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small guitar tuning problems?

Peter T. 10 Feb 06 - 11:15 AM
JohnInKansas 10 Feb 06 - 12:47 PM
Skivee 10 Feb 06 - 01:04 PM
GUEST,Jim 10 Feb 06 - 05:01 PM
Peter T. 10 Feb 06 - 05:20 PM
JudyB 10 Feb 06 - 05:31 PM
open mike 10 Feb 06 - 05:47 PM
Peter T. 14 Feb 06 - 07:15 AM
jonm 14 Feb 06 - 07:29 AM
Peter T. 14 Feb 06 - 01:53 PM
Gurney 14 Feb 06 - 02:38 PM
motco 15 Feb 06 - 10:09 AM
GUEST,M.Ted 15 Feb 06 - 10:39 AM
Peter T. 15 Feb 06 - 12:43 PM
s&r 15 Feb 06 - 02:47 PM
GUEST 15 Feb 06 - 04:40 PM
Peter T. 15 Feb 06 - 05:11 PM
JudyB 15 Feb 06 - 09:01 PM
Scotus 15 Feb 06 - 10:51 PM
John Hardly 16 Feb 06 - 09:20 AM
Peter T. 16 Feb 06 - 05:16 PM
HiHo_Silver 16 Feb 06 - 05:55 PM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 16 Feb 06 - 06:00 PM
Peter T. 16 Feb 06 - 07:12 PM
John Hardly 16 Feb 06 - 07:41 PM
GUEST,Sandy Andina 16 Feb 06 - 07:42 PM
Big Al Whittle 17 Feb 06 - 03:04 AM
C-flat 17 Feb 06 - 03:25 AM
Paco Rabanne 17 Feb 06 - 12:06 PM
Big Al Whittle 17 Feb 06 - 08:16 PM
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Subject: small guitar tuning problems?
From: Peter T.
Date: 10 Feb 06 - 11:15 AM

Hi, techies -- I have acquired a small Martin travelling guitar, and I notice that as soon as one puts a capo on the higher frets, say above 3, the guitar goes out of tune, and has to be retuned. On a standard one has usually to retune a bit, but not this much. I know nothing about the physics of this -- a small guitar has the same size strings, just a smaller body. Or is there something wrong with the guitar: it seems as if the bass strings go out (sharp) the most.

Any wise words appreciated before I go to the trouble of taking it into a shop somewhere.

yours,

Peter T.


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Subject: RE: small guitar tuning problems?
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 10 Feb 06 - 12:47 PM

As a techie - not a guitarist, the suspicion would be that the strings are seated a bit high in the nut, or that the frets are the "large size" that stick up a bit more than you're accustomed to. You may just need to adjust the neck, to get the strings a bit closer to the fingerboard.

When the capo pulls the strings down against the fret, it has to slightly stretch the string. If you're setting the capo on the fingerboard, just behind the fret, there's a bit of additional stretch.

Usual advice from the gitterists is to be careful to get the capo on the fret or as close as possible, to minimize the extra stretch in the strings.

The amount of pitch change for a given amount of additional length will vary slightly with the tension of a given string relative to it's intended "working load." Usually, a "slack" string will change more than one that's close to normal tension. Changing to a heavier string on the ones that are the most problem, so that they're tuned a bit tighter, may reduce the "de-tuning;" but won't make it go away completely. It will increase the load on the neck and may not suit your playing style.

John


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Subject: RE: small guitar tuning problems?
From: Skivee
Date: 10 Feb 06 - 01:04 PM

The neck could be out of alignment, the neck angle could be too high, the capo could be a crappy capo, you might be putting the capo on too tight (the capo should be used with the least tension that fret the string), the string gauges could be wrong, the nut could be too high, the bridge could be too high, or you could be writing run-on sentences like this one.
I hope this helps.


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Subject: RE: small guitar tuning problems?
From: GUEST,Jim
Date: 10 Feb 06 - 05:01 PM

What kind of capo do you use? I find that the spring type, like Keysers or Dunlop Triggers, always require retuning, especially on the first two frets. This is because you can't control how much pressure to apply and they pull the strings sharp. I much prefer the Shubb or Paige. You tighten them only enough to stop the buzzing and they need much less retuning.
(You are also not tempted to put them on the guitar head when you're not using them, which I think looks unsightly, especially when combined with an electronic tuner.)


