Is it really possible to “tune once and done?”

waynereed

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I'm 72. Been gigging since the mid 60's. I have dozens of guitars (even after recently selling 22 of them!). My rehearsal room is music only. I have 3 Strats, a Tele, and Ibanez, a 335, a PRS and a Variax JTV-69 in the room. I use all of them in a normal gig, and therefore, at rehearsals. I spend zero time tuning. Usually go at least 2 rehearsals without tuning anything. And even then it's a super small tweak. And for the record, I'm a serious string bender. It's common for me to do 2 step bends, and occasional 2 1/2 step bends. Plus almost all of my guitars have a trem system. The only one that doesn't is my B Bender Tele. If your guitar is set up perfectly, and maintained, (no sharp/worn edges, etc.) once you restring, and (properly) stretch the strings, and retune, that should be it until you change strings again . . . unless your guitar is subject to significant temperature changes. Temp change is NOT the guitar's fault if it goes out of tune.

I check tuning before a gig and almost never, ever have to tune during a gig.

Oh yeah, one more. I recently got a Strat/Partscaster on a trade deal. Not a USA Strat by a long shot. It stays in tune perfectly rehearsal to rehearsal. (Once I set it up correctly.)
 

Jaguar Blue 62

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A permanently in tune guitar isn't possible.. Staying almost in near perfect tune is possible for a while a week or a few days perhaps.. It all comes down to factors beyond our physical control.. Strings will stretch and become worn and dull sounding.. Wood is affected by humidity and temperature etc. etc.
 

Caffiend

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Depends on the guitar and the players’ expectations I think.

One of my two-point Strats stays in tune really well but extreme whammy abuse will eventually send it out. The other isn’t anything like as good but has the nut still cut as Fender shipped it, and being a Player there’s a limit to the quality of setup it’ll have had, being totally realistic. My Tele and stopbar PRS aren’t great either and need frequent tweaks. My old stopbar SG with 80’s Schallers was really good. My 80’s MIJ Squier Strat was pretty much the same as my current Tele.

I guess that some people probably won’t want to hear it round here, but both my RG550’s (one 89 one Genesis) with Edge locking trems will stay in tune and stable once strung snd stretched for the life of the strings. Some people clearly dislike double-locking trems and shred guitars but when built and setup correctly they can be far more stable than anything else. It’s also a thing that they place other requirements on your playing - although arguably any floating bridge will have the same issues with flatting in bends although generally Strats don’t return as well as double lock designs without assistance (lubes, tricks etc)
 

Monte Allums

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I see on various forums people mention tuning their guitar and it staying in tune for weeks or month. Comments like, “I just tune it once and never have to tune it again until I change the strings.” I’m thinking these people don’t have a Snark or tuner pedal to check, and they just think the guitar is in tune. I find that after every 4 or 5 songs, even if the guitar sounds ok, I’ll check the tuning with a Snark, and at least 1 usually 2 will need a slight adjustment. Is this tune-once-and-done a myth?

There are legions of players that have the exact opposite of perfect pitch. They are not in tune even when they think they are in tune. I've played and still play with many of them. Drives me nuts! It kills me, how a player will spend $4000 on a guitar and then use a $15 tuner to tune it.
 

Tweeker

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Is it really possible to “tune once and done?”
I see on various forums people mention tuning their guitar and it staying in tune for weeks or month.... Is this tune-once-and-done a myth?
I tuned my '69 Guild once (in '69) and it's still in tune.
 

teleshopper

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I can already tell by the responses that you won't believe me, but it CAN happen. Most of my guitars I tune at least once every playing session (e.g. my Tele, Strat, SG, Jagmaster, Taylor acoustic, etc.). Heck, my electric mandolin and my banjo need tuning sometimes three or four times.

But my Ibanez JS1200? That thing is MAGICAL. I bought it in 2009, put a new set of strings on it, stretched them out very well, and tuned it up. It has been my main gigging and rehearsing guitar ever since, and I kid you not, I have never changed the strings, and I have tuned it less than 10 times since 2009. And most of those times I just stuck a tuner on it just to make sure that it was still in tune, and without fail that thing is dead on. It has a locking nut and the Edge Pro tremolo (which I seldom use), and that sucker NEVER goes out of tune.

