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Thread: Staying in tune

  1. #1
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    Staying in tune

    I have 3 PRS guitars. They are a 97 Custom 22, a 25th Anniversary Custom 22 Semi Hollowbody LTD, and a new (2013) Custom 24.

    Let me preface by saying: setup is good on all 3. Bridges float level, etc.

    On my older C22, I have never been able to get the low E string to stay in tune. I've tried teflon nut lube etc. Every set of strings I've have ever put on has had this problem. Any trem use at all and the E is out. Even just bending, it's out.

    On the new C24, at first I thought it just needed a bit of breakin. With it, every single time I give a LITTLE wiggle to the trem, at least 3-4 strings stay out of tune (sharp). If I pull on each string around the pickups, it will go back in tune. So again, I figure they are sticking at the nut. Teflon/silicone nut lube hasn't helped at all. New strings haven't helped at all. What can I try next, to make these stay in tune? The older C22 can't even be gigged because it simply won't stay in tune. The C24 can be as long as I don't bend, use the trem, or, remember to literally grab the string and pull it back into tune afterwards.... hardly workable.

    And now a slightly different but related topic. I have considered the possibility of converting one or more of these to non-floating trem setups. This would allow for drop tunings on the fly, and should help tuning stability. I have done this on numerous other guitars, but wanted to ask if there are any tips, tricks or otherwise that I need to know when doing it OR, any reasons why I shouldn't.

    Thanks in advance.
    Last edited by DreamTheaterRules; 02-19-2014 at 11:00 AM.

  2. #2
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    My 96 C24 has the same issues.
    I have a cheap Korean made Reverend Eastsider with a Wilkinson that stays in tune no matter how hard I whammy.
    Considering the cost of the PRS line you should expect something better.
    In fact I'm about ready to sell the C24 because I'm just tired of dealing with it.

  3. #3
    Senior Member sergiodeblanc's Avatar
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    Assuming y'all stretch your strings real good.... it's catching in your nut somewhere, there are a ton of youtube clips that'll show you how to correct this, or take it to a tech to fix.

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    My name be scrambled ElrytNamrogo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sergiodeblanc View Post
    Assuming y'all stretch your strings real good.... it's catching in your nut somewhere, there are a ton of youtube clips that'll show you how to correct this, or take it to a tech to fix.
    Agreed, it sounds like the strings are hanging up in the nut. Having a tech file the string slots could help with this issue. Sometimes if those slots aren't quite right for the string gauge you are using, even a lubricant won't help. It's worth a shot....
    --Tyler G--
    2012 PRS Custom 24
    - Burnt Maple Leaf 10-top
    2008 PRS Custom 22 - Santana Yellow - Rosewood Neck - 10-top
    PRS SE Singlecut Trem - Tobacco Sunburst -Grover Locking Tuners - Bareknuckle Rebel Yells - Push/Pull Volume and Tone - Graphtech Self Lubricating nut

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    Thanks, this is what I figured. I use standard 9's and 10s and do stretch them. These are fantastic guitars. I'd never sell them over this. I figured the nut needed a bit of smoothing on both, just kind of figured that shouldn't happen in this price range. No biggie. I love these guitars and am preparing to buy more. Maybe it's time to dial up Stew Mac. ;-)

  6. #6
    Senior Member Michael B's Avatar
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    Also...it could be on the older one that over time the nut might have cracked or split under the string and that just causes problems. Good luck hope its a simple fix!
    2010 Black cherry 10 Top Tremonti-signed by Tremonti Modded by PTC DGT frets
    2010 Mira Vintage Mahogany-Dragon 1 pup in bridge
    2012 Faded Blue Jean Burst 10 Top Tremonti
    2012 PRS Tremonti Custom SE Grey/Black PRS Phase 2 tuners, Mannmade 2000NOS Trem,Refret with DGT frets at PTC, USA nut, PRS USA pots and knobs

  7. #7
    Junior Member Falcon1's Avatar
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    I had the tremolo on my tremonti blocked. I could be wrong but I feel like it has more sustain to it cuz the bridge is more connected to the body via being blocked. I didn't adjust the fulcrum screws or anything like that cuz I do want the ability to use my tremolo without making too many adjustments when I remove the block. Now the tremolno is another great solution. imho prolly the best one. Lucasf installed one on his tremonti and has a video uploaded on youtube demonstrating it. Check it out. It's fantastic. I'm sold. Hope this helps.
    2010 Tremonti II-one piece quilt-Fire Red Burst
    2013 Custom 22-fat flame-Makena Blue
    Orange amps

  8. #8
    If you get a setup from PRS' PTC department, you won't believe how well it plays, plus they install a new nut.

