colaiza1965

Senior Stratmaster
Sep 6, 2012
1,083
Lake Forest CA
What I have: Warmoth strat (SSS) with Kinman pups, 10"-16" radius roasted maple neck with Sperzel locking tuners, 6100SS frets, bone nut and a Vegatrem tremolo. This is not a cheap DIY but it's made with care & love.
Problem: My guitar will not stay in tune through a song. Low E, G, and others go sharp even without trem use. (2 springs). I do not dive bomb nor shake it at all. Just a few tugs here and there.
Diagnosis: I took it to my local guitar shop and had them take a look at it. $170 later they said guitar was "fixed". I took it home and the 1st thing I noticed was that the pickups were too close to strings. So I though that may be the problem. Luthier said it was at Fender specs, but the sound was saturating when vol., knob hit 6. Lowered them. It was still going out of tune. I also noticed that the trem plate was not flush with the body, but rather, at an angle... I wondered about this tech.
Then I tried pencil lead, graphite, lithium grease, even wd-40 on the nut. I even put in a trem stop, which I don't like. Nothing! Still went out of tune. Took it back & they took another look. After all the techs looked at it they concluded that because I play with metal picks, that I was damaging the strings and that's what causes it to go out of tune. "They are not vibrating properly because of the damage." I told him I have another guitar with a the same Vegatrem system and I have no problems. He said the nut was fine, but I insisted that it seems to be sticking. He said it is not.
Question: Is this possible? I have been playing with metal picks for years and I have not had tuning issues with other guitars. I know that I damage the strings a considerably, so I change them before every show. Also I have bone, TUSQ, and Brass nuts that don't really have tuning issues.
Food for Thought: so I know many players like Lynch, May play with coins and others with steel pics (I know I am not them) but are they having the same tuning issues? I like the sound of metal picks, but I am willing to go back to the good ole Fender mediums if I have to; I just want my strat to stay in tune. Anybody else have a problem like this?
Possible solution: I could drop in a Fender Trem in the bodies and take out the Vega Trem. I could also use higher tension springs that came with the Vegatrem.
Status: So after another 35 min drive I left it with them to pick up on Sat.
Feelings: Ugh!
 

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Quikstyl

Strat-O-Master
Nov 10, 2018
726
Bay Area, CA
What I have: Warmoth strat (SSS) with Kinman pups, 10"-16" radius roasted maple neck with Sperzel locking tuners, 6100SS frets, bone nut and a Vegatrem tremolo. This is not a cheap DIY but it's made with care & love.
Problem: My guitar will not stay in tune through a song. Low E, G, and others go sharp even without trem use. (2 springs). I do not dive bomb nor shake it at all. Just a few tugs here and there.
Diagnosis: I took it to my local guitar shop and had them take a look at it. $170 later they said guitar was "fixed". I took it home and the 1st thing I noticed was that the pickups were too close to strings. So I though that may be the problem. Luthier said it was at Fender specs, but the sound was saturating when vol., knob hit 6. Lowered them. It was still going out of tune. I also noticed that the trem plate was not flush with the body, but rather, at an angle... I wondered about this tech.
Then I tried pencil lead, graphite, lithium grease, even wd-40 on the nut. I even put in a trem stop, which I don't like. Nothing! Still went out of tune. Took it back & they took another look. After all the techs looked at it they concluded that because I play with metal picks, that I was damaging the strings and that's what causes it to go out of tune. "They are not vibrating properly because of the damage." I told him I have another guitar with a the same Vegatrem system and I have no problems. He said the nut was fine, but I insisted that it seems to be sticking. He said it is not.
Question: Is this possible? I have been playing with metal picks for years and I have not had tuning issues with other guitars. I know that I damage the strings a considerably, so I change them before every show. Also I have bone, TUSQ, and Brass nuts that don't really have tuning issues.
Food for Thought: so I know many players like Lynch, May play with coins and others with steel pics (I know I am not them) but are they having the same tuning issues? I like the sound of metal picks, but I am willing to go back to the good ole Fender mediums if I have to; I just want my strat to stay in tune. Anybody else have a problem like this?
Possible solution: I could drop in a Fender Trem in the bodies and take out the Vega Trem. I could also use higher tension springs that came with the Vegatrem.
Status: So after another 35 min drive I left it with them to pick up on Sat.
Feelings: Ugh!
I have a solution... 20211226_164239.jpg
 

Norrin Radd

Strat-Talker
Jul 19, 2008
312
Saint Paul
First, put in 3 more springs and deck the trem. If your tuning issues go away, you’ve at least located the issue. The metal pick explanation seems very suspect to me. If it IS the springs, try 2 fresh ones. With only 2 they are splitting a LOT of tension and would likely lose their “springiness” much more quickly.

Really could be lots of things. What gauge strings? What brand? Tried a fresh pack? How about some photos of the nut and bridge/trem? Let us try and see what’s happening.
 

