As a guitarist you surely must know how hard tuning a guitar can get. The G string especially is always a bit out of tune when you play chords after using a tuner. With this series I hope to help you with tuning-related issues, as I share my studio and live experience from the past quarter of a century. So let’s improve the tuning of your guitar, part 4 – How to tame that darn G string.
Guitarists, recording engineers and guitar technicians will benefit from reading this blog post. By reading this post you will learn how to tune the G string so that it’s in tune when you play chords.
Improve The Tuning Of Your Guitar, part 4
– How To Tame That Darn G String
In the first part of this series you learnt how using tuners from different manufacturers may result in detune. If you haven’t read it yet, please click the link below:
The second part explained how much the plucking level affects both the pitch and tuning. Please read it before continuing by clicking this link:
In the third part you learnt how to fine-tune your guitar and not to trust the tuner only. If you haven’t read my Precision Tuning Tip yet, please click the link below:
This time we’ll tackle the dilemma of the most challenging string to tune as I’ll teach you how to tame that darn G string.
Tuning the G string
As long as I’ve played the guitar, I have always struggled with the G string. When tuning my old and cheap guitar it turned out almost impossible. Just when the G was about to be perfect the string twitched way too high. That was due to the not-so-quality parts and as I was too afraid to modify the nut, we used pencil lead in the slots as an easy fix. Even after fixing the nut G tends to be the string that’s the most common culprit for detune.
Not everyone can get their hands on the Buzz Feiten system, so on this tip we’ll concentrate on a regular guitar. It helps to use a thicker string set, as how hard you press the strings can sometimes be an issue. Thicker strings help in that department. Then again, instead of just the G, the pressing level affects all strings so we’ll talk about that in detail on part 5 of this series. This time we’ll concentrate on the G string only and how to improve its tuning.
A tiny bit higher or lower
Back in the day when I tuned the guitar for Alexi Laiho and most of the guitar players who arrived to Astia for sessions, I noticed that not many of the instruments sounded great when tuned using a meter only. Some needed the G to be a lot higher and some the opposite. Did you know that it’s very rare for the G string to sound perfect in tune after tuning it with a tuner?
Naturally you should have the truss rod and intonation set right. For this tip to work you should have all the adjustments done. It helps to have thicker strings and to use The Coolest Tuning Tip Ever pt. 1 method. Yet, still that tedious G string often sounds detuned. This brings us to the words of wisdom: instead of watching the tuner, you should always use your ears.
On some guitars you can tune all other strings using a tuner, yet G is always best to adjust by ear. Then there are some instruments where you can tune the three thickest strings using a tuner and the high strings are always detuned. You should learn how your instrument behaves and on which strings you can trust a tuner and which the ear.
Learn to tune the G string using this method:
- Tune all strings using a tuner
- Repeat #1 until you do not have to touch the tuning knobs
- Check the tuning using the Precision Tuning Tip as explained in the previous part
- If the G string sounds detuned, skip it and tune all other strings first
- When all except G string are in tune, try to tune it a bit low or high
- Tune the G string until the Precision Tuning Tip chords sound clean all over the neck
- Check the tuning of the G string using a tuner
- Memorize how low or high according to the tuner it needs to be to sound correct
So, first you should tune the guitar using a tuner and then fine-tune by ear. Once the chords sound in tune, check with the tuner how much higher or lower you need to tune the G string. Once you start tuning the G string directly to it, the tuning will be faster and your instrument will sound better in tune. In addition you will save not only your but also your bandmates’ and the recording engineer’s nerves which they highly appreciate.
As every guitar is an individual, you should learn how the G string needs to be tuned for each of your guitar. Most of the time it will be a bit lower or higher compared to what the tuner says. If you happen to own a guitar that has a G string that sounds in tune when you tune it using a tuner, you should congratulate yourself. You have managed to find an excellent guitar!
Learn to tune each guitar individually
It’s very rare that you can tune two guitars exactly the same way. What I mean by that is the small nuances when it comes to pitch and tuning. To notice them you need to be fully focused. I recommend you to use the tuner first and then fine-tune by ear. Never rely on the tuner alone. Learn which strings need to be a bit high or low compared to the tuner to have the chords sound perfect. Sometimes also the B and high E need to be different from what the tuner shows. When you focus and listen, you will know what you need to do.
The more accurate the tuner, the more it helps you. Please do remember that there are differences between the tuners as explained in my previous post. The most important lesson here is that the tuner only tells you when individual strings are in tune. Yet, what it doesn’t show is whether the chords sound great or not. So always trust your ear when tuning the guitar and never trust the tuner alone.
Learn more guitar-related tips
Thank you for reading part 4 of my guitar tuning series. From the bottom of my heart I hope this post will help you tune your guitar and especially the G string. If you find this post helpful, please share it on social media. That way you will help your friends to benefit from the information too.
To hear your guitar in great detail reserve a tape recording session with me at Astia-studio click here and let’s continue from there. Thank you very much and all the very best!
Read more of my guitar-related blog posts:
- How To Improve Guitar Sound pt. 1
- The Coolest Tuning Tip Ever pt. 1
- Avoid This Common Mistake When Recording Guitar
Astia-studio is a full analog recording studio located in eastern Finland with 25 years of experience. Bands and artists from all over the world including USA and the furthest corner of Russia, Vladivostok have arrived to us for tape recording sessions.