    I did this with my Artist V, and it is ungodly good.
    If something is too hard to do, then it's not worth doing. You just stick that guitar in the closet next to your short-wave radio, your karate outfit and your unicycle and we'll go inside and watch TV.
    -- Homer J. Simpson

  9. #9
    Senior Member Jet Whitey's Avatar
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    I have 5 PRS trem guitars all set up by a pro-tech and you can stand all of them on their heads and they won't go outta tune! Hell the DGT Len set-up for me @ Exp 2011 is still in tune and I've hammered it at least 50 shows. It's amazing how many home tweakers are there own worst enemies. If you can't get a PRS to stay in tune and your on here asking how......find a tech.
    PRS Guitars Endorsee....White and Relic'd Ones !

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    Why should you have to take a guitar of this caliber and price point to a "tech" to get it to work?
    That is just not right.
    They should work every time right from the factory.
    I can see them going out over time and then needing the help of a good tech, but I don't understand a brand new guitar needing service to maintain tune.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by SharkGuitar View Post
    Why should you have to take a guitar of this caliber and price point to a "tech" to get it to work?
    That is just not right.
    They should work every time right from the factory.
    I can see them going out over time and then needing the help of a good tech, but I don't understand a brand new guitar needing service to maintain tune.
    That's life with a factory made guitar. Bare with me here... Guitar is made in MD in the fall, shipped to a warehouse and sits there until it is shipped to a store a couple months later(give or take), the store humidifies in the winter, you take it home to 30% humidity, it gets bumped and jossled in transit at all stages, things expand and shrink in the temps and humidity changes, tuners get loose, ect. Things need to be adjusted... That said, if you are paying the money for a US made PRS I would hope to hell you would negotiate a full setup into the price. Most stores will not set them up ahead of time since people like different things so they are usually right out of the box. Not many dealers are going to turn away a big purchase like this over a $50 setup.

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    I am sick of how many times people suggest PTC for a set up. I well set up guitar should need adjustments twice a year. So your telling me that I need to box up my 2000 to 5000 guitar twice a year pay to send it to them and back and pay for a set up? It's asking for a broken in shipment problem and it's going through abuse due to sitting in a cold truck or hot truck during shipping. This is not rocket science and if you take your time and learn it's way better for everyone. It sounds like a number of possible issues. Start with the basics and check off as you go. Anyone can make a 100 guitar stay in tune or a 5000 guitar not it's all depending on set up.

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by SharkGuitar View Post
    Why should you have to take a guitar of this caliber and price point to a "tech" to get it to work?
    That is just not right.
    They should work every time right from the factory.
    I can see them going out over time and then needing the help of a good tech, but I don't understand a brand new guitar needing service to maintain tune.
    Because it's made of WOOD. Wood is hygroscopic (absorbs moisture, loses moisture when it's dry), wants to revert to its natural state at every opportunity, etc. They ship it to different parts of the country, it can go through several climates, it sits out at a dealer, etc., etc.

    For example, you live in CA. If a guitar comes to you in winter, it goes through moderately wet and cold, to very very cold, to mountain cold and dry, to desert climate, to perhaps ocean climate in a few days. In summer, it can go from very warm and humid to very dry and hot, in the space of a day, as East of the Mississippi it's much more humid in summer than the Western part of the country. You can go from 90% humidity to 28% humidity just passing through the adjoining states. And despite its proximity to the ocean, most of CA is desert in terms of climate. All this in a hot truck.

    The shipping boxes aren't air-tight. The stores hang them up in whatever climate they are in. Sometimes there is heat, sometimes there is A/C.

    Then too, wood settles as it ages, and becomes acclimated to its environment.

    You don't need to be a genius to figure this out -- Anyone with much experience playing knows that guitars need adjustments, and that's why they make adjustable saddles and bridges, truss rods, etc. And as the neck goes through even tiny, imperceptible tilts and so on, different amounts of relief, the angles at the bridge and nut change. So the nuts sometimes need work. What's the big deal? That's why the PTC puts a new nut on with every setup. It's a good idea!

