Is my neck bent or the frets not set properly? Will a setup fix this?

In the past i would only tune the low E to either a fork, i only had one, or some other contraption like a pitch pipe which was a real pain. Then i would tune the guitar to itself going down the strings one at a time. By the time i got to the high E i assumed that it was in tune.

Then i began to question why some chords sound like crap and totally out of tune. I would check the tuning and the strings were in tune with each other.

Fast forward to how i tune now, which is using an electronic tuner but i tune each individual string. By the time i get to the high E and tune that, some of the strings above it are not in tune with other strings anymore.

So is this just a bad fret placement or bent neck issue?

What is the cause of individual strings being in tune but not in tune when i check against others using the 5th fret method?

This guitar has not been set up yet.

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This sound normal to me.

What guitar are you tuning? An acoustic or electric? If electric tremolo or fixed?

As you tune, you change the sting tension and pull on the neck. Tightening the strings increases tension and increases bow or relief of the neck. Loosening them does the reverse. This in turn may loosen the other strings a little, requiring a small adjustment.
This shouldn’t be a big effect once the strings have been brought up to tune the first time after putting them on.
This is similar with a fixed bridge electric.

With a tremolo bridge (floating) there is also the movement of the bridge. This is much more pronounced and why tremolos are notoriously more difficult to get into tune. It becomes a series of finer and finer adjustments until all the strings are right.

Once in tune, you may need to adjust the truss rod ( mostly if there is a change in string gauge) and adjust the floating bridge so that it’s base is parallel to the guitar body. But if the guitar is reasonably set up and string gauge is the same, you probably don’t.

Basically, the neck is not perfectly rigid (nor is the tremolo bridge) so all the strings effect each other to some degree. Adjustments should be minor. Nothing wrong with the guitar.

If you lived in Denver, I would look at it for you!

A pitch pipe is pretty old school!

An electric fender squire short scale mustang is what i have. Fixed bridge.

I have seen this behavior on all guitars i have ever used so far. Where i tune the strings but by the time i get to the high e end of the strings, they are no longer in tune with each other and sound off when playing chords. Even though the individual strings are in tune.

Pitch pipes were a pain and was happier using the fork on the soundboard. I got better feedback from the fork when tuning. For me it worked better.

Is it even possible to get each individual string in tune and have them be in tune with each other? This is what i guess i am aiming at. This is what is leading me to question my neck or fret placements.

I understand that wood is not a totally rigid material once stressed by strings. I also understand that fret placement on cheaper guitars, like mine at 150 pounds, might not be absolutley perfect.

Maybe i should get it properly set up first and then revisit this question to see if it is resolved.

If they are each in tune using the clip on tuner, but not in tune to each other when fretted at the 5th fret, check with the tuner and fretting at the 5th. If your ears were correct, it must be the intonation, which is adjustable at the bridge.

Sure, it could be a really screwed up build, but that is not too likely.

Look at this link. It isn’t too hard to do this yourself.

Thanks for that jamolay. I am afraid that this is a tiny bit over my head. Since i have never, ever, played with a properly set up guitar i will take it in and feel the difference.

One think i forgot to mentions is that i live in the UK which has some pretty wild temperature swings. The fact that my domicile is not exactly energy efficient also means that my guitar is subject to those swings when the heater goes on or off. I experience pretty drastic changes upwards of 10 degrees celcius. I try to let the guitar warm up for half an hour before i even touch it.

I will revisit this after a setup and report back.

I doubt it’s the “wild” temperature swings we get in the UK. Let’s be honest whilst the temperatures vary a bit between summer and winter it’s not massive temperature swings or should I say I’ve never noticed the swing between summer and winter changing things a lot in terms of tuning. As others have said it’s not uncommon to tune all strings and then find the previously tuned strings are slightly out again…they just need fine tuning to be back in tune…on other words you go through the process of tuning a couple of times and everything should be good.

The differences right now in temperatur that i have indoors is pretty drastic and rather fast. With the heater on my place goes up to 19 which i find a bit too warm. But within an hour of turning the heater off the temp indoors drops down to near 10 celcius. That is no longer comfortable at all and will prompt anybody to either grab a sweater or seek some other means to get warm.

With electricity prices going through the roof at the moment i cant afford to heat the place every second i am there and have to turn it off because i am too warm. Then the place gets pretty damn cold fairly quickly. So the guitar goes through these cycles of warm/cold more than a few times a day.

My bad for not being clear on the temp changes.

I woke up to 11 celcius in the living room this morning and in my kitchen it was 8. That is cold. Just to give you an idea

Hi there,

A proper setup is always a good idea as the luthier can make adjustments that fit your anatomy or playing style.

As for the need for fine-tuning some strings, that should be normal unless they go way out of tune by the time you finish with the thin strings. It happens to me that by the time I tune all the strings and try the low E again, it needs a bit of a tweak, and then everything is fine.

Btw, 19°C indoors seems way too cold for me, even in a sweater.

I don’t think those sort of temp differences will affect your guitar…prolonged humidity/damp might. most houses will experience differences of 6-8 degree changes overnight even with central heating (as most people turn it off overnight). So I wouldn’t worry about that. As others have said at worst its intonation that needs setting or in fact nothing outside of the normal. It’s easy to check the intonation quickly as per the video…just play an open string - check the tuner, then play the same string fretted at the 12th and check again…if there is a significant difference then some adjustment might be required. If you really want it checked take it to a Luthier…but it sounds like that might be an expense you don’t need right now.

A good professional set up is always a good idea, and if you don’t muck around much or drastically change string gauges, it shouldn’t need to be done often.

But, it does cost money and there is a lot you can do yourself. The intonation thing needs a screwdriver and some patience. Your truss rod needs a hex wrench and some patience.

Not for everyone though, so whatever works best!

The temperature swings may be less important than humidity swings. Either way, it probably just means you may need to tweak the tuning every time you play. I tune before playing a every time anyway, so not an issue for me.

Hi David. Good advice in the above replies,but i’ll just add that if the nut is cut too high it’ll affect intonation on the lower frets. In that case when you’d tuned the string to pitch you’d find that it was slightly out on the lower frets but then by the time you got to the twelfth it was ok again.

Just noticed a huge typo in the orignal text.

Original: Then i began to question why some chords sound like crap and totally out of tune. I would check the tuning and the strings were in tune with each other.

Correct : Then i began to question why some chords sound like crap and totally out of tune. I would check the tuning and the strings were NOT in tune with each other.

As in i would tune each string individually. Then i check with the 5th fret method of tuning the guitar to itself. Usually starting on the G string they would all be out of tune with each other using the 5th fret mothod. So i would tune the guitar to itself using the 5th only to find that the strings are out of tune again when i checked them individually.

This is what i was trying to explain. Sorry for the confusion. Just now noticed the typo.

Interesting. Could it be that you press the strings so hard they go out of tune?

Are they staying out of tune with open strings too? Or just the 5th fret?

I ask because I’m having a similar issue myself. It’s very minor in my case but the G and B strings are going ever so slightly out of tune and the low E is buzzing. Could be I simply need new strings but its a floyd rose setup and I’m intimidated. I’m not comfortable changing strings on a floyd rose (maybe I shouldn’t have gotten one but the deal was good).

With mine it’s out of tune with open strings. What I’m wondering in your case is if it’s out of tune as you move up the neck is it an intonation issue?

I wondered the same thing, particularly if the action is a bit high