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The Fabled Les Paul/Gibson tuning issues?

Mars Hall

Active member
Joined
Nov 26, 2008
Messages
1,824
One factor not focused on a lot, in this thread, is weather conditions do play a big part in how a guitar plays. Some have mentioned manufacture QC issues but consider, how many climate changes any new guitar goes through to get to the end user. I live in the U.S. Midwest where guitar adjustments are routine, at the very least, twice a year.
 

ajay taylor

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Jun 20, 2015
Messages
187
Another angle on how to make modern Gibsons seem to be the expensive junk of the guitar world. The main theme of discussing Gibson guitars these days being Unhappy Workers, Henry's an Idiot, etc, etc, etc. Meantime, Every time I play any of my six Gibsons, I grow a smile on my face, and sing in tune, because my guitar is in tune to guide me. I don't have any excuses. Unapologetically, I love every one of my Gibsons. That's why I bought them. They were beautiful, well-made, NICE guitars. YMMV.
 

SpencerD

Active member
Joined
Mar 11, 2016
Messages
755
For many years Jon Schaffer from Iced Earth played his Les Pauls with .13 gauge strings and action so high it was ridiculous! --- I'm not bullshitting man,nuts! -:dude:

For that galloping rhythm thing he does it works. I could barely fret an open A on one of his Standards....he laughed like hell. :laugh2:

EDIT -- Maybe he still does. My experience was a long time ago.
 

Shakey

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Joined
Dec 10, 2016
Messages
103
Gibson nuts and saddles have minimum slots by design. It allows for a setup to be achieve that allows for a fair evaluation of truss rod/neck and other factory set ups to be performed. The dealer then is supposed to set up the guitar to the customers specs. ALL of the best dealers do this. When I was well I used 11-56 ga strings, later 10-54 pure nickle Gibson BB King signatues, [my favorite], heavier than most for wound strings. My playing bud, Wild Bill used 9-38 Fender set. We both played Standards and both of our new Standards received complete set ups including nut and saddle slots.
Not always possible if they were pre cut. I still do this when I get a new guitar. I correctly slot my nut and saddle for MY string choice making sure to ramp down and slightly widen the rear portion of the nut slot, towards tuner post. I adjust for least amount of neck relief, polish fingerboard and frets, adjust action, intonation and pickups. What the good dealers do.

Unfortunately with Big Box discount chains you get none of that and most buyers lack the skill and knowledge to do a proper initial set up, or are too deluded, ignorant or cheap to have it done right. I have inspected and played all the big brand guitars right out of the box and they certainly are not better. Epi's often feature molded plastic nuts and too deep saddle slots. Might work new but shortly down the line, look out!!


I understand that rational, leave the guitars with enough wiggle room to change string gauge and individual preference in string height etc. So do you think that it's just that Gibsons are inherently more difficult to set up that most shops don't get it right? I can only talk to my own experience in shops in the UK with is anecdotal at best, but in my experience off the shelf Gibsons have more issues that the other big names Fender/PRS even Epiphone/Squire/Ibanez/Schecter. When I say issues I don't just mean preference in play-ability or string gauge I mean issues that make guitars impossible to tune or so much string buzz on some frets that there is no note there or the nut cut soo high that it is impossible to play notes at the first fret because they bend out of tune by the time you fret the note. These are things that I don't see very often from other brands of guitars and if every manufacturer expects the retailers/dealers to set the guitars up surely you'd expect all of them to have these issues? Do you think that it's just that most big box shops just do a better job of setting up fenders for example or that other manufacturers expect less from the dealers/distributors.
 

LeMonguer

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Joined
Jan 10, 2018
Messages
31
The way Gibson operates over here, its nearly impossible for a smaller shop to sell factory Gibson's.

Gibson wants a minimum order of x $$$ and it goes up every year to the point of being absurd. Therefore driving the small shops out of the market, and leaving it to the bigger box stores with less reputable reputations as far as set ups go.

As far as a difference in set up from brand to brand? Plastic nuts vs bone, individually raised/lowered saddles vs Gibsons tunematic which would need to be filed to be set correctly per string.

