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My guitar goes...sharp?

Discussion in 'Tele-Technical' started by Parma_TeleMon, Jun 28, 2011.

  1. Parma_TeleMon

    Parma_TeleMon Friend of Leo's

    Feb 5, 2009
    Columbia, MD
    My 2001 Thinline is suddenly starting to go sharp on the bass strings when I play it. The treble strings tend to go flat a bit under heavy bending - that's normal. But it's having trouble holding tune when I play it for even 10 minutes. Checked the bridge intonation and it's dead on (Wilkenson compensated saddles).

    Could it be a neck stability issue? If so, how do I fix it?
     
  2. KenH

    KenH Tele-Holic

    604
    Jun 30, 2010
    Pennsylvania
    Sounds like the nut is too tight. It can pinch the strings when tuning and the tension on the back side of the nut gradually pulls the strings through.
     
    Ricky D. and chezdeluxe like this.
  3. jbmando

    jbmando Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

    Going sharp is usually a temperature issue, or a nut issue. It can be a nut issue if you have a tremolo on it because as you push down on the whammy, the nut grabs the string higher toward the bridge because the spot which was in the nut moves toward the tuning peg, and then it stays high when you release the whammy. Have you recently changed string gauges? Maybe the nut slots are too shallow and the intonation, while dead on at the 12th fret it could be sharp in the first five frets. This is what I'd check first. I also agree with what Ken said. Run the strings through the slots to "file" them out a little.
     
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2011
  4. ByronClock

    ByronClock TDPRI Member

    29
    Dec 9, 2010
    Los Angeles CA, USA
    It could be a neck stability issue...
    If the neck is pivoting towards the treble strings, i.e. the headstock is moving towards the floor in relation to the ideal center line, it would produce exactly what you describe, a sharpening of the bass strings and a flattening of the treble strings.
    You should be able to test this by attempting to shift the neck in the pocket.
    * Hold the guitar as you would when you are experiencing the issue
    * with one hand firmly grasp the upper bout of the guitar body
    * with the other hand grab the neck firmly and attempt to get it to pivot towards the floor (gently of course, if you are having a neck joint stability issue it shouldnt require a lot of force).

    If the neck does pivot, it will cause the exact detuning issue you described.

    If this is the source of your issue, you want to take a look at your neck screws, if they are loose the fix is likely just to tighten them (don't overtighten though, stop when the screw stops tightening easily).
    If the screws don't seem loose, you might want to remove the neck and examine the mounting holes in the body, if they are tight enough that the screw threads are biting into the wood of the body, this can cause issues with getting a good tight joint in some cases.
    If they are too big, they can allow too much play in the neck even with well-tightened screws.
    The body holes should be the same diameter as the threads of the neck screws so that the screws pass through the wood w/out actually screwing in to it, but do not have enough room to shift side to side.

    If the mounting holes in the body look good (slightly too tight is better than slightly too wide IMO but YMMV), then you may want to try shimming the side (if the neck can only go south of dead-straight) or sides (if the neck can be shifted both north and south of dead-straight) of the neck pocket to prevent movement.
     
  5. jefrs

    jefrs Doctor of Teleocity

    Nov 20, 2007
    Newbury, England
    No that is not normal.
    Apart from minor tweaks, my teles stay in tune for weeks, they do not go out of tune whilst playing, and I bend vigorously.

    Yours has suddenly started doing this. So -

    Have you changed strings? - Unless you have changed to a much heavier gauge then I do not immediately suspect the nut. The nut /is/ the usual suspect.

    Are you wrapping the strings flat and evenly onto the tuners? - a large untidy bunched-up mess can compress and relax and mess up the tuning. It is not the tuners, all Fender stock tuners are good, even the cheap ones.

    Try the "thump" to re-seat the neck.
    With the strings on at concert, loosen the neck screws a turn or so.
    Now drop the guitar on its bottom button onto the carpet from about 6-in.
    Now firmly tighten the neck screws.
     
  6. Colt W. Knight

    Colt W. Knight Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Jan 21, 2007
    Tucson, AZ
    Just as something quick and dirty to try, lubricate the nut slots and see if that helps.
     
  7. Joe-Bob

    Joe-Bob Doctor of Teleocity

    Sep 6, 2004
    Dallas, Texas
    Yes, I think you should lube the nut if nothing else is different. If you changed string brands, change back.
     
