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Guitar strums by itself sometimes

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Postby MusicalMom » October 26th, 2011, 8:41 pm

OK, I know this is a nutty/weird question, but I can't find the answer anywhere else....sometimes my son will leave one of his electric or acoustic electric guitars in the corner of our livingroom and it will suddenly make a short "strum" sound on it's own, like someone brushed up against the strings. Can this happen due to slight temperature or humidity changes in the room? This has happened several times and it kind of freaks me out a little. :shock: Thank you
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Postby Alan Green » October 26th, 2011, 11:08 pm

I presume there's no breeze blowing through the room?

It's more likely to be sympathetic resonance. Something else is making a sound and either the sound or its harmonics are at the natural resonance frequency of the guitar body/ neck which starts vibrating in sympathy and making the strings sound
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Postby Rocket Dog » October 26th, 2011, 11:37 pm

Yes, sometimes one of my acoustic guitars does this. It is generally caused from a slight breeze when my window is open though.
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Postby MusicalMom » October 27th, 2011, 7:58 am

Well, there's been no breeze at all, but I suppose a sympathetic resonance could be the cause although there's been no noticeable sounds in the room. It happens when it's very quiet. I have noticed it usually happens in the evening when either the temperature drops or when we've built a fire in the woodstove and the room has heated up, so I thought it must have to do with temperature changes, although even that seems so unlikely. The thing that is strange to me it that it's not just one string, like a ping, but a light strum sound across at least three of the strings. Hmmmm...I will continue to observe and try to figure it out. Thank you so much :)
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Postby chalkoutline » October 28th, 2011, 9:41 am

Mine does that. It is usually the dogs tail whacking the strings.

He makes a pretty good tune some times.
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Postby Blue Jay » October 28th, 2011, 12:16 pm

The dog hitting the strings is funny, I think. Yes, a variety of things can happen.

My guitar does an awesome job of playing Voodoo Child with nobody near it! Just kidding. :?

+ 1 then, on the sympathetic vibration thing. And BTW seriously, my piano did it, and nothing touched it.
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Postby Apache » October 29th, 2011, 5:53 am

Say your house is haunted and charge people to come and listed to the ghost playing? :lol:
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Postby rparker » October 30th, 2011, 5:13 am

I think the temp changes make total sense. Especially extreme changes and the dry heat of a wood fire.
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Postby Chris C » October 30th, 2011, 5:44 am

Musical ghosts are always friendly. Just leave out a selection of sheet music - folk, traditional, jazz, blues , etc and see which style they favour playing... :wink:

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Postby dogbite » October 31st, 2011, 6:37 am

dry heat from a fireplace and an acoustic guitar making sounds from the resultant thermal changes is cause for special care.
the guitar wood will dry out eventually. keep the guitar in a case away from the fire source. please. :idea:
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Postby SallyShideler » November 9th, 2012, 10:15 pm

Well, no one has posted here in a year, but I came online tonight looking for this exact thing. My brother's acoustic guitar, propped against a couch in our living room, has begun to "strum itself" this week. It's a dissonant, bright sound, not a chord, involving many strings, and it's quite loud, but it's fairly short.

I have no idea what could be causing this and it's freaking me out, too! As the OP said, it tends to happen when it's quiet, and it frequently happens at night, but not always. I don't know about any temperature changes going on - it's never happened in front of anyone else (darn it!!), and always when I am sitting in here just reading, not even walking around. We have no pets, no open windows, no air vents near the guitar, no drafts, no curtains near it that could be brushing up against it, nothing. Tonight, I happened to be looking at the guitar when it "went off," and I could see the strings moving but couldn't tell what had moved them.

We have a piano and many other guitars, even in this room, and it's just the one guitar that does it. If anyone sees this thread, could you please explain how this phenomenon works again? I don't really get it and I am about two more serenades away from throwing the thing in the attic!

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Postby s1120 » November 10th, 2012, 8:08 am

I vote try to sing a responce to the note..... no guitarist can resist a call and response :D

I'm guessing its a tight nut slot that's binding on the string that just pops it loose once in a wile
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Postby EzraplaysEzra » November 10th, 2012, 11:59 am

If it is only that one guitar - than you have a tuner or something loose that is giving just a tiny amount at a time. Otherwise, its changes in atmospheric pressure as the body is in essence a diaphram. My neighbor would say it is Jesus and it could be, but she says everything is Jesus.
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Postby jason brann » November 10th, 2012, 4:06 pm

it's usually from the string ends on top of the tuners brushing other strings. it can also happen if there's a pick that comes loose or the strap falling against the strings. but it's usually the loose ends of the strings from the headstock. it takes almost nothing to cause them to sway around.
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Postby katapillargirl » April 3rd, 2013, 1:06 pm

I think it's a ghost - although I would prefer it not be! This used to happen at my old apartment a lot, with my acoustic. Sometimes I would think it was my dog too. Now I am in a house, and have no dog. The other night, we had an electric guitar propped up in a corner between a dresser and a closed door. I heard the strum at night. It has only happened once. We moved the guitar into another room. Hopefully it will not happen again.
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