Do you struggle with guitar tuning problems? I know how frustrating it gets, because I've owned several guitars with tuning problems ... it can drive you nuts!
Is Your Guitar a Toy?
Did you buy a new guitar at an auction site for a couple bucks and pay ten times as much for delivery as you did for the guitar?
These are usually described as "black acoustic guitar", "red acoustic guitar", "beginner electric guitar package", "pink girls guitar" or something along that line?
Maybe you bought your guitar at a toy store or department store.
Cheap guitars have a lot of guitar tuning problems.
If you need to replace your guitar, you'll discover a ton of enlightening info in my Free Beginner Guitar Buying Guide.
Are you a beginner and new at tuning guitar?
If so keep trying using the method here: How to Tune a Guitar. Sometimes it just takes a bit of practice. This section is for people that are sure something is wrong.
Your acoustic guitar is tuned perfectly but out of tune when you play it!
A common cause of guitar tuning problems is the Guitar's Action. The strings should be fairly close to the top of the frets all the way along the neck (but not close enough to cause buzzing). If the strings are too high above the frets, when you press the string down you will stretch it farther, causing the pitch to rise. Take your guitar to a repair person(most music stores have a repair person), and have them take a look at it.
There can be many reasons that your action is bad and the repair person will tell you what the problem is. If it is just a rod adjustment it shouldn't cost too much, and they might show you how to do it yourself next time.
Your acoustic guitar's bridge pins pop up?
You may have put the strings into the hole too deeply so that the ball at the end of the strings didn't lock under the bridge properly. The balls should be seated firmly by pushing the ball end toward the front of your guitar before the pin is pushed in. If you can't seat the ball, or the winding on the string rides on your saddle, your guitar's bridge reinforcing plate may be worn, or the holes are too big. A repairman will tell you if it's in need of repair.
One string keeps going out of tune.
ALWAYS TUNE UP TO THE NOTE! If your string is higher in pitch than the note you want don't tune down. Instead, tune lower than the note you want, then, tune up to the note. Sometimes strings pinch a bit in the nut groove, and when the string is plucked it will slip looser and drop in pitch.
Other causes may be: the tuning peg is weak(not likely), the string isn't wound properly on the post; the string may be pinching in the nut groove, or the string is getting weak and should be replaced.
Your guitar tuned well before you put on new strings?
The new strings haven't settled in yet. Tug on the strings firmly, but, not like superman. Now re-tune, tug again, and re-tune again. This should solve your guitar tuning problem. If not, the strings may be installed wrong. Try tightening the string while watching it closely at the post, (the part you wound the string onto). Can you see the string slip? If it does you will need to replace it with a new string.
Is the string slipping at the bottom in the bridge? If so; loosen the string, then, loosen but do not remove the pin. Then tug lightly on the string while pushing the pin back into the hole.
Quite often your guitar just doesn't sound right because of the strings. Not all strings are created equally. For a deep understanding of guitar strings this is the only ebook about strings that I know of.
If you own a good guitar or guitars, and want to get the most out of them, I recommend this book before you buy new strings: Think You Know Strings?
Electric Guitar Tuning Problems
Your guitar is tuned perfectly, but not when you play it?
How's your action? If it's O.K., and you have an adjustable saddle the problem is intonation. Checking this is a bit technical, and you will need a chromatic tuner.
You can download a Free Chromatic Guitar Tuner here.
Start by tuning your low E string. After it is tuned exactly, play the E string at the 12th fret. The needle of the tuner should be the same as when the string is played open.
Do this with each string, it only takes one string to mess up the sound. If they aren't exact, take your guitar to a repair person for a setup, or adjust the little screw located in the saddle for that string. It could be a set screw or a plain screw, either at the front or back of the saddle, depending on your guitar. Adjust the saddle forward to lower the note, or backward to raise it. Repeat these steps until all the strings tune properly played open AND at the 12th fret.
Electric guitar with a whammy bar won't tune at all.
If your guitar has a whammy bar, and every time you tune it the lower strings drop in pitch, the bars' springs are not strong enough or you don't have enough of them. You can access the strings behind the plate at the back of the guitar. You should have 4 or 5 springs attached. If you need more you can buy the springs at most music stores.Your Guitar De-tunes When you Use the Whammy Bar.
If you have one of these and the strings need to get re-tuned every time that you use the whammy bar there may be a pinching problem in the nut grooves, your guitar may be missing the hold down clips, or your tuning pegs may be worn and slipping.
Try playing without using the whammy bar ... if your a beginner it will just keep you unfocused any way. If the guitar stays in tune now don't use the whammy bar until you have someone look at it.
I truly hope this information helped solve your guitar tuning problems! If it doesn't take your guitar to someone and have it checked out, or ... You're guitar will need to be setup, adjusted, and of course restrung often during it's life. I've been doing my own setups and minor repairs for years, and saved myself piles of cash. It just takes some knowledge and a bit of self confidence.
Check out this 3 DVD course taught by one of the premier setup and repair people in the world. It's less than the price of one setup: Spotlight Series Guitar Set-Up and Maintenance