Ok, I said had a few “Dear Lazyweb”s. This is the second in the series.
I put my home ‘studio’ back together to work on Jokosher as I had moved my PC, laptops, guitars and amp to my parents house before I went on holiday in case I was broken into while I was away. I have been twanging away quite a bit since I got back and now a problem with one of my guitars is really starting to bug me.
My Telecaster seems to have a tuning problem, it’s something that I noticed shortly after I bought it and at first I just thought I wasn’t tuning accurately enough, but it has become quite apparent the more I play it. It’s not that it won’t stay in tune which is a common problem with cheap guitars, more that it is out of tune after it has been tuned.
Basically, on a guitar, you have the body, which is the large part, the neck, which is the long thin bit with the wire strips across it and the head which is the bit on the end of the neck with with the tuning pegs on it. The strings are wound around the tuning pegs (aka machine heads) and then rest on a thing called the nut which sits on the join of the head and neck. At the other end, the strings rest on something called the bridge before going through the tail piece to keep them in place. When you pluck a string, it vibrates between the nut and the bridge and the vibration over the length of the string result in the pitch of the note that is heard. On the neck, those wire strips that go across the width are called frets and when you put your fingers between them, it causes the string to be shortened and hence create a higher note as the vibration is over a shorter distance.
Now, the problem I have is that when the the strings are in tune and played open, ie not using any frets, the note is in tune. When you play the note at the 12th fret, the string is in tune. If that isn’t the case it means the bridge or string saddles need to be adjusted. This wasn’t the case at first on my Tele and I had to adjust the saddles but it didn’t solve the main problem. The problem is that despite being in tune when open and when ‘fretted’ on the 12th fret, 2 strings particularly, B and G are out of tune on the second and surrounding frets, which makes playing chords or notes near that fret sound ugly as hell. Which means the guitar has a serious problem and can’t be played properly.
The problem gets better nearer the 12th fret, but that isn’t the point. The only other thing I can think of is either a) the guitar is fucked and needs to go back, which is a hell of a shame, or b) the truss rod needs adjusting, which is the limit of my knowledge about being a guitar technician and also, is beyond my experience which means it needs to go back to the shop. The truss rod is a metal rod in the neck of the guitar to keep the neck from bending or folding altogether under the tension of the strings. Anyone who knows better than me is welcome to make suggestions.