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#1
I have played guitar for a year now, mostly on acoustic but I bought an electric guitar a couple of months ago. I love playing it and I rehearsed for about one hour every day until I thought I should change strings. Great idea!

So, I followed several guides and thought I took great care when I restringed it. But now it sounds like six cats assaulting each other when I play it! If I use a tuner on the computer and tune the strings so they are all within 1-2cent of "perfect" for each string, and then immediately play a chord, it sounds terrible! It is black magic, I tell you!

Even if I just play an A on the sixth string and pluck the fifth I can immediately hear that it is out of tune, even though the tuner says they should be within one cent of eachother. I am not a musical prodigy but I can guarantee you that the difference is much more than that. Playing it is completely terrible now, no matter how I try I just can't get it to play in tune.

It is a Fender Stratocaster, built in Mexico that I bought for roughly $1k or so. I don't know the exact model number but I found out that it has the "vintage" style tuners, so I had to check some guides on that. I have tried to read up to see if I could find any obvious mistake that I made but I can't really see anything, then again I don't really know what I am doing.

Should I take it to the shop? What could I have done to it? I feel terrible because I haven't rehearsed on it for several days now and I am afraid I messed it up somehow. Does anyone have any ideas what could have caused this? I can provide pictures or a video of it if necessary.

Thank you for your time!
#2
do you still have the pack of strings you bought? Can you tell us the gauge written on it? Should be six numbers.

Are they acoustic strings?

The reason I ask is if you put MUCH heavier strings on a guitar, it might mess with the intonation. Don't worry, though, it's not permanent damage.

Odds are you'll just need to buy light strings and install them and it'll be fine
#3
If the strings are obviously out of tune relative to each other immediately after you tune it, I'd question the tuner you are using.

Try this. Tune the E, and then tune the rest by ear using the E as your reference (Standard ear-tuning) and see how it sounds when you're done.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XWmn21knRKM

If it's better, then it's almost certainly the tuner you used.

Don't worry, you didn't ruin anything, it's just strings and wood.
“Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge.”
Charles Darwin
Last edited by Arby911 at Jan 27, 2016,
#4
Unfortunately I do not still have the pack. They were Elixir strings, and the guy in the shop asked me what kind of guitar I had so I said it was a Stratocaster and then he gave me that pack. So, hopefully he knew what he was doing!

Is there some test I can do to figure out exactly what is going on? It is so hard to judge what is happening when everything is just all over the place, I don't really know where to start. It is not like I can say "that one string is messed up", it seems to be just everywhere
#5
I have noticed with tremolo systems, like those in S-style guitars, often need the user to tune the guitar multiple times, so that the string tension is balanced out with the spring tension in the tremolo system. As you add more and more tension to the system by tuning strings tighter, the system will continue to slip strings out of tune until the system stabilizes, since tuning each string adds more tension to the system. So you just have to tune the guitar a few times.

Also if you put the wrong gauge/type strings on the guitar, as flex said, that can negatively influence the tuning and intonation as well. Presumably that guy at the store gave you a proper gauge.
Last edited by Will Lane at Jan 27, 2016,
#6
Quote by Arby911
If the strings are obviously out of tune relative to each other immediately after you tune it, I'd question the tuner you are using.

Try this. Tune the E, and then tune the rest by ear using the E as your reference (Standard ear-tuning) and see how it sounds when you're done.

If it's better, then it's almost certainly the tuner you used.

Don't worry, you didn't ruin anything, it's just strings and wood.


I am using the tuner in Logic and/or Guitar Rig, and I would be surprised if there is anything wrong with them since I use them for all kinds of stuff.

I tried that as well, and it sounds pretty much the same. If I play a chord right after it sounds all messed up. I am trying it now to see if I can deduce anything by just tuning the E string and then checking if the A string is out of tune by the same amount or if it gets worse with time. It is just weird, it is like the guitar has no reference pitch anymore and it is just making shit up as it goes, everytime I play a note I think it sounds slightly different.
#7
It's entirely possible that the strings haven't stretched out yet or you changed gauges of strings and your intonation is off. Or, like the others said, something with the tremolo springs.
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#8
After some experimentation I can confidently say that the A string is dropping in pitch. I tuned them up and just played some random notes for a minute or two and I can already hear a slight drop in pitch that seems to get progressively worse the more I play it.
#9
If this is true for all strings then I can understand where that cacophony comes from.
#10
Is it possible you put slightly heavier strings on and your tremolo is pulled up a bit (floating) instead of sitting solid?

