Tuning the G slightly flat (or any other string depending on how and what you play)

redking

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For those of you that tune the G string to be slightly flat - how do you set the intonation at the 12th fret? Do you make it the same tuning as the open string(slightly flat) or adjust it so that it tunes to a G? I would think the latter?
 

sonar1

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Three barrel Tele’s get the E’s (D string too) intonation right, then I tune the G slightly flat when playing. Makes the 12th fret G closer to true.

My six saddle guitars are intonated straight for accuracy at 100 yards
 

redking

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Three barrel Tele’s get the E’s (D string too) intonation right, then I tune the G slightly flat when playing. Makes the 12th fret G closer to true.

My six saddle guitars are intonated straight for accuracy at 100 yards
This is actually on a 3 barrel tele that I am noticing it, however the barrels are supposed to be compensated to avoid/reduce this issue (Rutters bridge). I will play around with this and see where I get.
 

sonar1

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This is actually on a 3 barrel tele that I am noticing it, however the barrels are supposed to be compensated to avoid/reduce this issue (Rutters bridge). I will play around with this and see where I get.
Most compensated three saddle type bridges are an attempt at getting it closer.
In my experience they’re an arguable improvement, but not perfect.
Kinda dissatisfying for me.
I just stay with the traditional uncompensated three barrel brass on ashtray Fender style.

Guitars with plain G strings are problematic, but I’m NOT going to use a wound G!
 

motowntom

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Waiting to hear more opinions on this, the G string drives me crazy! I am recording a song right now tuned 1/2 step down, and can't even play an open chord voicing.....
Cheers
 

MenaceMartin

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I always found the problem was more apparent with Ernie Ball strings where the G isn't wound, especially in the heavier gauges where it's like chicken wire. They are god-awful.

Haven't had the issue with D'Addario wound G's, even heavy 24 gauge. I haven't noticed it at least :dunno:
 

redking

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I always found the problem was more apparent with Ernie Ball strings where the G isn't wound, especially in the heavier gauges where it's like chicken wire. They are god-awful.

Haven't had the issue with D'Addario wound G's, even heavy 24 gauge. I haven't noticed it at least :dunno:
Correct - this is the essence of the problem - the wound string is much more "slinky" than its unwound counterpart that would vibrate at the same frequency for that note (G), so pressing the unwound string down on the first 2 frets makes it go sharp, while not as noticeable on the wound version.
 

Tone deaf

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Waiting to hear more opinions on this, the G string drives me crazy! I am recording a song right now tuned 1/2 step down, and can't even play an open chord voicing.....
Cheers
Is this on a Les Paul? If I get it intonated properly and cowboy chords are out of whack, I'll ease up the stop tail piece and recalibrate.
 

DavGrape

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First Telecaster bone nut I made is my best; cut the G a little deeper.
Plus intonating at the fifth fret, cuz I spend more time down there.
IMG_0869.JPG
 

redking

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Is this on a Les Paul? If I get it intonated properly and cowboy chords are out of whack, I'll ease up the stop tail piece and recalibrate.
I think on an LP the G string tuning issues are often associated with a bad nut (binding after a bend), as Sonar pointed out, the barrel saddle is a contributing culprit on the tele. I think the nut slot being too high can be a problem on any guitar. What do you mean regarding the tailpiece - reduce the break angle? (Jeez, we should get rid of the G altogether - lol)
 

Tone deaf

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I think on an LP the G string tuning issues are often associated with a bad nut (binding after a bend), as Sonar pointed out, the barrel saddle is a contributing culprit on the tele. I think the nut slot being too high can be a problem on any guitar. What do you mean regarding the tailpiece - reduce the break angle? (Jeez, we should get rid of the G altogether - lol)
I find reducing the string tension can bring those first few fretted notes back into tune.
 

John Vasco

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For those of you that tune the G string to be slightly flat - how do you set the intonation at the 12th fret? Do you make it the same tuning as the open string(slightly flat) or adjust it so that it tunes to a G? I would think the latter?
For a long time I have tuned the open G and open E (6th string) a few cents low. I have always set the intonation at the 12th fret as spot-on as I can.

If you play open chords at the nut end of the guitar, you will get that ever-so-slight 12-string kind of resonance which is not unpleasing to the ears.

Once you start to go up the neck with barre chords, you will find that those two strings sound in tune with the rest.