    If every guitar simply was perfect forever right out of the box, then nothing on the instrument would have to be adjustable.

    These changes swell, shrink, and want to twist wood. There's nothing anyone can do about it except make the necessary adjustments.

    This stuff has nothing whatsoever to do with how much a guitar costs, it is just a fact of working with wood. You can spend a billion dollars on a guitar, and it will still be subject to change over time if it's made out of wood.

    Quote Originally Posted by Prs2studio View Post
    I am sick of how many times people suggest PTC for a set up..
    Gee, you've made exactly ONE post here and you're already sick of it, huh?

    FYI, the setup I had at the PTC was a year ago. The guitar is still operating perfectly. It will probably do so for a long time. The guitar was, moreover, set up to the specs I prefer by people who do nothing but set up PRS guitars all day long. It's the best setup I've ever had, by miles and miles (and I've been playing for over 45 years, and have had lots of pro setups; I make my living in the studio). I was beyond happy with the outcome, and so I make the recommendation. Often. So do others who've had great results and would like to see the PTC remain a success.

    But you can do what you like.

    No one's putting a gun to your head. It's a recommendation, not an instruction!


    The PTC does great work, the setups are incredible, like the ones they do for their endorsers. You don't have to take my advice. If you have a good local tech, or can do as well yourself, more power to ya. But you can look for 100 years and not get this quality of setup, I promise.

    Don't pee in my cornflakes, and tell me you're sick of the advice in any case.
    Last edited by LSchefman; 02-20-2014 at 01:49 PM.
    If something is too hard to do, then it's not worth doing. You just stick that guitar in the closet next to your short-wave radio, your karate outfit and your unicycle and we'll go inside and watch TV.
    -- Homer J. Simpson

  14. #14
    Rigid Member Sekunda's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LSchefman View Post
    But don't pee in my cornflakes.
    Yep… I really missed you guys!

    ~ Matt

    PRS HX/DA | 2x12 Stealth Cab | 2011 Stripped 58 - Angry Larry | 2000 Custom 22 - Dark Cherry Burst
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    My name be scrambled ElrytNamrogo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sekunda View Post
    Yep… I really missed you guys!

    Hey, Sekunda is back....dig the new avatar pic!!!!
    --Tyler G--
    2012 PRS Custom 24
    - Burnt Maple Leaf 10-top
    2008 PRS Custom 22 - Santana Yellow - Rosewood Neck - 10-top
    PRS SE Singlecut Trem - Tobacco Sunburst -Grover Locking Tuners - Bareknuckle Rebel Yells - Push/Pull Volume and Tone - Graphtech Self Lubricating nut

  16. #16
    Senior Member sergiodeblanc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SharkGuitar View Post
    Why should you have to take a guitar of this caliber and price point to a "tech" to get it to work?
    That is just not right.
    They should work every time right from the factory.
    I can see them going out over time and then needing the help of a good tech, but I don't understand a brand new guitar needing service to maintain tune.
    I feel that... Sometime sh!t happens though, and sometimes people put larger gauge strings on than what the nut was cut for.

    Quote Originally Posted by Prs2studio View Post
    I am sick of how many times people suggest PTC for a set up. I well set up guitar should need adjustments twice a year. So your telling me that I need to box up my 2000 to 5000 guitar twice a year pay to send it to them and back and pay for a set up? It's asking for a broken in shipment problem and it's going through abuse due to sitting in a cold truck or hot truck during shipping. This is not rocket science and if you take your time and learn it's way better for everyone. It sounds like a number of possible issues. Start with the basics and check off as you go. Anyone can make a 100 guitar stay in tune or a 5000 guitar not it's all depending on set up.
    I feel that too.
    A working knowledge of your instrument and a basic understanding of how to set up your own guitar is something that everybody should take the time to learn,.. but some people don't, so that's why techs exist. There are also a lot of little details to take into consideration depending on your PRS's tuners, winged tuners for example have a few more moving parts to pay attention to that the average guitar enthusiast has dealt with before... I like to set up my own guitars (and am good at it and have done it for 20+ years) but I have also had the pleasure of the PTC doing it for me. The cost and the hassle will only become "worth it" once you have had it done, I know that sounds lame, but they really, really, really, do some amazingly detailed work.

