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Old 09-13-2011, 06:15 PM
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gracecovenant gracecovenant is offline
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Default What Is It About The B String?

I've owned a few pretty nice guitars (Martin HD-28v, Taylor 510ce..), but it seems like they've all had B string issues. I can't keep this string from going out of tune with the slightest bend, and they always seem to have a metallic "ping" that grates on my ears. I've even had them professionally set up but it always comes back. What is it about this string?
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Old 09-13-2011, 06:28 PM
blaren blaren is offline
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Weird.

Maybe there's something about B strings that makes them sound like that? I haven't found it but I'm sure others will chime-in and explain it if there's something to it.

If I were to guess though...maybe you have a hearing issue? Maybe the B frequency bothers your ears? Or..do you always use the same brand of strings? Maybe THEY are the problem?

As for it going out of tune...do you use great big fat strings? Like fatter than most makers would file their nuts for?
They must be binding in the nut.
For multiple guitars to do that makes no sense though (unless you're using cables as I just mentioned..wider then the slots). It has to be either the machine head or nut slot...or stringpin I suppose...but if it is one of those issues it would/should be only on one guitar..not multiple guitars.

Do you stretch the crap out of your fresh strings before you tune em?

If you aren't using strings that are too big...or regularly using the same brand and size and THEY have nasty sounding B strings..I hate to say it but..the problem HAS to be YOU.
You are the only common denominator in the equation.
Sorry..that's just logical troubleshooting I think.
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Old 09-13-2011, 06:32 PM
D string D string is offline
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Does it tune sharp or flat? If the string seems to be tuning up/sharp then it could be the nut slot is binding the string. Try taking a sharp lead pencil and put a small amount in the slot. This is an old violin trick to keep the strings from binding. If it is down-tuning/flat, then check to be sure the string is not slipping away from the tuner post. Also pull up on the string to be sure it is seated good at the bridge pin. This has always worked for me. Good luck and hope this helps.
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Old 09-13-2011, 06:35 PM
wilstev wilstev is offline
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The B string is a little tricky when it comes to intonation but I don't know that I ever had any problems with it going out of tune.
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Old 09-13-2011, 06:41 PM
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Landru Landru is offline
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B string . . . . tuned to pitch at B will most likely be sharp at fret 3 - comes back to pitch (if you're lucky) around fret 7. These are approximations, but it's a tough string for tuning. The "buzz" is mechanical (fret, nut, saddle) - my 2 strings don't buzz, they just are a bear to tune. The guitar is tempered, the music is not. If you've seen a "fan" neck, you'll know to what extremes builders go to make the guitar work.

The best advice is always to get better as a player so no one hears the imperfections of the guitar. I saw Segovia play with gearless peg machine heads and tune on the fly - I've never blamed my guitar since.
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Old 09-14-2011, 06:00 AM
CrankyChris CrankyChris is offline
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Landru is correct.

Here is something created to combat this problem.


And if you're really interested, watch some of these videos with, of all people, Steve Vai

http://www.dolphinmusic.co.uk/articl...retboard-.html
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Old 09-14-2011, 06:51 AM
sawdustdave sawdustdave is offline
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A few weeks ago I read an article on Well-Tempering. For those pianists who hang here, that's as in Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier. What is "well-tempering"? It's tuning exactly in tune - so if we tune a piano to C Major, the 5th is, pardon the pun, a perfect 5th. Each interval is based upon the wavelength of the tonic.

OK, so what, you say. Well, we don't tune "well" any more. We tune "equal". So, our 5ths are a tad flat, etc. Each half step is exactly 1/12th of the octave. That means we're always a bit out of tune. But we're used to it, so mostly, we don't notice.

But, to me, the B string of the guitar is where I notice it, especially depending upon the key I'm playing in. I don't think that the string material is at fault, I believe it's "being equal" in tuning.

