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Guitar In Tune But Strings Feel Loose? Here’s What to Do!

You’ve recently changed the strings in your guitar or perhaps bought a new guitar altogether. But something feels off…

The guitar’s in tune but the strings feel too loose!

There are a few things that can make the strings on an in tune guitar feel loose:

  • Lighter gauge strings will result in a lower tension
  • You may be tuned an octave too low
  • Your guitar may be relatively but not perfectly in tune
  • Your guitar might have a low action.

In this guide we’ll take a look at each possible cause and what you can do about it. It’s also worth noting that as long as the guitar is in tune and feels/sounds good, loose feeling strings isn’t necessarily a problem and many people prefer it. But if you’re not a fan of loose strings or feel something isn’t quite right, this guide is for you.

Are You Using Light Gauge Strings?

Lighter or lower gauge strings are thinner and don’t need as much tension to stay in tune. Therefore, they will feel looser even though the guitar is in tune.

If you’ve recently changed from heavier to lighter gauge strings, you will notice the drop in tension the most. Try a heavier set of strings like 11s or 12s if you’re using lighter strings and they feel too loose.

Are You Tuned An Octave Too Low?

If you’ve tuned up your guitar with a tuner and the strings feel really loose, it’s possible that your strings are an octave too low.

It should be obvious if you’re tuned an octave too low because the strings will be so floppy and the guitar will be impossible to play. But if you’re really not sure, a lot of phone app tuners will help you out as they tell you if you are tuning to a high or low e string.

You could also find a guitar tuning video on YouTube and make sure your guitar sounds the same as the video.

Is Your Guitar Perfectly In Tune or Relatively In Tune?

Even if your guitar sounds in tune, it may not be in perfect tune. If you don’t use a tuner and just tune the guitar by ear to one of the strings, it could be tuned too flat making the strings feel loose.

If you’re having problems with strings feeling loose, make sure you use a tuner every now and then to make sure it’s in perfect tune and not just relative tune.

Does Your Guitar Have a Low Action?

The action on a guitar refers to how far away the strings are from the fretboard. If the guitar has a low action (meaning the strings are close to the fretboard), they’re going to feel looser because you don’t have to push down as much to fret the string.

Raising the action can make the strings feel tighter. Check out Sweetwaters guide to altering guitar action.

Is It Even Bad for Strings To Feel Loose?

As long as your guitar is properly in tune and it sounds good, there’s nothing wrong with the strings feeling loose whether that’s due to lighter gauge strings or a low action.

In fact, many people prefer it because it makes bending and fretting easier. And if you don’t find it comfortable, you can follow the steps in this guide to work on making the strings feel tighter.