    Quote Originally Posted by LSchefman View Post
    Because it's made of WOOD. Wood is hygroscopic (absorbs moisture, loses moisture when it's dry), wants to revert to its natural state at every opportunity, etc. They ship it to different parts of the country, it can go through several climates, it sits out at a dealer, etc., etc.

    This should be pretty easy to understand.

    These changes swell, shrink, and want to twist wood. There's nothing anyone can do about it except make the necessary adjustments.


    If we are talking about tuning stability then we are most likely talking about the nut, which shouldn't theoretically expand and contract with changes in climate. I say "theoretically" 'cause I don't know enough about the properties of the "unobtainium" used in the PRS nuts... Does it shrink? IDK..

  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by sergiodeblanc View Post

    If we are talking about tuning stability then we are most likely talking about the nut, which shouldn't theoretically expand and contract with changes in climate. I say "theoretically" 'cause I don't know enough about the properties of the "unobtainium" used in the PRS nuts... Does it shrink? IDK..
    I edited my post to explain.

    If the of the neck relief moves even slightly due to string tension, climate, etc., then the strings will sit at the nut at a slightly different angle. The difference can be small, and still bind the string.

    So you could have a nut cut very nicely on day one, and it might not work as smoothly down the road.

    It's also true that some nuts aren't carved perfectly.

    And it's equally true that some folks are just nuts. Such as me.

    One other thing, you mention that people should take the time to learn the setup of their guitar. This is true, to a degree. However, just as some people are more talented working with their hands as players, others may be more talented at working on their instruments. Certain folks just get better results, and partly this is because that is what they do all day, every day, and in the case of the PTC, those very folks are trained by PRS.

    It is entirely likely that the PTC folks have a deeper understanding of these adjustments than someone (like me) who doesn't do it every day.

    A guy who does setups on one brand of guitar, all day, every day, year in and year out, is simply going to have an edge in experience over someone doing it a couple of times a year. And I think that explains in part why they're just better at it.

    I don't send a guitar out for someone else to work on because I'm too lazy or afraid to tackle the job. I do it because I have to depend on the results, and it just makes more sense to have it done better than I am able to do it.

    I'd also like to point out that of the few setup guys in my area with good reputations, I've had hit-and-miss outcomes, and in some cases, significant damage to my instruments.

    You apologize for sounding "lame" when actually, there's nothing lame about recommending someone (for example, Skitchy and the folks at the PTC), who does remarkably skilled work that we both know is a cut above the norm!
    Last edited by LSchefman; 02-20-2014 at 02:03 PM.
    If something is too hard to do, then it's not worth doing. You just stick that guitar in the closet next to your short-wave radio, your karate outfit and your unicycle and we'll go inside and watch TV.
    -- Homer J. Simpson

  18. #18
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    I have been playing guitar for 35 years.
    I'm a professional player with endorsements.
    I can get an F'ing Korean made Reverend that retails for less than a grand and it stays in tune perfectly.
    I buy a $3000 PRS and it doesn't.
    I mention it on this forum and get a lecture that the guitar is made of wood.
    Wow! How insightful some of you are.
    Is the nut made of wood???
    No I did not go to a string gauge that was larger than the ones it came with.

    I think it's not good for PRS to sell trem equiped guitars that are not capable of staying in tune when you get them from the factory.
    It has nothing to do with it being made from "wood".

    For the record, I have an endorsement deal with Reverend Guitars.
    I have three of them all with trems, and they all stay in tune without issue.

    I pay out of my own pocket for the PRS's because I want them in my personal collection.

    I'm not some punk kid that needs a lecture on what the damn guitar is made of, nor what it needs to stay in tune.
    What it needs is the factory to make the nuts filed properly before they leave.

  19. #19
    Senior Member slang05's Avatar
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    WOW! I think the point that was attempting to be made was that there must be an issue with your guitar that is keeping it from staying in tune. I have never had an issue with using the whammy on my guitar and tuning issues. I use it a lot, no issues.

    I hear Reverend makes nice guitars, never played one but I hear constantly that Korean made guitars are getting pretty good. Congrats on your endorsement deal.

    Any links to your band?
    "Just one more and then I promise, no more guitars honey!" - The phrase I say most to my wife

  20. #20
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    I sold my Reverend...(in part) because the Bigsby wouldn't stay in tune.

    It also wasn't perfect for me.

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