All adds up to a trust issue with the box stores techs, you wan't a pimple faced kid messing with a $3000 guitar (4000 pounds?) possibly ruining it and requiring new parts to fix. Or do you trust said zit faced noob with an alen wrench and a Scale?

To be honest nearly every guitar on the planet needs to be looked at after a year or two to at a minimum to at least look at the truss rod tension.

Couple that with the fact that a good number of Gibson's are purchased by tools with more money then sense or talent, you get all sorts of "issues".

The number of bands I've shared a stage with that were too young to drive, but had brand new les puals and marshal stacks, while mom flirted with the bar tenders was appalling.

Granted not to be a brandist, but the number of Jackson's, ESP's, Dean's and various other "shreding" guitars was just as abominable. 10,000 bands all sounding like Slayer, but claiming to be original...
 

El Gringo

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Joined
Apr 8, 2015
Messages
5,186
I understand that rational, leave the guitars with enough wiggle room to change string gauge and individual preference in string height etc. So do you think that it's just that Gibsons are inherently more difficult to set up that most shops don't get it right? I can only talk to my own experience in shops in the UK with is anecdotal at best, but in my experience off the shelf Gibsons have more issues that the other big names Fender/PRS even Epiphone/Squire/Ibanez/Schecter. When I say issues I don't just mean preference in play-ability or string gauge I mean issues that make guitars impossible to tune or so much string buzz on some frets that there is no note there or the nut cut soo high that it is impossible to play notes at the first fret because they bend out of tune by the time you fret the note. These are things that I don't see very often from other brands of guitars and if every manufacturer expects the retailers/dealers to set the guitars up surely you'd expect all of them to have these issues? Do you think that it's just that most big box shops just do a better job of setting up fenders for example or that other manufacturers expect less from the dealers/distributors.
They have to be set up to the new owners specs and then the magic happens .You can't grab one off the wall at a big box music store like GC and expect it to play right .Weather and climate also influences playability from when it leaves the factory in Nashville until it reaches it's final destination .The one thing I think is a little fickle are the Gibson necks and factor in climate and travel time from Nashville to it's destination where it will be sold and there will be some movement in the neck .Critically important IMHO for a proper set up .Fenders have rock solid maple necks that are quite different and withstand climate much better than Gibson's do ,but once a Gibson is properly set up and INTONATED look out because it becomes the beast that boasts "ONLY A GIBSON IS GOOD ENOUGH" remember that slogan ?
 

guitarjoe

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Joined
Jan 30, 2003
Messages
320
Question: some of you guys talk about using lube on the nut and/or saddle. What type of lube would you reccomend?
 

Big Al

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Joined
Apr 24, 2002
Messages
14,318
I understand that rational, leave the guitars with enough wiggle room to change string gauge and individual preference in string height etc. So do you think that it's just that Gibsons are inherently more difficult to set up that most shops don't get it right? I can only talk to my own experience in shops in the UK with is anecdotal at best, but in my experience off the shelf Gibsons have more issues that the other big names Fender/PRS even Epiphone/Squire/Ibanez/Schecter. When I say issues I don't just mean preference in play-ability or string gauge I mean issues that make guitars impossible to tune or so much string buzz on some frets that there is no note there or the nut cut soo high that it is impossible to play notes at the first fret because they bend out of tune by the time you fret the note. These are things that I don't see very often from other brands of guitars and if every manufacturer expects the retailers/dealers to set the guitars up surely you'd expect all of them to have these issues? Do you think that it's just that most big box shops just do a better job of setting up fenders for example or that other manufacturers expect less from the dealers/distributors.

I must disagree with most of this. Gibsons are not unplayable, untunable guitars with issues and other brands are just perfect out of box. This is a fallacious fable and shows me how hungry some are for it to be so. Every out of box Gibson I've played and evaluated in the last 10 years has been fine, with the exception of a 2015 with a funky etuner.

Once home a simple 10 minute string change/setup makes it mine. There is waaaaay too much speculation, projecting and bandwagon jumping in this thread and clearly fact and reality is not important. Crap counts.
 