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Subject: RE: small guitar tuning problems?
From: Peter T.
Date: 10 Feb 06 - 05:20 PM

Thank you all really a lot for your helpful information, I will juggle with all of these before going any further -- change capos, tighten the strings (I have been in open D, I will try open E) and so on.

yours,

Peter T.


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Subject: RE: small guitar tuning problems?
From: JudyB
Date: 10 Feb 06 - 05:31 PM

I found the same thing with my baby Martin, so I don't think it's pecular to your guitar. Lower-pressure capos (as suggested) did help some. It may be partly a "feature" of baby Martins, though I found it happened with a little Taylor I tried for comparison. I don't have as much trouble with my Larrivee parlors, but they are a bit bigger.

Good luck, and let us know if you find a great solution!

JudyB


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Subject: RE: small guitar tuning problems?
From: open mike
Date: 10 Feb 06 - 05:47 PM

you might file down the groove the string sits in at the nut
to lessen the space between string and fingerboard
that is unless it buzzes or the strings are quite
close already..in which case a piece of paper inserted
under the string fills the gap. in a pinch, you can
chew up a piece of paper to get a tiny wad..like done by
wasps and pea shooters.

pa-tooey!


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Subject: RE: small guitar tuning problems?
From: Peter T.
Date: 14 Feb 06 - 07:15 AM

Continuing thanks. I have tuned up my guitar to an open E and it seems to help a bit, and changed capos. Still having some problems, but at least I know some of the issues.

yours,

Peter T.


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Subject: RE: small guitar tuning problems?
From: jonm
Date: 14 Feb 06 - 07:29 AM

This is a common problem with all travel guitars: the shorter scale means lower string tension and the instrument is much more susceptible to minor variations. If it plays OK with open strings, don't start messing with new nuts or setup changes. Use a Shubb capo set for minimum grip and put it as close to the fret as you can.


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Subject: RE: small guitar tuning problems?
From: Peter T.
Date: 14 Feb 06 - 01:53 PM

It is still a puzzle to me -- it is not a shorter scale (at least not on the baby Martins), the strings are the same length. Is it something to do with the physics of a smaller body?

yours,

Peter T.


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Subject: RE: small guitar tuning problems?
From: Gurney
Date: 14 Feb 06 - 02:38 PM

A full chromatic electronic tuner and patient experimentation should help to understand the causes. You don't have to buy one, there are a couple on freeware sites (or were, I haven't looked lately) which work well with a computer, when you use a good microphone.
My guitar is the same, and that is because I built a new bridge and tuned it by ear. The neck angle was too low so I needed a lower bridge, and I got the bridge ALMOST right. OK with barred chords, horrid with a capotasto.

A friend made a bridge bone for his box that was thicker than normal at the base, and shaved sideways at the top to lengthen and shorten strings. A lot of fiddly work, but it fixed the problem. He has to be careful of the order in which he changes strings, though.


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Subject: RE: small guitar tuning problems?
From: motco
Date: 15 Feb 06 - 10:09 AM

And I thought the Pussycat was complaining at the Owl again...!

As mentioned above, short scale instruments are more prone to being thrown out of tune by a capo due to string displacement occuring over a shorter distance.

I subscribe also to the various ideas put forward above. A combination of achieving a lower action, placement of the capo very close behind the fret and the use of a capo where you can adjust the pressure (rather than the spring-loaded type) may all help.

motco


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Subject: RE: small guitar tuning problems?
From: GUEST,M.Ted
Date: 15 Feb 06 - 10:39 AM

Try heavier gauge strings--I've had this problem before, and the heavier strings did the trick--


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Subject: RE: small guitar tuning problems?
From: Peter T.
Date: 15 Feb 06 - 12:43 PM

But it is not a short scale!

yours,

Peter T.


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Subject: RE: small guitar tuning problems?
From: s&r
Date: 15 Feb 06 - 02:47 PM

24" compared to 25.5 typical. Tad short scale. Light strings recommended which are more prone to tuning variation. I remember my backpacker having quite a thick neck - would increase capo pressure if not corrected.

Stu


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Subject: RE: small guitar tuning problems?
From: GUEST
Date: 15 Feb 06 - 04:40 PM

Unless you had it made in the custom shop, it is what we would consider short scale - seems like typically, a scale length under standard dreadnought size is considered short scale.