So believe me or not, and like I said, I'll tune my other guitars all the time (I use a Snark), but that particular JS1200 really is a "tune once and done" guitar.

I have an Ibanez bass that I can stick in the case for months and pull it out and it is still in perfect tune or I can play it every single week in and out of the case and rarely need to tune it (and yes, I have tuner on my pedal and a snark for that matter and always check before practices or sets start). I rarely have to tune it. It is magical like yours. Have had two other Ibanez basses and they both have done really really well also staying very close with very little adjustment needed. Most other basses still do better than guitars in my experience and stay close and even hold through a set, but rarely do they hold for days.
 

bottlenecker

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I see on various forums people mention tuning their guitar and it staying in tune for weeks or month. Comments like, “I just tune it once and never have to tune it again until I change the strings.” I’m thinking these people don’t have a Snark or tuner pedal to check, and they just think the guitar is in tune. I find that after every 4 or 5 songs, even if the guitar sounds ok, I’ll check the tuning with a Snark, and at least 1 usually 2 will need a slight adjustment. Is this tune-once-and-done a myth?

I can't imagine more than a day or two, but my guitars do stay in tune for a whole set when I gig. Over 5 hours with multiple sets some times, I almost never have to even adjust. I set them up to do this, it is the direct result of action I've taken. I used to think a guitar couldn't stay in tune more than 3 songs.
 

flynv

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I don't abuse my guitars. Almost all stay in tune even my amazing Strat floating bridge and all. The absolute best was my 73' LP Deluxe. Sit in the case for a year and pull it out in tune. My Ibanez flying V is that way. I guess I'm just lucky that way.
 

waynereed

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RE: Strings will stretch and become worn and dull sounding.. Wood is affected by humidity and temperature etc. etc. First of all, you shouldn't be going weeks without changing strings to begin with! Second, the wood has little to do with tuning variation due to temperature change, or humidity for that matter. (I don't mean ridiculous temp change) It's all the METAL on the guitar. The temp coefficient is remarkably less for wood than metal. But when the frets get cold, or the truss rod, or the strings, saddles, etc. they shrink. And that changes your tuning. When a string shrinks, it gets shorter. Get your guitar set up correctly. Use quality strings. Stretch your strings CORRECTLY at re-string. And change them OFTEN! End of problem.
 

Muadzin

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I've yet to experience a single guitar that stays in tune, especially once you start playing them. Especially bending the upper strings wreaks havoc with your tuning. But coming to my music room, pull out a guitar to tune them and there were times where I was amazed to find them sometimes to be in tune. It must have been a very stable period temperature wise.
 

sanchezj

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Hope this is not too off topic. A few years ago I saw Night Ranger at BB Kings in NYC (a small venue). Brad Gillis played the entire show with the same guitar, dive bombing, Floyd Rosing it all over the place for 2 hours and never once touched the tuners. I know he had a locking system but still, not even a little fine tuning??

Back on topic, My experience has been that better quality guitars tend to stay in tune better than lesser quality axes. So many variables such as humidity, how well the strings are wrapped, how old the strings are etc.. I have not encountered a guitar that is truly one and done.
 

Toroid

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I see on various forums people mention tuning their guitar and it staying in tune for weeks or month. Comments like, “I just tune it once and never have to tune it again until I change the strings.” I’m thinking these people don’t have a Snark or tuner pedal to check, and they just think the guitar is in tune. I find that after every 4 or 5 songs, even if the guitar sounds ok, I’ll check the tuning with a Snark, and at least 1 usually 2 will need a slight adjustment. Is this tune-once-and-done a myth?
A high quality instrument, electric or acoustic, can stay in tune for a long time when the temperature and humidity don't vary too much. Also the new - expensive - high carbon steel strings like DÁddario NYXL and Ernie Ball Paradigm stay in tune much longer than 'normal' strings.
 

jasperthecat

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It's a bit like saying if I put fuel in my car will it not need topping up for months.

Of course a guitar can be in tune with itself but not to concert pitch or whatever where it has to be played alongside other instruments of fixed pitch such as a piano or the likes. Tuning and pitch are two very different items.

As an ex-full time pro touring vocal guitarist who made a living for 14 years working in venues with resident musicians each and every night and I can say categorically that no guitar will stay in tune let alone pitch unless it remains virtually un-played and is stored in a temperature controlled room.

