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Thread: Guitar tuning going down on stage... why?

  1. #1

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    Unhappy Guitar tuning going down on stage... why?

    I play in a rock band in small pubs. I've played the two last gigs with my Majesty, but it's a pattern I've noticed with all my guitars, of many different brands and models. It always happens.

    When I setup the guitar at home, it's perfectly in tune. Fine.

    As I go up in the stage, I check the tuning before the gig starts... all 6 strings are slightly lower in tune. I have to tune the guitar up.

    Then I come back home. When I plug the guitar, all 6 strings are higher... and I have to tune them down again. It's very annoying.

    What could possibly cause this? Anyone with enough stage experience could clarify the phenomenon?

  2. #2

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    Quote Originally Posted by Vadauco View Post
    I play in a rock band in small pubs. I've played the two last gigs with my Majesty, but it's a pattern I've noticed with all my guitars, of many different brands and models. It always happens.

    When I setup the guitar at home, it's perfectly in tune. Fine.

    As I go up in the stage, I check the tuning before the gig starts... all 6 strings are slightly lower in tune. I have to tune the guitar up.

    Then I come back home. When I plug the guitar, all 6 strings are higher... and I have to tune them down again. It's very annoying.

    What could possibly cause this? Anyone with enough stage experience could clarify the phenomenon?
    I don't have a lot of experience, but clubs are usually more stuffy with a lot more body heat around at least..and cigarette smoking.. so environment might be one factor. What kind of strings do you use? As far as Ernie Ball goes, I've had more consistent stability with RPS strings than any others (Paradigms also have RPS, but they're pricey, and I'm undecided on some other factors atm).

  3. #3

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    Every room is different. Different temps and different humidity levels. Happens with every guitar I use wherever I go. You have to adjust the tuning after the guitar climatizes to the room you are playing in.

  4. #4

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    Usually it depends on the room, the temperature etc.
    if you adjust the tuning it stays in tune more or less, there should be no problem
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  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by BrickGlass View Post
    Every room is different. Different temps and different humidity levels. Happens with every guitar I use wherever I go. You have to adjust the tuning after the guitar climatizes to the room you are playing in.
    Agreed; right now my guitars end up getting used heavily between my basement, two different practice spaces (different bands), and the venues we play. The conditions and tuning change constantly. When lesser used guitars hang on my wall long enough and the general temperature or humidity of the room has shifted enough in days/weeks and I pick them up they can be quite a bit off.

    This isn't just about the room; when I pick up a guitar and play it, it heats up enough due to my hands (general temp/friction) to change the tuning as well. This is more subtle but my tuning is something I'm always trying to keep as dead on as possible; I don't play super high gain but I play with enough that I can start to hear beat frequencies between strings (particularly octaves) if the tuning or intonation is just a little too out.

    I've found that what works best for shows is to have that acclimation time in the room for the instrument but also warm up and tune up before I go on. It will be really close to the temp my guitar will be at once I'm actually playing up there. I can't play well from a cold start anyway, so the warm up time is great.

    When I get up on stage, I do some intense stuff up and down the neck to get the temp built back up. Then I'm right where I want to be. But I still check the tuning after that (and every chance I reasonably get between songs) just to make sure I'm dead on. After being out of rhythm, the first thing the crowd is going to notice is bad tuning (assuming you're playing the right thing to begin with).

  6. #6

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    Last night I had my guitar tuned on stage but forgot a strap that was delivered outside so I went out with my guitar and back on stage, and the tuning was all off. That's what you get with wood and temperatures/humidity...

  7. #7

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    Am I imagining things with my comment earlier about RPS stability? It just seems like regular slinkys fluctuate more and take longer to "settle", even in normal environmental conditions (albeit subtly). Slinkys only seem stable to me once they're really broken in.. but at that point, they're a little more dull sounding. A floating bridge doesn't help either (as in, a tremolo set up to go flat or sharp.. I just like them to go flat personally). And if you have a flamed or birdseye neck, that's another factor. Not to say they're bad, but could be sensitive.

    I don't know.. there's all kinds of factors. Guitars are a funky instrument to be honest. Even the best made. But I love them.

  8. #8

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    Afaik, the RPS strings are just Slinkys, but reinforced at the ball end. There is no reason why they'd behave any differently.

    Personally, I notice the tuning issue when the temperature changes, regardless of guitar. I was playing an outdoor gig a few weeks ago and had to continually tune as the night got colder.

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by beej View Post
    Afaik, the RPS strings are just Slinkys, but reinforced at the ball end. There is no reason why they'd behave any differently.

    Personally, I notice the tuning issue when the temperature changes, regardless of guitar. I was playing an outdoor gig a few weeks ago and had to continually tune as the night got colder.
    I know, but I figured it still makes a difference even with light trem use.

    edit: I see that EB's main marketing point is less breakage in that area. OTOH D'addario have used the same idea in their own strings (but with soldering), but they market the reinforcement as better tuning stability for vintage trems. Which is what I was trying to get at.

    That said, I don't even know if the OP has a trem. Just throwing it out there.
    Last edited by KDude; 10-21-2019 at 03:37 PM.

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by KDude View Post
    That said, I don't even know if the OP has a trem. Just throwing it out there.
    Last weekend I noticed with the Majesty (which has a trem), but the phenomenon happened before with a Les Paul too.

    At this point, I believe the whole guitar moves in crazy ways with humidity/temperature changes. It would be immensely helpful to have a few tips from Maddi... if he ever reads this.

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by Vadauco View Post
    Last weekend I noticed with the Majesty (which has a trem), but the phenomenon happened before with a Les Paul too.

    At this point, I believe the whole guitar moves in crazy ways with humidity/temperature changes. It would be immensely helpful to have a few tips from Maddi... if he ever reads this.
    Yeah, more than likely the culprit is environment. Doesn't hurt to doublecheck all various moving parts though, just to eliminate that factor and only focus on environmental changes.

  12. #12

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    As mentioned Humidity and Temperature / I play at a very large Church and regardless of what the season is, or what the heating system is set at in the auditorium, we have the platform running the air conditioner system for us at all services, my guitar goes sharp not flat, due to the cold air that is running over them. I tune back up after I play 4 songs in a row, that how I adjust for it
    Last edited by click track; 10-23-2019 at 05:46 AM.

  13. #13

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    As I play usually with a keyboard player, whatever guitar I use, even Floyd Rose EBMMs, I check the tuning every three-four songs. That's the life of someone relying on wood to make music. *)

    *) Old Minimoogs also went out of tune after an hour of a gig or so, that meant prog band et rest had a creative two-five minute section in the middle where the keyboard tech re-tuned the analog synths.

  14. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by ksandvik View Post
    As I play usually with a keyboard player, whatever guitar I use, even Floyd Rose EBMMs, I check the tuning every three-four songs.
    Oh boy... playing with a keyboard in the band is very unforgiving!

  15. #15

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    Guitars are made of wood. Wood absorbs moisture. Moisture is in air. The guitar is going to fluctuate based on the environment its in. The tuners on the guitar are there for that purpose.. to tune because the adjustments. Truss rod too. Drums do the same...

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