Photo credit: https://musicoomph.com
Do you find that you are forever returning your guitar? Checking the intonation in between songs, the fear of slipping pegs ruining the adrenaline rush of performing? There are a number of reasons why string instruments lose pitch, and you’ll be glad to hear that there are solutions for them all. Here are a few reasons why your guitar may be slipping out of tune; do any of these apply to you?
Are your strings to blame?
How old are those strings? How often do you play and for how long? If you practice and gig a lot then your strings are undergoing a lot of strain. Some strings last longer than others (steel strings could give you around 100 hours of playing time) but as a general rule, change the strings when you perceive a loss of bright tone in the sound you are making.
Use of a capo or a strap
A poorly positioned capo can adversely affect the pitch, pulling the strings and resulting in unwanted sharpness. Avoid this by positioning the capo directly onto the fret, as opposed to either side of it. Similarly, your guitar strap may be pressing down on the strings by the nut, increasing tension and making your playing sharp. This can be remedied by either adjusting the strap tie on the headstock or having a button fixing attached for the strap.
Tuning pegs can slip, making your strings flat. Check how well they hold the string tension by carrying out your usual tuning and then starting the process once more from the beginning. If the action of tuning the adjacent strings has caused some slippage then it would appear that your tuning pegs need some adjustment. Tightening the small screw within the peg should help, but if in any doubt, take your guitar to a reputable luthier for assistance.
The general set up of your instrument
You wouldn’t just drive your car for months on end without considering a service, would you? So a regular check up with your luthier is a must. They can check the position of the strings across the nut, adjusting the angle to make sure the strings are not being subjected to too much tension. Adjustments to the truss rod and bridge can make a big difference to how easily your guitar plays, getting rid of unwanted tension or slack of the string against the fretboard and any unrequested slippage in your tuning!
Shake, rattle and roll
Got to the gig and feel like your taxi hit every speed bump like it was in a car chase? It probably hasn’t done your guitar any good either! Investing in a very good protective case will help keep your prized possession safe and will save you a lot of money in the long run as you avoid broken strings and costly repair work. Our Urban Guitar Bags are specially designed for the travelling musician, keeping your guitar safe and protected from taxi to tour bus to the venue.
We’re already being told that this could be the hottest July on record and it is very likely that your guitar could be suffering a little in these high temperatures. Exposure to heat will cause your strings to expand, rendering them flat and at too loose to play. Fluctuations in temperature can adversely affect the wood and joints of your instrument and, in very severe cases, can cause warping and cracking. Dedicated humidifiers are available for string instruments but you can also do a lot to stop any potential damage before it begins. Avoid leaving your instrument exposed to extremely hot and humid environments (the boot of your car, or in a hot basement, for example).
Keep your guitar protected with a cover that will help to maintain a steady temperature as well as protecting the instrument from bumps and knocks. Choose a case like the Fusion Urban series that combine padded, water-resistant material with a lightweight design; protecting your instrument and making light work of hot sticky journeys. All Fusion F1 and Premium gig bags feature an Air-Flow system that allows you to transport your instrument in cool comfort by retaining an air space between your back and the instrument.
Just a few suggestions to help you and your guitar stay cool and pitch-perfect all summer long.