SG A string tuning problem

Jay Rosenstein

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Does anyone have any thoughts about this?
My A string is in tune and intonated correctly. But when I play a B or C note (2nd and 3rd frets) it goes way sharp. Higher up the neck, it is fine. What gives?
Is it frets, the nut, bridge? Would appreciate any suggestions. Thanks.
 

donepearce

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These symptoms point to a high nut. When you fret close to it you put a lot of downward bend into the string that pulls it sharp. The nut should be barely higher than a fret would be at that location. If you feel confident you can do the work yourself, but I would suggest a decent luthier.
 

Jay Rosenstein

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do you think the notch can just be cut a little deeper, or would I need a whole new nut?
Thanks for your reply!
 

Go Nigel Go

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You should be able to cut deeper to the proper depth fairly easily. If you are planning to do this yourself (totally doable) just be sure to measure first and approach the final depth gently so as not to go too deep. If you do go too far, all is not lost but you will need to fill the notch and re-cut. Easier just to measure and get it right the first time.
 
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donepearce

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do you think the notch can just be cut a little deeper, or would I need a whole new nut?
Thanks for your reply!

A high nut can always be cut deeper. That is bread and butter work for a luthier. Replacing a nut on a Gibson can be really hard work. At one point, for no apparent reason, they decided to fit them with epoxy rather than a dot of wood glue. You really don't want to be the person who tries to extract one of those without doing collateral damage.
 

Col Mustard

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Welcome to ETSG!

Here is one more suggestion that nobody mentioned yet: Try playing with a lighter touch.
The SG responds really well to this. Mine did.

Finger pressure... I bought my first SG in like 2008 after spending decades as a touring pro
playing acoustic. I had no idea that my acoustic guitar player's "grip of death" was so
powerful.

But the SG showed me squeezing the guitar so hard that I was throwing notes sharp
even though my SG was setup and intonated accurately. I was so pig headed and ignorant
that I couldn't figure this out, and spent too much money on mods that didn't help.

Finally in desperation, I put my SG into the hands of another player, who is better than I
will ever be, and I asked him to play if for me. He went all over it, up and down the neck
and sounded great as usual. He said it was a great guitar.

That's when I knew it was ME doing that. So I made some changes in my playing style.
I forced myself to re-learn all the songs I intended to play on electric, and forced myself
to keep my thumb behind the neck, and to play with a MUCH more relaxed hand.

Not only did I stop throwing notes sharp, but my playing took off and I found my self
playing parts on the SG that I couldn't have done before.

If this doesn't help, then follow the advice of my colleagues above, and get your nut slots adjusted. You can employ a used A string of the gauge you prefer... like a nut slot file. Run the string back and forth a few times, gently. Don't remove a lot of material.
Then string it up and see if that helped. Repeat. This is an amateur way of filing
down your nut slot, but it works (with wound strings anyway).
 
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Jay Rosenstein

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Thank you for that. You are absolutely correct.
I did learn that lesson when it comes to my low E string, and it is a factor. I just haven't been able to touch light enough to keep that A in tune.


Welcome to ETSG!

Here is one more suggestion that nobody mentioned yet: Try playing with a lighter touch.
The SG responds really well to this. Mine did.

Finger pressure... I bought my first SG in like 2008 after spending decades as a touring pro
playing acoustic. I had no idea that my acoustic guitar player's "grip of death" was so
powerful.

But the SG showed me squeezing the guitar so hard that I was throwing notes sharp
even though my SG was setup and intonated accurately. I was so pig headed and ignorant
that I couldn't figure this out, and spent too much money on mods that didn't help.

Finally in desperation, I put my SG into the hands of another player, who is better than I
will ever be, and I asked him to play if for me. He went all over it, up and down the neck
and sounded great as usual. He said it was a great guitar.

That's when I knew it was ME doing that. So I made some changes in my playing style.
I forced myself to re-learn all the songs I intended to play on electric, and forced myself
to keep my thumb behind the neck, and to play with a MUCH more relaxed hand.

Not only did I stop throwing notes sharp, but my playing took off and I found my self
playing parts on the SG that I couldn't have done before.

If this doesn't help, then follow the advice of my colleagues above, and get your nut slots
adjusted.
 

Col Mustard

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the cool part about taking responsibility for your heavy handed grip
is that you can fix it without spending hard earned cash...

the gnarly part is that it's tough to change your style.
but it's worth it. If your hand is gripping the guitar hard enough to
throw it out of tune, then your hand is likely to be all cramped up too,
and less capable of nimble left hand work.

and nimble left hand work is what the SG is made for.
that's why it's worth it to force yourself to correct your posture.
you can liberate your playing and play much better on the
SG than you would have dreamed.

That's how it worked for me. keep your thumb behind the neck
and use it like a pivot. Suddenly your reach increases hugely.
you have to arch your fingers over the strings more, but that's the best
way to play anyway. Hope this helps.

now ya gotta practice. but ya got an SFG to practice with. lucky you...
 

smitty_p

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Plus one on everything @Col Mustard has said! Even if you have a properly cut nut and set up guitar, you can still go sharp if you give your guitar the death grip.

It also helps to try to depress the string as close to the fret as possible. Of course, this can be difficult with complex chords, but it pays to do it as closely as you can.
 

3bolt79

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After the guitar is intimated at the 12th fret, I check the notes at the first fret. I depress them with a light touch. If the note at the 1st fret is sharp, I hold the string at the 3rd fret, and see if the string has air between it and the first fret.

If the string isn’t touching the fret, Ive got room to lower the slot. I take one pass through the slot with a file. Then tune up, and repeat as necessary. On most of the guitars I’ve dealt with one or two passes are usually enough to get the first fret note to not be sharp. But use a real nut file.

A set is about a hundred bucks. They will pay for them selves over time. I’ve re cut about thirty nuts in 2021. They paid for themselves a couple of times already.
 

Jay Rosenstein

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Thanks for tip. A great suggestion. I will do just that. I have a friend who is a certified Gibson tech, so he has the nut files, and I'll make him cut it. He actually used to cut nuts for Gibson.
 


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