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Intonation set in the open position rather than the twelve fret?

Discussion in 'Tele-Technical' started by Zesty feline, Nov 6, 2018.

  1. Zesty feline

    Zesty feline Tele-Meister

    458
    Oct 12, 2015
    Australia
    Today I was thinking of how I rarely use the upper octave and was thinking about intonation, is there a way to improve the intonation on the first few frets rather than the double dots area? nut is already low, low as a zero fret.
     
  2. eclecticsynergy

    eclecticsynergy Tele-Holic

    835
    Nov 16, 2014
    Albany NY
    Some people intonate using the seventh fret instead of the twelfth. I don't see why you couldn't use the fifth fret.
     
    Zesty feline likes this.
  3. Zesty feline

    Zesty feline Tele-Meister

    458
    Oct 12, 2015
    Australia
    WITHOUT STRAYING FROM TRADITIONAL LUTHIERIE MAY I ADD.

    I guess this brings up the question, which fret would one actually intonate from anyway? the first fret? the third fret? why? I'm hoping someone who knows stuff about intonation is around to explain the realities of my ideas.. try and find some logic.
     
  4. SixStringSlinger

    SixStringSlinger Tele-Afflicted

    May 21, 2006
    Space
    I always thought intonating at the twelfth fret wasn't really about the high frets, but about achieving the best possible balance across the whole neck (albeit, as you say, without resorting to non-traditional luthierie). I figure when a guitar is properly intonated, you tune the strings open, as you move up the neck the notes shift a little this way, then back that way, and back "home" at the octave. The best possible compromise, I guess.

    I don't see why you can't intonate at the fifth fret, or whatever, but unless your guitar has some problem, I don't see how that will have a noticeable advantage over the typical way. YMMV.
     
  5. SixStringSlinger

    SixStringSlinger Tele-Afflicted

    May 21, 2006
    Space
  6. LeicaBoss

    LeicaBoss Tele-Meister

    387
    Oct 16, 2015
    New Jersey
    There's a lot going on with intonation, but be aware that there is a physical phenomenon that causes each harmonic up go a little wee sharper than the fundamental.

    If you intonate carefully, maybe compensate a little bit for your attack, fret height and how heavy your hand is, and tune using some version of the AmericanGuild of Luthiers method - you will be playing reasonably in tune almost anywhere on the fretboard.

    https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&sou...FjAAegQIBhAB&usg=AOvVaw0NfEgFLUZIItP5hIDWwBn9
     
    ukepicker likes this.
  7. Chunkocaster

    Chunkocaster Tele-Afflicted

    Aug 10, 2018
    In space with Ziggy
    I mostly play a vintage style 3 saddle bridge tele, if the intonation is close enough at the 12th fret my ears can't tell if it's out unless it's way off. Even if the guitar slips slightly out of tune you can compensate with bending, slight vibrato to hide it until you tune up again. Dead on precise intonation is overrated imo.
     
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  8. Dacious

    Dacious Poster Extraordinaire

    Mar 16, 2003
    Godzone
    Buzz Freiten nut. Will improve intonation everywhere. Only other thing is the squiggly frets.
     
    8barlouie, tlsmack and beagle like this.
  9. Dacious

    Dacious Poster Extraordinaire

    Mar 16, 2003
    Godzone
    Buzz Freiten nut. Will improve intonation everywhere. Only other thing is the squiggly frets.
     
  10. ukepicker

    ukepicker Tele-Afflicted

    Oct 15, 2013
    East Texas
    This.
    An excellent article.

    Your frets are already a compromise. This guide will help with that. But there is no cure, other than the very squiggly frets.

    And I, personally, think that part of the sound of the guitar - especially with electric rock-n-roll guitar - comes from these slight imperfections of intonation (and how players compensate or exploit them).
     