The reason for all of the above is that the guitar is an imperfect instrument to tune. Everything is explained here: https://drkevguitar.com/2012/04/04/tuning-data-sheet-45/

For those who do not want to open the link, here's the text (a long read, but well worth it):
Many guitarists are frustrated because of their attempts to tune the guitar to pure chords (free of beats). These particular players have very sensitive ears that prefer pure intervals and reject the mandatory equal temperament. They tune their guitar beautifully pure on one chord only to discover that the next chord form is unacceptable. In too many instances they assume that there must be a flaw in the workmanship on the fingerboard. Their problem is not in the construction of the guitar. It is one of pure tuning verses equal temperament.

You must accept this compromise because the guitar is an instrument of fixed pitch and the strings must be tuned to tempered intervals, not pure. Equal temperament is the name given to a system of dividing the chromatic scale into 12 equal half steps. Guitarists who have been trying to tune to one or another pure chord form must learn to understand and accept equal temperament. (They might be interested to know that to approximate pure chords on all forms would require about three dozen frets within the octave.) The system of equal temperament reduces the number to twelve, thereby making manageable all instruments of fixed pitch.

Here is what all of this means to the guitarist: You must not, at any time, use harmonic tones at the 7th fret as a point of reference (skilled piano tuners could use them because they know how many beats to introduce between 4th and 5th). Harmonic tones at the 7th fret are pure 5ths, while in equal temperament each 5th must be lowered slightly. To tune by harmonics at the 7th fret (as occasionally ill-advised) will make the guitar sound entirely unacceptable on some chord forms.

On the other hand, all harmonics at the 12th and 5th frets, being one and two octaves above the open strings, are immediately useful as explained below. All octaves and unisons are pure on all instruments of fixed pitch. Therefore, you may use harmonics at 12th and 5th as reference tones in the following tuning instructions.

Actually this discussion and the following suggestions are for those players who have been tuning to pure intervals. When the steps have been followed correctly the guitar will be as perfectly tuned as it could be in the hands of a professional. Nevertheless, when you have finished, your sensitive ear may notice that on each major chord form there is always one tone slightly high. If you start adjusting a particular string on a certain chord form, you only compound the problem because then the next chord form will be completely objectionable. Tune the guitar as instructed below and let it stand. How to help your ear accept equal temperament: It is easier to face a problem if we are prepared in advance and expect it. If you are one of those persons who is sensitive to pure intervals, here is what you are going to notice on an absolutely perfectly tuned guitar in equal temperament: Play an open E major chord. Listen to G# on the third string and you most likely will want to lower it very slightly. Don’t do it. Ignore it. Enjoy the overall beauty and resonance of chord just as does the pianist.

That troublesome second string: Play an open position A major chord. Listen to the C# on the second string and you may want to lower it slightly. Play a first position C chord and listen to the E on the first string and fourth string at 2. These tones are slightly higher than your ear would like.

Now play an open position G chord. Listen to B on the second string. Yes, it would sound a little better if lowered ever so slightly. Why not try it? Slack off the second string a couple of vibrations and notice what beautiful G chord results. Now play the C chord and with that lowered second string, and you are going to dislike the rough C and E a lot more than before. Take the open B, second string back up to equal temperament so that it will be equally acceptable on all forms. Learn to expect and accept the slight sharpness of the major third in each chord (and oppositely, the flatness of the minor third in each minor chord). Train your ear to accept tempered intervals and you will be much happier with your guitar.

PROCEDURE:
Tuning the 1st and 6th strings: The E, open 1st string, must be in pure unison with the harmonic of the E, 6th string at the fifth fret. When these two strings have been properly tuned with each other, continue as follows. Tuning the 4th string: Play a harmonic on the (in tune) 6th string at twelve, and as this harmonic sounds, adjust the 4th string until the tone E on the second fret is in pure unison. Now you have the E, open 1st string, 1st on the 4th string at two, and E, open 6th string tuned pure (permissible because they are octaves).

Tuning the 2nd string: Play a harmonic on the (in tune) 4th string at twelve. As this sounds, adjust the 2nd string until D at the third fret is in pure unison. As you have used two fretted tones for references and as the frets are positioned for tempered intervals, you now have the open 1st, 2nd ,4th and 6th strings in tempered tuning.

Tuning the 3rd string: As it is easier to adjust a string while listening to a continuous reference tone, you may first try the following: Play a harmonic on the (in tune) 4th string at twelve and as this sounds, adjust the 3rd string until D at the 7th fret is in pure unison.

