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Tony’s Acoustic Challenge – The New Way to Learn Guitar Family Forums Community Support When tuning my guitar should all the notes down the fretboard be in tune?

  • When tuning my guitar should all the notes down the fretboard be in tune?

    Posted by NW7 on August 8, 2021 at 5:23 pm

    When I tune my guitar obviously I adjust the knobs so that the tuner hits the middle position. However, out of curiosity I checked the notes down the fretboard and those notes did not hit in the middle. Should they?

    arfman2882 replied 2 years, 9 months ago 8 Members · 13 Replies
  • 13 Replies
  • Wm.Jacobson

    August 8, 2021 at 8:14 pm

    In a perfect world, yes; however, this is often not the case. For example, a high action will cause you to have to stretch the string more and will pull the fretted note sharp. If there is any relief in the neck at all, this condition gets worse as you move down the neck. Intonation is one reason not to rely entirely on the tuning of the open string. Play your chords, listen for sour notes, retune as necessary (or just settle for close enough). Whatever’s right.

    • Marty73

      August 10, 2021 at 11:32 am


  • David_Leo

    August 9, 2021 at 3:53 am

    William is correct. There is also a tendency for the intonation the neck to be “off” as the strings age. It may be a sign that you need to change strings. If this continues with new strings, your guitar may need a professional set up.

  • NW7

    August 9, 2021 at 5:45 am

    Thanks for the replies. When I tune the open strings and then test the rest of the notes, they all seem to be too high. I’ll try getting new strings.

    @William, @David_Leo

    • This reply was modified 2 years, 9 months ago by  NW7.
  • NW7

    August 9, 2021 at 7:07 am

    After doing a little research I had no idea that strings would need to be changed as often as they do! I’ve had my guitar for a little over a month and have put in over 30 practice sessions, so maybe the strings do in fact need changed.

    I have been finding some odd notes recently when practicing and for the life of me I couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong because I appeared to be holding the chord properly. So, hopefully worn strings is the problem.

    Should I spring for the more expensive Elixir strings? Supposedly they last a lot longer?

  • NW7

    August 9, 2021 at 8:06 am

    After more research Im going to clean them first. haha Didn’t know I was going to have to do that either.

  • David_Leo

    August 10, 2021 at 4:59 am

    Strings would not normally need replacing after just a month, but conditions vary. Yes, try cleaning and be sure to wipe them down after each use. Coated strings may definitely help with longevity.

  • Dennis.G

    August 10, 2021 at 2:07 pm

    Lots of good replies here. Another couple of things, both of which can cause the pitch to go sharp when playing a fretted note: Pressing down too hard on the string or pulling/pushing the string out of line when fretting with your finger.

  • Maydog

    August 10, 2021 at 7:12 pm

    I frequently tune at the 5th fret. Most of the notes I play are fretted, so I would rather have those in tune and have the open strings slightly flat (vs having the open strings in tune and fretted notes slightly sharp).

  • JohnV

    August 11, 2021 at 6:17 am

    Guitars are not perfect. In fact most studio musicians have to retune their guitars for certain chords. Or should i say they have to tweak the tuning because in different places on the neck chords will be slightly out of tune so the musician will tweak for that chord, then they “punch” the chord into the song.

    I don’t have one, but the Taylor V-Class bracing has done a lot to improve on the in tuneness of the guitar. I have seen a video where one studio musician was amazed when he tried the V-Class bracing and made the statement that he would not need to tweak that guitar for certain chords.

    Regarding string life, lots of factors go into string life. How hard you play, how often you play, do you clean your hands before playing, how much acid is in your sweat, are the strings coated, humidity, etc. As you gain experience, you will get a feel for when it is time to change your strings with your conditions and playing style.

    As for me, I can usually get 2 months of use out of strings, longer with Elixirs. I also almost never tune my B and high E strings to pitch. They are always slightly flat. The important thing is that all strings are in tune with each other.

    The biggest plus here, you are learning to distinguish pitch and are starting to hear when things are not quite right. That is a huge win.


  • NW7

    August 11, 2021 at 9:49 am

    Thanks everyone!

  • NW7

    August 11, 2021 at 12:05 pm

    I just ended up buying new strings since cleaning them didn’t seem to fix the problem with out of tune notes at certain frets. My guitar was a display model and I have no idea how long it was sitting there, how much it had been played, what kind of strings it has or anything. I bought some coated D’Addario strings. If I made a mistake by getting new strings too soon it’s only a $9 mistake so no big deal.

  • arfman2882

    August 11, 2021 at 4:08 pm

    Intonation will never be perfect on an acoustic guitar. It is possible, though, that you are fretting too aggressively and bending the notes out of tune.

    My recommendation is you take it to your local tech and have them look the guitar over. Sometimes the top warps behind the bridge. A more likely scenario is that your relief will need to be adjusted or you’re fretting too aggressively. Go get it setup professionally and then make sure to get a setup about once a year and try to keep your guitar comfy while it’s at home.

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