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The Fabled Les Paul/Gibson tuning issues?

LeMonguer

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Jan 10, 2018
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So I've watched a bunch of Youtube vids, and even had folks comment back stage at shows that Gibson's don't stay in tune. "nah brah, I need a floyd rose just to stay in tune dude... I don't even use the wammy, just the locking nut" (to later go on stage and make faces while imitating Dave Mustain... poorly...)

I've never noticed this being an issue, and I've owned 6 of em over the years. Any tuning issues i did have where either from playing very very hard, broken necks/heal joints or some other physical damage.

The story goes that because of the extreme headstock angle, and the compound angle of the D and G strings, the D and G strings will skip high because of bind at the nut, or some such BS, Hence Gibson going so far as to install brass nuts, with a zero fret, or graphite nuts (both blasphemy BTW) or the robo tuners that some folks like.

Personally, the one and only Les Paul I had the had tuning issues was solved by having it set up correctly, and winding the strings in an even and tight fasion, I.E. not a ball of yarn on the headstock. Poof guitar that would not stay in tune for 10 minutes has been in tune for about a month now.... with regular play, and not even in a temperature controlled environment.

Anyhow, I ramble... Whats yer thoughts on the Fabled Gibson Tuning issues
 

Ken Fortunato

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Anyhow, I ramble... Whats yer thoughts on the Fabled Gibson Tuning issues

More times than not, tuning issues on any guitar are "operator error"... FWIW :peace2

On the other hand, there's really no such thing as a perfectly tuned guitar... Just the nature of the beast... :salude
 

El Gringo

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Apr 8, 2015
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I have been playing Les Pauls for over forty years and it's still the same old G string like it has always been ,which really is hardly a big deal at all .
 

jbzoso2002

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May 10, 2009
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I use rail lube in the nut slots.

Its used for archery bows.

Usually just 1 application and no binding any more.

Jimmy
 

thin sissy

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Jan 2, 2006
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2,533
Yeah it's interesting, I don't think it's a problem either. Honestly, almost no guitar seems to lose its tuning as long as the strings are stretched and don't have too many wounds on the tuner (in my experience). Some really bad guitars with flimsy necks are another story though, but they are rare :hmm .
 

Axis39

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Jan 18, 2010
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83
Funny, I've found it less of a problem on my current production Les Pauls than it was on my vintage ES-340. On my ES, the first two strings to go out of tune were always the G and b strings. The D followed closely along. This is the same with my Les Pauls, but they seem to go out less. Part of it is the angle the strings takes coming out of the nut.

But, I've gotten really good at setting up guitars, getting the nuts just right. I'm also in the habit of throwing a little graphite in the slots when I change strings. I also use different strings these days. I still bend strings a lot.

I do honestly think it is a design flaw with most 3 on a side headstocks. It's also a regular thing that production guitars all need a good set up. Despite Plekking and all the rest. They just roll too many off a production line, in too much of a hurry, to be able to give each one real individual attention. It's not just Gibson, and this is not a knock on Gibson. Any larger guitar manufacturer's guitars need personal attention when they are new.
 

LeMonguer

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Jan 10, 2018
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Funny, I've found it less of a problem on my current production Les Pauls than it was on my vintage ES-340. On my ES, the first two strings to go out of tune were always the G and b strings. The D followed closely along. This is the same with my Les Pauls, but they seem to go out less. Part of it is the angle the strings takes coming out of the nut.

But, I've gotten really good at setting up guitars, getting the nuts just right. I'm also in the habit of throwing a little graphite in the slots when I change strings. I also use different strings these days. I still bend strings a lot.

I do honestly think it is a design flaw with most 3 on a side headstocks. It's also a regular thing that production guitars all need a good set up. Despite Plekking and all the rest. They just roll too many off a production line, in too much of a hurry, to be able to give each one real individual attention. It's not just Gibson, and this is not a knock on Gibson. Any larger guitar manufacturer's guitars need personal attention when they are new.

