I got my acoustic guitar in March this year. I've been trying to learn some basic things by myself, and I succeeded, more or less. But right now, I have some rather major issues.

1. I changed the strings on my acoustic (I finally learned how to put to them through the pegs in order to prevent slippage), and everything is fine, except that I can't get it in tune. My tuner either says it's in tune, or I can't get a steady reading. I have tried many things (put the tuner on the pickguard, strum the chord at the 12th fret). I think I should also mention that when the tuner says it's tuned, it sounds like crap (it sounds like a broken pipe organ), the little plastic thing on the bridge is broken at some strings (therefore screwing with my intonation) and the nut holes for the strings are also slightly filed down. Any kind of help, or anything that I'm doing completely wrong, please tell me. (it might also be the neck relief, but I turned the truss rod counter clockwise 1/2 of a turn and now I can only turn it the other way.)

2. Why does a major third yield a different note from a minor third. Could someone explain the theory behind this and also how to determine the major and minor thirds from a base note (for chords).

Thanks for the help,
1)I'm not really sure what are you trying to say in there. Are you tuning your guitar strumming chords with tuner? Neck relief doesn't do anything with your ability to tune the guitar. It might mess up your action, help you with fret buzz and make your guitar more comfortable, but that's about it.

2) major and minor third yield different notes because they're different intervals. An easy way to find major/minor third from a root is to take major/minor scale and find the third note (that's why it's called third). Also if you find major third, than minor third is always a half-step lower and vice versa.

C major scale: C D E F G A B
C minor scale: C D Eb F G Ab Bb C
major third: E
minor third: Eb

edit: also major third should be always 2 steps from root and minor third 3 half-steps
Last edited by KorYi at Sep 26, 2011,
1. I strum the chords and I tune using the tuner. What I tried to say is that I think I might also have a problem with neck relief because I kept the guitar lying around, the weather changed, it wasn't tuned and the neck might have shifted.

2. And how do I build the scales from a root?
I frankly don't want to tackle you first question.

My gut reaction is it sounds like you broke the damned thing screwing around with shit you know nothing about. That may not be true, just a poor job of explaining the issue(s), on your part. The broken part I think you're talking about is the bridge "saddle".

The second issue goes like this. Music is math. More specifically, it's math applied to the absolute frequency of sound waves. That's why the reference "A" that we tune to is always 440 Hz. ("Hertz" or cycles per second).

A major third or minor third isn't exactly a note per se, but rather an interval between notes. There are 12 tones in the chromatic scale, and a major third is 4 tones away from the fundamental, whereas a minor third is 3 only tones removed.

The net result is this, a minor 3rd has more stress, (different harmonic components), and since we've all been conditioned to western music intervals practically since birth, we perceive it as more dismal or somber than the major third, which has literally a "happier sound".

Bear in mind that western music intervals are just that, western music intervals. Other cultures use very different scales, intervals, and tunings. Even within "western" music there are many scales which are very different from the diatonic ( 8 note) major scale that we are most accustomed to.

Quote by psyhprog
2. And how do I build the scales from a root?

To "build" the most common diatonic scale, (you know, the do , re, mi major key jobbie) the notes are spaced thus, (in half tones).....2-2-1-2-2-2-1.....

These 8 notes, (due to the spacing) encompass the chromatic scale. In other words, while there are only 8 notes in the major scale, the beginning tone and the ending tone, (both the same letter as the key name), are a full 12 half tones apart.

The name of the scale is the note you choose to sound first. "C" Major is an all natural scale, because it works out that B/C and E/F are only a half tone apart. You readily see this interval on a piano as B/C & E/F are always the 2 pairs of white keys together . All other notes have a black key (sharp/flat depending on key), between them.
Last edited by Captaincranky at Sep 26, 2011,
Quote by psyhprog
Anyone here want to tackle the first issue?

By the way, here's some pictures, might help.

Oh what the hell. It doesn't look like the bridge saddle is broken. The part under the B string is supposed to be further back to correct intonation for that particular string.

Maybe something is broken, but I don't see it in the pictures.

Although, it doesn't look like the lower E, A, & D wound strings, are around the posts correctly. Here again, it could be the picture, but they appear to have slack in the winding.

If a guitar's action is high, when a string is fretted, it changes the pitch more than it would if the action was lower. This does result in a slightly out of tune condition.

You can try flatting the B string ever so slightly. This is known as "temper tuning". When it's fretted it should come up to the correct pitch. The B string is probably the most temperamental, and tends to make the C major open chord in particular sound bad.

Always tune a string from below pitch, (flat) up to pitch. never from above pitch (sharp) down.
Last edited by Captaincranky at Sep 26, 2011,
Quote by psyhprog
Anyone here want to tackle the first issue?

By the way, here's some pictures, might help.

Here's what I've observed from your pictures:
1) The bridge saddle, the white piece on the main body, is factory compensated for intonation already, not broken. Those angles cut into it are supposed to be there to intonate those strings.
2) The nut looks fine as it is, and the slots in it appear normal.
3) Very sloppy job of winding strings at the tuning posts. I would imagine that there's slippage there and that is the cause of your tuning issues.

