How risky is it to tune acoustics up a half-step?


Poster Extraordinaire
Sep 4, 2008
Hudson Valley, NY
You use 13s? A half step up using 12s should be less tension overall, not more. I wouldn't tune a nice guitar higher than normal while playing 13s.
But I would use a capo in your case, in fact I use a capo all the time. If you tune up 1/2 step, what will you do for the songs you want to sing in the original key?


Friend of Leo's
Jun 16, 2019
So snapped neck/lifted bridge-wise, how risky is it to tune your acoustics a half-step higher?

I think you'd be fine going up a Half-Step if you stuck to 12-53 lights - may need a truss rod adjustment

* BTW also, 80/20 strings identically gauged to phosphor bronze strings, offer a little less overall string tension than the PB strings. Just a little 'give' that you can feel

I agree that you should switch to 12’s or 11’s or even 10’s if you want to try.

With light strings I suspect the Sigma may survive (usually thick tops), but all bets are off on the D-15 - because I believe the braces are scalloped.

If you go with the half-step up path then you may want to consider Silk & Steel strings.

It will depend on how well your guitar is coping with the current set, but general rule of thumb for me would be to go a number down on an accoustic. If you plan to tune up: if your guitar is fine with 13s, go with 12s. Check the force difference, of your favourite sets. The manufacturer should have table similar to this one:

Additionally, you can also look at string tension calculators, to help you estimate the forces:
Haven't never tried tuning up a halfstep before, but I can see why you would want to. The open keys would become F, Bb, Eb, Ab and Db. And if it was easier to sing in those keys and your voice sounds better there, that would be the ticket. I like the suggestions by other posters about going down a string guage when tuning up and being careful with guitars with thin solid tops, lighter braces or scallop braced guitars. Even with the more delicate guitars though, if you look at the string makers string tension gauges and the guitar makers suggested string sizes you should be OK. After all numbers are numbers and 2+2 always equals 4. That said though, I am not a luthier or guitar tech nor do I even play one on television.


Mar 8, 2021
Uncommon opinion
It’s fine
It’ll be fine
Life’s short
Tune it up a semi tone and live dangerously!
I use a capo for stuff I can’t typically reach (convenience), but I agree… never had a problem tuning up.

I have guitars in open tunings, above E. I have one guitar tuned to F# so I can play a few Jackson Browne songs in A with G fingering and no capo. No issues there. Works well to just grab another guitar at the gig and keep going.

…guess I’ve never been real worried about it.