Help! New American Special Telecaster out of tune at fretted D chord 1st position

Discussion in 'Telecaster Discussion Forum' started by Randyrocker, Jan 8, 2012.

  1. Randyrocker

    Randyrocker TDPRI Member

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    Guys:

    Thanks in advance for any help you can give to me.

    I just got my American Special Telecaster in Friday. It came with .9-.42

    I picked it up last night just to break her in unplugged etc..

    Stretched the strings for over 45 minutes etc noodling etc..

    I then decided to really tune her no intonation adjustment as I haven't even thought about the bridge adjustment yet or string height.

    I tuned her up and decided to just strum some things loving the unplugged sound so I fretted the 1st position D chord and its out of tune.. So Im thinking ok strings are stretching etc.. check the tuning both with a snark and a chromatic plugged in..

    Appears right on did not check intonation as of yet as I am a complete Telecaster noobie..

    I fret the D chord again and its out of tune..

    Where do I start? String change? saddle adjustment and I hate to say this truss rod adjustment?

    IM sure you guys are tired of this but I have never bought a N:cry:ew fender..


    If someone would be gracious enough to guide me at a starting point Im good to go...


    Thanks
     
  2. Doth

    Doth Tele-Afflicted

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    Sounds like either intonation or Nut is cut too high. The American Special has a three saddle bridge, it will never be perfect. There are methods to get it close, run a search.

    I would start with adjusting the intonation at the saddle, then move on to checking the nut.
     
  3. rolling56

    rolling56 Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    I'm going to guess the nut is not cut right. When you tune and i assume you are tuning to standard EADGBe press on frets 1,2 and 3 and see if they are sharp on all strings.

    Don't mess with intonation till you have new strings and you need to move the saddles all the way back before stringing it. Then move the saddles towards the neck a little at a time for intonation. Check with tuned open string and then fret at the 12th and match them. Don't mess with the harmonic at all like Fender says.........

    I still think it's the nut and Happy New Guitar Day and welcome to the TDPRI forums :D
     
  4. Mark Davis

    Mark Davis Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Sometimes its pressing down too hard on the strings with 9's and its going sharp cause of the big frets and pressing too hard. Its probabhly that and an incorrectly cut nut.

    Let a friend play it see if it sounds out of tune when someone else plays it.
     
  5. bigbandtele

    bigbandtele Tele-Holic

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    Excessively high nut, bridge saddles not yet intonated and too much finger pressure with 9 gauge strings...pretty much a recipe for an out of tune open D chord.

    Get the guitar set up properly.
     
  6. Icepick

    Icepick Tele-Meister

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    As others have said it's likely the nut.
    I got a MIM Telecaster a while back and when I first tuned up and started playing I noticed open D and C chords sounded really out of tune. After a little inspection I determined that the slot for my 2nd string wasn't cut properly causing the string to break over the back edge(towards the headstock) of the nut throwing the intonation way off.
    A few strokes with a nut file took care of the problem.
     
  7. Randyrocker

    Randyrocker TDPRI Member

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    Ok shoot maybe I should have bought the American Standard now that I'm thinking about it.. Thanks to everyone for replying so quickly I am really bummed.. So yes I do not play with .9's I use .10's so I am going to change the strings do as suggested with the saddles and do the intonation on her.. the culprit appears to be the high E or should we say 1 anyway... so if after doing the basic's then look at the nut cut? I live in a place where there is only one guitar shop and I don't know if he knows how to fix it... to give you a idea he only sells LTD guitars. So should I make an attempt to file the nut a bit if none of the basics work? I really hate to send this back as i had to buy online .... due to being 230 miles from Austin and no way to just walk to the store and play one then leave..

    Thanks again everyone
     
  8. Icepick

    Icepick Tele-Meister

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    From what I gather you might be just as likely to get an American Standard with an improperly cut nut.
    If you determine that the problem isn't with the strings or saddles it likely is a badly cut nut slot. If you've got the nut slotting files it's an easy fix. There's not really any good way to fix this without the proper files, so you may want to take it to someone if you don't already have the tools. Might be easier than the hassle of sending a guitar back if you're satisfied with it otherwise.
     
  9. musicalmartin

    musicalmartin Poster Extraordinaire

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    I always tune my guitars to the 1st d chord .By that I mean if the D is right then the rest is oK .Its probably from early days with old Hofners and my Harmony Sovereign which never sounded good on D unless I actually tuned the guitar to that
    .OK ..I'm weird .
     
  10. Fenderfiend

    Fenderfiend Tele-Meister

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    I have an American Special tele and I accidentally created that issue.
    Here's what I did:
    I noticed that when I played the twelfth fret/octave my tuner was showing that the notes were off quite a bit.
    I adjusted the spring-loaded screw for the brass saddles until it was in tune at the twelfth fret, then went back and tuned the string at the tuning peg.

    THEN, I thought since I made good improvements adjusting that screw, I'd try adjusting the set screws on either side of the brass saddle.
    Don't do that.
    It gave me the same issues you're having now.
    All my first position chords were screwed up.
    The tuner showed that my C's to be "B Sharp"(?)
    Likewise with my F's, being "E Sharp"
    (I had no C's or F's and all my first position notes and chords were funked up)

    I adjusted those set screws back to were they were and I don't mess with them anymore.

    Try that before you condemn the nut. I just don't think it's the nut.

