Tuning stability - E/A/D

stankbank

New Member
Joined
Apr 23, 2022
Messages
27
With my new S2 Custom 24, the whammy works great. The high E/B/G strings seem to stay in tune totally fine but the E/A/D seem to go sharp every time. I am using 10-46, the strings seem to fit wonderfully in the nut slots. I also use Tri-Flow and big bends nut sauce on the saddles and nut slots. Wondering what else I can try? I have heard mythical things about this bridge system being very reliable.

It comes with locking tuners. When I installed the strings, I left 2 fingers worth of slack (at the nut) when installing the strings.... any ideas?
 

alantig

Zombie Four, DFZ
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Apr 28, 2012
Messages
13,660
Two thoughts - one, w/locking tuners, you don't really need any slack. You don't need wraps on the pegs. I don't leave any slack when I string up a guitar w/lockers - pull it tight and lock it, tune, stretch, and go.

Two, if those strings are coming back sharp, it sounds to me like the strings are binding somewhere, with the nut being the most likely spot. They may need a wee bit of widening or smoothing. Just side to side - that's about all I'm comfortable with for nut slots. You can always just work the strings through by hand and see if that helps widen the slots a bit. Not sure what to tell you at the bridge end - I've never run into issues there.

Other than that, just a quick check to make sure the trem is balanced and moves smoothly, but given what you've said about the high strings, I'd put my money on the nut.
 

stankbank

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Joined
Apr 23, 2022
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27
Yeah... there's almost no wraps in my low strings..I followed this video:


I guess I will check the nut!
 

stankbank

New Member
Joined
Apr 23, 2022
Messages
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Two thoughts - one, w/locking tuners, you don't really need any slack. You don't need wraps on the pegs. I don't leave any slack when I string up a guitar w/lockers - pull it tight and lock it, tune, stretch, and go.

Two, if those strings are coming back sharp, it sounds to me like the strings are binding somewhere, with the nut being the most likely spot. They may need a wee bit of widening or smoothing. Just side to side - that's about all I'm comfortable with for nut slots. You can always just work the strings through by hand and see if that helps widen the slots a bit. Not sure what to tell you at the bridge end - I've never run into issues there.

Other than that, just a quick check to make sure the trem is balanced and moves smoothly, but given what you've said about the high strings, I'd put my money on the nut.
I was hoping I’d not have to get into nut work on a new PRS. I thought it would be more dialed in than other manufacturers. Everything else is insanely higher quality! I thought the nut was no exception.
 

Alnus Rubra

Loving nature’s wonders
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Call me crazy but I subscribe to the thought that a locking tuner shouldn’t involve much of any wraps. I pull the string hard and then lock it. Then tune up to pitch. I know this is not how PRS recommends it in their videos. But seems to work fine for me.
^this^
 

alantig

Zombie Four, DFZ
Joined
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Messages
13,660
I was hoping I’d not have to get into nut work on a new PRS. I thought it would be more dialed in than other manufacturers. Everything else is insanely higher quality! I thought the nut was no exception.

It happens. Sometimes a slot gets cut a little tighter than the next one might. If you've changed strings, maybe the wrapping catches the nut a little different, especially if it's a different brand. You pointed out that it is catching on just the wound strings - that seems like a might big clue. The nut may have adjusted a bit due to changes in weather as it travelled - hard to say. I don't know that I've ever heard of nuts doing that, but I can't say it's impossible.
 

Going Modal

I should be practicing right now.
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Anybody remember that old video (from the '90s, maybe?) in which PRSh demonstrates how to tune a PRS guitar? Something about how you should either pull up or down (?) on the tremolo before tuning, then tune to pitch, and you're good?
 

Rider1260

New Member
Joined
Jun 9, 2013
Messages
3,179
Some PRS can be a bit tight , I do not agree with lubing the nut, I believe the S2s have the same nut as the core that is self lubing.
No wraps on the tuners
Tune UP to pitch
Dive bombs and wiggles ( do a Bunch )
Tune up to pitch
Repeat
I will get better and better :)
 

Proteus

Tru-Arc Bridgeworks
Joined
Dec 25, 2021
Messages
214
See that all 6 screws that fasten the bridge to the body are at the obsessively same height. Those screws have grooves around them (above the threads and below the heads) which serve as the fulcrum point(s) for the bridge. If they are not all in perfect (enough) alignment, trouble will ensue.

