Best tuner and/or tuning method when setting intonation.

Discussion in 'Stratocaster Discussion Forum' started by Maroonandwhite, Jan 10, 2020.

  1. Maroonandwhite

    Maroonandwhite Tele-Meister Silver Supporter

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    So I decided to float my Strat a week or so ago. I did have it blocked off with a block of walnut. I am using a Boss TU-3 and am really unable to get it "right". I have everything setup per Fender's guidelines including the bridge gap from the body.

    My unwound strings all seemed to end up visually correct after intonating but the A string was set shorter than D which doesn't match with "normal" intonation. After seeing this I just eyeballed the inside strings to match and may have got lucky as it seems it's fairly well intonated.

    I've had this feeling with this guitar for a while that even immediately after a tuning it just seemed off somehow. Usually on the B and G strings. It's particularly noticeable on 1st fret chords.

    1. What tuner has been the most accurate in your opinion?
    2. Is the out of tune feeling described above something any of you have experienced?
     
  2. dunehunter

    dunehunter Tele-Holic Double Platinum Supporter

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    Here are some thoughts:
    1. Your tuner is likely just fine. My personal preference is the Polytune (If I was buying today, I'd do the Polytune3).
    2. I've had the same issue with "look" on one of my strats--an American Standard. If it's intonated correctly, don't worry about the look. Typically, though, the saddles should look pretty close to the picture you have in your head.
    3. I tend to initially adjust the saddles to make all the strings longer than normal and adjust the saddles shorter when intonating; that way, the "bend" that is put there when you string it, gets pushed behind the saddle when intonating. I think I picked that up from Dan Erlewine.
    4. Try changing strings and see where you are (see 3 above). If intonated correctly from the first set, second set should be good too. Strings are cheap.
    5. Cowboy chords should be pretty good without much fussing if the intonation is correct. Most guitars see natural intonation variation above the 4th fret and below the 9th. Also above the 14th. ( think of the nut and the 12th fret as nodes of a waveform).
    6. The G string is notorious as a source of intonation issues.

    Finally, guitar intonation is a real can of worms. Some guitars intonate very well while others just don't. Bigger problem with acoustics. I know Trevor Gore, a builder extraordinaire out of Australia, actually has a formula to intonate his guitars on the nut end as well as the bridge end. I think a number of high end builders do something similar--all to trying to achieve the highest possible intonation.

    Finally, most really good players (i.e., people other than me ;)) tend to do what's needed--while playing.

    Hope this is helpful.
     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2020
    gerhard_k and Maroonandwhite like this.
  3. preactor

    preactor Tele-Holic

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    If your nut is not cut correctly, the strings can be sharp the first couple of frets and can be perfect down the neck. Been there and suffered with that!
     
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  4. Maroonandwhite

    Maroonandwhite Tele-Meister Silver Supporter

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    I’m thinking this could be an issue. Once I get my Tele back I’m probably gonna drop off the Strat and have a good setup done. It’s been years and I’m not really sure it was done correctly back then. The nut is actually a little lower than I’d prefer. I would guess a low nut wouldn’t cause this problem but I could be wrong.

    I’ve also been reading that guitars can never truly be tuned perfectly. My ears may just pick it up more on an electric than an acoustic.
     
  5. preactor

    preactor Tele-Holic

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    Usually when the strings are too high your finger pressure will make them go sharp.
     
  6. teleplayr

    teleplayr Tele-Afflicted

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    First thing is to have new strings on your guitar.

    I use a Turbo Tuner for my intonation settings.
     
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  7. Joeyb817

    Joeyb817 TDPRI Member

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    You need a guitar ruler.
    Adjust your neck relief at .10”
    Measure all the strings across the fret where the neck meets the body. You should set them all at 5 64ths. If you do this you’ll have a perfect radius too.
    Tune the guitar. Fret the high E string at the 5th fret and pull the bar back till the Trem touches the body. Adjust the Trem claw evenly till you get A# when fretting and pulling back. You’ll have to retune and adjust the string height every time till it’s done. When you’re finished adjust the intonation with the guitar in playing position.
    5 64ths is a medium action and it’s very comfortable I usually put the G at about 4 1/2 and the BE strings at 4 64ths. Remember the line on the ruler goes just under the bottom of string. You’ll have a perfect radius because you measured from the top of the fret across all the strings.
    If you still have a problem it’s at the nut.
     
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  8. jvin248

    jvin248 Poster Extraordinaire

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    .

    Tuner needs a needle sweep or the fancy pattern style to get more granular accuracy.

    You need the basics covered first:
    -fret the 3rd and gap at the 1st should be 1-2 pieces of paper. Adjust nut slots.
    -fret the first and last fret and gap at the 12th should be 3-4 sheets. Adjust truss rod.
    -check action at the 12th to US Quarter. Adjust saddles up/down. You may find at this step you need a neck shim.
    -put the guitar on its edge "playing position", not back not supported on a rest, tune and check intonation, adjust saddles toward the headstock for higher, further for lower.

    retune and cycle through the checks above several times until satisfied with intonation.

    Did anyone 'upgrade the nut'? Often they are cut poorly or installed poorly and cause no end of tuning and stability issues.
    Did anyone 'upsize the strings'? Often that leads to binding at the nut, and then poorly cut nut slots, and then tuning and stability issues.

    .
     
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