How to Fix a G String that Won’t Stay in Tune (2023 Edition)

Table of Contents

If you’re interested in learning about how to fix a G string that won’t stay in tune on the guitar, you’ve come to the right post!

Why Is My Guitar’s G String Always Out of Tune?

Staying in tune is much harder than you might think. There’s a whole set of issues that you stumble upon along the way. In particular, it seems that the G string is the biggest issue. No matter the genre, it seems that a lot of players complain about it.

There’s actually a whole set of issues why this may be happening. But whatever the actual cause, the good news is that you can usually fix this simply. Let’s first go through some of the reasons why this may happen and see what you can do about it.

Check Your Intonation

Before you start thinking it’s the string that’s faulty, you should first check the intonation. And, of course, you should also check the string height and whether the neck is warped.

Poor intonation can make it seem as if your instrument is out of tune. And no matter how precisely you tune it, things sound off as you go up the fretboard. And it may just happen that you use the top three strings when you reach these high frets.

I could get into details about the imperfect nature of guitars and why this happens. But you should just first check whether the intonation is in order. Here are some videos that can help you intonate your guitar.

How to Intonate a Les Paul (Tune-O-Matic Bridge)
How To Intonate Your Guitar In 3 Easy Steps

Check the String Winding on the Tuning Peg

Another common issue is the string winding on the tuning peg. As you wind the string, make sure that the winding is tidy.

When you’re restringing, first put the string through the hole on the tuner and extend it as much as you can. Then pull it back and loosen it up. For 3+3 headstocks (Gibson-style ones), it should be one distance between tuners. For 6-in-line headstocks (Fender-style and similar), pull it back by the distance of two tuning pegs.

Then slowly start winding the string and layer one winding above the other. It’s just important for it not to be messy. You can also wind the first round over the free end of the string, and then continue winding it underneath it.

3+3 Headstocks

Gibson-style or so-called 3+3 headstocks are really tricky. The 3rd and the 4th string end up breaking at an angle at the nut. This is especially pronounced on Gibson Les Paul and SG headstocks.

Such an angle puts a strain on these two strings. However, the 3rd string is usually unwound and guitar players tend to bend it often. This is why you’ll notice the tuning issues the most on it.

Headstock Angle

In addition to this, Gibson headstocks form a 14-degree angle with the rest of the neck. The old ones, made before 1968, had a 17-degree angle. In combination with the headstock’s 3+3 design, it puts a serious strain on D and G strings.

Nuts Going Nuts

But even with other headstock types, people still complain about the G string. Well, the issue might be with the nut. A quality nut will articulate the angle and relieve some of the pressure on a string.

Old nuts can be an issue. This is especially true with plastic ones. A bone nut or the use of the so-called zero fret can solve this issue. This is also true for a locking nut.

You always have the option to replace a nut on your guitar. This can also help improve the tone. However, if you decide to do this, I advise that you let a professional handle it.

Chances Are That You’re Bending This String All the Time

The G string just feels so good to bend. And chances are, you’re bending it more often than other strings. This definitely contributes to the issue.

However, you’d still want to be able to bend it without having to tune it that often. Therefore, this isn’t an issue on its own. A good instrument should be able to get past this issue, right?

How To Fix a G String on Your Guitar

There are ways to fix this issue. Aside from the first one that I mentioned above, the intonation, there are a few other things that you can do. So let’s look into that.

Lubricating the Nut

You can simply apply different lubricants in the string slots at the nut. It’s not uncommon to find guitar players using graphite for this. The only problem with graphite is that it may be a bit tricky in very humid areas.

Installing the Zero Fret or a Locking Nut

The zero fret, or a fret wire right after the nut, is an interesting trait. It’s more of a vintage-oriented feature, but it can help you stabilize tuning. They might be a bit tricky to install, but it’s a good method.

Locking nuts are a pretty great idea. However, they most often come on guitars with Floyd Rose or similar tremolo bridges.

Using a String Set With a Wound G String

Now, this is probably the simplest solution. Most electric guitar string sets come with a smooth unwound G string. But there are string sets with wound G strings. These feel a bit different and it may take some time to get used to them. However, it can easily improve the tuning stability of the G string. 

Tuning Up to the Desired Note

Here’s one thing that guitar players often overlook. When you’re tuning your instrument, it’s important to first tune below the desired note and then tune up to it. This way, you tighten up the string. Loosening them up usually leads to weakened tuning stability, for G string or any other.

String Butler

If you’re playing a Gibson, there’s a high chance you’re dealing with tuning issues. Sure, the headstock design has its advantages. But it gets tricky to keep things in tune.

However, there’s this simple contraption called String Butler. It positions the strings in such a way that breaks the angle. It takes some time and effort to install it, but it actually solves the issue.

Here’s more info on the matter. The video shows how it works on the classic Epiphone headstock, which is similar to the Gibson one.

String Butler Update - Does This Thing Really Work??

Buy a Different Type of Guitar

This may be an unpopular option. But the best way, in my opinion, is to buy a guitar with a well-designed headstock.

Honestly, neither Fender nor Gibson-style headstocks help with tuning stability. But PRS did an interesting twist to the 3+3 headstock.

However, it’s Ernie Ball Music Man guitars that managed to keep strings in a straight line. And they also have the same headstock design as their subsidiary Sterling.

The idea with these headstocks was simple. It’s the 4+2 formation. With 7-string guitars, they do 5+2, and with 8-string guitars, they do a 5+3. Such a design keeps all strings in a straight line. You can check out what these guitars look like in the video below.

Ernie Ball Music Man: John Petrucci Presents the 2021 Hydrospace Majesty Guitar

How to Fix a G String: Conclusion

I hope this article has helped you learn about how to fix a G string on your guitar!

And as usual, feel free to message me in the comments below if you have questions about this or another guitar-related topic!

2 Responses

  1. Robert McDonald says:

    I bought a string-butler for an old Guild electric, similar to a Les Paul, added locking tuners and good strings but it’s still not capable of staying in tune

    1. Hi Robert,

      I’m sorry to hear that. Did you try any of the other strategies mentioned in this article?

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