They are set at the factory at a height that floats the bridge about 2mm above the body, for about a half-step of up-bend. That's a good height, and I have no reason to change it - but if has been changed, then make sure the screws are ... see first paragraph. I find on most of the PRSeses I've handled, that the bridge-mount screws have been left alone (which works for most people). But I come across others...well, one can never be sure what a tech (or owner, if it's a used guitar - which I don't think yours is, just sayin') might have done in the name of setup. So a thing to check.

But as everyone says, grabby nuts are the A-number-1 cause of tuning issues. Short of having a master setup tech personally obsess over the nut for each player, taking into consideration the player's string choice, left-hand fretting force, right hand string-attack fury, propensity to bend strings, and tremolo habits, it's really hard to produce guitars with nuts that work for everyone.

Have some sympathy for the manufacturer who must mass-produce guitars that will travel the world and then, with a minimum of out-of-the-box setup, work for both a new player and a seasoned player, a light player and a heavy player, a fingerpicker and a dive-bomber - all of whom might get better results with a custom-tweaked nut than with a stock setup.

(Most brands will leave nut slots a little shallow and less than fully dressed, on the indisputable theory that it's easier for a tech to take material away later than to add it back - and because no one wants to get a new guitar out of the box and have the strings buzz down in the cowboy chord position.)

PRS, on the other hand - at least from the dozens of guitars I've been intimate with - really tries to dial the nut in, and in my experience usually get it purtnear right. But Perfection is a hard, uncompromising, and sometimes fickle mistress.

I think I understand that most SEs ship with 9s and most S2s (and on up the food chain) ship with 10s. Theoretically, the nut has been cut, grooves angled and dressed for the strings that ship on the guitar.* [See tangent below.] But I can't swear to that information - and if, frinstance, your guitar was set up for and shipped with 9s, and you put on 10s, there you go. When I change strings, going to 10s, I almost always have to address all the slots, widening (NOT deepening) them for the bigger gauge. This may not apply to your guitar, but it's still to be considered.

If, as an example, you go all whammy and some wound strings come back sharp - and then when you pull up on them (as when stretching strings) and release them in a snap, if they go back to pitch, it's an indication of nut bind. Sauce, dynaflow, bacon grease or motor oil notwithstanding, the slots may need attention.

(Also, I'm with the guys who put little or no wrap on the posts of locking tuners. The wrap is a great place for strings to stretch and flex if given the change, and if we can eliminate those coils of butt-biting trouble, I say do it.)

I know it's galling to spend up on a premium guitar with a vaunted reputation for general wonderfulness and then get less than perfection. And the strings may settle down, as others have suggested, after more break-in. But if not - and you're not comfortable putting tools to nut - you might consider paying a good tech to dress the nut. Might cost something, which I can understand your being annoyed to pay. But here's how I think of it: if it's a 300.00 guitar, and a professionally-dressed nut is all that stands between wall sculpture and a nice guitar, after I pay the tech 50.00, I still got a bargain, And if it's a 3,000.00 guitar, what's 50.00? I'm going to let that fraction of the spend stand between having a fancier hall hanging - or a great guitar?

Oh yeah, one other thing occurs. You probably know this, but if you have changed gauges - or gone to strings of the same gauge with different tension - you may have to adjust the tremolo screws in the back of the guitar to make the bridge float parallel to the top, as intended. You don't want the bridge pulled up at the front, or down at the back: when it's floating even, the pull of the strings and the springs are even, improving the likelihood that the system will return to that dynamic balance after whammification.
_____

* Tangent below: But I've had to dress quite a few - usually the 1, 2, or 3 - because they're deadening the string. The culprit is, I think, that sometimes the slots aren't properly angled down toward the headstock, and slightly toward the tuner for the string in question, so that instead of having a single unambiguous fulcrum at the front edge of the nut, the slot is morless level, so that the string is confused about where its break point is supposed to be. And the 1-2-3 grooves are generally tighter than I think they need to be.
 

