You might be wondering why do guitar strings go sharp whenever you pick up your guitar to play?
You tuned it perfectly last time you played, and now it’s out of tune and the strings have gone sharp, what’s that all about?
Guitars don’t stay in perfect tune, you should expect to have to fine tune your guitar nearly every session.
While there are some guitars with hardware that help prevent the string from going out of tune, by and large, tuning is just a thing every guitarist should be comfortable doing regularly.
Basically, when there are changes in temperature, and humidity, parts of the guitar will contract or expand.
When your strings contract due to a drop in temperature, you can expect your strings to go sharp.
Cooling or a drop in temperature is the biggest reason why guitar strings go sharp.
What causes guitar strings to keep going sharp?
The wood body of your guitar, the neck, and the individual strings themselves can all be impacted by temperature and humidity.
Because strings are made from metal alloys, they are pretty sensitive to heat.
Increase the room temperature and you’ll notice the strings go flat, drop the temperature and you’ll see them go sharp.
Guitar strings goes sharp when fretted
This is more of an intonation problem, that while related to temperature, is more easily fixed.
If your string goes out of tune when fretted, it’s a big indicator that you need your guitar’s intonation set up.
The frets on your guitar are supposed to be very precise, to give you an accurate note.
If your string goes sharp when fretted you can fix this by adjusting the bridge, depending on the style of guitar you have.
You should note that I don’t recommend setting your own intonations if you’re a beginner.
It’s not an impossible task, but is going to be much much easier with a little experience and a trained ear.
Even for myself, I like to just bring my guitar into my local luther for a set up.
How to prevent guitar strings from going sharp
Now that we know why do guitar strings go sharp, how do we prevent it?
Unless you have a problematic guitar, you’ll always need to tune your guitar.
I recommend just getting good at tuning by ear, as it’s an important skill for any guitarist to have.
That’s the first and most basic thing you can do.
An experienced guitarist can tune their guitar in about 30 seconds, even without a tuner.
Being good and quick at tuning makes an out of tune guitar less of a problem.
However, there are many gadgets and pieces of hardware out there that help guitar’s keep their tuning.
Locking nuts, for example, will help keep the guitar in tune.
Not having a tremolo or whammy bar will also ensure the tuning is more stable.
These types of hardware work, and do a good job, but they’re more designed to keep your guitar in tune while playing, and less about keeping the guitar in tune between sessions.
A locking nut will help keep your guitar in tune between sessions, but if you’re having big tuning problems you likely need to have a good guitar tech look at your guitar.
My recommendation if you’re wondering why guitar strings go sharp, is to get good at tuning and ensure your guitar is set up correctly.
Keeping your guitar in a place that is climate controlled and doesn’t change temperatures wildly between day and night also makes a big difference.
Keeping your guitar in a case will also decrease the impact swings in humidity or temperature will have on your guitar strings and prevent them from going sharp.
If you’d like to get some more info on guitar tuning issues, here’s a neat video on just that!