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I decided to learn how to play the guitar so I bought one which arrived yesterday. At first it seemed okay although it did take a while to tune. However, it constantly sounds a bit off compared to what I'm hearing in the tutorials I'm listening to. I think the problem is the guitar strings aren't evenly spaced but I'm not sure if that is an actual issue:

guitar neck from mid sound hole up 10 frets guitar bridge

If that is in fact the problem, is there a way I can easily adjust the spacing?

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  • The A string is too close to the E string. A picture that includes the bridge would be helpful. Regardless of that it shouldn’t fundamentally affect the sound of the guitar. Also, your comment “it sounds a bit off” is very vague and impossible to draw a conclusion from, Jun 3 at 16:18
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    No need to apologize, just trying to get info to be more helpful. I’m providing an answer that I hope helps. Jun 3 at 17:04
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    All of the strings except the two Es look like they're coming off the bridge pins at angles. But I'm guessing there's also trouble at the nut end - if it was only a problem at the bridge, the bad angle would have been reduced by half at the 12th fret - but it looks like the strings are still parallel there.
    – Tom Serb
    Jun 3 at 18:35
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    I can order this from Amazon and have it delivered to my door in the USA, with tuner, strap, gig bag and stand, for $85us. A reviewer says the tuner is off, so once you’ve fixed the misaligned strings, it still won’t sound right. I’m not trying to be harsh, just honest; it appears you have purchased what my local luthier calls a “guitar shaped object.” If you can get a refund, send it back, then go to a local shop and get a musical instrument. You can probably get a much better made, used beginner guitar that someone else has traded in for an upgrade, for not a whole lot more money. Good luck!
    – wabisabied
    Jun 3 at 18:48
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    @ToggySmith I understand your budget, but this guitar will never inspire you to keep playing. You can easily find a much better made, used instrument for the same price. I’ve purchased decent beginner guitars, that play well and stay in tune, from classified ads for half that price. From a shop you’ll pay a bit more, but with some assurance they’ve inspected and repaired/setup the instrument, if needed. And you should be able to get support from a shop, post purchase, for questions like you’ve asked here..
    – wabisabied
    Jun 3 at 21:02
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It seems as if some of the strings are coming off the pins at a slight angle. Notice the two E’s and the G string are straight. By loosening the strings, pulling the pins and adjusting the strings to make sure they are coming straight off the pins that should correct the spacing issue. As for the sound, at this point you should be trying to curve your fingers and press close to the frets to get a pure tone and not interfere with the vibration of the adjacent strings. Guitars do sound different but two of the same type should not sound radically different. Good luck!

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  • I'd rather not have to go through that this early on but I guess the experience will only help me in the long run. I'll try to curve my fingers as well! Thank you very much! Jun 3 at 17:13
  • Also, it's not important but strings is misspelt. I can't edit it because I'd have to change more than 6 characters and other than that it's a perfect answer :) Jun 3 at 17:19
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    No, I meant to say stings, because sometimes it stings when you press a string, lol. Seriously though, it’s not a hard thing to fix, just completely loosen the strings (got it right this time!) and try and rotate the pin without removing it. If that doesn’t work pull it out and realign the string and pin. Make sure to push the pin all the way down after. Jun 3 at 17:23
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    Oh I see. It wasn't as much of a hassle as I thought it would be and I've managed to realign them all perfectly now. Thanks again! Jun 3 at 18:58
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    @ToggySmith - for a newbie, well done. Top tip, put a slight bend in the "ball end" of the string so that it moves away from the bridge pin when you insert it. They have a nasty habit of getting stuck on the inserted end of the pin and pinging loose and de-tuning under tension. I use side cutters to put a chamfer on the base of the bridge pin so the strings just slide off if they get stuck. see step 11 here guitarbitz.com/pages/how-to-restring-an-acoustic-guitar Jun 4 at 11:46
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Loosen off the A string enough so you can lift it off the bridge, and move it across so it's equidistant between the E and the D strings. Then re-tune it. Job done. Where it is should only affect the tuning infinitesimally.

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  • On an instrument that isn't valuable, I wouldn't bother loosening the tension. Chances are you can nudge the string over with a tool like, oh, a 1.5mm+ pick.
    – Kaz
    Jun 4 at 4:30
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The out of place string will be due to it sitting incorrectly on either the Nut (white plastic bit closest to the tuners) or the bridge saddle (the white part in the second photo you added). Hate to be the one to break it to you if you're not already aware, but this is a pretty cheap and low quality instrument so problems like this are not out of the ordinary at all.

This issue could be relatively easily fixed by loosening the affected string and adjusting its position, you may also consider using a needle file to adjust the groove where the string passes through the Nut or bridge Saddle to prevent this from reoccurring.

As for the perceived sound issues there are many reasons for this, none of which you need to worry about at this stage of your journey. One of these is likely to be the high quality of the instrument and recording equipment used to create the tracks your listening to when compared to the relatively cheap and cheerful beginners guitar you have purchased.

EVERYONE starts out on a cheap guitar, we've all been there!

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  • Nearly everyone! A student of mine started on a £9k Les Paul - his Dad said it was a better investment than, say, a painting...
    – Tim
    Jun 4 at 6:42
  • Not always true.....i started out on an east german made musima precision bass copy. It was awesomely good even though it was cheap. Harley Benton instruments are cheap and cheerful and very good quality for even the pricepoints above them). Jun 4 at 11:51
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    Yeah “cheap” doesn’t have to mean “useless,” and in this case I would hardly call it “cheerfuI”. If whoever made this thing can’t/won’t even string it correctly, and includes an incorrect (useless) tuner for the same, low, low price, it can hardly be considered a musical instrument. I hate that people get ripped off and discouraged with this cheap garbage.
    – wabisabied
    Jun 5 at 19:07
  • I still play cheap instruments (25 odd years playing now). I have a Squire Vintage Modified P-Bass that is as good a player (if not better!) than many, more expensive American made fenders! Jun 14 at 1:08

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