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Is this a normal tuning problem for a Les Paul?

Reno922

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Joined
Mar 13, 2021
Messages
2
Hello, I am a new Les Paul owner. But I have played for 40 years.

Consequently, I was well aware that I might face tuning issues. However this is bizarre.

The Les Paul stays in tune while I play it, but if I let it sit for a couple of days, it acts just like I put brand new strings on it and I have to stretch them back into playing shape.

Is this normal? Or, is this possibly a sign that some more serious problem might be lurking?

It seems hard to imagine that the tuners are bad... if they can hold the guitar in tune while it's being played.

I would appreciate any advice that would allow me to fix the problem.

Thank You
 

DutchRay

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Joined
Mar 15, 2015
Messages
465
When I was a kid I heard horror stories about Les Pauls and tuning issues. Somehow I've never had serious issue with my 20+ Les Pauls I've had. I restring my guitars and hardly ever have to retune them

Have you tried some Nut sauce or pencil lead in the nut slots? It might be a bit tight and catching the strings. Or the string is slipping from the tuner post because it's not secure.
I use the same method as described in this Dunlop video and never have issues.

 
Last edited:

jrgtr42

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Joined
Mar 24, 2005
Messages
2,177
I've heard about "tuning problems" allegedly with Les \Pauls for years. After playing guitar for 30 years, selling them for several, and playing probably a thousand Les |Pauls (not owning them, just checking out in stores etc) I have never had an issue. Yes, guitars need to be tuned, some more frequently than others, depending on the player, but I have seen nothing to convince me that there something intrinsic to Les Pauls that they go out of tune any more than any other guitar.
How do you store your guitars between playing sessions?
Instruments can be very tempermental to changes in temperature and humidity. |I have to retune almost every time I pick one up .
Also, it could be the strings sliding on the tuning pegs. How do you secure them on when changing?
I would also just double check the joints - headstock, neck joint and bridge / tailpeice, to make sure they are secure - most likely no issues there, but it never hurts to verify.
Also possible you have a bad set of strings - is it all of them or just one or two?
Most likely it's not a big deal. Just get a good tuner and check it before playing.
 

rick c

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May 28, 2016
Messages
278
Lots of really good stuff from jrgtr42 above. My first thought was also about storage. My regular guitars are on stands in my living room so they are always at room temp, however, I set my necks really straight, just a tiny bit of relief and low action. I find that if I play a guitar for about an hour or more, the neck warms up enough to move a little and I sometimes get buzzing. They don't go out of tune. I use graphite at the nut.

My stringing method is to turn the tuner peg so that the hole is at around 90deg to the string path, pull the string through the tuner hole and with the string only just loose, bend the string exiting the hole 90deg away from the direction of tightening. Then I turn the peg. Typically, at regular pitch, my lowest 4 strings are only about 1 full wind on the tuner, the higher, skinnier strings maybe 2 to 3 full turns on the tuner.

If I haven't played one for a while I sometimes give all 6 strings a gentle tug. After tuning-up, I rarely have to make any changes. Note that not all Gibsons are the same. I have an ES Artist that has a neck like a rock. I can put the thing away for months, pull it out and it's in tune. I have to wonder if the three piece neck has something to do with this; better dimensional stability.
 

Reno922

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Joined
Mar 13, 2021
Messages
2
Thanks for the answers everybody. I'm glad to hear there probably isn't anything seriously wrong. I bought the guitar in a smokin' deal and was concerned that perhaps if the deal seemed to good to be true, maybe it was.

I store the guitar on a stand next to my 4 other guitars. But that is kind of the issue, I only have 2 hands, so I don't play them all every day. Yesterday, I played the Les Paul a lot. Today, I checked it and it is in tune. This is what is so bizarre. If I played this guitar every day, I doubt I would know there is any issue. After 40 years, I know how to put on strings and check the bridge, tuners and nut for problems. But I don't find any. With constant play, the thing works great. Consequently, everything you can see, (tuners, nut, bridge, etc.) must be in the correct alignment and shape. There is no climate variation happening here. My other guitars stay in perfect tune under the same conditions. But if I don't play the Les Paul for a few days, I get this issue.

It's not really a big hassle to be pulling and yanking on the strings for a few minutes before you can play. I was just concerned there was some weird body or neck flexing problem I had never heard of.
 