Double check: Now make this check to see if you have been accurate or if the instrument plays tune when fretted at seven. Play a harmonic on the (now tuned) G string at twelve, and as this tone sounds, play G on the 1st string at three. The two tones should be in pure unison. If they are not, either you are at fault or the instrument doesn’t fret tune at seven. Go back to the beginning and carefully check each step up to this point. If the tones are still faulty, then readjust the 3rd string until the harmonic at twelve is in unison with the 1st at three. Do not tamper with the 1st and 4th strings because it is the 3rd string you are trying to bring in tune. When you have the 1st, 6th, 4th, 2nd and 3rd strings in tune, in that order, continue with the remaining 5th string.

Tuning the 5th string: Play the tone A on the (in tune) 3rd string, at the second fret. Listen to this pitch carefully and now adjust the 5th string until the harmonic at twelve is in pure unison. When the foregoing steps are followed correctly, the strings will be tuned perfectly to equal temperament. No further tuning adjustments are permissible.'


All of the above I have quoted is good stuff, and explains everything. Enjoy! :dude:
 
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motowntom

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For a long time I have tuned the open G and open E (6th string) a few cents low. I have always set the intonation at the 12th fret as spot-on as I can.

If you play open chords at the neck end of the guitar, you will get that ever-so-slight 12-string kind of resonance which is not unpleasing to the ears.

Once you start to go up the neck with barre chords, you will find that those two strings sound in tune with the rest.

The reason for all of the above is that the guitar is an imperfect instrument to tune. Everything is explained here: https://drkevguitar.com/2012/04/04/tuning-data-sheet-45/

For those who do not want to open the link, here's the text (a long read, but well worth it):
Many guitarists are frustrated because of their attempts to tune the guitar to pure chords (free of beats). These particular players have very sensitive ears that prefer pure intervals and reject the mandatory equal temperament. They tune their guitar beautifully pure on one chord only to discover that the next chord form is unacceptable. In too many instances they assume that there must be a flaw in the workmanship on the fingerboard. Their problem is not in the construction of the guitar. It is one of pure tuning verses equal temperament.

You must accept this compromise because the guitar is an instrument of fixed pitch and the strings must be tuned to tempered intervals, not pure. Equal temperament is the name given to a system of dividing the chromatic scale into 12 equal half steps. Guitarists who have been trying to tune to one or another pure chord form must learn to understand and accept equal temperament. (They might be interested to know that to approximate pure chords on all forms would require about three dozen frets within the octave.) The system of equal temperament reduces the number to twelve, thereby making manageable all instruments of fixed pitch.

Here is what all of this means to the guitarist: You must not, at any time, use harmonic tones at the 7th fret as a point of reference (skilled piano tuners could use them because they know how many beats to introduce between 4th and 5th). Harmonic tones at the 7th fret are pure 5ths, while in equal temperament each 5th must be lowered slightly. To tune by harmonics at the 7th fret (as occasionally ill-advised) will make the guitar sound entirely unacceptable on some chord forms.

On the other hand, all harmonics at the 12th and 5th frets, being one and two octaves above the open strings, are immediately useful as explained below. All octaves and unisons are pure on all instruments of fixed pitch. Therefore, you may use harmonics at 12th and 5th as reference tones in the following tuning instructions.

Actually this discussion and the following suggestions are for those players who have been tuning to pure intervals. When the steps have been followed correctly the guitar will be as perfectly tuned as it could be in the hands of a professional. Nevertheless, when you have finished, your sensitive ear may notice that on each major chord form there is always one tone slightly high. If you start adjusting a particular string on a certain chord form, you only compound the problem because then the next chord form will be completely objectionable. Tune the guitar as instructed below and let it stand. How to help your ear accept equal temperament: It is easier to face a problem if we are prepared in advance and expect it. If you are one of those persons who is sensitive to pure intervals, here is what you are going to notice on an absolutely perfectly tuned guitar in equal temperament: Play an open E major chord. Listen to G# on the third string and you most likely will want to lower it very slightly. Don’t do it. Ignore it. Enjoy the overall beauty and resonance of chord just as does the pianist.

That troublesome second string: Play an open position A major chord. Listen to the C# on the second string and you may want to lower it slightly. Play a first position C chord and listen to the E on the first string and fourth string at 2. These tones are slightly higher than your ear would like.

Now play an open position G chord. Listen to B on the second string. Yes, it would sound a little better if lowered ever so slightly. Why not try it? Slack off the second string a couple of vibrations and notice what beautiful G chord results. Now play the C chord and with that lowered second string, and you are going to dislike the rough C and E a lot more than before. Take the open B, second string back up to equal temperament so that it will be equally acceptable on all forms. Learn to expect and accept the slight sharpness of the major third in each chord (and oppositely, the flatness of the minor third in each minor chord). Train your ear to accept tempered intervals and you will be much happier with your guitar.

