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Help: My 'B' string is possessed by the devil

GUEST,Tom 03 Mar 01 - 02:36 PM
Justa Picker 03 Mar 01 - 02:51 PM
catspaw49 03 Mar 01 - 02:56 PM
Bernard 03 Mar 01 - 03:06 PM
Jon Freeman 03 Mar 01 - 03:13 PM
Jon Freeman 03 Mar 01 - 03:14 PM
catspaw49 03 Mar 01 - 03:22 PM
Jon Freeman 03 Mar 01 - 03:33 PM
GUEST,Tom 03 Mar 01 - 03:36 PM
Bernard 03 Mar 01 - 03:43 PM
Murray MacLeod 03 Mar 01 - 04:02 PM
GUEST 03 Mar 01 - 04:16 PM
Justa Picker 03 Mar 01 - 04:17 PM
GUEST,leeneia 03 Mar 01 - 04:29 PM
Rollo 03 Mar 01 - 08:01 PM
Bernard 04 Mar 01 - 01:11 PM
catspaw49 04 Mar 01 - 02:20 PM
Bernard 04 Mar 01 - 02:36 PM
Bagpuss 04 Mar 01 - 03:38 PM
Mark Cohen 04 Mar 01 - 03:49 PM
Durty Linen 04 Mar 01 - 03:59 PM
GUEST,JohnB 05 Mar 01 - 12:44 PM
Clinton Hammond 05 Mar 01 - 01:24 PM
Bert 05 Mar 01 - 04:50 PM
catspaw49 05 Mar 01 - 06:24 PM
Mark Cohen 05 Mar 01 - 10:37 PM
MikeofNorthumbria 06 Mar 01 - 09:02 AM
M.Ted 07 Mar 01 - 12:51 AM
Clinton Hammond 07 May 01 - 02:36 PM
Justa Picker 07 May 01 - 02:49 PM
mousethief 07 May 01 - 03:12 PM
GUEST,CraigS 07 May 01 - 07:36 PM
kendall 07 May 01 - 07:50 PM
kendall 07 May 01 - 07:52 PM
GUEST,d miller 07 May 01 - 10:55 PM
Marion 08 May 01 - 09:26 AM
Mark Clark 08 May 01 - 10:16 AM
Grab 08 May 01 - 01:03 PM
Whistle Stop 08 May 01 - 02:46 PM
Marion 08 May 01 - 11:20 PM
GUEST,WyoWoman (where'd that damned cookie go???) 08 May 01 - 11:25 PM
kendall 09 May 01 - 09:02 AM
GUEST,Jon Ross 10 Jul 10 - 01:57 PM
Bernard 11 Jul 10 - 01:08 PM
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Subject: My 'B' string is possessed.
From: GUEST,Tom
Date: 03 Mar 01 - 02:36 PM

It's true I fear. When I play a D chord the B string is alright, then when I play an E it is flat. Tune it to the E chord it is, of course, sharp on the D. This has been a bit of a long standing problem but I can't stands it no more. Do I need a neck adjustment? The other strings stay in tune well. Is there a quick fix I might try. I have a gig tomorrow night and my bandmates are getting a little testy over having to wait for me to tune and re-tune. In case it matters, it is a Seagull SM6. Anyway, thanks for any help one or more can offer. Tom


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Subject: RE: Help: My 'B' string is possessed by the devil
From: Justa Picker
Date: 03 Mar 01 - 02:51 PM

No Tom, you're not losing your mind. This is fairly common problem with not only Seagulls but with really expensive guitars as well. There are a few possible solutions.

The first is to take it to a luthier and have him check the neck angle, intonation, condition of the frets, level of the fingerboard and if need be, replace the saddle with a "compensated" saddle - could be that the scale length of your B string is off just a hair for it to intonate properly and a compensated saddle might just do the trick.

The other suggestion is that tuning all the strings with a tuner only gives you a technically accurate tuning for a given chord. You have to learn to tune the guitar to itself. No guitar will properly intonate on every single chord nor in every chord position up and down the neck. This is the nature of the beast. Get used to tuning the strings to each other, and use a tuner only on the low E string to give you a concert pitch reference.

