Top secret’s to keeping your guitar in tune (For steel string acoustics)

Author: Ian-Bush   Date Posted:22 September 2011 

Artist Guitars

Today’s blog is all about how to keep your guitar in tune. For beginners (And even players of many years) this is a subject that doesn’t get much attention – but it’s a cause of incredible frustration.

So What is something you can’t do much about ?


Machine heads. There are good and bad (and some that are extremely expensive), but the most fundamental difference is die-cast and covered. At Artist Guitars we only use die-cast or other high quality machine heads. The difference is quite simple, a die-cast machine head is made from a mould at high tolerance, so it will be smoother and stay in tune better – these days with the much better production techniques there is really no excuse to use cheap covered machine heads, in my opinion you should always choose a guitar with die-cast machine heads.

So now that’s out of the way What are things you can do something about ?


There are 5 main causes of tuning problems on a steel string guitar.

1. Machine heads
2. Too little string on the machine head
3. Too Much string on the machine head – the ideal here is 3-4 turns
4. Gaps in the string on the machine head (this is a common issue and so easily solved)
5. The ball end of the string is not sitting on the sound board (or top of the
guitar)

So how do we solve the 4th and 5th issues it’s so simple ... Pull on your strings

Let me explain.

Pulling on your strings helps remove the slack at the machine head , It also helps settle the string into the top of the guitar.

Go and grab your guitar now. Play a note - Pull the string (give it a good go , if you’re worried use the low E as there is no way you can break this string) play the same note again. If the pitch is the same your guitar was fine, but if it changed you had slack in your system. This simple secret will keep you in tune for much, much longer.

Now try another test. Gently pull your bridge pin out (but only half way or the string may come out – be careful here and protect your eyes) if you can do that without the note changing pitch then you were setup correctly - you should be able to move the bridge pin and have almost no effect on the pitch of the string.

How do I stop the bridge pin issue happening the next time I change my string’s ?

Put a bend in the end of your string 1-2cm from the ball, as you push the bridge pin in the guitar pull back on the string so it’s sitting right on the sound board (as an added benefit your tone will also be much better)


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