I don't know how you wound them, in what order you did the job, but I ALWAYS put the string through the hole first, leaving some excess slack on the neck side of the hole, then start winding up the string by turning the tuner. Wind away until the tail comes around and the first full wrap is about to begin. At this point, I ALWAYS make sure that that first wrap goes over the top, or away from the headstock, of the hole so that the tail and the hole it's poking out of is between the wrap and the headstock. Then continue winding up the string on the peg and the next time the tail comes around, make sure that the wrap goes below the hole, between the tail and headstock. Then keep winding up the string. This is the tedious part and why string winders were invented. When tension is building on the string, line up the string in the proper slot in the nut, check that the bridge pin is firmly seated then wind up a little more tension and leave it alone for the moment. You should now have 2-3 wraps around the tuning post below the hole. Continue installing the remaining strings.
When all are on and everything is in place, pre-stretch each string by lifting each at the 12th fret and pulling it away from the fretboard an inch or so, until it get's tight. Wiggle it back and forth. This tends to do 2 things. It will help snug up the wraps at the tuning posts and will also seat the ball end in the bridge tighter.
Once all strings have been stretched, continue bringing each up to tune with your tuner on! This is quite important at this stage to have your tuner turned on and active as many people are apt to overshoot their notes. Unless you have a highly trained ear and can detect the exact notes, trust the tuner. I should note that some guitars benefit from the out/in method of tuning. By that I mean that you start by tuning the center strings first, the D and G strings, then the A and B then finally the two E's. This keeps the tension on the neck more even. By tuning from one side and moving across, the tension is great at first on one side, but not the other, then by the time you've made it all the way across, the string you started with is off.

Now then, on to your last issue, neck relief. To check, it will help if you have a capo. Place it at the first fret. Then fret the guitar at the last fret where the neck joins the body, usually 14th on a standard acoustic. When double fretted this way, the string will make a perfect straight edge with which to gauge the distance between the crown of each fret to the bottom side of each string. There should be enough clearance that each string can be lightly plucked and no buzzing heard. About the thickness of a standard credit card under the low E string and the 7th fret. Do the same at the high E. There's no need to do the middle strings.
Adjust the truss rod to achieve the desired results.
If your truss has no effect, STOP! Continuing to crank away on it will do nothing more than ruin your guitar. Find the problem and correct it before going any further.
Some guitars need to sit a while before the effect of turning the truss rod sets in. Some are a bit quicker at responding. It all depends on the wood of the neck, how seasoned it is, the humidity level, the style of truss installed.
You stated that you turned your truss 1/2 turn counter-clockwise. That's a mighty big adjustment to make all at once. If done very recently, it's possible that the neck has yet to adapt to that large of an adjustment. It shouldn't take more than a day or two at the most for the neck to settle in, but if excessive, it could be longer. Always make the smallest possible adjustment needed, 1/4 turn or so, then allow the neck to adapt for a couple hours before going further. You have to remember that the wood of the neck needs some time to bend and stretch. Some will argue that it's instantaneous, but I don't agree. There's too many other factors at play here to allow it to do that as quickly as some say.

At any rate, sorry for such a long post, but I felt it necessary in order to relay all the needed info to you. Best of luck. Hope this helps.
Quote by LeftyDave
Here's what I've observed from your pictures:

3) Very sloppy job of winding strings at the tuning posts. I would imagine that there's slippage there and that is the cause of your tuning issues.

This is what I noticed most of all. The windings around the tuning post seem to have a lot of excess slack and could well be attributing to your problem of the strings not staying in tune. Keep playing and tuning. Until you play the strings taut, they will keep going out of tune. It is also possible for there to be slack underneath the bridge pins.

As Dave said, your nut and saddle slots seem to be perfectly fine from what I can see.
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I have checked, and I think neck relief may also be a problem. I can't (1 - 14) and play the string without it buzzing, and a standard card doesn't fit anywhere (not even at 12th fret). The truss rod adjustment seems to have done nothing.

Also the nut is slightly filed down at the thinnest strings (bigger hole) and at the 4th and 3rd strings filed slightly sideways. The plastic intonation thing at the bridge at the 5th string, the plastic is broken, so the piece that's resting against the string is slightly forward than it should.

And I said the problem is getting the guitar in tune (could be a tuner problem, I don't know) not that it's not staying in the tune.

Thanks for the help, and to whoever gets me through this.
Before you read this or respond to it, read the Acoustic guitar master thread. Half of what you say doesn't make sense, meaning it is very hard for us people to help you.

If you got the guitar from a proper guitar dealer and you haven't dropped it, leant on it, leant it to someone, messed with it yourself or otherwise changed it - it should be fine. I looked at pictures and it seems hunky dory.

The 'filed down nut' is meant to be like that, to stop the string from slipping round the nut, and the 'sideways strings filing' is meant to be like that to make the strings go straight down the guitar because of the angle of the tuning pegs. (I assume you haven't filed it).

And, if the guitar is new, you've done some hefty truss rod adjustments to make the action that bad. It sounds mean, but judging by the rest of your comments, you're pretty new to guitar and this could have leant to you tuning the guitar an octave lower (I've never heard of a tuner that distinguishes between octaves) and so I recommend you search on Google for a guitar tuner, and have a listen to make sure the pitch it right.

In terms of fixing it yourself, I wouldn't dream of it. You seem very new to guitar and so I recommend you take it to the guitar dealer and get them to service it. Truss rod adjustments does affect guitar action, but it is a side affect (it is used for fretboard relief adjustment) so don't touch the truss rod any more. Action is adjusted at the bridge by rising and lowering the saddle (DON'T GO THERE!).

Just take it to your local Luthier and let them work their magic. A person who doesn't know what a saddle or nut is should only go near the guitar with one tool - a pick. I know its fun to do stuff yourself but you should first enjoy learning the theory about the whole guitar before doing any adjustments.
Fuck the system - Use non-standard tunings!

"Now the guitar is no more than a cowbell, so easy to play, that there is no stable lad who is not a musician on the guitar" Inquisitor Covarrubias 1611
Last edited by Fuzzywhynotry at Sep 26, 2011,