Thats kinda my thoughts on it as well, that and operator error...

there was a massive outfit out here selling Gibson's by the score, XXXXXX Center, Not a single one was set up proper from the factory and the monkeys working there couldn't be bothered to tune them let alone set em up correctly...

Meanwhile the mom and pop shops would take the hour or so to set up a guitar properly if it was worth it, and poof a good player that stayed in tune.

There also seems to be some debate about how to set up a les paul as well, possibly contributing to more myths...

Tail piece wrapped/unwrapped, tail peice tight with body vs as tight as you can get it without the strings hitting the base of the bridge...

Mine are unwrapped, with the strings just missing the back side of the bride, takes some time to get it right, cause you have to mess with bridge height and nut height first, but its not rocket science.

As far as tuner wraps, average 2.5 each string. 3 is about perfect but hard to accomplish on the low E's
 

Big Al

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Apr 24, 2002
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It's not a design flaw. I've played Les Pauls since '72. I've owned dozens and have close to a dozen now.

I'm no bedroom playing naybob, once in a blue moon part time annual gigmeister. Before my issues it was decades of 3-4 nites a week 4 sets a nite of hard playing. Les Pauls were legendary for stability and holding tune. It is a recent bullshit fact promoted by ignorant self proclaimed interweb experts engaged in self puffery, that claim tuning is an issue.
 
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Tom Wittrock

Les Paul Forum Co-Owner
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Aug 2, 2001
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Tom, these so called experts spew their ignorant crap all over the web and then everyone starts to believe it. Makes me crazy! :teeth

I get to try to correct the BS and misinformation everyday in my shop. :salude
 

LeMonguer

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Jan 10, 2018
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31
Hmm

Perhaps it might be a good idea to persuade people that Gibsons, really do have a tuning issue...

Especially 1970's Les Pauls...

Convince the masses that they are worthless and therefore they should just give them away...

And there is something specific about a 1977 les paul custom in tobacco burst, and the 1954 reissue customs that just will never be properly in tune...


yeah yeah... its will be excellent oh yes...

I might have issues, doctors have yet to comment one way or the other on that.
 

renderit

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Jan 19, 2009
Messages
9,973
Ah! Fables! I loves them!

Many fables have a basis in truth:

Goldilocks and the Three Bears? Try as many Gibsons as you like, if you pick the one I want I will eat your head!

Simple Simon eating a Christmas Pie? I saw the little jerk kid of some millennial sticking his fingers in the pies at the grocery store the other day! And he thought he was a good boy! (And his Mom ignored him!)

Belling the Cat? Well, we don't need to do that anymore! We just BAN his ass!

But a Gibson tuning issue? On the G and D strings? I think that came from Ferd Hongstmeier saying he couldn't "play a tune on the GD thing"!
Apart from them being touchy and a larger jump per turn so if you have a problem it shows up there maybe...


 

renderit

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Jan 19, 2009
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It's not a design flaw. I've played Les Pauls since '72. I've owned dozens and have close to a dozen now.

I'm no bedroom playing naybob, once in a blue moon part time annual gigmeister. Before my issues it was decades of 3-4 nites a week 4 sets a nite of hard playing. Les Pauls were legendary for stability and holding tune. It is a recent bullshit fact promoted by ignorant self proclaimed interweb experts engaged in self puffery, that claim tuning is an issue.

:laugh2::rofl:rofl:rofl:laugh2:

Many quotables here folks! Be sure to ad these to you notebooks on "Big Alisms"!

I am personally enamored with the
bedroom playing nabob (I strive to be an office playing nabob)! However self puffery (short of the fact I think it should be hyphenated) is wonderful as it brings to mind a Puffin OR a Fluffer! Or BOTH! (Could you imagine? Or is that just ME?) As I am envious of a once in a blue moon part time annual gigmeister having more work than myself, I am the essence of the green!

Big Al is the MASTER! Keep it rockin' girlfriend!
:dude:
 

rick c

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May 28, 2016
Messages
273
I believe that other guitar manufacturers exaggerate the Gibson-staying-in-tune issue to promote their own guitars. Just go on the Fender or Music Man forums and you will see that other guitars have string-staying-in-tune issues too.

