13

I am learning guitar as a beginner and a few days back I bought an f-hole acoustic guitar (steel strings). And every day when I sit down to play it, the guitar tuner says that it is out of tune, slightly. So I have to tune it back.

Is it normal or something is wrong with the guitar for which I must go to the shop and ask for some replacement?

B.T.W., I use the Yousician app to tune my guitar.

EDIT: As was asked in the comments, I keep my guitar in a guitar bag and it stays near my bed. I don't know about the weather going cool, it's spring here, right now. And in the morning, sunlight comes through the window pane and falls on the bag (Not scorching heat!). And as I have already said, the tuning changes only slightly and that too, in between stopping play on one night and then playing it the next night. It takes nearly a day to go untuned slightly. Also I haven't taken it outside my home, since the day I bought it.

  • 3
    This is why we have tuners. Most instruments that aren't fixed tuning (e.g., pianos, harmonicas, accordion) have to be tuned, at least a little bit, every time you play them. If you think about it, the musicians in a orchestra are tuning again for probably the tenth time that day, right before they start a concert, and then again at the end of intermission! And rock stars tune between songs in a single show (or have their roadies do it while they just switch out for a just-tuned guitar). – Todd Wilcox Mar 16 '17 at 12:21
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    Because "The perversity of the universe tends toward a maximum" – Carl Witthoft Mar 16 '17 at 12:36
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    The relative tuning of the strings may be acceptable (i.e. the guitar sounds "in tune" when you play it) even if the absolute pitch changes slightly because of changes in temperature, humidity, etc. A tuner is measuring the absolute pitch, of course. As a beginner, you might not have learned yet how to "trust your ears" rather than always use the tuner! – user19146 Mar 16 '17 at 13:48
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    It's worse for instruments that have floating bridges on flexible materials - as a player of guitar and banjo, I'm tuning my banjo so often it reminds me of an old joke - "Banjo players spend half their lives tuning, and the other half playing out of tune!" – Matt Jones Mar 16 '17 at 14:39
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    Guitar players spend about half their time tuning their instruments and the other half playing out of tune. – David Schwartz Mar 16 '17 at 21:48
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If it's a brand new guitar, it's likely that the strings on it are new as well.

New guitar strings have a certain amount of stretchiness that can cause them to become flat (e.g. go down in tuned pitch) over time. When I change strings on my guitars I usually manually stretch them to try and remove this stretchiness. Have a look at this question for some more information on this.

If the strings are not the issue then it may be something with the hardware, so taking it to a luthier to have it set up correctly would possibly alleviate the problem.

You probably don't need a replacement - most new guitars don't come out of the factory set up properly (even expensive ones - my Gibson was very poorly set up when I bought it brand new!).

Guitars go out of tune on their own anyway - changes in humidity, temperature etc can influence this, but normally it's not a great amount on a day to day basis.

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    Just as an aside on terminology- technically speaking, new guitar strings don't go flat because of elasticity, but because they stretch. Elasticity is the relative lack of hysteresis, or internal friction: the more elastic a material is, the less energy is lost in the form of heat when it is bent and released. Steel strings are more elastic than nylon, as strange as that may sound. In general, the more elastic materials also stretch less- thus steel strings stretch out and settle down faster than nylon strings. – Scott Wallace Mar 16 '17 at 14:21
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    @ScottWallace good point - I've replaced elasticity with stretchiness! – Matt Jones Mar 16 '17 at 14:25
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    The engineering term for what is going on in the strings is "creep" – Tristan Mar 16 '17 at 16:22
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    @Tristan- yep, thanks. Creep is something you have to deal with in wood too: I sometimes find wood that seems fine for bows, but it's got too much creep, so it doesn't keep its curve. It's creepy. – Scott Wallace Mar 17 '17 at 13:56
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    @spiffytech this link has some good information on what a set up is, and this Music SE question has some specifics for electric guitar. If you want more specific info, it would make a good question on Music SE. – Matt Jones Mar 17 '17 at 18:59
11

In short: yes, this is totally normal!

German saying: “Der Gitarrist stimmt immer und die Gitarre nie” (the guitarist tunes always and the guitar never, meaning the guitar is never in tune).

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    I've only heard that for the lute and the harp. Guitarists have it relatively easy in this regard in comparison. – Scott Wallace Mar 16 '17 at 14:24
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    I've heard it as a joke about mandolinists: "A mandolin player spends half the time tuning, and the other half playing out of tune." – Joshua Taylor Mar 16 '17 at 14:50
  • @JoshuaTaylor I've heard that exact same joke, just about banjo players ;) – Matt Jones Mar 16 '17 at 17:33
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    To clarify the play on words, the implicit stimmt in “und die Gitarre (stimmt) nie” means “is correct”, which is the more common sense of the verb stimmen. – PJTraill Mar 16 '17 at 21:47
  • @PJTraill- Yep. Gut erklärt. – Scott Wallace Mar 17 '17 at 13:58
4

This could be new strings settling in. It could be change in temperature overnight, or even leaving the guitar near a radiator. It could be your tuning technique. Some say you should tune over the note then drop down to the right pitch. Others that you should tune under, then stretch the string, then tune up to the right pitch. See which one suits your instrument. But it's generally agreed you shouldn't JUST tune up to the pitch.

Did you put the strings on? There's a technique for this too.

The shop you bought it from should be happy to give some free advice. Does it stay in tune when HE tunes it?

If the guitar stays in tune throughout a playing session, I wouldn't worry too much if it slips a little overnight. But having said that, I recently picked up a guitar that hadn't been touched since its owner died several years ago (a reasonably long and very distinguished life, thanks for asking). It was perfectly in tune!