  8. Parma_TeleMon

    Parma_TeleMon Friend of Leo's

    Feb 5, 2009
    Columbia, MD
    Good advice all!

    Yes, I recently went back to .011 ga. strings from the 10s I've been playing. But I didn't remember having that issue before.

    I was wondering about nut lube. I think I remember people using Chapstik?
     
  9. Parma_TeleMon

    Parma_TeleMon Friend of Leo's

    Feb 5, 2009
    Columbia, MD
    :eek::eek::eek:

    Wow! That sounds kind of extreme! Also sounds like it might work! I'll give that a, uh, shot, too.
     
  10. ByronClock

    ByronClock TDPRI Member

    29
    Dec 9, 2010
    Los Angeles CA, USA
    Re: lubing the nut slots.
    You might want to try a little graphite (pencil lead) rather than something oily/greasy like chapstick. It will last longer, and if you get a little on your playing hand, it wont be as noticable/hard to get off.
     
  11. jefrs

    jefrs Doctor of Teleocity

    Nov 20, 2007
    Newbury, England
    Try cleaning the nut slots with your toothbrush before you go lubricating them.

    Bone is actually self-lubricating.
    Graphite pencil for plastic/graphite nuts.
    Vaseline (petroleum jelly) or silicone for other plastic nuts incl Tusq
     
  12. cugir321

    cugir321 TDPRI Member

    5
    Sep 23, 2015
    florida
    I spent years trying to get a kahler trem I put on a guild S60 to stay in tune. Finally got it.
    These are the critical things. Nut slots. You can use 500 grit paper and ride it along the sides of the slots. Then hit it with 800 or 1000 grit. Use nut sauce in the nut slots. You can make your own with lead pencil powder and Hoopes #9 (from walmart in the gun section). If you bend a lot get tremelo reinforced strings. It's amazing how cheap strings will come unwound at the ball end. D'Adarrio makes them. They are called tremelo reinforced strings. GHS makes them too...can't get them in the store....order online.
    The nut sauce should solve most of it if the guitar played in tune at one time. (The slots are wide enough if it was good). Get some good strings before you do anything. Elixirs are supposed to be reinforced too.
     
  13. The Ballzz

    The Ballzz Tele-Afflicted

    Age:
    63
    Apr 11, 2016
    Las Vegas, NV
    Take each string out of it's nut slot, rub a pencil back & forth across the slot to fill it with graphite dust, gently replace the string into it's slot and repeat with all other strings! Let us know if this helps?

    Also, it's not unusual that the slightly smaller strings wore the nut slots a tiny bit deeper "and" narrower, helping to create a small amount of binding/pinching when going back to the fatter strings!

    Just My $.02,
    Gene
     
  14. Vizcaster

    Vizcaster Friend of Leo's

    Sep 15, 2007
    Glen Head, NY
    I think the OP probably got things sorted out somewhere in the last seven years.
     
    chezdeluxe likes this.
  15. The Ballzz

    The Ballzz Tele-Afflicted

    Age:
    63
    Apr 11, 2016
    Las Vegas, NV
  16. TRexF16

    TRexF16 Friend of Leo's

    Apr 4, 2011
    Tucson
    No doubt about the seven years part...
    But, I have been playing around this weekend with several guitars I have not played in a while, and we are at the end of our rainy season in south Arizona. Interestingly, on every one of them, the low E string (lowest wound string) and the G string (lowest plain string) were both sharp, and all the other strings were more or less right. This was on probably 6 different guitars. Interesting and reminded me of this old post that was just resurrected.

    That's all.
    Rex
     
  17. lammie200

    lammie200 Tele-Afflicted

    Jan 11, 2013
    San Francisco
    Put a compensated nut on it. You might like it.
     
  18. charlie chitlin

    charlie chitlin Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

    Age:
    57
    Mar 17, 2003
    Spring City, Pa
    No reason to drop the guitar.
    There is plenty of string tension to draw the neck into the pocket.
    And 1/2 turn is plenty.
    You don't want the screws to get pulled to an angle.
     
  19. charlie chitlin

    charlie chitlin Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

    Age:
    57
    Mar 17, 2003
    Spring City, Pa
    And...99% of these problems are the nut.
    Or the guitar going to a warmer environment.
    I don't gig archtops all winter because of this.
     
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