My music room for instance faces south and at certain times of the day when the sun is hitting the blinds and external walls, most of my guitars end up pitching flat due to the strings stretch with heat in the room. There are 10 6 and 4 string guitars in there and I have to check the tuning and pitch each every time I pick one up to play. String gauge does play a role, especially on a 6 string guitar. My 4 string bass guitars do fare better that regular guitars in that regard but if I was going to record something on my basses then it would be a case of checking the tuning as well as pitch before starting.

When I played smaller crowded gigs where the audience of maybe only two or three hundred but were almost upon you, the heat generated in the room from their bodies as the night went on was enough to cause the strings to go out of tune. When I played larger gigs I very rarely had to do much 'during act tuning' as the temperature remained pretty constant.
If it was winter and I'd travelled to a gig with my guitar in the trunk of my car, the guitar would change pitch during the gig due to heat alone if it wasn't at room temp when first tuning and pitching.

Sorry I just think that anyone who claims that their guitar stays in tune for months doesn't actually play it, or plays it very little and has never done maybe 250 gigs each year, year in. year out.
 

Rockinvet

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Here’s an old expression I’ve heard throughout the years, “tune it or die.” IMHO it is physically impossible to keep something tuned that long. Even pianos can drift with temperature and humidity swings.
 

WWLaidback

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No way, especially if you bend strings while you play. Metal and wood don't have the same coefficient of thermal expansion. So any temperature change will throw it out of tune.
 

pippoman

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I see on various forums people mention tuning their guitar and it staying in tune for weeks or month. Comments like, “I just tune it once and never have to tune it again until I change the strings.” I’m thinking these people don’t have a Snark or tuner pedal to check, and they just think the guitar is in tune. I find that after every 4 or 5 songs, even if the guitar sounds ok, I’ll check the tuning with a Snark, and at least 1 usually 2 will need a slight adjustment. Is this tune-once-and-done a myth?
I think you already know the truth. If I put my main Tele in the case after rehearsal, it’ll be in tune when I pull it back out. I bend strings a lot, and I bend the neck. For the most part it stays in tune despite my abusive playing habits, but I’ll need to touch it up before I’m finished. If I leave it in the case, I’m assuming it would stay tuned for weeks, but I never leave it in the case more than a day so I couldn’t say.
 

Frankentronics

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I just posted in the Les Paul forum in an identical thread. Might as well copy and paste my own post from there.

Did you know that a tuning fork does not stay perfectly in tune? Here we don't have to define what it means to be "in tune" like we might actually need to agree on a definition for a guitar. An A-440 tuning fork should vibrate at 440 Hz, but does it always?



The resonant frequency of a tuning fork will vary depending on the temperature. To better understand it let's take it to the extremes. If you heat it up until the metal is molten red does it still vibrate at the same frequency? What about if you dip it in liquid nitrogen?



Here is how you calculate the resonant frequency of a rod.



screen-shot-2021-06-04-at-8-17-20-am-png.541757




l = length of the rod

A - area of the cross section of the rod

p - density of the material (measured in kilograms per cubic meter)



All of these three parameters change when temperature changes. The length and diameter (which affects the area) change due to thermal expansion and contraction of the material. That's just physics.



The density also changes when it expands, because the weight is the same, but the volume is different.



When you tune a string you increase or decrease the tension and like a rubber band when you increase the tension (by lengthening the string) you a decreasing the diameter.



A string is a long a thin metal rod. So, all that physics applies to a guitar string.



Now you also put into the mix the fact that the wood of the long neck is changing in it's environment and the neck angle, relief, etc... all that is not exactly stable.



Here is what it all means. This is all just physics that no one can dispute.



So, it would be reasonable to come to the conclusion that, yes, it's a myth.



Hence the fine tuners on a Floyd Rose.
 

Wizweird

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Have a 65 jazzmaster that stayed in tune over a year once had shoulder surgery and it stayed in the case over a year. One thing I like to do is make sure all the screws are nice and tight, and if one won't stay tight I locktight it.... I'm so bad about it that I built two 60's Triumph motor cycles one never leaked, the other only leaked a tiny bit if it got dirty....
 




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