It could be that your frets are worn down, or, that you are pressing too hard on the strings, or that the fingerboard has developed a slight warp or "bubble". Again, take it to a respected luthier in your area to find out if this is the problem and at least eliminate this as a potential source of the problem, and then look to some of the other suggestions I've mentioned.

Also, depending on where you live, climate changes can produce subtle differences to your intonation due to the bridge area (top) rising and falling ever so slightly depending on the relative humidity or lack of.

There are others here who may be able to add more, or you could send an e-mail to Frank Ford at Frets.Com (but I suspect Frank will more or less reiterate what I've mentioned here.)


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Subject: RE: Help: My 'B' string is possessed by the devil
From: catspaw49
Date: 03 Mar 01 - 02:56 PM

All of the above and then read HERE about why you sometimes need a "compensated saddle"......Also some great string and saddle info at Frank Ford's place that JP linked.

Not a big problem or all that uncommon. You just need to understand the why to figure the how!!

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Help: My 'B' string is possessed by the devil
From: Bernard
Date: 03 Mar 01 - 03:06 PM

It is also possible that you are hearing 'too correctly'!!

You may have to find a compromise whereby both chords sound slightly wrong (to you).

The problem dates back a long time, and was even addressed by J.S. Bach in his '48 Preludes and Fugues for the Well-Tempered Clavier'.

Keyboard instruments, you see, are more prone to this problem. It would take a long time to explain the problem satisfactorily, but the short answer is this:

If Middle C and the G a fifth above were tuned exactly to a fifth (by using harmonics), and then the octave C was tuned exactly to a fourth above that G, the two C's would not be in tune! The upper C would be slightly sharp...

When tuning a keyboard instrument, fourths and fifths are always deliberately tuned slightly flat, and that is what 'Well-Tempered' means - the instrument plays acceptably in any key (with the emphasis on acceptably, not strictly in tune!).

Guitars also have this problem, having fixed frets - the violin family do not (and are mostly tuned in fifths, except the Double Bass), because they player can pitch each note individually.

Hope this helps!


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Subject: RE: Help: My 'B' string is possessed by the devil
From: Jon Freeman
Date: 03 Mar 01 - 03:13 PM

I don't really understand these things but I a curious about the suggestion of not using a tuner except to find concert pitch.

As far as I understand it, guitars are built to use 12TET system of tuning and electronic tuners use this. I am aware that certain notes using this system are not exact but I believe that it provides a good balance for all keys. You could tune a guitar by ear to say get a perfect sounding C chord with an exact 5th but surely that would throw another chord miles out somewhere along the line.

My logic which is probably wrong tells me that a tuner is likely to give the best overall balance. Can someone please explain further?

Jon


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Subject: RE: Help: My 'B' string is possessed by the devil
From: Jon Freeman
Date: 03 Mar 01 - 03:14 PM

Ah Bernard - it looks like you might be just the person I was looking for!

Jon


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Subject: RE: Help: My 'B' string is possessed by the devil
From: catspaw49
Date: 03 Mar 01 - 03:22 PM

Try a couple of these past threads Jon (and Guest Tom) and you'll get a lot of answers on the tuning situation.

Piano vs. Guitar

Toward Better Guitar Tuning

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Help: My 'B' string is possessed by the devil
From: Jon Freeman
Date: 03 Mar 01 - 03:33 PM

Thanks spaw I will have a good read later. BTW you didn't warn me that one of the threads had been turned green (fixed now).

Jon


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Subject: RE: Help: My 'B' string is possessed by the devil
From: GUEST,Tom
Date: 03 Mar 01 - 03:36 PM

Hmmmm, Well I think a couple things come into play. I am very picky about intonation, probibly too much so. I also think my neck is not quite right as I look down it. I guess I'll have to try to adopt the best in-between tuning I can for now.

Justa Picker- Thanks for your comments; well written.

Bernard- Very interseting stuff. I always wondered what Well Tempered refered to.