Believer7713

The Pink Bunnyman Frankenstein
Silver Member
Dec 27, 2016
18,445
KC
pure bs on their part, i used to demolish strings with stainless steel picks.

learning to setup guitars has helped me as much as learning theory and practicing.

you have something moving that should not or something binding that should not.
This^^^^^
The only reason something is either pulling or falling out of tune is due to improper setup. The Vega trem has been tried and proven itself by quite a large people to do the job quite well so I would say the bridge is not the issue. That leaves the tuners or the nut. Sperzels are more solid than bricks so I would definitely be looking at that nut. A really quick way to check it would be to give the trem a quick tug on the bar pulling it about 1/2 step sharper and see if the strings come back to, or at least closer to, tune. If so, then you definitely have an improperly cut nut.
Cut properly, the nut shouldn't ever even need to be lubed.
 

retrobob

Strat-O-Master
Aug 6, 2021
607
california
hat I have: Warmoth strat (SSS) with Kinman pups, 10"-16" radius roasted maple neck with Sperzel locking tuners, 6100SS frets, bone nut and a Vegatrem tremolo. This is not a cheap DIY but it's made with care & love.
Problem: My guitar will not stay in tune through a song. Low E, G, and others go sharp even without trem use. (2 springs). I do not dive bomb nor shake it at all. Just a few tugs here and there.
JMHO, going SHARP while playing is usually NOT attributed to the NORMAL movement or string wear. Normal movement and/or string wear usually produces flat notes. Your tremolo is soft (two springs), usually soft low tension spring settings do not pull strings sharp by themselves.
Taking this into consideration, I believe there are two possible attributes to the symptom;
1) Your nut slots are too tight, combined with the soft tremolo (two springs), palm muting or slight bridge contact while playing is causing the tremolo to go slightly sharp with not having enough spring tension to overcome the nut slots binding. Nut binding can be even more prominent if there is considerable break over angle at the headstock.
2) Intonation, while likely not the sole cause it can contribute to it, compound radius necks require more attention to details when setting intonation. Usually a little compromising is needed to get notes to play as true as possible over all.
 

ido1957

Senior Stratmaster
Oct 13, 2014
3,237
Canada
A few good suggestions above, just hope you get it resolved. Nothing drives me more nuts than tuning issues. I shopped my problem (bad nut on a Gibson - hard to believe eh? ) to 3 "techs" before find the guy who now handles all of my guitar work.
 

Scott Baxendale

Most Honored Senior Member
Silver Member
May 20, 2020
7,458
Sante Fe, NM
What I have: Warmoth strat (SSS) with Kinman pups, 10"-16" radius roasted maple neck with Sperzel locking tuners, 6100SS frets, bone nut and a Vegatrem tremolo. This is not a cheap DIY but it's made with care & love.
Problem: My guitar will not stay in tune through a song. Low E, G, and others go sharp even without trem use. (2 springs). I do not dive bomb nor shake it at all. Just a few tugs here and there.
Diagnosis: I took it to my local guitar shop and had them take a look at it. $170 later they said guitar was "fixed". I took it home and the 1st thing I noticed was that the pickups were too close to strings. So I though that may be the problem. Luthier said it was at Fender specs, but the sound was saturating when vol., knob hit 6. Lowered them. It was still going out of tune. I also noticed that the trem plate was not flush with the body, but rather, at an angle... I wondered about this tech.
Then I tried pencil lead, graphite, lithium grease, even wd-40 on the nut. I even put in a trem stop, which I don't like. Nothing! Still went out of tune. Took it back & they took another look. After all the techs looked at it they concluded that because I play with metal picks, that I was damaging the strings and that's what causes it to go out of tune. "They are not vibrating properly because of the damage." I told him I have another guitar with a the same Vegatrem system and I have no problems. He said the nut was fine, but I insisted that it seems to be sticking. He said it is not.
Question: Is this possible? I have been playing with metal picks for years and I have not had tuning issues with other guitars. I know that I damage the strings a considerably, so I change them before every show. Also I have bone, TUSQ, and Brass nuts that don't really have tuning issues.
Food for Thought: so I know many players like Lynch, May play with coins and others with steel pics (I know I am not them) but are they having the same tuning issues? I like the sound of metal picks, but I am willing to go back to the good ole Fender mediums if I have to; I just want my strat to stay in tune. Anybody else have a problem like this?
Possible solution: I could drop in a Fender Trem in the bodies and take out the Vega Trem. I could also use higher tension springs that came with the Vegatrem.
Status: So after another 35 min drive I left it with them to pick up on Sat.
Feelings: Ugh!
Without the guitar is is hard to diagnose the real problem. It’s most likely in the nut. If the nut is binding or pinching the strings no amount of grease or lube will fix the problem. A properly cut nut does not need to be lubed. The problem could be with the whammy and most likely has to do with a slight misalignment between the knife edge and the posts. Does it click or creak when you move the whammy?
 

dirocyn

Most Honored Senior Member
Jan 20, 2018
7,522
Murfreesboro, TN
There are no official qualifications to be a tech. And $170 is a lot of money to fail to diagnose an issue. Blaming your pick is a stupid attempt to justify their failure and gaslight you in order to keep your money. Yes, metal picks can cause the string to wear out faster. I doubt if that's the issue, but change your strings and see if the problem persists.

