be stretched optimally so that they won’t fall out of tune.
Unstretched strings are one of the common reasons why your guitar won’t stay in tune.
One of the first things that we all learned from our guitar instructor is how to understand if your string needs to be stretched.
New strings require a while to break in before they are able to hold the desired tension, and properly seat in the ball end and nut.
This tip is valid for all types of guitar and all types of strings.
When you are tuning your guitar, once the string is in tune, put your finger below the string and stretch it up gently by pulling it away from the guitar. Start from the bridge and pull it up to the neck.
Repeat this several times to optimally stretch your guitar strings but don’t slide your fingers too fast, else you will burn your fingers because of the friction or your string might break.
The entire process of tuning and stretching your guitar will take around 10-20 minutes and it’s worth it.
- Unlocked Strings
When you’re restringing your guitar, make sure that you do a loop-lock at the tuning peg. This will hold the string tight when you are tuning or stretching the strings, avoiding it to fall out of tune.
- Maladjusted Bridge and Pickup Height
The height of the bridge and pickup will adversely affect your guitar sound. If there is no problem with your strings (the above mentioned points), then it might be your bridge of pickup height that’s causing the trouble.
If you are not a guitar expert, then you should consult one as they can tell if the height of the bridge or pickup is properly adjusted.
If the intonation screws on your bridge are loosened, it will cause your guitar to get detune. Or, if the height of the pickup is too high, then your strings will be extra pulled by the pickup magnet causing them to fall out of tune.
- Broken Nut/Tuning Peg
Check the tuning peg of your guitar and notice if it is missing a patch or the nut is broken. Any one of these will repteadly cause your guitar to fall out of tune.
The tuning peg adjusts the string tension and the nut holds it in place. If one of them is broken, you need to replace them soon.
When you are playing open chords (when one or more strings are not fingered) higher up the neck, and it goes out of tune, then you need to get your guitar’s intonation checked.
If the intonation is not properly adjusted, your guitar won’t stay in tune ever.
The only way to resolve this is by tweaking the metal truss rod.
Too Rough to Handle
A common issue with newbie guitar players is the way they strum or pick the strings.
Not everything is meant to be played rough. Some require a gentle touch and one of them is your guitar.
Your touch needs to be neither too hard nor too soft. With time and practice, it will get adjusted.
If you feel that you are not able to find the perfect touch, consult your guitar instructor. They will provide you with lessons that will help you to build the perfect touch.
- Climate Change
Too hot or too cold weather can cause catastrophic damage to your guitar. Temperature and humidity have a significant impact on your guitar.
Though you can't control the climate, you can protect your guitar from damage by investing in guitar maintenance kits and covers.
To a guitarist, detuned guitars are melodies from their nightmare. There can be nothing worse for them than their guitar falling out of tune frequently. Hope the above points will help you to diagnose the issue and keep your guitar in tune.