Spaw- Thanks for the link. Abe Wechter is a fantasic luthier. Have you seen the guitar he built for John McLaughlin a few years back? Beautiful, with a set of drone strings across the soundhole and a scalloped fingerboard. He and a classical builder named Richard Schnider employed a bracing and bridge system developed by a a guy named Kasha. Very Intersting. Played wonderfully. I had the fortune to play one of the classicals. What a sweet sound. Thanks to all. Tom


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Subject: RE: Help: My 'B' string is possessed by the devil
From: Bernard
Date: 03 Mar 01 - 03:43 PM

I've found that, when I'm having one of those 'tone-deaf moments', that tuning by octaves helps:

Open 6th, 2nd fret 4th and open 1st
3rd fret 6th and open 3rd
Open 5th and 2nd fret 3rd
2nd fret 5th and open 2nd
Open 4th and 3rd fret 3rd
2nd fret 4th and open 1st
Open 3rd and 3rd fret 1st

Run this up and down a couple of times, and it will settle in acceptably (except with your rusty old strings, Jon! - Still, that's a banjo, and you don't tune a banjo!)...


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Subject: RE: Help: My 'B' string is possessed by the devil
From: Murray MacLeod
Date: 03 Mar 01 - 04:02 PM

Even if the saddle is perfectly compensated, and even if the frets are all in the correct position( which is not a given, believe me, especially in Martin guitars) the nut needs compensation just like the saddle. Search for Buzz Feiten;s website for further explanation, unless the link has already been given.

Murray


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Subject: RE: Help: My 'B' string is possessed by the devil
From: GUEST
Date: 03 Mar 01 - 04:16 PM

The Buzz Feiten Tuning System


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Subject: RE: Help: My 'B' string is possessed by the devil
From: Justa Picker
Date: 03 Mar 01 - 04:17 PM

...sorry, the previous post was me....


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Subject: RE: Help: My 'B' string is possessed by the devil
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 03 Mar 01 - 04:29 PM

I use my tuner to get my guitar in range, and then I check the octaves. I usually find that the highest E is a bit sharp. All the others are just fine.

If we didn't use tuners, we'd be tuning all night instead of playing music.


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Subject: RE: Help: My 'B' string is possessed by the devil
From: Rollo
Date: 03 Mar 01 - 08:01 PM

Tom, don't let them folks trick you. The whispering voices I hear all night tell me you are absolutely right, your "B" string is possessed by the devil. Exorcism should help. I reccomend the cleansing force of fire. Burn the instrument. *GGG*


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Subject: RE: Help: My 'B' string is possessed by the devil
From: Bernard
Date: 04 Mar 01 - 01:11 PM

I don't use tuners - my ear is quicker, and doesn't suffer battery failures!

Don't get me wrong - I realise there are plenty of people who rely on tuners, but my friends usually give me their instruments to tune, because I can do it quicker by ear than they can with their fancy tuners!!

Each to their own...

The theory about possessed strings is valid - I possess all the strings I own...


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Subject: RE: Help: My 'B' string is possessed by the devil
From: catspaw49
Date: 04 Mar 01 - 02:20 PM

Poblem is Bernard that you're a few strings shy of a ukelele..............

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Help: My 'B' string is possessed by the devil
From: Bernard
Date: 04 Mar 01 - 02:36 PM

Guilty as charged!!


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Subject: RE: Help: My 'B' string is possessed by the devil
From: Bagpuss
Date: 04 Mar 01 - 03:38 PM

Think yourself lucky that its not your G-string that you are having demonic trouble with.

Just thought I would lower the tone (for a change....)

Bagpuss


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Subject: RE: Help: My 'B' string is possessed by the devil
From: Mark Cohen
Date: 04 Mar 01 - 03:49 PM

A music teacher once told me that "well-tempered" is a mistranslation of the German, and "The Well-Tempered Clavier" would be better translated "even-tempered", with "temper" referring to tuning. In other words, as ably described above, the strings are moved a bit away from "perfect" intervals so as to to make all the half and whole steps relatively equal in all scales. It has nothing to do with the instrument's state of mind. (But then again, maybe it does...!)

I usually carry an A-440 tuning fork in my guitar case, and tune the rest of the strings to the A string. But in a noisy room, or if I'm in a hurry, an electronic tuner is wonderful. And the problem with B-strings is that they belong to a different union.