I have no doubt that when string gauges are increased, it is highly probable that a G or B string may get tight in the factory-cut nut slot, especially the G due to it being wound. We have all heard a string go "ting" after tuning and going a little flat but this is not an everyday occurrence on the same guitar, at least for me. I have three different Gibsons that I've owned a very long time, an 87 Les Paul, an 88 ES-335 and and early 80's ES-Artist; the Artist is an odd-ball with a brass nut and an unusually long string path between the bridge and the TP-6 tailpiece but the headstocks and their string paths are the same. I use light strings on all of them and string tuning consistency is not an issue for me. I confess, I used to add a little graphite to the top three nut slots when changing strings but this was a short-lived experiment.

I also pay attention to string winding around the posts when changing strings. I used to always ensure that the top E and B had enough string wound on the post so that the string left the post on a round part and not the sharper edge of the string hole; another experiment that ultimately made no difference.
 

Big Al

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Apr 24, 2002
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I believe that other guitar manufacturers exaggerate the Gibson-staying-in-tune issue to promote their own guitars. Just go on the Fender or Music Man forums and you will see that other guitars have string-staying-in-tune issues too.

I have no doubt that when string gauges are increased, it is highly probable that a G or B string may get tight in the factory-cut nut slot, especially the G due to it being wound. We have all heard a string go "ting" after tuning and going a little flat but this is not an everyday occurrence on the same guitar, at least for me. I have three different Gibsons that I've owned a very long time, an 87 Les Paul, an 88 ES-335 and and early 80's ES-Artist; the Artist is an odd-ball with a brass nut and an unusually long string path between the bridge and the TP-6 tailpiece but the headstocks and their string paths are the same. I use light strings on all of them and string tuning consistency is not an issue for me. I confess, I used to add a little graphite to the top three nut slots when changing strings but this was a short-lived experiment.

I also pay attention to string winding around the posts when changing strings. I used to always ensure that the top E and B had enough string wound on the post so that the string left the post on a round part and not the sharper edge of the string hole; another experiment that ultimately made no difference.

That is the deal. A PROPERLY set up Les Paul, (includes the nut), PROPERLY strung up and wound will hold it's tuning extremely well. I did a short stint as a road tech for a touring guitarist and once I gave it to him on stage my job depended on that guitar playing well, sounding well and staying in tune. It is not rocket science. There is no movable parts on a Les paul to interfere with tuning stability. The only variable in this scenario is the bridge saddle and nut. I have multiple Les Pauls with Bigsby's and have no tuning issues, because I know how, and take the time and make the effort to properly set them up.

EVERY GUITARIST, and every one on this forum, should know how to set up their guitars, it isn't hard and keeps goofy tedhs and dodgy repair know it alls from feeding you a line of bullshit in order to get your $$$, because you will KNOW. If you know and are to damn lazy to do it, then pay someone you know will do it right. You will know what RIGHT is and not fall prey to predatory repair hacks.

At the very least everyone should know how to properly install and wrap a set of strings and set action/adjust truss rod/set intonation. I really am amazed when I read some posts by forum bros who take their guitars to a repair tech for every little thing. Most headaches can be eliminated with a minor amount of effort, and anything that helps you understand the workings of your instrument makes you a better player. TINY, tiny investment, HUUUUUUGE rewards and payouts. Trust yer old Uncle Al and get busy!:hank:hank:hank
 

P.Walker

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Apr 17, 2007
Messages
941
Tuning stability is really not that difficult to achieve and it's achievable on any well made guitar really.

Start with a properly cut nut. Not many know what that feels like.
Then stretch it and whack on it.
Should get the job done.
 

SpencerD

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Mar 11, 2016
Messages
739
I don't have any tuning issues with my Les Pauls,been setting them up myself since I can't remember when....1979 maybe? Or a reasonable facsimile thereof.
 
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