Les Paul and Tele tuning stability tips?

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Zaulkin
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Les Paul and Tele tuning stability tips?

Post by Zaulkin »

Lately I've been mucking around with a LP and a tele. It's been a while since I've used either one and I am used to enjoying the stability of a modern guitar.

1. What tips do you have for improving LP tuning stability? Or is it just a thing you accept? The guitar has Grover tuners (non-locking) and the bridge is in good condition with graphtech saddles. Maybe I need locking tuners, but first I may need to work on the nut. I have seen string butlers around - unsightly, but do they work?

The Knaggs Kenai is what I think of as a modern take on a LP, but they still design them with the strings on an angle from the nut. I wonder if they have the same issues. The Suhr Aura seems to have fixed that. Makes more sense to me.

2. I am working on a tele at the moment and I haven't got the intonation / stability quite right yet. It has locking tuners and a Gotoh 3 saddle bridge. I love the vintage 3 saddle look, and Suhr use a similar bridge on their Classic T. I figure that if they do that then the bridge should be absolutely fine and I need to look at the nut on this guitar too. I did a bit of research on tele bridges and wondered if maybe a 6 saddle bridge would be better. Babicz do one that looks like an absolute beast. Pricey though...

Thoughts?

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Re: Les Paul and Tele tuning stability tips?

Post by robthemac »

I've never had an issue with tuning stability arising from the bridge (other than Strat tremolo systems) or tuners. Every time, it's been the nut either not being cut correctly for the string gauge, or the string having worn its own little path into the nut.
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Re: Les Paul and Tele tuning stability tips?

Post by NippleWrestler »

Any point of contact can cause slippage, on the LP that's bridge saddles, nut slots, and to a lesser extent the tuners themmselves.

Its worth it on a older guitar to remove any burrs that exist in the slots at either end. Fold over a piece of 400 grit sandpaper and rub it in the slots until theres no drag on the paper, then do the same with some 800 grit. It won't take long.

I've also found it beneficial to tighten up the screws on the sides of the tuners to require a bit more torque to turn them. Locking tuners won't make much of a difference on a fixed bridge but would be better for quicker string changes. My OBG doesn't have locking tuners and has a Tusq nut and stays in tune for years. My Gibson has locking shit all over the place (bridge, stop bar, tuners) and needs tweaks midway through playing.

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Re: Les Paul and Tele tuning stability tips?

Post by Zaulkin »

robthemac wrote: Mon Feb 12, 2024 12:20 pm I've never had an issue with tuning stability arising from the bridge (other than Strat tremolo systems) or tuners. Every time, it's been the nut either not being cut correctly for the string gauge, or the string having worn its own little path into the nut.
Yeah, I'm thinking my LP is too worn and my tele is too new.

But for those experienced folks, can I get great intonation out of the gotoh 3 saddle tele bridge? I guess so, if suhr use them!

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Re: Les Paul and Tele tuning stability tips?

Post by Zaulkin »

NippleWrestler wrote: Mon Feb 12, 2024 12:30 pm Any point of contact can cause slippage, on the LP that's bridge saddles, nut slots, and to a lesser extent the tuners themmselves.

Its worth it on a older guitar to remove any burrs that exist in the slots at either end. Fold over a piece of 400 grit sandpaper and rub it in the slots until theres no drag on the paper, then do the same with some 800 grit. It won't take long.

I've also found it beneficial to tighten up the screws on the sides of the tuners to require a bit more torque to turn them. Locking tuners won't make much of a difference on a fixed bridge but would be better for quicker string changes. My OBG doesn't have locking tuners and has a Tusq nut and stays in tune for years. My Gibson has locking shit all over the place (bridge, stop bar, tuners) and needs tweaks midway through playing.
I've tightened the tuners but I shall do the rest as you mentioned.

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Re: Les Paul and Tele tuning stability tips?

Post by NippleWrestler »

Zaulkin wrote: Mon Feb 12, 2024 12:34 pm
NippleWrestler wrote: Mon Feb 12, 2024 12:30 pm Any point of contact can cause slippage, on the LP that's bridge saddles, nut slots, and to a lesser extent the tuners themmselves.

Its worth it on a older guitar to remove any burrs that exist in the slots at either end. Fold over a piece of 400 grit sandpaper and rub it in the slots until theres no drag on the paper, then do the same with some 800 grit. It won't take long.