Aloha,
Mark


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Subject: RE: Help: My 'B' string is possessed by the devil
From: Durty Linen
Date: 04 Mar 01 - 03:59 PM

Much good advice has already gone, but to emphasise, the Uillean Pipes have a quarter tone "gap" between bottom D and its octave, yet sound perfectly in tune with a bozouki in the same key. Many guitarists actually unconsciously compensate by slightly bending strings.

Kevin


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Subject: RE: Help: My 'B' string is possessed by the devil
From: GUEST,JohnB
Date: 05 Mar 01 - 12:44 PM

I have been having a similar problem with my guitar recently, although I did not notice it last year when I first bought it, it is also a Seagull. I guess I have been compensating by retuning in the Octave fashion as decribed. I seem to do 6th at third fret to Third open and first at third fret. Fifth open to third at second fret and first at fifth fret and fourth open to second at third fret. It then seems to behave a lot better. I seem to recall Rick Fielding saying something about this problem on an previous Seagull thread. JohnB


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Subject: RE: Help: My 'B' string is possessed by the devil
From: Clinton Hammond
Date: 05 Mar 01 - 01:24 PM

I've emailled LaSiDo and included the URL of this thread... Let's see what they have to say...

;-)


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Subject: RE: Help: My 'B' string is possessed by the devil
From: Bert
Date: 05 Mar 01 - 04:50 PM

AW, picky! picky! picky! It's times like this that I thank the powers that be for blessing me with a tin ear.

Logically any method of compensation is a compromise, as is the even temered scale. A real luthier would build a guitar with an individual set of frets for each string;-)

Another solution is to play in C and use a capo.
(or maybe to sing acapella)

Mark C. Don't ever take a tuning fork to a folk sing unless you're prepared to put up with all the silly comments you'll get, such as "Where do the batteries go?"

Bert.


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Subject: RE: Help: My 'B' string is possessed by the devil
From: catspaw49
Date: 05 Mar 01 - 06:24 PM

Ya' know Bert, with a tin ear, you're probably real hard on earmuffs huh?

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Help: My 'B' string is possessed by the devil
From: Mark Cohen
Date: 05 Mar 01 - 10:37 PM

Bert, I just tell them I brought it for the potluck afterwards.


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Subject: RE: Help: My 'B' string is possessed by the devil
From: MikeofNorthumbria
Date: 06 Mar 01 - 09:02 AM

Hi there Everybody,

Over the years, I've had more grief tuning the B string than I've had with all the other 5 put together. One reason is the problem with string-lengths and saddle compensation that several contributors have already mentioned. But I still get this problem (though not so badly) since I got a guitar with a staggered saddle. I suspect the reason is as follows.

Of all the intervals in the major scale, the major third (C-E, or G-B) is the one where the equally tempered scale and the 'natural' scale are most at variance (I believe the ET major 3rd is about 17% sharp of the natural one.) Even those of us with tin ears can usually spot the difference. And even if we don't understand why, it gives us an uncomfortable feeling, and an urge to give the aberrant string a little tweak. From which point, it is often a short road to disaster. (A road I've trodden many, many times.)

Now, is it just a coincidence that in the standard guitar tuning, the 3rd (G) and 2nd (B) are the only pair of open strings with a major 3rd interval between them?

When you play the standard G chord, that sharp 3rd between the G & B strings usually sounds a bit off. But if you take the B down till it sounds right, and then switch to a standard C chord, the major 3rd interval between C on the 2nd and E on the 1st becomes even wider, and sounds even harsher. At this point, I used to start twisting tuners at random, till chaos reigned.

("Untune that string, and hark what discord follows". Shakespeare: Troilus and Cressida)

There are a few tricks that have helped me to get on top of this problem (most of the time). Anyone else is welcome to them.

1) When practising alone, tune all 6 open strings to a reliable electronic tuner. Then play for a few minutes to warm up yourself and the guitar, and check the tuning electronicaly again. After that – LEAVE IT ALONE!

2) When playing in a session with fixed-pitch instruments (like squeeze-boxes or harmonicas) tune to them. If they play mostly in G and D (as box-players often do) tune your open G and D strings to them first – then settle the other strings by fretting them where they should give a G or D note, and adjusting the peg till the note sounds right. If they play mostly in E and A (like blues harmonica players), tune those notes first.