If that's the case, you'll need to stiffen up the trem a bit to get it to sit back down, usually all it takes is to tighten the spring screws in the back.
“Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge.”
Charles Darwin
#11
Quote by Arby911
Is it possible you put slightly heavier strings on and your tremolo is pulled up a bit (floating) instead of sitting solid?

If that's the case, you'll need to stiffen up the trem a bit to get it to sit back down, usually all it takes is to tighten the spring screws in the back.


I could tighten those screws, sure! But how do I know what is good? Should they all be exactly equal in tension?
#12
dwressle, I would just take it to that shop and see if the chaps there can help you out. They might charge a bit of a labor fee, but just ask if you can watch and learn to see what they do.
#13
I will try, I don't think they have a guitar shop where they actually fix stuff any more but this should be a pretty basic thing so hopefully they can help me out anyway .
#14
Take it to a shop. I just want to focus on the fact he bought a MIM Strat for $1,000
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#16
Quote by dwressle
I could tighten those screws, sure! But how do I know what is good? Should they all be exactly equal in tension?


Well, there's no way to measure it so just loosen your strings, give each of them a couple turns and then retune. Repeat as necessary. This is assuming that the trem is indeed floating up a bit. If it's laying on the guitar like it should, there's no point to this.

It's easy to check though. Can you pull UP on the trem arm and change the pitch. If so your trem isn't sitting solid and that's likely them problem.

Quote by dwressle
Was I ripped off?


Depends, where do you live?

In the US that would be a very high price, but it may be in line for your area.
“Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge.”
Charles Darwin
Last edited by Arby911 at Jan 27, 2016,
#17
Quote by Arby911
Well, there's no way to measure it so just loosen your strings, give each of them a couple turns and then retune. Repeat as necessary. This is assuming that the trem is indeed floating up a bit. If it's laying on the guitar like it should, there's no point to this.

It's easy to check though. Can you pull UP on the trem arm and change the pitch. If so your trem isn't sitting solid and that's likely them problem.


I don't have the arm
#19
Quote by dwressle
I don't have the arm


For $1000, why not?

Ok, in that case, can you push down on the back of the trem and change the pitch?

Quote by dwressle
I live in Sweden. It is this one: http://www.4sound.se/gitarr/elektrisk/right/fender-classic-50s-stratocaster-2-color-sunburst

OK, it is more like $850 with the current conversion rate. But everything is slightly more expensive here than in the states, you would laugh if you knew how much it costs to fill up the tank .


That's actually not that bad for that guitar new.
“Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge.”
Charles Darwin
Last edited by Arby911 at Jan 27, 2016,
#20
Quote by Arby911
For $1000, why not?

Ok, in that case, can you push down on the back of the trem and change the pitch?


Good question, I will ask them why I don't have it. Since I don't know much about guitars I assumed it was an extra or something, and I never really thought about it up until now. As a beginner my main priority was not to start bending my notes, I am struggling with my Fm7 barre chords and similar things. But I will check!

Yes, but only slightly.
#21
Quote by dwressle
Good question, I will ask them why I don't have it. Since I don't know much about guitars I assumed it was an extra or something, and I never really thought about it up until now. As a beginner my main priority was not to start bending my notes, I am struggling with my Fm7 barre chords and similar things. But I will check!

Yes, but only slightly.


Slightly is too much, tighten the spring claw screws (The ones that go into the wood.)
“Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge.”
Charles Darwin
#22
Quote by Arby911
Slightly is too much, tighten the spring claw screws (The ones that go into the wood.)


Will do. What about the screws that go into the back of the tremolo bridge?
#23
Quote by dwressle
Will do. What about the screws that go into the back of the tremolo bridge?


Nope, leave them alone. Those are for intonation, and we may get to that later, but first lets get it all in tune.


ALSO, please note that I mean the screws in the BACK CAVITY of the guitar, that are attached to the spring claw, NOT the screws on the front of the tremolo that are screwed into the wood.
“Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge.”
Charles Darwin
Last edited by Arby911 at Jan 27, 2016,
#24
Quote by Arby911
Nope, leave them alone. Those are for intonation, and we may get to that later, but first lets get it all in tune.


Well, this is awkward. When you first said tighten the screws I assumed those were the screws. So I guess I messed it up even more because I did fiddle with them a bit.

*crickets*
#25
As an extra bonus I just remembered that when I restringed I also might have messed with one or two of those. So... yeah.
#26
Quote by dwressle
Well, this is awkward. When you first said tighten the screws I assumed those were the screws. So I guess I messed it up even more because I did fiddle with them a bit.