I've also found it beneficial to tighten up the screws on the sides of the tuners to require a bit more torque to turn them. Locking tuners won't make much of a difference on a fixed bridge but would be better for quicker string changes. My OBG doesn't have locking tuners and has a Tusq nut and stays in tune for years. My Gibson has locking shit all over the place (bridge, stop bar, tuners) and needs tweaks midway through playing.
I've tightened the tuners but I shall do the rest as you mentioned.
A new nut is a cheap upgrade. Tusq make a $25 nut that drops right in with minimal sanding, but the removal of Gibson factory nuts can be a real pain in the ass as they install the nut before finishing so you need to score through the lacquer on the sides and headstock faceplate to get it off cleanly. It's 100% doable (I've done it) but just so you know what you're into should you go that route.

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Re: Les Paul and Tele tuning stability tips?

Post by murky »

Before you start farking around, put a tiny dab of Vaseline in each nut slot (under the string).

There's other nut lubes around (graphite, guitar grease, etc), but I've found vas to be far superior.

Don't use silicon/teflon based lubes.

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Re: Les Paul and Tele tuning stability tips?

Post by codedog »

murky wrote: Mon Feb 12, 2024 2:37 pm Don't use silicon/teflon based lubes.
Just curious... what're the issues with using silicone-based stuff, e.g. silicone grease for O rings?

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Re: Les Paul and Tele tuning stability tips?

Post by murky »

codedog wrote: Mon Feb 12, 2024 3:09 pm
murky wrote: Mon Feb 12, 2024 2:37 pm Don't use silicon/teflon based lubes.
Just curious... what're the issues with using silicone-based stuff, e.g. silicone grease for O rings?
Won’t play nicely with finishes & glues down the line. Can be pretty watery too - soaking into the smallest of cracks/bare wood.

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Re: Les Paul and Tele tuning stability tips?

Post by JoeBlow »

How do you string your guitars? In my experience it's always the nut. My '68 custom RI stayed in tune forever, but a few slots were cut too low. I had a bone nut put in, and the stability went comically backwards, which led to some anger towards the "luthier" who did it. I put a graph tech one in, and the tuning is back to being solid.

Factory nut top, bone bottom. Surprisingly it was the high E that was too low (and G just a fraction low):
20240212_171056.jpg
20240212_171056.jpg (476.33 KiB) Viewed 1074 times

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Re: Les Paul and Tele tuning stability tips?

Post by Zaulkin »

murky wrote: Mon Feb 12, 2024 2:37 pm Before you start farking around, put a tiny dab of Vaseline in each nut slot (under the string).

There's other nut lubes around (graphite, guitar grease, etc), but I've found vas to be far superior.

Don't use silicon/teflon based lubes.
I have some "nut sauce" stashed somewhere.

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Re: Les Paul and Tele tuning stability tips?

Post by Zaulkin »

JoeBlow wrote: Mon Feb 12, 2024 4:15 pm How do you string your guitars? In my experience it's always the nut. My '68 custom RI stayed in tune forever, but a few slots were cut too low. I had a bone nut put in, and the stability went comically backwards, which led to some anger towards the "luthier" who did it. I put a graph tech one in, and the tuning is back to being solid.

Factory nut top, bone bottom. Surprisingly it was the high E that was too low (and G just a fraction low):
20240212_171056.jpg
I just string them through the tailpiece, no top wrap, then lock the string at the machine head.

Fair point. I need to check the nut out.

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Re: Les Paul and Tele tuning stability tips?

Post by kdawg2a »

I tune my Les Paul between each song and my Tele at the start of the year.
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Re: Les Paul and Tele tuning stability tips?

Post by robthemac »

kdawg2a wrote: Tue Feb 13, 2024 2:59 am I tune my Les Paul between each chord and my Tele at the start of the year.
Fixed.
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Re: Les Paul and Tele tuning stability tips?

Post by Dharmajester »

Regarding your Tele. I have found string retainers on the headstock can impact tuning. Particularly the vintage round brass variety which may not be applicable to you. However replacing with a graphtec version sorts the issue nicely. 3 barrel bridges are fine but for better intonation, slanted barrels help enormously.
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