Causes of Awful Tuning Stability?

Discussion in 'Beginners/FAQ' started by Matt794, Oct 9, 2018.

  1. Matt794

    Matt794 SS.org Regular

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    Hey dudes,

    I got a new guitar a few couple weeks ago and I've been having some serious tuning stability issues.

    It's an Ibanez FR6UCS, so it has Gotoh locking tuners, a GraphTech TUSQ Nut, and Tight End hard tail bridge. All that seems like a recipe for stable tuning to me, but the plain strings consistently will go really flat with bends or even a particularly saucy vibrato.

    This was a problem with the factory set up, but now that I put a manly set of 12-60 strings on in C standard, it's so much worse. It's basically on the verge of being unplayable, honestly.

    I've never really had a guitar that had tuning stability this bad, so I'm not really sure what could be causing it. I gave all the strings a good stretch and let them settle in for about a week now and still can't get away with any bends at all.

    This is also the first guitar I've had with locking tuners, and they seem pretty idiot proof, but it's possible there could be some user error on my end if that's not the case.

    I'm stumped, you guys got any suggestions?
     
  2. MaxOfMetal

    MaxOfMetal Likes trem wankery. Super Moderator

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    Make sure you're not getting excess friction at the nut. Just because it's a GraphTech doesn't mean it doesn't have to be properly cut for the specific string gauge you're using and cleaned/lubed occasionally.
     
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  3. Matt794

    Matt794 SS.org Regular

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    The thicker strings do fit in the nut, but they are pretty snug in there. That seems like a likely cause of the poor stability, but the strings from the factory didn't have this issue and they weren't staying in tune either.

    The factory setup on this guitar was really weird though, since it only had a 10-46 set on and was tuned to D standard.
     
  4. MaxOfMetal

    MaxOfMetal Likes trem wankery. Super Moderator

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    Forget the old setup. You want it in tune now.

    Run the strings through the nut, but don't apply downward pressure. You want to slightly widen the slots, not cut them deeper. Then run the tip of a pencil through the slots.

    Also, make sure all bolts and screws are tight.

    Any pics?
     
  5. Matt794

    Matt794 SS.org Regular

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    I sawed the nut slots wider with the wound strings like you described when I changed them, but I didn't bother to do it with plain steel stings. Does that method work with plain strings, or is there not enough friction?
     
  6. MaxOfMetal

    MaxOfMetal Likes trem wankery. Super Moderator

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    The Tusq material is soft enough that the plain steels should work it. You're only trying to get the strings less snug. You could use the thinnest wound string, but it's easy to go too far. Pull the string towards a side and apply a little pressure. Go at it for a minute or two and check it.

    The pencil graphite will help too.
     
  7. Matt794

    Matt794 SS.org Regular

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    The pencil lead does seem to be helping a little. Maybe this can hold me over until I decide to stop being lazy and just take this thing in for a proper setup.

    Thanks for the quick replies, I'm not sure if there much more I can do now since I don't have enough spare string to slide through the nut.
     
  8. prlgmnr

    prlgmnr ...that kind of idea

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    How do you stretch your strings?
     
  9. Soya

    Soya Poor person Contributor

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    Not to sound insulting, but do you tune up to pitch or tune down to pitch?
     
  10. gienek

    gienek SS.org Regular

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    Factory ibby nuts are always making problems. Really you should consider taking it to the good rep luthier, and try tunning immediately so you can complain about his work :lol: until you got precisly tunnable instrument :)
     
  11. Matt794

    Matt794 SS.org Regular

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    Before they are tuned to pitch I just pull them tight along the length of the string. Nothing too aggressive, I don't think. Once they're tuned up I'll usually hold full step bends at the 9th, 12th, and maybe the 17th fret for a few seconds.
     
  12. Matt794

    Matt794 SS.org Regular

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    I guess I'm ambivalent about it on most guitars if they don't have tuning issues. On finicky guitars I'll make the effort to tune up to pitch.

    I don't have that backwards, do I? I've been known to be a righty-loosey, lefty tighty kind of guy from time to time...
     
  13. Matt794

    Matt794 SS.org Regular

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    It's a relief to hear that this isn't an isolated incident. I was starting to think my first prestige might be a lemon. My setup skills are garbage-tier, so it's probably a good call to take this bad boy in for some work anyway.
     
  14. MaxOfMetal

    MaxOfMetal Likes trem wankery. Super Moderator

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    The nut is meant to be cut and fit to the setup of the individual instrument and player's preference. They're not meant to be one-size-fits-all.

    That's why they ship with narrow slots, so a player, technician or luthier can widen them to the desired string gauge.

    Same with the height.
     
  15. Ordacleaphobia

    Ordacleaphobia Can only power chord

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    Yeah- and it sounds like the strings you switched to are considerably beefier. My money is on the nut, since the tight-end bridge has been bulletproof for me, and the tuners are, like you said, pretty idiot-proof. Sounds like the most likely culprit. I'd give all the tuner heads another go through just to make sure they're all nicely snug and screwed in, but smart money is on the nut.
     
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  16. Matt794

    Matt794 SS.org Regular

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    Alright, little update here boys.

    I took the beefy 12-60 set of since you guys were making a lot of sense; it was probably just too big of a jump in string size without getting the nut properly cut.

    I put a lightly less chunky 11-56 set on and it seems to be a good fit. I guess the 12-60s widened the nut enough for an intermediate set to fit well for now.

    Maybe a little too soon to call it but I think my tuning issues are more or less figured out. Just gotta take it in for some work if I want to use thicc stings. Fair enough.
     
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