Intonation of third / G string

Updated on October 25, 2018 in General Discussion
3 on October 12, 2018

I always have problems with tuning and intonation on the third string, especially between the open G natural and the 1st fret G#. Now, part of this may be the consequence of tuning in equal temperament, in which thirds are always a problem, but I think it goes beyond that.

When I look at a standard set of strings, the G string looks much heavier than the B, which is only a major third away in pitch – 4/5. Why is this? I once had a set of strings that had a wrapped G string (silk wrapped in silver!) but I was too inexperienced to notice whether that made a difference. Folk guitar strings (metal) typically have the third string wrapped. 

I am a newbie here — if this is too technical for this forum, please suggest a cross-posting. But I think nearly everybody, amateur or professional, must have wrestled with the difficulties and compromises of tuning. 

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0 on October 13, 2018

Try a Savarez Alliance normal third. I use D’Addario EXP J-45 with the Savarez third.

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0 on October 18, 2018

Having a wound G string is weird in classical guitar music. I think the majority of people prefer nylons on the top three.

Try different brands. Failing that, you could get a luthier to fix that first fret under that string.

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0 on October 25, 2018

The problem with the third string is that it really is too thick as a plain string. This means that the string is relatively stiff, and so does not respond well to higher harmonics (making it sound dull or tubby), and also causes problems with intonation. A wound third string is an option, but also has issues – they are prone to breaking, and also don’t match the other treble strings tonally. A partial solution is to add some compensation at the nut (also at the saddle if your guitar doesn’t already have this.) This can be done by adding some material to the nut at the third string, effectively making the distance between the nut and first fret shorter. Some players have attempted this successfully themselves, but ideally it is a job for a classical guitar luthier.

James

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