Why Does the “G” String Go Out of Tune So Easily?


acoustic guitar | Sandy Music Lab

As you know, tuning is a massive part of being a guitar player. And if you tune your guitar regularly, you may have noticed that the G string often needs a re-tuning more frequently than the other strings. But what is the reason for this?

The G string tends to go out of tune so easily due mainly to its placement on the guitar. The type of strings used and the position of the string relative to the nut of the guitar can also have an affect on how well the G string holds its pitch.

In this article, I’ll explain the various reasons why the G string goes out of tune so quickly and what you can do to better keep your guitar in tune for longer. I’ll also discuss how to ensure the rest of the strings stay in tune as well. 

What It Means To Be ‘Out of Tune’

Before we delve into the G string, let’s take a moment to figure out what ‘out of tune’ means. Every song has notes from letters A-G, and singing or playing those notes correctly means that the song sounds good and you are performing it like the original author intended it to be done. 

Being out of tune means your instrument or voice is singing or playing a different note than what has been composed. One can play out of tune when the pitch is sharp or flat of a note within a scale. 

This can make certain songs sound off-key and generally ruin your performance. So if you want your music to turn out well, you should certainly make sure that everything is in tune!

Reasons the G String Goes Out of Tune So Easily

All of your guitar strings will eventually go out of tune, primarily due to not being played. However, the G-string is a unique beast for musicians, and it’s mostly related to how the strings rest on your actual guitar, so let’s look at the string itself.

The Type of String 

In most cases, the string is plain and not wound. Wound strings are thicker and consist of the wire of the string, which is then wrapped up in a sheath. Plain strings are simply strings without any coating. The lighter the string is, the easier it can be to throw it out of tune by bending the string whenever you play. 

So if you happen to have a plain string on your acoustic or electric guitar, then replacing it with a more durable wound string won’t affect how you play. The purpose, in this case, is to ensure the string won’t bend out of shape.

The Basic Guitar Parts

Guitars have a ton of moving and essential parts for any musician: frets, strings, nuts, and the neck of the guitar, to name a few. One of the few parts that we don’t pay a ton of attention to is the neck. More specifically, we need to focus on the little white part sitting right at the top of the neck and separating the neck and the headstock. It’s more important than we realize.

You also need to look at the rest of the guitar because the setup of the guitar can also impact just how quickly the G-string goes out of tune. The strings have different heights on the nut, which you can see if you look down and underneath the guitar strings.

The G string rests on the fretboard at a different height and a different angle than the rest of the strings. If the G string is too high on your guitar, then you need to press the string down farther to play a note or a chord. This forces you to put more force on the guitar, and then you run the chance of bending the guitar string out of tune. 

The nut is one of the things that helps to affect the entire tone of the guitar, and it plays a big part in the tone of your guitar strings. It helps to keep all of the strings properly spaced through slots carved into the nut. The more that the strings stay inside of the nut, then the more in tune your strings will be.

As the strings are used whenever you play, the holders holding the strings will get worn away and will become damaged. This will stop the strings from remaining in place, and they will start to move up and down on the neck. These tiny movements can stretch out the string, which can cause more problems for your string. As they stretch, they can get out of tune.

The G string is very susceptible to this because of the way it rests on the nut whenever you play. If you are concerned about needing to adjust or replace the nut of your guitar and don’t want to do it yourself, this might be a job for professionals.

Poor Tuning Pegs

You’ll be twisting the tuning pegs a lot whenever you start tuning and fixing your guitar, and of course, they will need to be replaced. However, most people don’t perform that type of maintenance on their guitar, which can cause a massive long-term problem for your playing. 

If your tuning pegs are of poor quality, they won’t tighten or loosen the strings correctly, which can make it so that all of your strings will never be in tune. Due to the G string’s position and the features of the string, it’s far more susceptible to problems with tuning when the pegs are off. Make sure to keep them tightened and wound, checking every few months.

Another thing you need to focus on when it comes to tuning is how you are tuning the guitar itself. If you are tuning with a free website, app, or other software, then you might want to spend a few bucks to get a tuner that is of slightly higher quality. Additionally, if you are tuning by ear, you might want to supplement that with a tuner as well, just to make sure everything is working correctly.

The Guitar Has an Intonation Problem

Sometimes the G string isn’t your problem, and in some cases, you can perfectly tune the G string, but it’ll still sound out of tune. This can be because of an intonation problem, which is defined as how in-tune your guitar is over the entire fretboard, not just on certain parts of it. If your guitar has good intonation, then the strings will be in tune no matter what frets you press.

If your guitar has bad intonation, then you might play specific notes and chords, and the strings sound out of tune. However, when you play other notes, you’ll notice the strings are perfectly in tune. This means you need to get a handle on your intonation because the best guitar player with the best guitar in the world will sound like an amateur.

You’ll want to check your intonation to verify it’s done well. Do this by tuning each string as accurately as possible, then comparing the sounds to the 12th fret. If you can lightly touch the string at the 12th fret and play it, then it should be ideally in tune. If not, adjust the string to put it in tune.

Then press down on the 12th fret, and play the note. Again, it should be in tune. If it isn’t, then your intonation is off. It also is worse the further the played note is from the note being in tune. 

If the 12th fret is in tune, then that string is correct. You should repeat the process for every single string, and if they’re all correct, then your intonation is all well. If one or more strings are out of tune, then you need to either increase (if the note is sharp) or decrease (if the note is flat) the length of the guitar string.

Most of the time, a professional should do this as it involves moving the guitar bridge and working with the screws on the guitar. If you don’t know what you are doing, it can be a significant risk to your instrument. However, intonation can be fixed, and professionals can get your G string and the various other strings of your guitar back in tune.

Conclusion

The G string is notorious for going out of tune for guitarists, but all is not lost. It depends on the type of guitar you have, how the G string is placed on the guitar, and then how much maintenance you do on your guitar. Doing some research into the type of guitar you have and how the strings work will help you make sure you are doing your best to keep the G string in tune.

Then you can have an in-tune guitar, which is one less thing to worry about whenever you get started with performing your music! 

David Sandy

Hey there! My name is David Sandy and I'm the founder of Sandy Music Lab. I've been playing guitar for several years now and created this site to be able to share and explore music with others. Check out my recommended guitar gear!

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