    Also, on the subject of string size.
    My Amer. Spec. also came with 9's... (obviously)
    I switched to 10's (GHS Boomers) and it sounded MUCH better -the guitar just came alive
    -and it was considerably easier to play.
    Great improvements in two regards.

    Try that.
     
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2012
  11. Duncas

    Duncas Friend of Leo's

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    get an experienced person to set up the guitar. if there is still a problem after that then 1. the dude should be able to ell you what to do and/or fix it. 2. you can always send it back after the setup
     
  12. rolling56

    rolling56 Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    Don't get bummed out on your new guitar. They just partially set them up at the factory. They have no idea what strings you will use or how you like the action to be set ;) Most of the time the place you bought it from will do it for you for free.......you have to ask them first.
     
  13. Fenderfiend

    Fenderfiend Tele-Meister

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    That'll be a tad problematic for him...
     
  14. rolling56

    rolling56 Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    hmmm ya missed that part. Well we'll make a setup pro out of him then :eek:
     
  15. Fenderfiend

    Fenderfiend Tele-Meister

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    haha
    Yep, mother of invention and all that...
     
  16. Bud Veazey

    Bud Veazey Tele-Holic

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    I get quite a few new guitars on my bench with poorly slotted nuts. Invariably, the slots are too shallow. It's also possible that the intonation is not set properly, but since you hear the problem at the second and third frets the majority diagnosis that the nut is at fault sounds right to me.

    As a starting point, when tuned to pitch, the bottom of each string should be about .025 inch above the first fret. Depending on the guitar, when I do setups I usually slot the nut so that the distance on the bass strings is .020" and the distance on the treble strings is .018".

    Keep in mind that nut slot depth, neck relief, saddle height and the intonated position of the saddles affect action. Nut slot depth, neck relief and saddle height affect intonation. It's a big circle. Every adjustment affects another. If you're not willing to spend some time understanding the relationships, take the guitar to a pro.
     
  17. megafiddle

    megafiddle Former Member

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    I also fine tune things to get the open chords sounding right. I usually have to
    flatten the B very slightly. Sometimes other strings; depends on the guitar.

    It's possible that every note in a chord is dead on as measured by a strobe tuner
    and it will still sound out of tune. It's the nature of equal temperment. An equally
    tempered 3rd is almost 14 cents sharp (compared to just intonation).
     
  18. musicalmartin

    musicalmartin Poster Extraordinaire

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    Wow .Thought it was just me doing that.:D
     
  19. megafiddle

    megafiddle Former Member

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    In fact, the best sounding guitars I ever heard were tuned by ear.
     
  20. Randyrocker

    Randyrocker TDPRI Member

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    Wow! I just want to say one thing... Every one of you guys are great! thank you so much. I panicked.. Why would I panic? this was the first time guys and I'm about at the 60-70 guitar mark due to buying and selling on Ebay haha I used to do it a lot when I was married. My very first guitar was a haha a Norma I was like 8 and started lessons until I was 12.. Then when I was 15 I bought a Fender mustang from some guy for like 30.00 hahah long time ago.. it was all beat up and I played it for 4 years until I washed enough dishes to buy a 81 USA Hamer Phantom. Since then I was a product of the 80's metal scene so my mustang got sold due to beer money :( and I never thought I would ever play a Fender again I went down a long path of guitars mostly Hamer USA's as at that time they were all handmade but I had every thing accept another Fender..just to make a long story shorter I moved from up north from Chicago 13 months ago to take a Computer Job here 200 miles West of Austin Texas sadly... As the music scene is great there.. About 10 years ago started really listening to the Nashville players alot. Always thought about getting a Telecaster and just never did work, wife etc.. Divorce... Then when I moved down here to Texas I realized something there is only one market where I live to play out which I love.. To play country and the blues so I finally made the decision and bought the Telecaster after a lot of thought and practice to justify it. So the Telecaster to me was so special that I just kinda looked at it for a couple days thinking am I ready to tackle the country genre full on mostly chicken Picken. So haha my first post I freaked never ran into this issue I did know about the intonation issues with the vintage Fender Tele bridges... so enough about me... get back to the Important issue.

    I ripped of the .9's of whatever brand they put on stock from Fender and gave her a special treatment some nice Optima Gold .10's so I put the strings on took my time and I noticed something.. The E B strings on the first saddle were set very high so I though hmmm.. so just for giggles I grabbed my little screw driver after the new strings were on and just lowered the saddle maybe a turn in a half it was really really high. Tuned her up and started the intonation setup... finished the low strings then got to the highs didn't check if the lowering of the saddle fixed the D chord out of tune issue. Got her tuned and hit the D chord and guess what.. It was in tune ... {IM hiding now} hahaha So then I started the lowering of the strings to get them where I like them and then doing the intonation again and its close like you guys said it's not perfect and I don't expect it to be.

    So anyway guys thank you for the awesome assistance I panicked kinda strange I will tear apart a Floyd Rose and upgrade it etc and not even think about it but with the Tele I was shell shocked I think at first.. Until I made that first turn of the wrench haha I mean screwdriver.

    I am glad it was not the Nut and apologize for not going through the basic's first but the Tele is so different from my other guitars I had never seen just the saddles being a bit high throwing off the who tuning like that.. wow!


    So Again thanks everyone I still need to get the strings at the proper height which Im not sure is there a base line standard for that?
    :confused:
    {Hides}
     
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