3) When arranging accompaniments, try to use chord shapes that have only one third in them – and try to make sure that it's not one of the highest notes in the chord (the harsh edge is more noticabe there). When playing a standard G chord, stop the 2nd string at 3rd fret to give a D, rather than the open string B. On a standard C chord, use the 4th finger to hold down the G note on 1st string 3rd fret. And so forth.

4) Before playing, or tuning your guitar, spend a few minutes playing familiar tunes on a fixed pitch instrument (harmonica, electric keyboard etc), just to get your ears limbered up. It will make tuning (and singing) much easier than doing either from a cold start

Wassail!


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Subject: RE: Help: My 'B' string is possessed by the devil
From: M.Ted
Date: 07 Mar 01 - 12:51 AM

Without going into the long explanation (which, I think, is on one of the links above anyway) suffice it to say that the reason that the B string is a problem is that the B pitch is the one that is the most compromised in our tempered system--If you want to have all of your chords play in tune, regardless of the key, do as Mark Cohen says--tune so that all of the A notes on all of the strings are in tune with a 44Ohz tuning fork--you will be amazed at how good your guitar sounds!(use octaves and harmonics)

A quick fix is to take the A that is at the high e string, fifth fret, (assuming this string is in tune), and tuning the B string, fretted on the tenth fret, so that it is a perfect unison.


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Subject: RE: Help: My 'B' string is possessed by the devil
From: Clinton Hammond
Date: 07 May 01 - 02:36 PM

So I finally got a respose from LaSido... And as promised, I'll share it here

"HI,

Thanks for your inquiry and your patience. We receive hundreds of emails and are slowly atching up. In response to your question, if you already tried installing a new compensated saddle and make sure that the top nut is not grabbing the string. If so you can try lightly filing the slot. Or perhaps the neck needs an adjustment. We recommend having an experienced tech do these repairs for you. If need be please have your authorised dealer contact us.

Best regards and we apologize for the delay in response time. Rich."

This any help to you folks??

;-)


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Subject: RE: Help: My 'B' string is possessed by the devil
From: Justa Picker
Date: 07 May 01 - 02:49 PM

Possible remedies (and a trip to your luthier of choice):

- invest in better tuning gears (i.e. Waverly's)
- look into a compensated saddle to correct intonation
- check the nut and make sure it hasn't shifted or sunk (if it has replace it)
- have the fingerboard checked for straightness (be on the look out for slight warps or "bubbles")
- does the neck need a reset? (have it checked)
- has the bridge shifted, or has the top sunk or expanded?
Understand that no guitar will intonate perfectly. It's the nature of the beast...(but some can be pretty damn close.)
What you want to achieve is the instrument relative pitch to itself. Case in point is that you tune to an electronic tuner and your E chord is perfect as is your C and G chords, yet your D chord is out. So try the old fashioned method of just tuning the 6th string with a tuner, and then tune the rest of the strings in intervals to the 6th, by ear.

Take it song by song and make slight changes on the fly. Also you may want to try some different brands of strings, as some seem to hold their tuning better than others...and definitely some tuning gears hold a tuning better than others as well.


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Subject: RE: Help: My 'B' string is possessed by the devil
From: mousethief
Date: 07 May 01 - 03:12 PM

Check for fret wear.

Alex


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Subject: RE: Help: My 'B' string is possessed by the devil
From: GUEST,CraigS
Date: 07 May 01 - 07:36 PM

Nobody seems to mention that the majority of tuners work by an approximation to pitch. This means that tuners can vary! Try comparing several tuners of different makes in a music shop and you may see what I mean - just because they are machines does not make them accurate!


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Subject: RE: Help: My 'B' string is possessed by the devil
From: kendall
Date: 07 May 01 - 07:50 PM

Possessed by the devil eh? They all belong in hell. I hate to sound like a Taylor salesman, but, of all the guitars I have owned, none has been as well balanced as this 810. It is close to perfect in every key. Those electronic things drive me nuts with all that jumping around, I have always used a 440 fork, and, I'm quite satisfied. The compensated saddle is a good bet. My old J 45 Gibson demanded one because the face had risen just a tad over the years and that threw to intonation off.

