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Whenever I change the strings on my electric guitar, in no more than 2 weeks, this happens:

From about the 11th/12th fret onwards, the E and B (and sometimes G) strings sound noticeably lower, in pitch, than the true notes. (In other words, I have to bend up a significant amount - and this amount seems to increase as I go up the fretboard - to reach the intended note of a fret.)

I've heard this is called 'fretting out'.

Why does this happen and how can I prevent it?

It happens on even the 'best' strings which I've tried a couple of times.

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    More info would help, lower can mean different things, in volume? Pitch? Is it just the 12th fret or 12 and above? Is it when playing a regular note or bending or both? Commented May 24, 2020 at 16:58
  • @JohnBelzaguy I've added more details.
    – Dhruv Erry
    Commented May 24, 2020 at 17:46
  • Are you sure this has anything to do with the strings at all? The description of the problem reads like the instrument's intonation is just not right, which is nothing unusual. But then it would be the same with brand new strings as well. Commented May 24, 2020 at 18:07
  • @leftaroundabout my last paragraph pretty much implies that I infer it does not have much to do with the strings. Although, a point to note is that brand new strings do not exhibit this issue. But could you elaborate on your point about intonation?
    – Dhruv Erry
    Commented May 24, 2020 at 18:10
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    What is confusing is that you say it happens in no more than 2 weeks, doesn’t it happen from the beginning? Commented May 24, 2020 at 18:39

2 Answers 2

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If the truss rod is loose, or defective in some way, with the passage of time the neck may slightly bend and affect the intonation. That might be difficult to check properly, unless the truss rod is just loose, in which case you can try tightening it a bit, and see if it stabilizes things.

The other thing of course is to check the octave intonation, comparing the first harmonic (above the 12th fret) with the note at the 12th fret itself. Adjust the saddles so they are in tune. If that is done properly, and the tuning changes from one day to the next, I'd say that the most likely cause is a problem with the neck.

One more thought: does your guitar have a tremolo? if it does, you might also want to look into that -- if it's too loose and easy to move, it may also affect the intonation.

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Your question has an intrinsic contradiction or inconsistency.

You state that this happens every time you change strings after about 2 weeks. So, when does it go away? When does it "correct" itself? Presumably if the guitar keeps going out of tune at the 11th and 12th fret it must have been in tune at some point for you to make the comparison. One of a few things must be happening. Either (1) it never went back in tune and keeps slipping a little every time you change strings, (2) The problem is corrected with each new set but only lasts for a couple weeks, or (3) you did something to "correct" the problem each time you changed string but are unaware of what you did.

A couple things could be happening. It could be a truss rod adjustment is needed, another possibility is the individual bridge pieces on a tune-o-matic bridge or Floyd Rose could have slipped out of place. This has happened to me once on my Gibson 335. I hadn't had it set up for several years and a couple of the tuners slipped all the way back in the bridge, providing no relief. The 12th fret note was not matching the 12th fret harmonic. In reality it could be a combination of several issues. If the action is too high you will bend notes slightly out of tune when you fret them, but that would be sharp and not flat. Bending them would not help in this case.

You haven't really provided enough info to completely diagnose the problem so all we can do is speculate. Even if you posted pics of the guitar and listed the bridge type, etc. one would probably need to play the instrument or look at it closely to be sure of the diagnosis. It does sound strange that the problem is always fixed with new strings and comes back after 2 weeks. Perhaps someone here has experienced that too or can logically determine the likely cause. You may have to take it into a guitar ship or luthier to have it professionally adjusted.

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