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How To Tune a Custom Archtop Guitar

Updated on March 2, 2016

Whether you have been playing for years or only for a short time, tuning your custom archtop guitar is a part of playing process. If you have never tuned your guitar, however, it can be a bit intimidating. Yes, there are a variety of apps you can select from to help you or perhaps you can ask a friend or someone at your local music store, but eventually, you will need to learn how to tune your guitar on your own.

If you are ready to start tuning your custom archtop guitar, then these steps and tips will help.

  • Remember that the bridge is movable. Consequently, it must be re positioned on occasion to ensure the intonation is what you want it to be.
  • Play the harmonic at the 12th fret and compare that sound to the note made when you play the same string played to the fretted 12th fret.
  • If it is too sharp, then the bridge needs to be moved more closely to the tailpiece.
  • If the sound is too flat, then you need to move the bridge closer to the neck.
  • To change the sound of the tonality vs. intonation, then it is often necessary to change the tightness of the strings.
  • To adjust the tightness of the strings, you need to screw the bridge up or down to find the best action height. Depending on the style of your archtop guitar, tuning, string gauge and bridge height, you may need to reduce string tension by adjusting the action upward. However,keep in mind that is usually easier to lower the action while the guitar is tuned to pitch.

Also, it should be noted that the acoustic guitar has more pieces that are screwed to the body. Consequently, it is a good idea to check their tightness from time to time. The vibration of the instrument when played, bumping in and out of cases, and any number of small accidents can loosen various parts, causing them to rattle.

For a properly adjusted acoustic guitar, medium gauge strings (High E string = .013 or .012) are most frequently recommended. Extra light strings of .011 or under though great for electric guitars, won't produce optimum tone, volume or dynamic range on an acoustic instrument. When strings sound dull, show corrosion or breaks in the winding, or are hard to tune, replace them.

Your custom acoustic guitar can bring you and others many hours of pleasure. Take care of it, see that it stays and tune and spend the needed to learn how to get the best sound from it, and you will always have a way to relax. If you have questions regarding your acoustic guitar talk to the pros such as those at Fine Archtops.

Many websites provide additional information on the topic of acoustic archtop guitars. One such site worth visiting is

Janet Slagell independently authors articles for, Inc. for search engine marketing. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those solely of the author, and not of any other person, company or organization. No guarantee or warranty, express or implied, is made regarding the accuracy, fitness, or use of the content herein.


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