Some common guitar scale lenghts, according to buildyourguitar.com

22.50" / 571.50 mm Fender Jazzmaster/Jaguar
23.50" / 571.50 mm Gibson Byrdland
24.00" / 609.60 mm Fender Duo-Sonic/Mustang
24-9/16" / 623.88 mm Gibson-style guitar (See note below)
24.75" / 628.65 mm Rickenbacker, Guild-style guitar
25.00" / 635.00 mm PRS, National-style guitar
25.34" / 643.64 mm Martin standard steel string guitar
25.40" / 645.16 mm Martin Dreadnought or OM steel string guitar
25.50" / 647.70 mm Fender-style-guitar, Gibson acoustic guitar
25.59" / 650.00 mm Typical classical guitar
25-5/8" / 650.88 mm Guild acoustic guitar
27.67" / 702.82 mm Baritone guitar
30.00" / 762.00 mm Short scale bass guitar
32.50" / 825.50 mm Medium scale (Rickenbacker-style) bass guitar
34.00" / 863.60 mm Long scale (Fender-style) bass guitar

I'm something of a capo junkie, and find that the shubb and bird of paradise work best on our baby Taylor. (Obviously, different from your Martin, but still a smaller-sized guitar.) For my full size guitars, I generally use a Shubb or a G7.


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Subject: RE: small guitar tuning problems?
From: Peter T.
Date: 15 Feb 06 - 05:11 PM

I guess what I meant is that it is the same length as my standard guitars, and they don't seem to have this problem. So far as I can tell.

Anyway, thanks again.

yours,

Peter T.


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Subject: RE: small guitar tuning problems?
From: JudyB
Date: 15 Feb 06 - 09:01 PM

Interesting - playable neck area is longer on my baby Martin (roughly 12-3/4) than on my larger Larrivee parlors (roughly 12"), and the baby Martin has more frets. My full-size has been packed away for the winter, but I doubt if the neck is shorter the baby Martin - and it may be the same.

However, the full string length (nut to bridge on the low E string) is 23-1/4 on the baby Martin and 24-1/4 on the Larrivee parlor - and I doubt if my dreadnought-size Yamaha has shorter strings than the Larrivee parlor.

I have an LXME Little Martin, and the Martin site says it has a scale length of 23"; looking at their web site, the bigger D and J models seem to have scale lengths of 25.4. I have 14 frets, and they feel like standard spacing - I played a big Yamaha for a long time, until my shoulder announced that it was way too big for someone not quite five feet tall. But the length of the string over the body is less on the Little Martin than on a standard guitar.

Not sure which smaller Martin you have - the scale length on the backpacker is 24" (according to Martin), and other smaller models may be closer to the "big guys."

I'm very fond of my Little Martin - it has great sound and is highly portable and inexpensive enough that I can take risks with it I wouldn't with my Larrivees. But it's not fond of capos.

JudyB


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Subject: RE: small guitar tuning problems?
From: Scotus
Date: 15 Feb 06 - 10:51 PM

That's weird -

I have a Martin D35 and a Schoeberg/Bourgoise Dreadnought and have always had trouble 'up the neck' with a capo on both of them. I just got and ancient Lyon and Healy Lakeside parlor sized guitar and the same capo (a schub adjustable 'over center')is working perfectly all the way up on it!


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Subject: RE: small guitar tuning problems?
From: John Hardly
Date: 16 Feb 06 - 09:20 AM

There's a trick that Tony Rice does that I wouldn't have thought a probable solution. He puts the capo directly on the fret -- not right behind it as most people do. I didn't think it would work until I tried it. I thought it would have a muting affect on the strings. It doesn't seem to.

I also agree with heavier gauge strings -- they bend less. With some types of capos, and various ways in which we put them on, we bend the strings to the side. The Shubb is excellent, but because it hinges on one side, it is a very likely candidate for this type of string bending.

...or maybe it's because it's a short-scale guitar :^)


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Subject: RE: small guitar tuning problems?
From: Peter T.
Date: 16 Feb 06 - 05:16 PM

Actually, I am an idiot. I measured and discovered that indeed this baby Martin is 2 inches shorter than a standard. It sure looked the same. Duh.

It remains strange that this should have such an effect, though. (I avoid all sexual reference here........)

yours,

Peter T.


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Subject: RE: small guitar tuning problems?
From: HiHo_Silver
Date: 16 Feb 06 - 05:55 PM

FYI: Presuming that the string height is not overly high - which I doubt- on your Martin; I would consider a "Hamilton Fret Spanner Capo". This capo clamps directly on top of the fret wire and tightens with a screw device at the back. This eliminates excessive string stretching and although slow to put on I have found much more suitable. Have used it extensively with electric guitars with very acceptable results.


