Why Do Some of My Guitar Chords Sound Out of Tune?

right chords

Have you ever been playing a gig or practicing your guitar when all of a sudden something doesn’t sound right? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. It is fairly common for guitarists to experience intonation issues on just a couple chords that are out of tune. Typically this is a result of an issue with the nut, as Bobby Davis, the Guitar Answer Guy, explains in his article, “Who Do Some of My Guitar Chords Sound Out of Tune?

Whenever you’ve got intonation set properly but one or two lower-position guitar chords sound out-of-tune, it’s almost always a nut issue:

– The nut may be too high, which makes the action higher than it should be at the nut. So, when you press the strings down the notes are literally pulled sharp due to the extra amount the string has to stretch. Or…

– The nut height might be good, but the nut slots themselves aren’t shaped properly and the breakpoint of the string over the nut is a tad too far forward or backward. This has the same effect as when your bridge saddles are too far forward or backward.

Cheaper guitars tend to have a nut problem. Bobby mentions that this part of the guitar is often overlooked during the construction process on less expensive models. In order to fix the problem, the nut needs to be filed down in a specific manner to ensure no damage is done to the instrument. If you are experiencing issues with intonation and think it is a nut issue, Bobby suggests having a professional look at the guitar to make sure it is repaired in the safest manner possible.

Bobby Davis, The Guitar Answer Guy, is an Air Force Vet that has been playing guitar since 1987. His site, guitaranswerguy.com, is designed to help guitarists of all levels learn about proper care and maintenance for their instruments, and also provides some guitar lessons and theory information. To view the full article on keeping a guitar in tune, please visit https://www.guitaranswerguy.com/guitar-chords-out-of-tune/.

Cassidy is the Digital Marketing Manager at Making Music and has recently begun her career in the music industry. In May 2017, she graduated from the Crane School of Music with a double degree in Music Business and Music Theory. Upon graduating college, Cassidy did an internship with DANSR, Inc. in Illinois before moving to Southern California where she was the NAMM intern for six months. Her favorite instrument is the clarinet, but she also enjoys dabbling with guitar, piano, ukulele, saxophone, and flute.

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I have been playing guitar for 40 years. A “souring” of the chord or notes may be caused by over pressure on the strings. I have noticed this when I switch to an electric from an acoustic. This is result of the electric being a “thin” shape for speed.

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