PROCEDURE:
Tuning the 1st and 6th strings: The E, open 1st string, must be in pure unison with the harmonic of the E, 6th string at the fifth fret. When these two strings have been properly tuned with each other, continue as follows. Tuning the 4th string: Play a harmonic on the (in tune) 6th string at twelve, and as this harmonic sounds, adjust the 4th string until the tone E on the second fret is in pure unison. Now you have the E, open 1st string, 1st on the 4th string at two, and E, open 6th string tuned pure (permissible because they are octaves).

Tuning the 2nd string: Play a harmonic on the (in tune) 4th string at twelve. As this sounds, adjust the 2nd string until D at the third fret is in pure unison. As you have used two fretted tones for references and as the frets are positioned for tempered intervals, you now have the open 1st, 2nd ,4th and 6th strings in tempered tuning.

Tuning the 3rd string: As it is easier to adjust a string while listening to a continuous reference tone, you may first try the following: Play a harmonic on the (in tune) 4th string at twelve and as this sounds, adjust the 3rd string until D at the 7th fret is in pure unison.

Double check: Now make this check to see if you have been accurate or if the instrument plays tune when fretted at seven. Play a harmonic on the (now tuned) G string at twelve, and as this tone sounds, play G on the 1st string at three. The two tones should be in pure unison. If they are not, either you are at fault or the instrument doesn’t fret tune at seven. Go back to the beginning and carefully check each step up to this point. If the tones are still faulty, then readjust the 3rd string until the harmonic at twelve is in unison with the 1st at three. Do not tamper with the 1st and 4th strings because it is the 3rd string you are trying to bring in tune. When you have the 1st, 6th, 4th, 2nd and 3rd strings in tune, in that order, continue with the remaining 5th string.

Tuning the 5th string: Play the tone A on the (in tune) 3rd string, at the second fret. Listen to this pitch carefully and now adjust the 5th string until the harmonic at twelve is in pure unison. When the foregoing steps are followed correctly, the strings will be tuned perfectly to equal temperament. No further tuning adjustments are permissible.'


All of the above I have quoted is good stuff, and explains everything. Enjoy! :dude:
Good stuff. I was told as a youngster that I had perfect pitch hearing, sounds great, until you really become a musician, at times it is quite frustrating. I try hard to ignore unequal temperament, but it is a curse. I will look closer at the tuning/setup suggestions. Thanks again.
Cheers
 

NotScott

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I use Rutters compensated saddles on all of my Teles and haven't noticed this issue. At most, the G may end up 4 cents off from the D so I just set a happy medium and off I go. In my experience, any discrepancies that minor are akin to how you hold the guitar, fret hand position and pressure, etc...

One other thing to consider, are you sure your nut is cut properly? A poorly cut nut will exhibit the same symptoms, particularly the sharp G in first position chords.
 

ACEit

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once I saw a video where james taylor explanined how he tunes his guitars.... I remember that NO strings where spot on.... for every one he explained why he tune them just some cents flat or sharp
 

redking

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here it is..

I did a bit of research and the Peterson Strobostomp HD has a bunch of "sweetened" tunings including this acoustic tuning that James Taylor is demonstrating here and it allows you to create your own sweetened tunings with the app. At the time it came out a year or so ago, it was the only tuner that did this. Glad I looked into this today - gonna order one.

Snip20210122_2.png
 

HogmanA

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I often play small chord voicings on the higher strings, where the B string has to be a 1st, a 3rd, and a 5th in the same song.
I am a big believer in pure temperament intervals for stringed instruments (a shifting version of it).

I have my B string slightly flat so I can bend that string up to pitch as needed for each chord inversion. It is the same amount of detune at the 12th fret.

To my ear, a guitar (especially electric) is better in tune with itself than with being perfectly in tune with equal temperament.

So my G is not really an issue when the B makes it sound in tune with guitar.
 

HogmanA

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Also, the inharmonicity of the unwound g appears to be an issue from string sets 10's and upwards.
One reason I prefer 9's.
 

Michael Matyas

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I have a couple of cheapies that sound good but won't play in tune for the g-string. Even turning the saddle (or sometimes the whole bridge) around doesn't fix the problem. This is exacerbated by the fact that I use a very light third string (.014). My only recourse seems to be tuning the g-string flat.
 


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