12manD

New Member
Joined
Feb 8, 2015
Messages
82
In my experience with a 2017 CU24 and 2020 Tremonti the slots need to be widened ever so slightly. I also put light machine oil on the bridge posts to keep everything smooth. Admittedly may be overkill but it definitely does the job.
 

stankbank

New Member
Joined
Apr 23, 2022
Messages
27
See that all 6 screws that fasten the bridge to the body are at the obsessively same height. Those screws have grooves around them (above the threads and below the heads) which serve as the fulcrum point(s) for the bridge. If they are not all in perfect (enough) alignment, trouble will ensue.

They are set at the factory at a height that floats the bridge about 2mm above the body, for about a half-step of up-bend. That's a good height, and I have no reason to change it - but if has been changed, then make sure the screws are ... see first paragraph. I find on most of the PRSeses I've handled, that the bridge-mount screws have been left alone (which works for most people). But I come across others...well, one can never be sure what a tech (or owner, if it's a used guitar - which I don't think yours is, just sayin') might have done in the name of setup. So a thing to check.

But as everyone says, grabby nuts are the A-number-1 cause of tuning issues. Short of having a master setup tech personally obsess over the nut for each player, taking into consideration the player's string choice, left-hand fretting force, right hand string-attack fury, propensity to bend strings, and tremolo habits, it's really hard to produce guitars with nuts that work for everyone.

Have some sympathy for the manufacturer who must mass-produce guitars that will travel the world and then, with a minimum of out-of-the-box setup, work for both a new player and a seasoned player, a light player and a heavy player, a fingerpicker and a dive-bomber - all of whom might get better results with a custom-tweaked nut than with a stock setup.

(Most brands will leave nut slots a little shallow and less than fully dressed, on the indisputable theory that it's easier for a tech to take material away later than to add it back - and because no one wants to get a new guitar out of the box and have the strings buzz down in the cowboy chord position.)

PRS, on the other hand - at least from the dozens of guitars I've been intimate with - really tries to dial the nut in, and in my experience usually get it purtnear right. But Perfection is a hard, uncompromising, and sometimes fickle mistress.

I think I understand that most SEs ship with 9s and most S2s (and on up the food chain) ship with 10s. Theoretically, the nut has been cut, grooves angled and dressed for the strings that ship on the guitar.* [See tangent below.] But I can't swear to that information - and if, frinstance, your guitar was set up for and shipped with 9s, and you put on 10s, there you go. When I change strings, going to 10s, I almost always have to address all the slots, widening (NOT deepening) them for the bigger gauge. This may not apply to your guitar, but it's still to be considered.

If, as an example, you go all whammy and some wound strings come back sharp - and then when you pull up on them (as when stretching strings) and release them in a snap, if they go back to pitch, it's an indication of nut bind. Sauce, dynaflow, bacon grease or motor oil notwithstanding, the slots may need attention.

(Also, I'm with the guys who put little or no wrap on the posts of locking tuners. The wrap is a great place for strings to stretch and flex if given the change, and if we can eliminate those coils of butt-biting trouble, I say do it.)

I know it's galling to spend up on a premium guitar with a vaunted reputation for general wonderfulness and then get less than perfection. And the strings may settle down, as others have suggested, after more break-in. But if not - and you're not comfortable putting tools to nut - you might consider paying a good tech to dress the nut. Might cost something, which I can understand your being annoyed to pay. But here's how I think of it: if it's a 300.00 guitar, and a professionally-dressed nut is all that stands between wall sculpture and a nice guitar, after I pay the tech 50.00, I still got a bargain, And if it's a 3,000.00 guitar, what's 50.00? I'm going to let that fraction of the spend stand between having a fancier hall hanging - or a great guitar?

