Why Does My Guitar Go Sharp?

klasaine

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My guitars go flat in fall/ winter then go sharp again in spring.

Is there some way to adjust that?
The only way to ameliorate that is to keep your instruments in a temperature and barometrically stable environment. For a little bit of help, heed the words of Tom Petty via the Wilburys - "Store in a cool dry place".

If it's any consolation, ALL instruments suffer from this to some extent, even the one's made out metal. This is why we have the ability to actually 'tune' them.

If anyone's interested in a deep dive on tuning, I highly recommend this book ... https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1542369.Horns_Strings_and_Harmony
*The chapters on the development of the modern piano are worth the price of admission alone.
 

telemnemonics

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The only way to ameliorate that is to keep your instruments in a temperature and barometrically stable environment. For a little bit of help, heed the words of Tom Petty via the Wilburys - "Store in a cool dry place".

If it's any consolation, ALL instruments suffer from this to some extent, even the one's made out metal. This is why we have the ability to actually 'tune' them.

If anyone's interested in a deep dive on tuning, I highly recommend this book ... https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1542369.Horns_Strings_and_Harmony
*The chapters on the development of the modern piano are worth the price of admission alone.
I was trying to be funny and do run humidifiers in winter so drying and shrinking doesnt get too extreme.
I can keep enough humidity to not need to tighten the truss rod in winter, but thats the basics of seasonal change included in my joke.

If we live in cold country and have warmer less dry conditions in summer, our necks dry and shrink in winter, resulting in more relief or up bow AKA warped neck due to inadequate humidity.

Then in Spring the heating gets shut off and humidity returns, necks swell with moisture and straighten out or gain back bow, raising the pitch of all our strings.

Thus I notice that for some weeks in Spring, my guitars keep going SHARP over night.
They dont go sharp while playing, but if I tune up and play then leave them in tune overnight, the next day the strings all got tightened by the neck pulling back on them as it rehumidifies.

Again though, they are not really drying out and shrinking/ cracking/ warping because I maintain reasonable humidith so Im not adjusting all my truss rods every spring and fall.
But the little bit of movement does change the pitch.
So in fall when the heat comes on they go out of tune below pitch, which one would expect.
The question seemed to be how do the strings get tighter if I dont tighten them?
Personally Ive never noticed my hands heating the strings enough to raise the pitch and I cant recall facing into the hot summer sun while playing guitar.
I dont doubt that heat will raise the pitch, just not for me.
 

telemnemonics

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I'm finding that my guitars are commonly a tiny bit sharp when I start. The "sharpness" is usually fairly consistent - as in, it is reasonably in tune with itself, just sharp. Every once in a while, but far less commonly, a guitar will be a bit flat. My house is pretty well climate controlled - consistent temperature between 70 and 75, and I keep a humidity meter in the room (always between about 42 and 65%). I keep all my guitars on a typical guitar stand. Just curious what makes a guitar go sharp...flat, I understand.
So where you say the humidity stays between 42 and 65%, thats more than a 20% increase in humidity at times.
My guess is going from 42 to 65 will make your guitars go sharp, while going from 65% to 42% will NOT make them go sharp and instead make them go flat as we might expect.

Really though, strings that have been initially stretched in and seated, if not slipping on posts, should not just stretch while sitting untouched.
If they go flat, something happened.
Maybe put a ring doorbell camera watching for gremlins?
Or blame humidity changes!
 

Tmcqtele65

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I will continue to monitor, keeping in mind what is being contributed here. Last night I first grabbed the acoustic which was close enough to tune that I didn't change anything for warming up. Then I grabbed the Gretsch hollow body, but I tried to warm up the strings with some deliberate friction before tuning. Even after this, it was a bit sharp....then shortly later, after the guitar and strings should have sufficiently warmed to my playing temperature I tuned a second time and once again it was a bit sharp. Finally, I grabbed my Tele, but it was at least in tune with itself enough that I didn't change anything.
 

memorex

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Around here, we've been having hot days, followed by cooler days, and the air conditioning has been running sometimes and not others. When it runs, my guitar is consistently sharp, so I tune it. Then, on a cooler day when the air isn't running, my guitar is way flat, so I tune it again. It's a vicious cycle in the summertime.
 

Boreas

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It's temperature-induced.

When you play, your fingers on the strings warm them up a few degrees; that causes expansion of the metal. You tune the guitar and all is good. When the guitar is hung up or put away in the case, the strings cool off and contract a little bit, making them go sharp. It takes just a few degrees of temperature differential for this to occur.

Next time you pick up your guitar, run the palm of your hand up and down the strings about 10 times to create a little friction and warm the strings, and report back.
Yeah - I agree. 70-75 degrees is a range, not a constant temperature. 74-75 would keep it closer to pitch. I keep my place cool in winter, and as I play, my guitars go flat. I usually just ignore it.
 

RCinMempho

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I live in the Knoxville area as well. I have the exact same issue. My guitars are in the basement. It's cooler down there. After I play them a few minutes they have to be retuned.
 

Winky

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it's humidity; wood shrinking or swelling, depending on whether its taking on moisture or losing it, to try to reach equilibrium with the relative humidity at the time. The sharpness, when humid, is the fingerboard swelling, lengthening slightly, and introducing a touch of back bow.
Over a longer time period perhaps (weeks, months, years). But the effects of humidity will not be material in time-frames of a few minutes or even hours. In any case, OP states his house is pretty stable in terms of humidity.
 

Tmcqtele65

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Do you have a strat trem or a Floyd? The springs could be just a tiny bit tight.
Bigsby! I'm pretty light on the trem - just the typical wiggle for end of phrase shimmer. I have not been playing my Strat - but recall it being fairly stable. The Tele is pretty good too.
 

Tmcqtele65

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I live in the Knoxville area as well. I have the exact same issue. My guitars are in the basement. It's cooler down there. After I play them a few minutes they have to be retuned.
Actually - you could be my neighbor! As a recent transplant from the North - I envy your basement.
 

Carcinogen

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Bigsby! I'm pretty light on the trem - just the typical wiggle for end of phrase shimmer. I have not been playing my Strat - but recall it being fairly stable. The Tele is pretty good too.
Oh, yeah, Bigsbys are stable. It could be the temperature thing everyone else mentioned
 

Deeve

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Is this thread going to have a commercial sponsor like a Carbon Fiber Neck guitar maker?

I always hoped that I would pick up a Rainsong or CA if I got struck by the gig-wand and 200+ play dates showed up on my calendar.
Alas, the calendar is blank - back to the couch I must go.
Peace - Deeve
 

telemnemonics

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Never considered the warm paws a problem

A337C7CB-1F2B-4008-8BD0-67E2549446C1.jpeg
 

JIMMY JAZZMAN

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You can't control barometric pressure unless you play in a chamber. Wood is organic, constant changes
in humidity, temperature. It's hard enough to stay in tune inside, but outside is really a chore.
 




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