3rd (G) string tuning & intonation issues

Choice of classical guitar strings and technical issues connected with their use.
Simon the Pieman
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3rd (G) string tuning & intonation issues

Post by Simon the Pieman » Mon Apr 10, 2017 1:04 pm

I would be very interested to hear of other members' experiences of the following issues, together with any explanations from those in the know:

* I often find that my 3rd string has gone out of tune, but has raised not lowered its pitch. It happens on both a cheap classical guitar as well as a high end luthier built concert guitar, more than other types of guitar I play. This phenomenon seems illogical to me. Do other players have the same issue and can anyone shed light on why this happens ?
* Why is the 3rd string in general so problematic ? I have more intonation issues with this string than any other. It happens across all different types of guitars that I own.

I would be fascinated to read about your experiences. Thanks in advance.

Mr Kite

Re: 3rd (G) string tuning & intonation issues

Post by Mr Kite » Mon Apr 10, 2017 1:23 pm

I am interested in this too. I would speculate that the G string has much higher tension than the others and its pitch therefore changes more when it is stretched either by slight changes in the dimensions and geometry of the guitar (caused by temperature and humidity) or by the action of fretting. These factors therefore outweigh its general tendency to stretch and go flat, whereas for the rest of the strings it's the other way round.

If that is the right explanation, it raises the question of why they don't use a fatter string in the first place. Perhaps it wouldn't make enough difference unless you used a wound one.

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Justfun
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Re: 3rd (G) string tuning & intonation issues

Post by Justfun » Mon Apr 10, 2017 1:32 pm

I currently using the medium tension Augustine and for the G string I'm using Knobloch for the 3rd string.

here is the link:

https://www.stringsbymail.com/knobloch- ... -6351.html

Also the change in temperature and humdity affects the guitar and therefore it also affects the strings. But when the temp and humidity is constant I hear less intonation problems with the 3rd string.

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gilles T
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Re: 3rd (G) string tuning & intonation issues

Post by gilles T » Mon Apr 10, 2017 1:45 pm

Hello,

It would be helpful to let us know what strings you are using.
Assuming your instruments have no major flaws (like a curved neck), the intonation issue with the G string is very often due to its thickness : try any carbon string and the problem may find an easy solution. For any given tension, carbon strings are always thinner than nylon. I had a very bad experience with nylon strings on an exquistite Antonio Marin Montero : the g string was almost 1/2 tone sharp at the 12th fret. I simply went for a set of Savarez Alliance, and the intonation was perfect.
Hope this helps,

Regards,
Gilles

Simon the Pieman
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Re: 3rd (G) string tuning & intonation issues

Post by Simon the Pieman » Mon Apr 10, 2017 2:01 pm

Well, for the luthier built instrument, I stuck to the hard tension strings that the maker of the guitar always uses ! This particular string has a good reputation in the market. On the cheaper guitar (worth around 1.5% of the luthier built instrument, but exhibiting similar problems), I used the same brand, but medium tension, which is probably what the guitar was set up for. I would rather not mention the brand, but they are nylon rather than carbon trebles.

Andrew Pohlman
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Re: 3rd (G) string tuning & intonation issues

Post by Andrew Pohlman » Tue Apr 11, 2017 4:10 pm

gilles T wrote:... the intonation issue with the G string is very often due to its thickness : try any carbon string and the problem may find an easy solution. ...
^^^^ This.

Also, be aware that nylon and/or flourocarbon (a cousin of nylon) have a positive temperature coefficient. That means that nylon strings tighten up as they heat up. Heat from your fingers is enough to make them go sharp. Steel has a negative temperature coefficient so they loosen up and go flat as the warm up. Many people get faked out by this difference thinking that ALL strings go flat as the warm up.

Not only that, but nylon and flourocarbon have springy molecules that like to return to their stabilized state. That's why when you do Drop D tuning, the 6th string will go sharp as it adjusts to the new tension. Alternatively, when you return to normal tuning, the 6th string gets pulled flat - again, adjusting to the former stabilized state.
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tyke
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Re: 3rd (G) string tuning & intonation issues

Post by tyke » Tue Apr 11, 2017 4:17 pm

Andrew Pohlman wrote:Also, be aware that nylon and/or flourocarbon (a cousin of nylon) have a positive temperature coefficient. That means that nylon strings tighten up as they heat up.
I didn't know that - it explains a lot ! Thanks :)

Alan Carruth
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Re: 3rd (G) string tuning & intonation issues

Post by Alan Carruth » Tue Apr 11, 2017 5:22 pm

The change in pitch with temperature is surprising the first time you run into it. I'm told it has to do with the molecular structure of nylon, which is more or less coiled. As the material heats up the coils expand in diameter, but that pulls them tighter together along the length.