1

Have you read your guitar tutorial book, or followed your tutorial app properly from step 1? The first step in every guitar tutorial should say "Strings always go out of tune, so use a tuner to retune every time before playing", and every guitar tutorial I've seen has said that before they tell you how to make a chord.

If yours doesn't, find another one. Any tutorial that doesn't tell you about tuning is so fundamentally flawed that you cannot trust it to be right about anything else.

If you're not working from a proper tutorial, get one and follow it. Youtube is great for showing you how to position your hands and stuff like that, but it's almost entirely amateurs putting up stuff they think might be handy. It's a good resource, but it's not at all an alternative to a properly-thought-out tutorial by someone with genuine teaching experience.

And if you're asking this because you thought you could skip over steps in your tutorial - RTFM! All of the FM, in order, without skipping bits!

  • I have a bass guitar primer by Carol Kaye which recommends tuning should be checked regularly, 'at least once a week'! And we've heard the stories of how, in the 60s when 'groups' became popular, guitarists would queue up at the Denmark Street music shops on Saturday afternoons to pay a small fee and have their guitars tuned for that night's gig. – Laurence Payne Mar 16 '17 at 15:02
  • @LaurencePayne Yeah, I've run across a few 60s guitar tutorials in second-hand book shops. There's some "interesting" methods in them. :) – Graham Mar 16 '17 at 15:27
  • "Strings always go out of tune, so use a tuner to retune every time before playing" doesn't mean "you have to tune your guitar every day". My guitar (which is fairly inexpensive) requires only minor corrections to be in tune before playing. Any correctly set up guitar should be the same. – el.pescado Mar 17 '17 at 8:12
  • @el.pescado True - but it does require those minor corrections, or at the very least for you to check it. Note that the OP says his tuner program tells him the guitar is out of tune, not that he (as a beginner) can hear it himself. You and I probably could hear it, of course. – Graham Mar 17 '17 at 11:28
1

This could be due to a variety of things, including:

  • strings needing to be stretched, or seated firmly in the various areas that they are in physical contact with.
  • components on the guitar itself needing to become firmly seated (loose neck bolts, bridge, tuners, nut, etc.)
  • quality of the instrument

The last is the one that I would most want to focus on. If you have a very inexpensive, old or poorly cared for guitar it is likely that one of the many potential issues that plague instruments like that is causing the problem. While it is true that many guitars do require some tuning on a daily basis, it should be entirely unnoticeable to an untrained ear and barely detectable by a mobile phone tuner (the quality of which is mediocre at best).

My advice would be to take it to a luthier and explain the problem and see if they can determine what the issue is, and ask for and be prepared for an honest answer.

0

All thing, even steel, under stress will strain (stretch). Most of it is elastic strain and but some of it is inelastic and permanently stretches the steel. Over time this strain hardens the steel and less stretching should occur. The hardening also brings the steel closer to its maximum stress eventually causing it to break.

0

When tuning an acoustic guitar, I do not tune the open strings. I instead tune the Octaves. Since most acoustic guitars do not have intonation adjustment, yet are susceptible to minor warping, I have found you can tune your acoustic, yet your octaves may be slightly off. But if you tune your octaves, if your guitar is slightly out of intonation, this will at least average the difference. Another alternative (besides tuning using harmonics) is to find the A note on all your strings and tune all strings to A. Now you are ensured that everything is relative to 440 hz.

A Guitar, regardless of age or price is constructed of physical materials. Various materials expand or contract at different temperatures, moisture levels, atmospheric pressures, phases of the moon, etc.,etc. You can tune your guitar, throw it in the case, go to a gig, whip it out and within minutes watch it slowly go out of tune simply because you are now in a hot, moist, smoky room under intense lights. Instead of a dry, air conditioned apartment.

As a guitarist, you should be aware of your tuning at all times. If you like to pitch bend a lot, you will stretch your strings a bit and should be able to compensate. Watch Jimi Hendrix tune by ear in mid note without missing a beat. Pure genius!

There is a direct ratio between your level of education and how long it takes you to tune up. Paul Simon, a college grad in music can tune a guitar by ear in 8 seconds. You can circumvent this by taking a course in perfect pitch ear training. Yes, perfect pitch can be learned. Just like speed reading. You just have to have that inner desire to be the best of the best and apply yourself 100% to mastering your instrument ;)

Ironically, 99.9% of all guitars are not technically accurate to a tempered scale in the first place! You wanna have you mind blown? If you are interested in accurate pitch, look into True Temperament Guitars: http://www.truetemperament.com/

0

Heat and especially humidity affect the wood of an instrument, causing it to shrink or expand, so the strings go out of tune. This is particularly noticeable on a mandolin, but it happens on [acoustic] guitars too. Corollary: do not leave your instrument in the sun, or in the trunk of a car.

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There Might be a Problem with your Bridge adjust that and it will help otherwise keep it in sunlight with the wall at approx 45 degrees neck facing inwards

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    AFAIK, acoustic guitars has fixed bridges. Also, leaving a guitar in direct sunlight is a really bad idea. Sorry to say, but this not useful at all and deserves my downvote – rock-on Mar 17 '17 at 9:32
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    An archtop guitar, which is probably what is meant by an 'f hole guitar' typically has a moveable bridge. But a badly positioned bridge won't cause tuning instability, and the sunlight/wall stuff is just gobbledegook. So another downvote I'm afraid! – Laurence Payne Mar 17 '17 at 12:16

protected by Dom Mar 17 '17 at 17:15

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