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Two Keys to Tuning Stability

Guitar Setup

Tuning Stability.... How?

You may wonder.... How can one player bend and stretch and use a tremolo and somehow stay in tune, and I can't keep my guitar in tune for more than a few minutes. You may fight with tuning to the point of cursing tremolos forever and "blocking" them as many people do. You may want to resort to locking nuts and other extreme measures to stay in tune. Even if you don't use a tremolo, you may still fight with tuning.... There IS a way to win the fight. Lets look at two huge factors in tuning stability.


The main goal with tuning stability is that the string returns to pitch when released. Remember that when you bend a note, or use a tremolo (the same thing really) that you stretch the string away from pitch and it slides toward the bend point from both ends. [caption id="attachment_133" align="alignright" width="106"]Brass nuts can be tricky because of Burs and edges Brass nuts can be tricky because of Burs and edges[/caption]   It slides on the string trees if used, the nut, and the bridge saddles, as well as any other point where it makes contact. The entire length of the string from the tuning key to the ball end can stretch  and slide across each contact point. If it catches or "grips" any one of these points, it doesn't return to pitch and you are out of tune. It really is that simple. The most important part of this equation could be the nut. The type of material, Bone, Tusq, Plastic, or Brass all behave differently. [caption id="attachment_134" align="alignright" width="99"]Tusq is slick and works great with a trem Tusq is slick and works great with a trem[/caption] The type of string trees that you use (should you elect to use them) also play a part. Finally, The fulcrum points in your tremolo also need to be free of friction.


When we put strings on our guitars, they always stretch a bit. This can be compounded if they are not wrapped around the tuning keys properly. Watch the bonus footage at the end of the video below for some tips on stringing and stretching your guitar strings. [caption id="attachment_135" align="alignright" width="95"]IMG_0501 Staggered posts[/caption] Tuning stability should be attainable for just about every guitar. Just remember the goal. The string is always moving, and you want it to return to pitch when released. Even with a tremolo, you should be able to just give it a wiggle, and if the friction points move well, and the setup is correct, it will return to pitch. If you already blocked your trem.... give it a go.

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