I know it sounds silly, but it makes me crazy. Maybe it's my ear, or brain I've been suffering from this on all my guitars (Yamaha acoustic with D'Addario bronses) and others. I've thought it is because the guitar quality.

Recently I've bought a new Ibanez AM 95Left handed AM95

not a cheap instrument. I've set up it correctly, using my Fender amp's tuner, and double checked with Guitar Rig 5 tuner, so neck, bridge all set up perfectly, and the instrument in exact tune. I've not only checking the octave when setting up bridge, but checking one note below and above or more, I've checking all notes practically.

All in tune.

First I've equipped it with D'Addario Chromes, 10-45 flat wound jazz, then I changed the E to 11, then 12. Now I changed to Thomastik GB-112 with E 12.

My (paranoid?) problem that all notes on E (high) sounds like out of tune by itself. I thouhgt maybe it is an out tune harmonics coming from other strings, so I'am dumping the other strings, still the same...

When I check every note in the E string with any tuner it seems to be correctly tuned, below 1 cent. The strangest thing I feel the "false" out of tune thing picking a single note (every note on the string), but mainly above 5th fret.

Has anybody similar experience, or it is just me?

  • Can you clarify - you think they sound out of tune, but your tuner says they are in tune, right?
    – Doktor Mayhem
    May 30, 2015 at 12:43
  • Yes, and more. Tuner (every) says all note in string E are in tune, but I hear them out of tune. and more: I hear a discomfort when picking them even alone. May 31, 2015 at 13:39

2 Answers 2


"Out of tune with itself" is actually an indication of disharmonicity. Disharmonicity is an effect usually associated with thick strings, however. It comes about by the modes of the string (stable vibrations) not being proper multiples of the fundamental vibration. Usually this is due to different stiffness for different modes. But with a rather thin string like the one you have, it is more likely due to different effective string length. The effective string length becomes larger when the reflection of waves travelling along the string is not perfect at its end.

So my guess is that either nut or saddle fail in being a reliably rigid end point for the string, resulting in imperfect reflection (if you make a photograph of the plucked string with long exposure, the "envelope" of the string vibration needs to converge to a single point on nut and bridge).

Either that, or its "reverse error": you have come to expect a certain disharmonicity by being used to the sound of the thicker strings.

  • user20661: You nailed it. Thank you very much to took the time understood the point of my question, and also thx for the professional explanation. It could not be the nut, because the nut does not play when playing freted notes in 1th, 2nd etc. It also pretty improbable the bridge is so crappy in a new relatively expensive instrument. I've also remember I can hear this disharmonics all my instruments, so it's about me: I've put my fingers too close to the fret, almost on the fret, which results the exact same effect what you've described about the bridge/nut May 31, 2015 at 13:31
  • Further questions for user20661's answer: Q1: On 'thick' what do you mean: 0.08 vs 0.12 where .012 is thicker, or high E vs low E where low E is thicker? Q2: Is there any source in the net where I can read about this physics you explained in the net, especially instrument(guitar related? Thx May 31, 2015 at 13:36
  • Do you mean nodes rather than modes?
    – Tim
    May 31, 2015 at 13:51
  • Tim, it's modes. Please google for [modes string] it probably offers you "normal modes of a string" then instantly switch to images. May 31, 2015 at 20:53

Have you intonated the guitar properly, adjusting the saddles? Using harmonics on 12th and 19th frets? This would need checking and probably adjusting for a different gauge of strings. It sounds like you have done every fret using a tuner - not necessary. The other problem may be the action is high, causing the string to stretch when fretted, putting it out of tune.

  • It's unlikely on a 12-top, but there's also the remote possibility you're fretting too hard & pushing the note sharp.
    – Tetsujin
    May 30, 2015 at 10:33
  • @Tetsujin - what's unlikely, and what's a 12-top?
    – Tim
    May 30, 2015 at 10:56
  • 1
    12-gauge top E string - gets difficult to press hard enough to push it sharp. Would be easy on an 8.
    – Tetsujin
    May 30, 2015 at 10:58
  • Yes, agreed, I was thinking more of high action sharpening a properly fretted note, rather than one pushed sideways. I use 008s, so have to be careful!
    – Tim
    May 30, 2015 at 11:10
  • I actually meant squeezed hard into the fingerboard between the frets. When I first moved from bass to 6-string I would constantly squeeze everything sharp; took me a year or more to adjust.
    – Tetsujin
    May 30, 2015 at 11:57

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