*crickets*


Don't stress, you needed to learn how to properly intonate anyway. You've not done anything permanently harmful, they are designed to be used.
“Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge.”
Charles Darwin
#27
I thought I had to loosen those screws to remove the strings, but after reading up I realized that was not the case. So I probably messed it up then and there, and now even worse when I thought those were the screws you mentioned. Good to hear nothing is actually broken though.
#28
I'm talking about the two screws on the left-hand side of this picture.
“Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge.”
Charles Darwin
Last edited by Arby911 at Jan 27, 2016,
#30
Oh, I am on the wrong side of the guitar. Haha, this is embarassing. So, to recap what I've done is:

- Tampered with the screws on the front side, those going in to the tremolo bridge. Right next to where the strings come up.
- I thought you meant the screws on the front going into the guitar when you said "those that go into the wood" just now, but now I realize it is on the back of the guitar.

I will make sure to fasten those on the back side, but I guess my experimenting with the screws on the front back side of the tremolo bar might have messed it up a whole lot?
#31
Quote by dwressle
Oh, I am on the wrong side of the guitar. Haha, this is embarassing. So, to recap what I've done is:

- Tampered with the screws on the front side, those going in to the tremolo bridge. Right next to where the strings come up.
- I thought you meant the screws on the front going into the guitar when you said "those that go into the wood" just now, but now I realize it is on the back of the guitar.

I will make sure to fasten those on the back side, but I guess my experimenting with the screws on the front back side of the tremolo bar might have messed it up a whole lot?


Well, it's quite likely that your intonation is off a good bit, but the vid above is a very quick one that will help you get that right. (There are other arguably better ways to do it, but that's good enough for now.)

And even if your intonation is off, that wouldn't cause your tuning instability, which is what we're worried about first.
“Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge.”
Charles Darwin
Last edited by Arby911 at Jan 27, 2016,
#32
I did what you said and I followed the video and it sounds a whole lot better now. The intonation bit helped with the "notes seemed randomly off" since the tuning would differ depending on where I was fretting. I am checking to see if the tuning instability remains.

The screws on the back are really tight, but I can still press on the tremolo bridge and bend the note quite a bit. I don't know how much force I should have to apply to these screws.
#33
As a side note I might add that it is easier to bend the thicker strings. The thinner strings are not affected as much when I press on it.
#34
Quote by dwressle
As a side note I might add that it is easier to bend the thicker strings. The thinner strings are not affected as much when I press on it.


Let's just snug it up a bit and see what happens. It won't hurt anything regardless of the situation.

Quote by dwressle
I did what you said and I followed the video and it sounds a whole lot better now. The intonation bit helped with the "notes seemed randomly off" since the tuning would differ depending on where I was fretting. I am checking to see if the tuning instability remains.

The screws on the back are really tight, but I can still press on the tremolo bridge and bend the note quite a bit. I don't know how much force I should have to apply to these screws.


Loosen the strings first, it makes it a WHOLE lot easier.

Also, what holes are your springs in on the trem block in the back? Depending on where they are now, it may be easier to move the two outside ones (assuming you have 3) to the very outside holes on each side, assuming they aren't there already. Doing that puts a little more distance on each of them and thus tightens them up a bit.
“Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge.”
Charles Darwin
Last edited by Arby911 at Jan 27, 2016,
#35
It is really tight now, to the point where I would have to go into hulk mode to get it any further in.

But, I can still bend the thick E string 15-20 cents by pressing pretty hard on the tremolo bridge.
#36
The spring is connected as follows:

X
o
X
o
X

Where X denotes a fastening point and the o would be a vacant slot.
#37
Oh, and

o
X
X
X
o

for the part that goes to the thing with the screws in it; closer to the neck.
#38
If you've bottomed out those screws, and it can still move, then you'll need to add another spring.
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#39
Quote by red.guitar
If you've bottomed out those screws, and it can still move, then you'll need to add another spring.


Yeah, what he said.

It definitely seems the strings you purchased were heavier than the originals.
“Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge.”
Charles Darwin
#40
Should I reconfigure the springs so they go from the outer clasps instead?

Like so:

X X
o o
X X
o o
X X

instead of (as it is now):

o X
X o
X X
X o
o X

Sorry for my artistic skills

Another spring? Oh, okey, I guess the shop will have that? Maybe I can get my tremolo bar at the same time!
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