Does setting intonation in the playing position as opposed to on the bench really matter?

Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by Cheap guitar guy, May 12, 2019.

  1. Paul in Colorado

    Paul in Colorado Telefied Ad Free Member

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    C'mon, guys! We play Telecasters. Is the intonation EVER spot on? ;)

    I set intonation on the bench because it's easier to get the wrench or screwdriver in the bridge screws without damaging the finish.
     
  2. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    How many thousands of dollars of Stew Mac gear does it take to tune a guitar?
     
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  3. JL_LI

    JL_LI Friend of Leo's

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    A guitar is a fretted instrument. It will NEVER be perfectly intonated. The best you can hope for is to adjust the saddles for the best compromise to get octaves in tune with the open string and then get the strings tuned well with each other. I use a simple Snark for that. I play most of my solos off chords. Since intonation up and down the neck varies from perfect, I'll play a couple of chords with open strings and fretted notes up the neck and make tiny adjustments to tuning (the tuners) to eliminate the worst of the beating. Truth be told, my Gretsch with a non-compensated roller bridge plays in tune as well as my Tele and Strat with individually tunable saddles and my SG with an adjustomatic bridge. And then after all this attention to detail, subtle differences in fretting pressure throws everything off. Such is life with fretted instruments.
     
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  4. Rev Rhythm

    Rev Rhythm Tele-Meister

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    I tried following all these instructions.. Now I think my bench is perfectly intonated, but my lap is out of tune, and my guitar is looking at me funny.
     
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  5. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    Rub some chopped habanero's into the fingerboard and it won't keep looking at you that way.
     
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  6. The Angle

    The Angle Tele-Holic

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    Many tuners are accurate to within 1 cent, or even 0.5 cent. Most human ears can't pick out pitch variations <4 cents, and those of us with more decades behind than ahead may be insensitive to anything under 10 cents.

    Intonation matters more in chords than in single notes, because a slight error in a chord can cause that familiar out-of-tune thrumming.

    So if shredding and soloing are your thing, don't sweat over whether your guitar was intonated horizontally, vertically, diagonally, longitudinally, or latitudinally. If it was intonated at all, it will be fine. If you do mostly chords and rhythm playing, intonation that's 1 or 2 cents off might -- might -- be slightly noticeable to people with excellent hearing.
     
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  7. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    Hmmm, does you amp still have the death cap?
    Pretty sure my Strobotuner is not UL approved!
     
  8. MilwMark

    MilwMark Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

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    Those people aren't enjoying it anyway. Too busy frowning at the singer who is a micro Cent off, and the fact the guitar, keys and bass aren't perfectly tuned to each other. And don't get them started on THAT ****ING SNARE!!!!.
     
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  9. Controller

    Controller Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    Can't believe no one pointed out the difference between RW and Maple fretboards when intonating on flat versus playing position! Maple runs a bit sharper and RW a bit flatter. :p
     
  10. Geo

    Geo Friend of Leo's

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    It probably could matter if the person frets the note differently from one to the other.
     
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  11. jrblue

    jrblue Tele-Afflicted

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    As Geo just said (above), it depends on how you play. Most people intonate with a light touch and finger more heavily when playing, so the set intonation isn't exactly right. With a guitar on a strap, some people grab and fret with a fair amount of pressure. So, yes, it's always better to intonate how you actually play. Is it going to be different enough to make a difference? That's up to you. Most people can't really hear poor, or good, intonation anyway, but if you can, then yes.
     
  12. marcflores

    marcflores Tele-Meister

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    I do it sitting with the guitar in my lap in normal playing position because I don't have a bench that I do guitar work on. Haha. When I restring a guitar, I do it on the bed with a pillow supporting the neck while I whisper, "Shhh bb is ok."
     
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  13. Cheap guitar guy

    Cheap guitar guy Tele-Meister

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    All of your responses have been great. I just wanted to pose the question. Like I said I do it on the bench when I do a string change and I am sure it's close enough for what I'm doing.
     
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  14. Bones

    Bones Telefied Ad Free Member

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    I-N-T-O-N-A-T-I-O-N??????

    Do what now?
     
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  15. 1293

    1293 Poster Extraordinaire

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    Maybe this has already been said. I don't want to do the math, but I'd bet a wad that the gravitational moment on the neck is meaningless due to string tension.
     
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  16. Bones

    Bones Telefied Ad Free Member

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    I bet that no matter what, that G string is always going to be just a little wonky.
     
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  17. Cheap guitar guy

    Cheap guitar guy Tele-Meister

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    I should add that I play 9 gauge so after properly stretching new strings so they keep tune then I intonate.
     
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  18. Cheap guitar guy

    Cheap guitar guy Tele-Meister

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    Yes..
     
  19. 1293

    1293 Poster Extraordinaire

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    Wound or unwound?

    That reminds me, I need to buy new underwear.
     
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  20. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    That sounds very good in theory, tune the machine for the way you drive it.

    But if the player bends every note sharp due to excess fretting pressure, then attempts to make up for the technique problem by setting the intonation wrong, they made one problem into two problems.

    Think about that for a moment:

    You fret at the 12th fret and bend the note sharp.
    Then you move the saddle to try to make the harmonic match the out of tune bent note.
    What will the target pitch be?
    The in tune fretted octave of the open string?
    Or the slightly sharper note you fretted with excess pressure?
    Would you tune the open string higher to match the bent octave note, then match that with the harmonic?
    Or try to remember how much that fretted note was sharper than the open fundamental?
    How has this process made the guitar intonate better?

    The best ideas still gotta work!
     
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