G strings actually have about the same tension as the others, but they go much sharper when they're fretted. This is due to the large diameter of the string, which makes it hard to stretch. The high E , being pretty thin, stretches a fair amount when you push it down, so there is not much pitch rise. The G doesn't stretch, so the tension rises more. Since it's at about the same tension as the E to begin with, the pitch of the G rises more.

Simon the Pieman
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Re: 3rd (G) string tuning & intonation issues

Post by Simon the Pieman » Tue Apr 11, 2017 5:23 pm

Fascinating - that must explain it. Thank you so much for an illuminating reply.

kdwiklund
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Re: 3rd (G) string tuning & intonation issues

Post by kdwiklund » Tue Apr 11, 2017 5:59 pm

Simon - have you tried a carbon string for the 3rd? I'm not a fan generally but for the G string the sound is good - not as fat as nylon so not as tubby and much better at staying in tune.
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Robert M
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Re: 3rd (G) string tuning & intonation issues

Post by Robert M » Wed Apr 12, 2017 11:05 am

I believe that you'll find that everyone has this problem. As soon as the treble strings warm up a bit they go sharp. Especially the
g string. The higher up the neck you go the sharper it gets. Most good steel string guitars come with compensated saddles now. Although it's not as big a problem as nylon. The builder that built my guitar uses Labella medium hard tension strings. I find that they are much worse then other brands. They sound great but the 3rd string is a real problem. I always wonder if other people have the same problem with the Labella strings.

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georgemarousi
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Re: 3rd (G) string tuning & intonation issues

Post by georgemarousi » Wed Apr 12, 2017 12:09 pm

Robert M wrote:I believe that you'll find that everyone has this problem. As soon as the treble strings warm up a bit they go sharp. Especially the
g string. The higher up the neck you go the sharper it gets. Most good steel string guitars come with compensated saddles now. Although it's not as big a problem as nylon. The builder that built my guitar uses Labella medium hard tension strings. I find that they are much worse then other brands. They sound great but the 3rd string is a real problem. I always wonder if other people have the same problem with the Labella strings.
Sounds logical as labella ( as far I as I remember from when I tested them ) have very fat nylon strings - especially the G.. So the phenomenons with temperature / bending described in previous posts must get even worse :idea:
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pogmoor
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Re: 3rd (G) string tuning & intonation issues

Post by pogmoor » Wed Apr 12, 2017 1:55 pm

kdwiklund wrote:Simon - have you tried a carbon string for the 3rd? I'm not a fan generally but for the G string the sound is good - not as fat as nylon so not as tubby and much better at staying in tune.
This works for me; if I'm using a nylon set these days I always substitute a carbon third for better intonation and better tone.
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Justfun
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Re: 3rd (G) string tuning & intonation issues

Post by Justfun » Wed Apr 12, 2017 4:08 pm

Robert M wrote:I believe that you'll find that everyone has this problem. As soon as the treble strings warm up a bit they go sharp. Especially the
g string. The higher up the neck you go the sharper it gets. Most good steel string guitars come with compensated saddles now. Although it's not as big a problem as nylon. The builder that built my guitar uses Labella medium hard tension strings. I find that they are much worse then other brands. They sound great but the 3rd string is a real problem. I always wonder if other people have the same problem with the Labella strings.
Sorry, I know is not about strings-La bella but the first time I bought them it was my last time to.

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astro64
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Re: 3rd (G) string tuning & intonation issues

Post by astro64 » Wed Apr 12, 2017 5:00 pm

Robert M wrote:I believe that you'll find that everyone has this problem. As soon as the treble strings warm up a bit they go sharp. Especially the
g string. The higher up the neck you go the sharper it gets. Most good steel string guitars come with compensated saddles now. Although it's not as big a problem as nylon. The builder that built my guitar uses Labella medium hard tension strings. I find that they are much worse then other brands. They sound great but the 3rd string is a real problem. I always wonder if other people have the same problem with the Labella strings.
I don't have that impression for the Pepe Romero Medium tension set, also manufactured by LaBella. My experience is that all nylon trebles do this, and that once the trebles have been on the guitar for weeks, they seem slightly less sensitive to it but it never goes away. Whether a little or a lot out of tune, you gotta stay on top of it.

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