Oh yeah, one other thing occurs. You probably know this, but if you have changed gauges - or gone to strings of the same gauge with different tension - you may have to adjust the tremolo screws in the back of the guitar to make the bridge float parallel to the top, as intended. You don't want the bridge pulled up at the front, or down at the back: when it's floating even, the pull of the strings and the springs are even, improving the likelihood that the system will return to that dynamic balance after whammification.
_____

* Tangent below: But I've had to dress quite a few - usually the 1, 2, or 3 - because they're deadening the string. The culprit is, I think, that sometimes the slots aren't properly angled down toward the headstock, and slightly toward the tuner for the string in question, so that instead of having a single unambiguous fulcrum at the front edge of the nut, the slot is morless level, so that the string is confused about where its break point is supposed to be. And the 1-2-3 grooves are generally tighter than I think they need to be.
Didn't change gauge - 10s shipped with it and I put 10s back on it. But it IS the first time I used the whammy bar since buying it new. I am not familiar with the PRS bridge, so I really don't want to mess with it (the 6 screws, etc) I bought the guitar brand new off the wall - it arrived at the store and I bought it within 24 hours so the only work on it would have been the 'factory' setup before it was shipped. Based on the PRS videos I have seen, it seems like they really put work into setting up the guitars before they leave the warehouse (even the SE's) so I really don't want to mess with the bridge.

This is the bridge from the back:
I emailed PRS about it (thinking it was a bit uneven) and they said its likely fine:

Thank you for contacting PRS Guitars. The appearance of the tremolo bridge and it's levelness in comparison to the top is not as important as the actual function of the tremolo, as the guitar may operate as intended with this setup. A small adjustment (clockwise) to the bass side claw screw may help to level the bridge out, but may not be necessary depending on how well the guitar is holding tune, etc.

Let me know if this clarifies things for you and if you have any further questions or concerns. Thanks for playing PRS Guitars.
 

Proteus

Tru-Arc Bridgeworks
Joined
Dec 25, 2021
Messages
214
I think it's good advice not to mess with the bridge - at least (and especially) the 6 front screws which fasten it to the body.

But the parallelism I was referring to was along the strings, not across them; ie, as viewed from the side of the guitar, not the back. The bridge should sit evenly, with the front edge and the back edge pretty much the same height off the body. I'd never even looked at the bridge from the back to compare side-to-side attitude. I've now looked at a bunch, and none are dead-even. On most, the treble side is a little lower, like yours.

I don't think any of us have asked how long you've had the guitar, and how long the current string set has been on it. (Which would go to whether the strings have had time to stretch, take up any slack in the wraps on the posts, and generally settle in.) I find it takes at least a couple hours of playing time and/or a lot of pull-and-release stretching of the strings themselves before the guitar reaches its most stable condition.

Also, did you have the same behavior with the strings that came on the guitar? And it might be useful to ask what brand you changed to - and the gauges of the 4-5-6 strings you have trouble with. I know we've established that the set is referred to as "10s", and as guitarspeak jargon, that's taken to imply the gauges of the whole set. But taint necessarily so: each string's gauge can vary from one brand/series to another. Both series of PRS 10s are 10-13-17-26-36-46, as are D'Addario EXL 10s. But still...details!

It will be interesting to see what develops as you implement any of the suggestions in this thread. If it was my guitar, I'd stretch the hell out of the strings currently on it; if things didn't get better, I'd widen the nut slots for the offending strings. Still no love, I'd take the strings loose at the tuners and restring leaving no extra wraps. If I still didn't get happy, I'd put a new set on, following all that protocol.

Update us when you discover what you discover.
 

docteurseb

New Member
Joined
Feb 24, 2018
Messages
1,057
Strings fitting nicely in the slots is one thing; but if those slots have a rough texture the wound string will have a real hard time going back to pitch even with lubricant.
I've found PRS nut slots to generally be very rough, even on Private Stock guitars, and requiring smoothing/sanding.
If you have a cut off from an E/A/D string, slide it manually inside the nut slot: does it slide smoothly ? If not that's your most likely problem.

This makes me chuckle every time, in a bad way:
"And the strings may settle down, as others have suggested, after more break-in."

That 'break-in' is what would have naturally happened if the nut slots were smooth to begin with.
I can tolerate that somewhat on an SE. I'm however left shaking my head when it's the same on a Core or PS guitar: yes it's time consuming to take care of it at the factory; but there is ample room to get this right at the price point of a Core/PS.
 
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