Last edited:

96 lppp

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Mar 2, 2005
Messages
774
A lot of passionate reply's on this tuning phenomenon. I'll just say I have tuning issues on most Les Pauls . I bend strings and play hard so new high quality strings with reinforced wrap would be the first thing to look at.

My new 2017 custom shop PRO Les Paul with sticking nut, sharp or flat , never stable tuning unless you play soft chords was my latest tuning problem. I did try a few lubes, the worthless nut sauce I bought years ago and chap stick was tried. I installed Graph Tech Tusk synthetic nut and the tuning blues are over for me.

The only good factory installed traditional vintage Gibson nut is the slick vinyl nut on my historic 2014 R9. I have no problems with my 2017 Les Paul Standard titanium nut.
 

Big Al

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Apr 24, 2002
Messages
14,318
A lot of passionate reply's on this tuning phenomenon. I'll just say I have tuning issues on most Les Pauls . I bend strings and play hard so new high quality strings with reinforced wrap would be the first thing to look at.

My new 2017 custom shop PRO Les Paul with sticking nut, sharp or flat , never stable tuning unless you play soft chords was my latest tuning problem. I did try a few lubes, the worthless nut sauce I bought years ago and chap stick was tried. I installed Graph Tech Tusk synthetic nut and the tuning blues are over for me.

The only good factory installed traditional vintage Gibson nut is the slick vinyl nut on my historic 2014 R9. I have no problems with my 2017 Les Paul Standard titanium nut.

So cutting the too small nut slots wider wasn't an option but lube was your solution? Gee, wonder why it didn't work. The new nuts are nylon.
 

grimlyflick

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Oct 27, 2005
Messages
1,249
I’ve ever used any kind of nut lube (ooo-er :rofl) and have never had any tuning issues, just well set up guitars that’s all.
 

Big Al

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Apr 24, 2002
Messages
14,318
I’ve ever used any kind of nut lube (ooo-er :rofl) and have never had any tuning issues, just well set up guitars that’s all.

This is it, exactly. It isn't a hard concept to understand yet it seems to elude so many.
 

Axis39

Member
Joined
Jan 18, 2010
Messages
83
Question: some of you guys talk about using lube on the nut and/or saddle. What type of lube would you reccomend?

Might be ugly, but I like graphite. I've always got a pencil around when I'm changing strings and I just rub it through the nut slots, and drop the strings on.

** And I do this on ALL of my guitars, even those other brands! :hee
 

JimFog

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Aug 9, 2001
Messages
182
This is it, exactly. It isn't a hard concept to understand yet it seems to elude so many.

Have you ever stopped to think that your experience isn't the same as everyone else in the (guitar) world's?

Look.....we get it. You're a fanboi. I love my Gibson's, too.

But they're not without flaws. No instrument is. It's ok to talk about it.
 

Big Al

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Apr 24, 2002
Messages
14,318
Have you ever stopped to think that your experience isn't the same as everyone else in the (guitar) world's?

Look.....we get it. You're a fanboi. I love my Gibson's, too.

But they're not without flaws. No instrument is. It's ok to talk about it.

My experience is as a professional player/repair tech over 4 decades long. I was well paid to be in tune and set up thousands of guitars. My experience allows me to clearly identify a flaw, or not a flaw and prescribe the correct fix.

Being an ignorant dumb ass and declaring that all Gibsons have a design flaw and resulting tuning problems isn't talkin bub, it's talkin' out yer ass. Strings stick or bind in the nut slots? Then they are too tight and need widening. That's the remedy on any brand guitar and is the proper fix.

Did you ever consider that lack of experience is existing in a state of ignorance best served by listening to those that know and learning something useful? You get squat and don't pull that fanboi crap on me. Crap is king and ignorance bliss, I'm sure you're very happy and you can remain so. Those that know me know I only give advise I know to be true to benefit those whithout my experience.

Repeating misinformation isn't "talkin' 'bout it" and spreading falsehoods helps no one.
 

Tom Wittrock

Les Paul Forum Co-Owner
Joined
Aug 2, 2001
Messages
42,567
My experience is as a professional player/repair tech over 4 decades long. I was well paid to be in tune and set up thousands of guitars. My experience allows me to clearly identify a flaw, or not a flaw and prescribe the correct fix.