At least 90% of tuning issues come from the nut binding on the string. BTW, what brand and gauge strings are you using? And who made the nut? What size strings was the nut cut for? If your nut was cut for .008-.038" strings and you're using .010-.046, very likely the bass strings will bind.

While you are changing strings, run the string itself back and forth in the nut slot a few times. You don't really want to make it deeper, you want to feel how much force it takes for the string to slide back and forth. If you feel the string catching and jumping when you do this, you've 100% found the problem. Sometimes a nut slot can be smoothed out with just running the string itself back and forth like a handsaw. Don't be too aggressive with it, you probably don't want the slots to be much deeper.
 

colaiza1965

Senior Stratmaster
Sep 6, 2012
1,083
Lake Forest CA
Hello Chuckracer and all. I think that it is the nut too!
Update: So they called me today to say "it's definitely not the nut, it's the Vegatrem." But I agree with Believer 7713, the Vegatrem has been tried and proved effective. I met Senor Vega from Spain and I have another guitar with a Vegatrem, they are very good units. They changed the strings & said that they "removed the strings from the equation" and that it is not the strings (Daddario 9-42). Dirocyn says it's a lot of money not to have diagnosed the problem and he is 100% right on. The head tech, who has been nice, now wants to contact Vegatrem next week and see if the problem might be something simple.
Sentiment: Frustrating as hell. I have been playing for close to 50 years and building partscasters for over 10. I don't have the money for a strobe tuner, digital calipers or diamond cut files. But I saved $170 so that someone could do it for me. These guys (today, all three techs looked at my guitar!) have disappointed me very much so. I am going to continue searching for a Luthier here in Orange County, California. I will not give away the name of the shop until I get my guitar back. You would think that the 3 techs would identify this immediately. But how ironic that it is so hard to find a good guitar tech in OC CA. So I am going out to buy Bourbon and a cigar and play my teles in the meantime.
 

colaiza1965

Senior Stratmaster
Sep 6, 2012
1,083
Lake Forest CA
Without the guitar is is hard to diagnose the real problem. It’s most likely in the nut. If the nut is binding or pinching the strings no amount of grease or lube will fix the problem. A properly cut nut does not need to be lubed. The problem could be with the whammy and most likely has to do with a slight misalignment between the knife edge and the posts. Does it click or creak when you move the whammy?
No clicks, cricks or creeps, very smooth movement.
 

rolandson

Dr. Stratster
Jul 13, 2015
13,644
Foothills of the Cascades
The string doesn't give a sh!t what made it vibrate. Fingers bone plastic or some alloy, it's all the same to the string. Your ears will detect variations in attack, but after the initial threshold, the string will do what it does and not care how it got there.

And it certainly isn't going to rebel because you are using a metal pick...though I happen to think quartz is...
never mind.

Sounds like a "tech" making excuses for not knowing sh!t about their trade.

Find a for real luthier or learn to do your own setup...just be done with this shop. You got robbed.

Oh...
And paragraphs are your our friend.
 

3bolt79

Dr. Stratster
Oct 16, 2018
16,229
Oregon
If you have a set of nut files, you could try using the next size up.

By that I mean that if you were running a .009 string for your high E, cut the slot to.010, and so on.

You might try new, heavier duty springs in the back and may be add another spring.

Either way, get your money back from those clowns that have worked on your guitar.

Also please share the name of the shop. And, perhaps give them an honest, in this case bad, review on yelp or similar sites.
 

colaiza1965

Senior Stratmaster
Sep 6, 2012
1,083
Lake Forest CA
Response: Thank you Rolandson, I agree with you 100%. Yeah this "shop" thinks a little too much of themselves. And now they're telling me they are a super busy because of the holiday. 3Bolt 79, I actually could do the filing myself, but right now I am a little tight on money to afford $170+ for files. Since my divorce, I am tight on money and space. fos1 I knew what you meant!
Possible conclusion: Besides the fact that these guys are really don't have the expertise they claim, they seem intimidated by the Vegatrem, which I think is a great unit. The more time passes and the more I think about it, the more I realize that it is the nut. Especially now, that I installed a trem stop. Rolandson is 100% correct, the string doesn't care about using metal or tortex or plastic or whatever. I will leave a stern review on yelp as soon as I get my guitar back.
 


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