Funny thing about unwound B strings, on my 12 string, I tune it down to D and I can use a wound B. That solves the problem of intonation. However, they wont take standard pitch


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Subject: RE: Help: My 'B' string is possessed by the devil
From: kendall
Date: 07 May 01 - 07:52 PM

One of my worst nightmares was about having a guitar with ALL 6 B strings!


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Subject: RE: Help: My 'B' string is possessed by the devil
From: GUEST,d miller
Date: 07 May 01 - 10:55 PM

actually, Grolsch would be good in that situation.


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Subject: RE: Help: My 'B' string is possessed by the devil
From: Marion
Date: 08 May 01 - 09:26 AM

What I'm trying to learn is to tune the A string to my metronome - I'm surprised nobody has mentioned it as an alternative to tuners or tuning forks. Is it not a reliable way?

Marion


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Subject: RE: Help: My 'B' string is possessed by the devil
From: Mark Clark
Date: 08 May 01 - 10:16 AM

Marion, It's hard to get a metronome to swing at 440 beats per second.

Seriously though, get a good quality "A" tuning fork and use it to establish concert pitch then tune your instrument by ear as J.P. and others have suggested. You'll be glad you did.

      - Mark


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Subject: RE: Help: My 'B' string is possessed by the devil
From: Grab
Date: 08 May 01 - 01:03 PM

I had a similar problem with my classical - the B string was slightly out, and the E string was noticeably bad. The cause was an out-of-line nut. Took the nut off, padded it out with filler, filed the filler down smooth, then glued the nut back. Job done, and the guitar is perfectly in tune now. It's not to luthiery standards, but I'm not selling the guitar so it doesn't matter...

Graham.


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Subject: RE: Help: My 'B' string is possessed by the devil
From: Whistle Stop
Date: 08 May 01 - 02:46 PM

I'm with Mark, Kendall and others on this -- I prefer to tune to an A 440 tuning fork, and then tune the instrument to itself. When I'm playing out with my (loud) band, an electronic tuner is a necessity. But at home, the tuning fork works much better for me.

And yes, even on a well set up guitar, the B string is at the heart of most tuning problems.


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Subject: RE: Help: My 'B' string is possessed by the devil
From: Marion
Date: 08 May 01 - 11:20 PM

I was serious, Mark; I don't know if this is a standard feature or not, but my Wittner "MT-50 Quartz Metronome" can sing me a nice long 440 HZ A.

I think it has a significant advantage over a tuning fork in that the tone lasts as long as I leave it turned on, so I don't have to keep starting it again like I would with a fork. This is especially appreciated when I'm tuning the fiddle and have a bow in one hand and a fine tuner in the other.

Does it have any disadvantages in comparison to a fork (other than the obvious consideration that I would look much cooler using a fork)?

Marion Marion


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Subject: RE: Help: My 'B' string is possessed by the devil
From: GUEST,WyoWoman (where'd that damned cookie go???)
Date: 08 May 01 - 11:25 PM

My G string is possessed by the Devil, but none of my fans seems to mind ...

ww


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Subject: RE: Help: My 'B' string is possessed by the devil
From: kendall
Date: 09 May 01 - 09:02 AM

Tuning forks dont need batteries, they never wear out, and, they cost less...


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Subject: RE: Help: My 'B' string is possessed by the devil
From: GUEST,Jon Ross
Date: 10 Jul 10 - 01:57 PM

I'm having the same problem right now with my guitar...

There are several possibilities:
1 - The strings are too old. After as little as 4 or 5 weeks, strings can go out of tune (unless they're coated strings, like Elixir). The B and high E strings are the ones that go out first.
2 - You're pressing the B string too hard when playing the D chord. This would cause it to go sharp, leaving it flat when you play the E chord.
3 - The neck is off (I have no knowledge about how that problems happens or how to fix it).
4 - The bridge is off. Take it into a guitar store that will take your guitar apart and tell you what the problem is. They'll fix the bridge if necessary.


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Subject: RE: Help: My 'B' string is possessed by the devil
From: Bernard
Date: 11 Jul 10 - 01:08 PM

Better late than never, I suppose!! I'm guessing the problem was probably sorted around nine years ago!!

;o)


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