Difficulty in getting your guitar to hold its tune is a common problem. It’s one of the most frequent internet searches relating to guitars and it’s even more frustrating for new guitar students who are still getting to grips with tuning in the first place.
In the first instance, check that you have a good tuner and that you’re remembering to tune your guitar regularly.
An electric tuner will make sure your guitar is playing accurate sounds, but if your guitar loses its tune rapidly, you may find one of the following is to blame:
The nut is located at the top of the fretboard. Check that the nut is seating the strings correctly as they pass over it. The nut must not be too narrow or the strings will be pinched.
It should be flat or it can sever the strings.
The Tuning Pegs
Is there play in the tuning pegs? If not, try tightening the tiny screw within the peg. If this still doesn’t work, it’s best to take the guitar to a professional repair shop.
If you often play chords that combine fretted and open notes higher up the neck, you may find that intonation is your problem.
If the guitar’s intonation isn’t right, the open strings will sound out of tune in comparison with the octave notes on the twelfth fret. If this sounds like it might be the cause of your guitar losing its tune, take it to a repair shop to have it fixed. You may need to have it serviced every so often to keep it properly tuned.
It may simply be that the strings are too old. Ensure you’re changing your strings regularly and remember to stretch them in a couple of times. They’ll hold their pitch much more easily this way.
If you’re using a capo, particularly if your guitar has jumbo frets, you may find this causes problems with your tuning. Placing the capo incorrectly can pull the strings out of tune. Shubb capos allow you to adjust the tension or try placing the capo on top of the fret rather than behind it.
Make sure the strap isn’t tied to the headstock, as this will pull the strings sharp. If this is a problem for you, try to have strap button screwed into the heel of the guitar.
The Ambient Temperature
Temperature can have an affect on your guitar’s ability to hold its tune. If you’re taking your guitar into warm, humid environments, you’ll find that this affects your tune. Similarly, if you’re moving your guitar from outdoors to inside, or performing in different venues where the atmosphere changes from cold to warm and dry to damp, you’ll need to re-tune your guitar regularly to maintain tune.
If you’ve checked all of the above and you’re still struggling to get your guitar to hold its tune, take it to a professional luthier or repair shop to have it checked out.