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FDP Forum / FDP Unplugged - Acoustic Instruments / Tune up one half step

David D

USA

Nov 20th, 2017 05:16 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

What are thoughts on tuning up half step on tone and tension issues? I have a short acoustic part and would rather not capo.

Thanks

Te 52

Laws of Physics

strictly enforced
Nov 20th, 2017 09:24 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

That will probably raise your action height and relief a bit, and may affect your intonation. But a truss rod tweak should bring everything back to normal. Going up a half step is about a 12 percent increase in string tension, so it's not trivial, but not enough to be dangerous.

MLC

It's not just good..

...it's good enough.
Nov 21st, 2017 06:07 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

A lighter gauge string would help bring the tension back down some.

I'd just use the capo, myself.

Juice Nichols
Contributing Member
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Panama City, FL

I'm just a dude, playing a dude...
Nov 21st, 2017 07:14 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

"I'd just use the capo, myself."

Me too. I fail to see the benefit of tuning the instrument up a half step.

TheProfessor
Contributing Member
*********

MI

After 30 years, I should play better.
Nov 21st, 2017 07:27 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

I can see doing it as sometimes instruments resonate better at a certain frequency.

I concur with the lighter strings comments (or construct a hybrid set of current gauge and lighter ones as you see fit).

Juice Nichols
Contributing Member
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Panama City, FL

I'm just a dude, playing a dude...
Nov 21st, 2017 08:10 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

" I can see doing it as sometimes instruments resonate better at a certain frequency."

Pretty sure the strings will be resonating at the same frequency with a capo. Sorry, I still don't see the need to do this.



Peegoo
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Nov 21st, 2017 08:48 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Acoustic guitars spend their entire careers trying really hard not to implode. It's not a question of "if," but "when."

This is why many 12-string guitarists that play in standard tuning tune their guitar to D and capo at the 2nd fret. Rather than go with lighter strings to reduce tension (and lose volume and tone), they simply detune the entire course of strings and add a capo. It adds many years to the useful life of the guitar between neck resets and bridge re-glues.


reverend mikey
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N of I-90, E of I-29

You're old. Then vintage. Then good!
Nov 21st, 2017 09:34 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

If this is a temporary "retuning" (say, for a couple performances), I'd say do it and don't worry about it. Tweak the truss rod as needed (probably just a little).

If you were going to leave it at a higher pitch, I'd also go with light gauge strings (if you're used to mediums). Shouldn't be a problem unless the guitar is very lightly built/braced and light gauge strings are already recommended. Many guitars are built to handle the tension of medium gauge strings.

(This message was last edited by reverend mikey at 11:35 AM, Nov 21st, 2017)

Hammond101
Contributing Member
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So. Cal. USA

Nov 21st, 2017 09:50 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

The only way I would tune an acoustic guitar up is if I had lead part to play and I could not access it due to a lack of cutaway on the body. I would compensate with a lighter set of strings. I can usually "fly" a couple of frets up there when needed.

I use a capo and check tuning after the capo is installed if tuning is an issue. Not really an issue with my guitars.

The capo'd guitar has a nice feel, to me anyway. The action is a bit lower and if you don't have to hammer the thing for this part it's a pleasant change.

If this is open chord stuff the capo is the way to go.

reverend mikey
Contributing Member
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N of I-90, E of I-29

You're old. Then vintage. Then good!
Nov 21st, 2017 02:25 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

"The capo'd guitar has a nice feel, to me anyway. The action is a bit lower and if you don't have to hammer the thing for this part it's a pleasant change.

If this is open chord stuff the capo is the way to go."

Okay, now I don't get this. A guitar should play as easily without a capo as with a capo. If it doesn't, your nut slots need some work. Most guitars (including Martins and Gibson) arrive at the guitar store with the nut slots cut too shallow; I've had to lower them on most of my guitars (including guitars I've gotten back from so-called guitar techs!).

As someone wrote earlier, when you add a capo, that becomes the new zero fret... so why should there be ANY problems if the nut is cut to play just as easily as any capoed fret?

I have this argument with people all the time... and no one can convince me that the nut slots need to be higher than a capoed fret...it's just not logical.

Hammond101
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So. Cal. USA

Nov 21st, 2017 02:49 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

"If it doesn't, your nut slots need some work."

Not always.

Although I like a low nut, I also like little relief. Zero fret low on the nut will cause me some 1st fret string rattle when pounding out a shuffle in E or A quite easily so it's a bit of a compromise for me.

I'm speaking about my playing style and set up here. I do question whether zero fret low is actually what works though. I set up a lot of guitars and get no complaints, actually compliments of how low the nut is. Getting zero fret low on the nut seems to cause some rattle and can make 1st position pull offs and hammers a bit more difficult. Just my preference.



Te 52

Laws of Physics

strictly enforced
Nov 21st, 2017 03:53 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

I agree with Rev Mikey on this one; assuming your relief is set correctly, you should theoretically be able to cut the nut slots as low as a zero fret would hold the strings. Having said that, I keep them a few thousandths higher to allow for wear and to make sure I don't overshoot with the nut file if I hit a soft spot in the bone. But zero fret equivalent is the optimum target.

David D

USA

Nov 21st, 2017 04:22 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Thanks for all the input. I think each post has merit too. It would just be for one song for 5 performances during our Christmas program. I have a small problem when I go up the neck thinking a half step off and it causes me to double think it a bit. I never us a capo so naturally I feel like the nut provides better sound than a fret. I know that is not a fact just a feeling. I'm a couple of weeks away from the performance so still not sure which way I will go. But after reading the post I at least feel safe to go either way. Also learned more about the nut height. Thanks

larryguitar19
Contributing Member
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South Florida

larryguitar
Nov 21st, 2017 08:53 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

I'm a heavy user of the capo. There is something about the shortened strings that makes it sound like I've added a compressor.

I also have trouble with the fretboard logic when I capo at an odd fret like the 1st or the 3rd.

But I am convinced there is something about the guitar that is true but I can't quite articulate it.

You can tune the guitar normal and capo at the 2nd and then tune it a half step and capo at the 3rd fret and think you are getting the same tone because it's the same pitch. But my ear tells me it's not true.

Also there is something about the physics of guitar that likes that dang 3rd fret even though I avoid it when possible. Same as that 7th fret.

(This message was last edited by larryguitar19 at 10:54 PM, Nov 21st, 2017)

Te 52

Laws of Physics

strictly enforced
Nov 22nd, 2017 10:15 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Another factor is that if you rely on the position dots, they will be thrown off if you use a capo. If it's only for a few performances, I'd just do whatever you feel most comfortable with.

Ayns

UK

England's Sloppiest Guitarist
Nov 23rd, 2017 06:24 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

I'd go for a capo. It's what they were designed and made for.

FDP Forum / FDP Unplugged - Acoustic Instruments / Tune up one half step




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