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Originally Posted by Notes Norton
I don't know the limits of temperature change on the truss rod. Since it is also metal, I suppose it goes through the expanding and contracting situation with temperature.

Perhaps someone with more technical guitar knowledge can comment.


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I don't claim to be "that person". All I can do is speak from experience with my guitars. Playing in a band we'd often load in from either a hot day into an air conditioned venue, or the opposite. I'd never leave my guitar in the vehicle or in the trailer to be affected by the ambient temperature inside that vehicle. First thing I'd do is open the case and let the guitar adjust to the temperature of the venue. My guitars are quality instruments so quite often there would be very little issue with it being out of tune. Most of the time the tuning issues would be very minimal. I have quite a few times where the guitar was in perfect tune after a few days in it's case. Here in my studio, I have an airconditioned/heated interior but in the winter it does tend to drop below the set temp at night, especially on the floor. So I have had to retune a certain amount of the time.

The wood breathes and contracts and expands slightly with temperature but more so with humidity. I don't think the truss rod is moving as much as the strings since they are thinner and more easily affected by the varying temperature. On cold mornings I notice that they are slightly sharp from the tuning point of the last session. And on the warmer days, the strings can be flat a few cents. Once I retune, they hold that pitch perfectly fine during the entire recording session. It's rare to have to touch up the tuning once I have them back in tune.

Like I said I'm no expert on the mechanics of what is actually happening but this was found on a google search.

I did a quick Google search on this topic and the consensus of what I saw indicated that the truss rod is not a major factor in tuning as it is primarily there to adjust the curve of the neck. It was noted that that curve/relief, can change under temperature extremes but it affects action more than tuning. By allowing slightly more relief, the neck will play fine under a wide range of temperatures.

The strings which are under tension when tuned to pitch, are indeed affected by the temperature as it causes them to contract when cold, thus increasing the tension and raising the pitch, or by expanding when hot thereby decreasing the tension and lowering the pitch.


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I have found much the same thing. Cold, guitars tend to go sharp.

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Originally Posted by Notes Norton
I don't know the limits of temperature change on the truss rod. Since it is also metal, I suppose it goes through the expanding and contracting situation with temperature.

Perhaps someone with more technical guitar knowledge can comment.


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For a 25 degree F change in temperature, the strings and truss rod will change their relaxed length by less than a thousandth of an inch. Since the string length is fixed by the tuner and bridge saddle, this change in length translates into a change in tension.

In the case of the truss rod, this is not enough to affect relief. Consider that the truss rod nut will typically require at least a small but significant portion of a turn to affect the relief. This changes the truss rod length by several thousandths of an inch.

The tension of a string is very sensitive to temperature. And pitch is very sensitive to string tension. Think of how little a string stretches when you press it down to the 12th fret. This is well under a thousandth of an inch. And yet, the saddle needs to be moved back to compensate for the increase in pitch that this causes.

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Originally Posted by Joe Videtto2
Is the temperature where the guitar is constant?
Originally Posted by Notes Norton
[quote=Joe Videtto2]<...snip,...> I find that several of my strings often become sharp after the guitar sitting for a day or two - not all, but I haven't really kept records.<...>

Well, I live in a house in NYC where we shut the heat off at night - so probably this explains it.

As long as the action doesn't dramatically change with temperature changes, I suppose I shouldn't worry about this.

Temperature will affect the tuning, and it doesn't affect all strings equally. Generally the heavier plain strings, and the wound strings with a heavier core, will go out of tune first. So with mild temperature changes, you may only notice a couple strings out. With larger temperature changes, all the strings will go noticably out.

Temperature changes don't affect action much at all. What can affect action is seasonal changes, where there are large changes in humidity. The neck wood will noticeably change in size enough to make the neck move and change the relief. When this occurs, an adjustment of neck relief (by a truss rod adjustment) is typically all that's necessary to correct it.

This change in relief will also change the action height, and this is often how you know that the neck moved and the relief has changed. But you don't want to simply readjust the action height. The saddles didn't move, the neck did. So If you simply readjust the action height, the relief would still be wrong.

The most effective way to deal with seasonal relief changes is to simply adjust the truss rod until the original action height is restored. No need to measure the relief itself. Restoring the action height will also restore the relief.

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Originally Posted by Guitarhacker
<...snip...> First thing I'd do is open the case and let the guitar adjust to the temperature of the venue. <...>

I do that with my guitar, flute, and saxophone. If the difference in temperature is severe, I'll do the same thing with my wind MIDI controller.

The last thing I do before we start is tune them up. My Parker guitar usually stays in tune the entire gig. The sax will need a slight touch if it's chilly, because my breath will warm the brass up a bit. The flute is the one that changes the most, but it's not difficult to retune.

Originally Posted by RJ 1911
<...snip...>Temperature will affect the tuning, and it doesn't affect all strings equally. Generally the heavier plain strings, and the wound strings with a heavier core, will go out of tune first.

I've noticed that.

I've also noticed a similar effect in the utility lines strung on poles. There is a lot more sag in the span between the poles in the summer, and they are more taut in the winter.

Originally Posted by RJ 1911
<...snip...>Temperature changes don't affect action much at all. <...>

I'm not a good enough guitar player to notice slight changes in action, it's my 7th instrument. Plus, I live in Florida, where the temperature never freezes.


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Temperature and humidity changes can really mess up guitars. It is best to try to control these as much as possible.


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Originally Posted by etcjoe
Temperature and humidity changes can really mess up guitars. It is best to try to control these as much as possible.
Which, sadly, is difficult for me. One day I may be gigging outdoors when it's 90 degrees (F) and humid, the next day indoors where someone has cranked the AC down to about 68.

My Parker DF522NN handles this better than my Gibson ES330 does. I do love my Gibson but the Parker, being a solid body guitar, is a better one-nighter gigging guitar.


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Originally Posted by etcjoe
Temperature and humidity changes can really mess up guitars. It is best to try to control these as much as possible.

Not so much any more..... but back in the day when I was gigging and my guitar was in and out of different temperature and environments with humidity changes, I had a guitar case humidifier. Dip it in water ever couple of days and it kept the moisture fairly constant in the case... or at least that was the intention. Now, my guitars rarely if ever leave the conditioned space of my studio where the temperature varies slowly depending on the season but the humidity is fairly constant and the guitars mostly live in their cases until a short recording session is called for. Well, I do have one acoustic that hangs on the wall and is often the one I grab to flesh something out when I need that.


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Every time I change strings I use a pencil and lube the nut with that. The “lead” in a pencil isn't actually made from lead. It is made from a form of carbon called graphite. I learned this trick some time ago from some guitar tech video.


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Originally Posted by Brian Hughes
Every time I change strings, I use a pencil and lube the nut with that. The “lead” in a pencil isn't actually made from lead. It is made from a form of carbon called graphite. I learned this trick some time ago from some guitar tech video.
Exactly what I do, and on my guitar with a whammy bar, I do the same on the bridge.

The pencil graphite works well on the neck/body joint of my sax, and the body joints of my flute when they start binding.

A No.2 pencil works great, a No.1 works better, but they aren't as easy to find.


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