My son is a trumpet player with the WI Nat'l Guard (formerly with the 10th Mtn Div. Band as well). He tells me that, when the band is playing certain cadences the trumpets must raise their pitch ever so slightly and then, BAM!, overtones pop. What they're doing is changing from equal tempering to well-tempering.

I reserve the right to be wrong, of course.

Dave
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Old 09-14-2011, 11:13 AM
Clifton Clifton is offline
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I have the same issue on a couple of guitars. The B string always seems to sound different than the other 5. It always has a metalic harsh ring to it. I wish I could make it go away.
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Old 09-14-2011, 11:45 AM
Andromeda Andromeda is offline
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Somebody should do a scientific study on why the B string acts the way it does.
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Old 09-14-2011, 11:51 AM
JohnnyDes JohnnyDes is offline
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I'm with you. B string never sounds quite right to me. I find the Elixir B string particularly problematic, so much so that I often just buy single DR treble strings and throw away the Elixirs. Something about the anti-rust treatment, maybe.

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Old 09-14-2011, 12:03 PM
Misty44 Misty44 is offline
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There are three separate and unrelated issues being discussed here.

The first is the Intonation issue Landru mentioned, which is why guitars never play scientifically "in tune." I've always liked Kevin Ryan's overview and Tempered Tuning method http://www.ryanguitars.com/NewsandEv...ning_Terms.htm, but there is also an entire Google-search world full of other good explanations.

The second is the "going out of tune" and "metallic ping" sound issue, which may be caused by several factors, including string balls not snug against the plate, a loose tuner, or an improper nut slot - which would account for both.

The third is the overall "sound" of the string. That one's a head-scratcher for me.

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Old 09-14-2011, 12:07 PM
ChrisMartinMan ChrisMartinMan is offline
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I have been perplexed by this issue despite the scientific explanation because based on that explanation, you should have the issue all over the fretboard. To me, I only really notice a bothersome issue on the major D chord. And sometimes it seems worse than others on the same guitar.

What places me outside the realm of most people is that I find myself the happiest with that chord if I adjust the high E, rather than the B. I don't do this in general though because it messes up other chords, like the major E.
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  #13  
Old 09-14-2011, 12:33 PM
Misty44 Misty44 is offline
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Quote:
based on that explanation, you should have the issue all over the fretboard. To me, I only really notice a bothersome issue on the major D chord. And sometimes it seems worse than others on the same guitar.

What places me outside the realm of most people is that I find myself the happiest with that chord if I adjust the high E, rather than the B. I don't do this in general though because it messes up other chords, like the major E.
I think it does happen all over the fretboard, but our ears (or at least mine) don't notice it as much as we (they) do on specific strings at specific frets. It varies from guitar to guitar.

I too sometimes adjust the low E or the B depending on what key I'm playing in. The term I've heard for this is "sweetening" after tuning, which I first read about in a Norman Blake interview.

The aim of Tempered Tuning (see the Ryan link I posted earlier) is to do a little compromising on precise tuning to fool the ears into not hearing as much of the intonation. Some electronic tuners have this feature, which either slightly flats or sharpens the notes instead of tuning them true.

Intonation: the curse of stringed instruments.
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Old 01-22-2012, 04:23 PM
OldGuitarNewbie OldGuitarNewbie is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gracecovenant View Post
I've owned a few pretty nice guitars (Martin HD-28v, Taylor 510ce..), but it seems like they've all had B string issues. I can't keep this string from going out of tune with the slightest bend, and they always seem to have a metallic "ping" that grates on my ears. I've even had them professionally set up but it always comes back. What is it about this string?
I seem to have just the opposite reaction the to B string. I've found that one way I compare guitar "sounds" on an acoustic guitar is how the B string sounds (once in tune of course). I cannot describe what it is, but I can easily tell the difference between two different guitars based on picking that one string. There is more to it, of couse, but that's always been a good indicator to me. Weird, I know.
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Old 01-22-2012, 05:18 PM
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Huh. This isn't a problem I've ever had with a guitar. Maybe because my high-range hearing's been screwed up for years.
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