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  • Guitar tuning issue

    Hi all,

    I’m hoping somebody on here might have a little experience with setting up guitars tuned below standard. I often tune to C# or drop B. My fifth to first strings tune and intonate fine. But the sixth string I just can’t seem to get right. When I pick the string the note will rise in pitch 40 cents and then fall 60 cents or so from there. I can even get the intonation to match with this swing and stretching out the string isn’t a huge help either. Does anyone know what could be causing this?


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  • #2
    Are you using a heavier string when tuned down? When tuned down really low, a lighter string will sag under the pull of the magnets in the pickups...
    aka Chris Pile, formerly of Six String Fever

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    • #3
      I usually use a 12-60 set for drop b, and it happens on guitars regardless if the pickups are active or passive. Actives should have less string pull...right? At least it is a point that EMG uses in their marketing. Would the blackouts be the same?


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      Last edited by Nsatke81; 02-10-2021, 12:22 AM.

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      • #4
        Not only the pull of the magnet, but the lighter string will be flubby when tuned low, allowing for more displacement of the string when you pick. When you pluck it, you increase string tension, that's why it goes sharp. If it's flat when settles, then I think it is tuned flat to begin with. To test this, try plucking it very lightly. If I am right, the lighter you pick, the less sharp it will go.Also, what about your scale length? Short scale will make things worse... A 60 gauge string tuned to B is about the max a 25.5 scale guitar will take without issues, at least in my experience. Not sure I would try it on a shorter scale. Anything lower than that I would increase the gauge for the 6th string or try it on baritone scale length. Maybe take a look at some 7 string sets and use the heaviest string for the 6th string on your guitar. That way you'll get the increased tension on your lowest and avoid going to 13s or 14s for the other 5 strings... I even recall some companies (Dunlop and Cleartone come to mind) making "drop tuned" sets with a heavier gauge for the lowest string

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        • #5
          Originally posted by nexion218 View Post
          Not only the pull of the magnet, but the lighter string will be flubby when tuned low, allowing for more displacement of the string when you pick. When you pluck it, you increase string tension, that's why it goes sharp. If it's flat when settles, then I think it is tuned flat to begin with. To test this, try plucking it very lightly. If I am right, the lighter you pick, the less sharp it will go.Also, what about your scale length? Short scale will make things worse... A 60 gauge string tuned to B is about the max a 25.5 scale guitar will take without issues, at least in my experience. Not sure I would try it on a shorter scale. Anything lower than that I would increase the gauge for the 6th string or try it on baritone scale length. Maybe take a look at some 7 string sets and use the heaviest string for the 6th string on your guitar. That way you'll get the increased tension on your lowest and avoid going to 13s or 14s for the other 5 strings... I even recall some companies (Dunlop and Cleartone come to mind) making "drop tuned" sets with a heavier gauge for the lowest string
          25.5 scale length on an old 98 jackson Kv-1 with a Kahler fixed bridge. The kv-1 currently has a set of black winters. It also happens on my 85 Rhoads with a Kahler pro which has a set of emtys.

          Both have 12-60 sets on them. I checked as you said and the lighter I play the less the string pulls sharp—Which confirms your theory. Other than playing lightly, is there a solution?



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          Last edited by Nsatke81; 02-10-2021, 09:38 AM.

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          • #6
            I guess you don't have a King V set up to C# to play lightly, so my limited knowledge tells me that a heavier 6th string it the way to go. Maybe a lighter pick, but I wouldn't expect as much of a change from that.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by nexion218 View Post
              I guess you don't have a King V set up to C# to play lightly, so my limited knowledge tells me that a heavier 6th string it the way to go. Maybe a lighter pick, but I wouldn't expect as much of a change from that.
              Yeah, when I play rhythm I tend to be heavy handed. So I’m gathering I need to perhaps slightly lower the pickup, and definitely use a heavier string?


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              • #8
                Yes. All it will cost you is a single heavier gauge string to find out.
                aka Chris Pile, formerly of Six String Fever

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                • #9
                  Yep increase that string tension one way or another.
                  Originally posted by crusty philtrum
                  Anyone who *sings* at me through their teeth deserves to have a bus drive through their face
                  http://www.youtube.com/alexiansounds

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                  • #10
                    So I had some 70s on hand but they don’t fit in the saddles of the jackson so I ordered a 64 66 and 68 from daddario


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                    • #11
                      A heavier string is your solution. Make sure it sits in the saddle and nut properly.
                      The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side.

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                      • #12
                        Hi all! Thanks for the advice. Turns out a 66 works best if I lower the pups a little. Stays very close to dead on accurate with a slight lowering of the pickup.

                        I can finally play in tune! Success!


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                        • #13
                          Glad to hear it.
                          aka Chris Pile, formerly of Six String Fever

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                          • #14

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                            • #15
                              Just to muddy the waters a bit, the B tuned pioneers, like Carcass, Trouble, Cannibal Corpse, etc... all used a .056, and often on Les Pauls. Part of that old school death metal sound is the tuning being a little wonky.
                              "Patience is key. Hard work is obligatory. And it’s the decisions you make right now, not the habits of the past, that will shape your success in the future." - Janek Gwizdala

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