Big Al

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Apr 24, 2002
Messages
14,294
You expected tuning issues with a Les Paul? Well then, whadya expect?

Seriously, you have a close tolerance wood guitar with metal strings. For some reason winter and seasonal changes seem to showcase that glued in, tight tolerance build with tuning fluctuations between sessions. I recently realised that all my electric guitars Fender, Rickenbacker, Gibson etc would be out of tune day or days after a playing session. I think, unless I'd wipe down and retune, with a quality tuner, after playing, the guitar would be a little out of tune when I'd pick it up next day.

I think maybe playing causes strings to relax from the state of constant static tension to a state of excited vibration and shifting tensions then back into a static state when done. My feeling is they then settle but maybe not precisely at the same tension as before.

When I give a quick stretch and tune when done my guitar seems to stay in tune no matter how many days it may sit.
 

JLowe

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Mar 4, 2021
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3
I have heard changing to a bone nut will help it to stay in tune. Any truth to that rumor?
 

Big Al

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Apr 24, 2002
Messages
14,294
I have heard changing to a bone nut will help it to stay in tune. Any truth to that rumor?
I really like a good quality bone nut, properly cut and polished. It helps tone but any decent, properly cut nut will help tuning stability.
 

Morlock

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Joined
May 22, 2018
Messages
39
I have two Gibson Les Paul's now as well as a Gibson Explorer and they all stay in tune. In fact all my guitars including cheap acoustic stay in tune for days even weeks on end without going out of tune in a major way. Possible exceptions being hotter weather.
 

Texas Blues

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Apr 13, 2008
Messages
4,641
I have a Les Paul and a couple V's that have bigsby's.

Sometimes I don't play them for a coupla' weeks, and some of them months.

I keep them in cases when not doing so.

I'm always amazed when I pull them out and find them still in tune.

That doesn't always happen every time but they are usually pretty close.

I have never had tuning issues with any Gibson guitars.
 

Hamerfan

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Dec 20, 2004
Messages
769
All folks say 'if your nut is cut properly', then you should have no problems. But how to find out.
I recently saw a vid about that. The dude said if you can press the strings behind the nut and they come back to the right pitch.
I tried that and had to redo just 1 string on all my guitars.
 

Big Daddy Class

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Joined
Jan 11, 2020
Messages
122
I play several models of guitar and I do not notice tuning issues with the LPs vs the others (Gibsons, Martins, Fenders).

There is one exception--I got an ESP LTD EC-401 in a trade deal. I do not really need it (it is an LP shaped guitar and I have several LPs). I tried to trade it several times as part of several deals but no one else really wanted it either. It is an $850 (ish) dollar guitar when new that is worth $450 (ish) used. Since I couldnt really trade it, I decided I would upgrade it and see what tones I could get out of it. I had never really played it, much so I figured "why not try"?. I took it to work with me and leaned it in a corner and pick it up a few times per day. 2 things about it--one is I kind of like it. Not much to look at but it plays very well. 2--it is ALWAYS in tune. I never, ever have to tune it beyond a very minor touch up. Blows my mind. I have guitars worth many many times more and that one sounds great, feels great, (looks like shit) but is ALWAYS in tune. Who knew?

As for the upgrades, I have held off. I was going to do this--(see below) install Seymour Duncan P rails and Triple shots and a Piezo--but I like it so much Im just going to keep it as a corner of the office "work guitar". "Upgrades" were going to cost me around $500 installed but since I functionally have nothing in the guitar, I was thinking I would see how many tones I could get out of it.

 

El Gringo

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Joined
Apr 8, 2015
Messages
4,801
Hello, I am a new Les Paul owner. But I have played for 40 years.

Consequently, I was well aware that I might face tuning issues. However this is bizarre.

The Les Paul stays in tune while I play it, but if I let it sit for a couple of days, it acts just like I put brand new strings on it and I have to stretch them back into playing shape.

Is this normal? Or, is this possibly a sign that some more serious problem might be lurking?

It seems hard to imagine that the tuners are bad... if they can hold the guitar in tune while it's being played.

I would appreciate any advice that would allow me to fix the problem.

Thank You
Do you keep your guitars in there case or on a stand ( as I do ) If so do you have climate and humidity control ? If there are fluctuations in temperature and humidity that will cause guitars to go out of tune as well as necks to get out of wack .
 
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