Being an ignorant dumb ass and declaring that all Gibsons have a design flaw and resulting tuning problems isn't talkin bub, it's talkin' out yer ass. Strings stick or bind in the nut slots? Then they are too tight and need widening. That's the remedy on any brand guitar and is the proper fix.

Did you ever consider that lack of experience is existing in a state of ignorance best served by listening to those that know and learning something useful? You get squat and don't pull that fanboi crap on me. Crap is king and ignorance bliss, I'm sure you're very happy and you can remain so. Those that know me know I only give advise I know to be true to benefit those whithout my experience.

Repeating misinformation isn't "talkin' 'bout it" and spreading falsehoods helps no one.

Well said and my experience also. :salude
 

jbzoso2002

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May 10, 2009
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The last 2 posters have thousands of hours of hands on experience.

Their word is true.

We are very lucky to have these dudes contribute, thanks!

Jimmy
 

Big Al

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Apr 24, 2002
Messages
14,318
Well said and my experience also. :salude

Well the fanboi thing kinda set me off, but thank you, Tom.

Look, I'm sure that many may have tuning issues. 99.9% are the result of improper string install or setup. A factor at play is the maddening inaccurate intonation all guitars have in the first three frets by the nut. A perfect first position E chord followed by a sour G. That will have most thinking the guitar has gone out of tune. It makes me crazy and I have been slowly changing over to Earvanna intonated nuts to combat that issue.

More importantly, in this current climate of Gibson bashing, a narrative is being formed that presents a distorted false image of the present day instruments. As I have seen, over and over, lies, distortions and myths when repeated enough, especially online, take on a life of their own, becoming accepted fact and the new reality. Some poor joe, having gotten his dream guitar goes online to learn he has a poorly designed guitar that cannot hold it's tuning.

THIS IS UNTRUE!

I am telling you if you string correctly and have a properly setup Les Paul tuning stability is rock solid. That stability has been a defining characteristic of Les Pauls since 1952. The simple truth is this, there are no floating, movable parts in the strings path and barring a defective tuner or bridge there is nothing to allow string slippage or movement, which is the cause of tuning stability.
Opinions don't trump fact.
 

jbzoso2002

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Joined
May 10, 2009
Messages
1,089
When I 1st started playing guitar (37 years ago)
my guitar absolutely would not stay in tune at all.

As some time passed I found out I was putting many,
many wraps of string around the tuner post and that
is where it would keep slipping.

Now its 2 wraps on 6 through 4 and 4 on the rest.

Stays in tune just fine.

I use rail lube in the nut slots sometimes but you shouldn't
have to do that.

Jimmy
 

Ken Fortunato

Administrator
Staff member
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Feb 26, 2006
Messages
2,726
Well the fanboi thing kinda set me off, but thank you, Tom.

Look, I'm sure that many may have tuning issues. 99.9% are the result of improper string install or setup. A factor at play is the maddening inaccurate intonation all guitars have in the first three frets by the nut. A perfect first position E chord followed by a sour G. That will have most thinking the guitar has gone out of tune. It makes me crazy and I have been slowly changing over to Earvanna intonated nuts to combat that issue.

More importantly, in this current climate of Gibson bashing, a narrative is being formed that presents a distorted false image of the present day instruments. As I have seen, over and over, lies, distortions and myths when repeated enough, especially online, take on a life of their own, becoming accepted fact and the new reality. Some poor joe, having gotten his dream guitar goes online to learn he has a poorly designed guitar that cannot hold it's tuning.

THIS IS UNTRUE!

I am telling you if you string correctly and have a properly setup Les Paul tuning stability is rock solid. That stability has been a defining characteristic of Les Pauls since 1952. The simple truth is this, there are no floating, movable parts in the strings path and barring a defective tuner or bridge there is nothing to allow string slippage or movement, which is the cause of tuning stability.
Opinions don't trump fact.

100%

Ya know... Sometimes, the best way to determine the root cause of complaints of a given instrument, is to simply hand it back to the owner and watch them play... I'm just sayin'... :wah :peace2
 
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