12 Reasons Your Guitar Won’t Stay In Tune (And How To Fix It)

12 Reasons Your Guitar Won’t Stay In Tune

It can be immensely frustrating when your guitar won’t stay in tune and you’re not quite sure why. Here are 12 common causes of Your Guitar Won’t Stay In Tune of tuning problems as well as detailed guidance on how to fix each one.

12 Reasons Your Guitar Won’t Stay In Tune

1. The Climate

Both temperature and humidity will affect the tuning of a guitar.

High temperature and humidity levels will cause both the strings and the wooden components of your guitar to expand, meaning the tuning will go flat.

On the other hand, low temperature and humidity levels will cause the same components to contract, meaning the tuning will go sharp.

Assuming you’re playing in not-so-great climate conditions, you might find yourself having to tune your guitar won’t tune all the more frequently. However, it’s important to avoid extended openness to extreme degrees of temperature and humidity as they can seriously damage your instrument.

As a general rule, assuming the climate is not great for you, it’s not great for your guitar.

2. Old Strings

Whilst a guitar will generally solid better with age, the guitar won’t tune strings will undoubtedly strong more regrettable. At the point when your strings begin to reach the finish of their life, they become brittle and subsequently more difficult to fret.

As a result, fretted notes will often be solid sharp (particularly in the upper registers).

There is no set time to change your strings as it particularly relies upon how much you play. However, you should change them once they start to display the following conditions:

Dull sound and lack of sustain
Helpless tuning
Difficulty to fret
The grimy or dirty appearance
String breakages (it’s generally best to change the entire set once you break a string)

The longest-lasting brand of strings I’ve utilized is Elixir. Their .010-.046 set is my favorite for general electric guitar use, whilst their .012-.053 set is my favorite for acoustic. Why won’t my guitar stay in tune?

3. Not ‘Stretching In’ New Strings

Many guitarists don’t realize the need to ‘stretch in’ a new set of strings. At the point when you restring a guitar, the strings will often stretch themselves out throughout the span of up to 14 days, which means they’ll go flat easily.

This issue can by bypassed by basically stretching the strings yourself. This is an aide en route to stretch in a new set of strings:

Tune the string to pitch
Place your index and center fingers underneath the string at the 12th fret and pull upwards
Retune the string to pitch (it almost certainly will have gone flat)
Repeat the cycle at the fifth fret
Continue to stretch the string until there is no noticeable tuning contrast after stretching
Repeat the entire cycle for the other strings

Assuming you’re even more a visual learner, here’s a great video tutorial from Sammy Bones on YouTube:

4. Not Wrapping Your Strings

Failing to wrap your guitar won’t tune strings when installing a new set will inevitably cause the tuning to slip. Wrapping your strings essentially retains the tension and ‘secures’ the string. This is an aide en route to wrap your strings:

Thread the string through the tuning stake
Circle the string around the machine head, feeding the string underneath itself

Crease the string over to secure it

Assuming that you’re even more a visual learner, here’s a great video tutorial from Kennis Russell on YouTube:

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5. Poor Intonation

On the off chance that the open strings are in tune, but your fretted notes sound out of tune, it’s almost certainly because of helpless intonation.

Intonation alludes to the accuracy of the tuning along the fretboard and should be checked regularly (at least once like clockwork). This is an aide while heading to appropriately intonate your guitar:

Tune an open string to the ideal pitch
Play a fretted note on the same string at the 12th fret
On the off chance that the fretted note is sharp, the scaffold saddle should be gotten away from the headstock. Assuming the fretted note is flat, the scaffold saddle should be moved towards the headstock. Adjust the extension saddle screw by half a turn
Repeat the interaction until there is no noticeable distinction in tuning between the open string and the fretted note
Repeat the entire interaction for the other strings

On the off chance that you’re all the more a visual learner, here’s a great video tutorial from LearnandMaster on YouTube:

6. Poor-Quality Machine Heads

Assuming that your new guitar strings won’t stay in tune is on the lower end of the value spectrum, there’s a decent chance the machine heads will be low quality. Low-quality machine heads fail to secure, meaning the tuning will slip easily.

This can easily be addressed by basically installing a more excellent set of machine heads. Assuming you’re playing a Fender-style guitar, Fender’s Locking Tuners are excellent.

Assuming that you’re playing a Gibson-style guitar, the Grover Accordion Accessory Series is my favorite and a standard feature on many Gibson guitars.

7. Issues With The Nut

Nut issues will make it hugely difficult to get your strings exactly in tune. Whilst tuning the guitar, it’ll often appear as though nothing is happening until you hear a ‘ping’ sound combined with the string jumping out of tune.

Additionally, nut issues will often cause your guitar to leave tune when you twist a note.

There are two primary reasons a nut can cause tuning issues:

The nut is cut too narrow: This pinches the string, which prevents it from moving openly.
The nut isn’t well-lubricated: This also prevents the string from moving openly.

Assuming you suspect that there’s an issue with the nut, utilize a pencil to lubricate the slots with graphite. Assuming that you’ve done this and the nut is still causing issues, it’s worth taking it to a luthier to get it scraped down.

8. Poor-Quality Electronic Tuner

All-too-many guitarists try to get by with the cheapest headstock tuner they can possibly find. Cheap tuners are often wildly inaccurate and generally struggle to perform in noisy environments.

It’s well worth investing in a good quality chromatic tuning pedal to maximize tuning accuracy. My favorite is the Korg PB01MINI (link to Amazon), which takes up minimal room and has a clearly-visible display.

9. Poor Capo Placement

Capos can often cause your new guitar strings won’t stay in tune to sound out of tune, which is most often because of helpless capo placement.

While placing a capo, you should aim to keep it completely vertical and guarantee the strings aren’t being pulled out of tune. Additionally, a few capos implement such a lot of tension on the strings that they cause the tuning to go sharp.

If so, I’d energetically suggest looking into a capo with tension adjustment, like the Planet Waves NS Tri-Action Capo (link to Amazon).

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10. Saddle Wobble

The bridge saddles of a guitar can occasionally come loose, which will inevitably cause tuning problems. Luckily, this can easily be fixed with a hex key. When adjusting the tightness of a saddle, you’ll want it to be ‘snug’ without being too tight.

11. Tremolo Arm Use

When the strings become slack during tremolo arm use, they can often change position in the nut, causing tuning issues. Luckily, this is often easily fixed by lubricating the nut with graphite as explained in the ‘Issues With The Nut’ section of this article.

12. Poor Technique

If you’ve tried everything this article has to offer and you still sound out of tune, it’s almost certainly down to your technique. The following technique issues can cause your guitar to sound out of tune:

Fretting with too much or too little tension
Unintentionally bending the string while fretting
Helpless bending technique

Related Questions

Do guitars leave tune? Yes, guitars (like any other instrument) will leave tune now and again. This is generally caused by fluctuating temperature/humidity levels or movement of the tuning stakes.
How long should a guitar stay in tune? A guitar should stay in tune for 2-5 days, given the instrument is set up correctly and of a decent standard.

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