So i'm pretty new to guitar. I have a problem with my guitar is out of tune when im fretting a string. I can tune every string exactly, but when i'm fretting it, it is out of tune. When i play the string normaly again, it is still in perfect tune. It is not all my string that is like that, but on the string with this problem, it is on every fret. Im no sure if i am an idiot or if there is something i can do about it.

  • 2
    Please consider posting a picture of you fretting a note.
    – Aaron
    Feb 10, 2022 at 19:58
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    this is probably an intonation issue. Possibly the action is too high. There are adjustments that can be done at home if it is e.g. an electric guitar with adjustable saddles. There are many posts about intonation (search "guitar intonation" in the music stack search bar above.
    – Yorik
    Feb 10, 2022 at 19:58
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    If you're very new to guitar, it's possible that you're pressing too hard to fret each note. If that's not the problem, the next likely issue is intonation, especially if it's just one string that you have the problem on! Check by comparing the 12th fret harmonic to the fretted 12th fret. If there's a difference in the two pitches, you need a setup. Feb 10, 2022 at 20:03
  • 3
    Is this a steel-string, nylon, acoustic or electric? The issue is going to be similar in cause, but the fix is going to be different.
    – Tetsujin
    Feb 10, 2022 at 20:14
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    We need a lot more detail about the guitar. With that, it'll probably be re-opened.
    – Tim
    Feb 11, 2022 at 11:56

2 Answers 2


This is a common challenge with beginning guitarists. From most likely to less likely:

  • you put your finger halfway between frets, instead of close to the blocking fret, requiring you to push harder
  • your finger unintentionally pulls the string sideways
  • your finger just pushes the string more than necessary
  • your guitar has a high action, because of poor build tolerances
  • your guitar needs to be adjusted (action and/or intonation)
  • your open string is actually also out of tune (within equal temperament tuning), but it is less noticeable in that particular chord or interval.

I guess what I am saying is: first examine your technique, before questioning the instrument. (Not all strings are equally sensitive to this stretching, which could explain why you only notice it on some).

  • "you put your finger halfway between frets, instead of close to the blocking fret, requiring you to push harder": geometrically, the farther the finger is from the midpoint between frets, the more stretched the string will be. Why would putting the finger near the midpoint require more force?
    – phoog
    Feb 11, 2022 at 7:06
  • Not sure, but I think because you need a lot less displacement when close to the fret. Feb 11, 2022 at 7:15
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    @phoog because it's the pressure on the fret that you play that counts, and placing your finger halfway between frets puts half of the pressure on nut-side fret where it is useless so you have to press harder. It is true that pressing at middle stretches the string more for the same force, but the idea is to stretch the string as little as possible so that the note doesn't go sharp.
    – ojs
    Feb 11, 2022 at 11:27
  • @ojs that can only be true if you don't push the string all the way down to the fingerboard. If the string touches the fingerboard then it will be stretched more when the finger is closer to one fret or the other.
    – phoog
    Feb 11, 2022 at 22:10
  • @phoog on the other hand you don't need to push the string to the fingerboard to play without buzz if you put your finger next to fret.
    – ojs
    Feb 11, 2022 at 22:24

Two basic reasons come to mind.

First to check is the guitar's intonation. That's checking whether the 12th fret is where it should be. Sounds daft, but the position of the bridge, or saddle, is exactly te same distance from the 12th fret as the 12th fret is from the nut. Sounds complex, as the 12th fret cannot be moved!

However, the bridge or saddle can be, and by comparing the 12th fret harmonic pitch to the 12th fret fretted note - which ought to be the same - the string can be what we call intonated.

Second - the guitar's action - the height the string is from the fretboard - may be way too high. This will show itself in the fretted note always being too sharp.That's due to the string needing to be pressed too hard, stretching it thus making it sound too high in pitch.Answer would bee to lower the bridge and/or change the curvature of the neck, by adjusting the trussrod.

A lot of the solutions need experience, so a trip to a luthier is advised unless you're brave, foolhardy or experienced.

Another simple, common problem most of us have is just that we press down too hard. Maye the strings are too heavy, causing this to be necessary, but often, we press them too hard anyway.Or bend them sideways while doing just that.

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