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Subject: RE: small guitar tuning problems?
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 16 Feb 06 - 06:00 PM

Even a really well made guitar can never be totally in tune all the time - specially up the neck - it's always a compromise. I have two 'big' Martins which are regularly set up by an expert pro, and I still have to retune every string when capoing - even if only on the third fret. Baby and travel guitars will suffer more, both because of the short scale and the thin strings advised by the makers.

As for capos - I'd suggest you avoid the G7 if you play gigs. I know SO many people who've had them fail suddenly. I got through three in quick succession myself, ruining a song each time. Now if I see them in a shop I tell the guy not to stock 'em! :-). Shubbs are good, but they have to be just so - with a twist to the wheel for every fret. What with talking to the audience AND tuning all six strings, AND remembering the intro to the next song, that's quite enough multi-tasking for one intro, thanks! I went back to the Kyser in the end. You can tune through them, they're never over-tight (major problem with Shubbs), and they always fall square on the strings. Thin too, and the most out of the way of your first finger (Dunlops are thin, but not strong enough for the larger Martin - tend to buzz).


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Subject: RE: small guitar tuning problems?
From: Peter T.
Date: 16 Feb 06 - 07:12 PM

Sorry to ask a dumb question (I have proved my stupidity enough), but why is a short scale prone to this problem? Is it because there is less room for error?

yours,

Peter T.


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Subject: RE: small guitar tuning problems?
From: John Hardly
Date: 16 Feb 06 - 07:41 PM

yup.


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Subject: RE: small guitar tuning problems?
From: GUEST,Sandy Andina
Date: 16 Feb 06 - 07:42 PM

If you are going to use a G7 capo, which is the best I've tried until it breaks, always carry a spare Kyser, Shubb, Dunlop or whatever. When it breaks, hoo boy does it ever break! I have had a G7 fall completely to bits when I released the lever. On guitars that tend to go sharp when capoed (short scales or jumbo fret models like my Gibson Songwriter Deluxe), I've found the Dunlop Victor (which has adjustable tension via a small thumbwheel) to work best.


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Subject: RE: small guitar tuning problems?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 17 Feb 06 - 03:04 AM

interesting stuff about the g7, which I got in november this year at the avalon - I see they're down to £17 on e-bay.

how long did you have the G7 before it went wrong. thanks for the warning - fore armed is foreskinned.
I've got a Kyser, which I haven't used for months and a house full of shubbs (bought a load in a rush of blood to the head).

they all work.
I carry two tuners one of those you stick on the end of the guitar and another one for when the stick-on one decides 'god isn't life awful, I've gone all blank!'.

I notice Ken Nicol uses three guitars in separate tunings, which is a position I am getting round to. I did have a variax, which is great for noisy pubs (press a button and theres a new tuning), but for places where the audience listen, it's not really guitar-like enough.

anybody tried the new csf range of little guitars from yamaha yet?


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Subject: RE: small guitar tuning problems?
From: C-flat
Date: 17 Feb 06 - 03:25 AM

I was a big fan of the G7 myself and have posted on this site extolling its virtues but, despite its wonderful design, the G7 does have a tendency to fall to pieces.
After the first time I was prepared to replace it, assuming I may have accidentally damaged it somehow, but the next one went the same way, so back to the old Kysers for me!

I did have a variax, which is great for noisy pubs (press a button and theres a new tuning), but for places where the audience listen, it's not really guitar-like enough.

I love my electric Variax for its gigging versatility, and had high hopes for the accoustic model but as for getting alternate tunings at the touch of a button, I find the "slider" difficult to operate and struggle to work out just where certain tuning options lay.
Touch button selection would be much more preferable!

C-flat


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Subject: RE: small guitar tuning problems?
From: Paco Rabanne
Date: 17 Feb 06 - 12:06 PM

If you have a look at the G7 website, they are offering FREE replacements of faulty capos. They admit to a design cock up and reckon it has now been rectified. I'm a Shubb man myself.


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Subject: RE: small guitar tuning problems?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 17 Feb 06 - 08:16 PM

the price I paid for mine, they should bring one to me onstage by courier service (with a complimentary bottle of champagne), if it buggered up.

however it hasn't .....yet!


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