    3-Chord-Genius, beagle and LeicaBoss like this.
  11. ukepicker

    ukepicker Tele-Afflicted

    Oct 15, 2013
    East Texas
  12. Zesty feline

    Zesty feline Tele-Meister

    458
    Oct 12, 2015
    Australia

    My oath mate, I want the timbre's of those old rock&roll tracks.. the magic people pay good money for is all in those imperfections.


    And as for the direction of this thread I still would be interested to know about adjusting the bridge saddles for better intonation in/around the open position.. I don't think it's a subject many people would have experience with personally but I can try.. peace.
     
  13. JL_LI

    JL_LI Tele-Afflicted

    Age:
    68
    May 20, 2017
    Long Island, NY
    Personally, I find intonation issues come more from the musician than the instrument. My lower fret intonation problems come more from my pushing the strings than the nut or saddle. I play 10’s on Fender and 11’s on Gibson and Gretsch. That helps, but if I’d been trained on classical guitar I’d be playing with my thumb under the neck pushing straight down on the fingerboard when fretting notes. No amount of fiddling with the saddles or filing the nut can make up for sloppy technique. I can hear when I’m playing out of tune. When that happens, my brain tells me to stop being so lazy.
     
    Chicago Matt likes this.
  14. billgwx

    billgwx Tele-Meister

    Age:
    55
    283
    Nov 6, 2009
    Centereach NY
    Here's another great article on the subject: https://www.guyguitars.com/eng/handbook/Tuning/tuning.html

    That said, I intonate via the open strings and fretted 12th position, no harmonics. I also lean toward what comes out at the attack rather than the decay of those played notes, though in the end whether to use the attack or decay may be dependent on one's playing style I guess.

    After that, for tuning I use Paul Guy's "favourite method" described in the above link, which I find seems to be a pretty good compromise up and down the neck and with open chords:

    MY FAVOURITE METHOD

    If you tune all the strings to the same reference string, you can avoid a small error on one string affecting all the others.

    Tune the high E string to a reference: compare
    5th fret E on the B string
    9th fret E on the G string
    14th fret E on the D string
    7th fret E on the A string (one octave below)
    5th fret harmonic on the low E string.

    I then cross check (if I feel the need) as follows:

    12th fret harmonic on low E / fretted 7th fret E on A string.
    12th fret harmonic on A / fretted 7th fret A on D string.
    12th fret harmonic on D / fretted 7th fret D on the G string.
    12th fret harmonic on G / fretted 8th fret G on B string.
    12th fret harmonic on B / fretted 7th fret B on high E.

    This method has worked well for me - and for many of my customers - for many years. (It is also extremely effective at getting the best available results out of a poorly adjusted instrument.)
     
    richiek65 and Chicago Matt like this.
  15. stormin1155

    stormin1155 Tele-Meister

    319
    Sep 26, 2010
    Iowa

    Not only overrated, but pretty much impossible (or at least impractical) to achieve. That's why I roll my eyes when people start talking about needing high end strobes, accurate within a tiny fraction of a cent, to set intonation. The note varies by several cents depending on how you pluck or fret the string. Tuning a guitar is at best a set of compromises and close approximations.
     
    macatt, beagle, Chicago Matt and 3 others like this.
  16. aerhed

    aerhed Tele-Afflicted

    Age:
    59
    Dec 24, 2016
    Boulder, WY
    Cop out. The tuner is like a reference ear. Go ahead and wing if you like.
     
  17. Chicago Matt

    Chicago Matt Friend of Leo's

    Age:
    69
    Aug 23, 2014
    Woodstock
    accidental double post...
     
  18. Chicago Matt

    Chicago Matt Friend of Leo's

    Age:
    69
    Aug 23, 2014
    Woodstock
    Have you tried a "sweetened" tuning? Doing so may solve some of your issues. I've been doing this for a long time. These days the Petersen Stroboclip and some others have some great "sweetener" algorithms. You can also do it manually...

     
    NilsZippo likes this.
  19. NilsZippo

    NilsZippo TDPRI Member

    57
    Dec 1, 2015
    Austin
    I was actually quite surprised the first time I did this:

     
    Chicago Matt likes this.
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