Quick Tip - Mystery Problems (Buzz, Intonation, Tuning)

Do you find yourself trying to hunt down an issue on your guitar that just doesn't seem to make sense?  Buzzing all up the fretboard, but only on one or two strings?  Intonation that just will not set properly?  Guitar constantly falling out of tune?  There is a possibility you just have a bad string or set of strings.  Here are some common examples:

  • Buzzing that seems to only occur on one or two strings and on every fret.  Usually fret buzz will effect multiple strings and only on certain frets if your truss rod is adjusted properly.  This is a very common sign that you have a bad string.
  • Intonation issues that defy physics.  Intonation is the length of a string and the idea is to get the length to be double the distance to the 12th fret.  The core of the string is what we need to consider here.  On a typical electric guitar 3 strings are wound and 3 are not.  The core of the wound strings is pretty similar to the size of the plain unwound ones.  That is why a properly intonated guitar will have the wound strings with low E the longest, A a little shorter, and D a little shorter than that.  The plain strings will look about the same with the G string longest (close to the low E), B shorter, and high e shorter than that.  So if your guitar is not intonating and seems to want to go in a way that does not follow this pattern, you likely have a bad string.  Another cause could be the nut, but that is much less likely.
  • Tuning stability woes.  Bad strings can cause all sorts of frustration and tuning stability is one.  If everything else with the guitar is right and it still wont hold tune, try another string.
In conclusion, bad strings are a real thing and they can show themselves in many ways.  Since strings are relatively inexpensive, trying a fresh set can help narrow down the problem.  I once had an entire box of bad strings and it dorve me crazy!  I switched to D'Addario and have never looked back as it is very rare to have a bad set.