I believe my "66" Tele's nut, intonation problems on lower frets, what to do?

Mongo Park

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You can check the nut height by fretting the third fret, and looking sideways to see how high the string is above the first fret. Of course you should measure it but can eyeball it for a check. The string should be quite close to first fret when holding it down on the third. This is a quick way of checking the nut height.
Interesting thread good.
 

Wayne Alexander

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Despite all the discussion above, I still haven't heard whether the nut slots are too shallow, which would mean the string height over the first fret is too high, which would explain the issues you describe. Assuming they are, lowering them would address the issues. It just requires nut files, or a tech with nut files.
 

RickatAscap

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Looks interesting, I’ll look into it.
Thank you
 

RickatAscap

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You can check the nut height by fretting the third fret, and looking sideways to see how high the string is above the first fret. Of course you should measure it but can eyeball it for a check. The string should be quite close to first fret when holding it down on the third. This is a quick way of checking the nut height.
Interesting thread good.
Very interesting, I’ll check that out.
Thank you
 

schmee

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I'm not so sure you need a nut unless the guitar's been refretted. There's no reason the nut should be lower than it was.
If anything your frets are lower now. I would NOT refret a 66 Tele unless it really needed it. Some of my well used necks have small slots down low where the string rides and still play fine. Once you commit to leveling your frets you run the risk of them simply being too low for your liking.
It sure would be nice if you had a good tech who could look at the nut and the problem.

-You might purchase a fret rocker, they are cheap, maybe you have some sprouting frets down low?

-But check the string height at fret 1 with a capo (or fretted) at fret 3. There should be near zero clearance to the fret, just enough to see movement when pressed down. I like mine about one printing paper thickness away from the fret. (.005")

-The G string often sounds out down low, especially if comparing an open A string to a fretted G string at fret 2.

-When you pull a string aside, is the nut slot dark on the fretboard end from string contact? If dark on the opposite end there is not enough slot clearance on that end.
 

RickatAscap

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Despite all the discussion above, I still haven't heard whether the nut slots are too shallow, which would mean the string height over the first fret is too high, which would explain the issues you describe. Assuming they are, lowering them would address the issues. It just requires nut files, or a tech with nut files.
That is what initially thought, yet, I can’t seem to find any specs on how high the string should sit over the first or second fret. I’ll search for that. My sense is the nut, which hasn’t been changed since 1966. I’ll search for that correct height, if there is one.
Thank you for raising that, for, that’s initially what I thought.
 

RickatAscap

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I'm not so sure you need a nut unless the guitar's been refretted. There's no reason the nut should be lower than it was.
If anything your frets are lower now. I would NOT refret a 66 Tele unless it really needed it. Some of my well used necks have small slots down low where the string rides and still play fine. Once you commit to leveling your frets you run the risk of them simply being too low for your liking.
It sure would be nice if you had a good tech who could look at the nut and the problem.

-You might purchase a fret rocker, they are cheap, maybe you have some sprouting frets down low?

-But check the string height at fret 1 with a capo (or fretted) at fret 3. There should be near zero clearance to the fret, just enough to see movement when pressed down. I like mine about one printing paper thickness away from the fret. (.005")

-The G string often sounds out down low, especially if comparing an open A string to a fretted G string at fret 2.

-When you pull a string aside, is the nut slot dark on the fretboard end from string contact? If dark on the opposite end there is not enough slot clearance on that end.
When I first began to address this, I looked at the nut, strings off, it was clean, as are the frets, I’m not seeing any disfiguration anywhere. The problem is mostly on the G and B strings, at least that’s been where I can’t seem to address it.
 

RickatAscap

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How high should the nut be on a Telecaster?



Image result for Nut Height for a 1966 Fender telecaster


String Action at Nut

A good place to start is at the factory heights which are 1.5/64″ or . 022″ for the Low E, A, D, and G strings, and 1/64″ or . 018″ for the B and high E strings.Feb 6, 2019
 

Freeman Keller

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I'm going to buy Mark French's book, I've been going over the material, and I get some of it, theres a lot I need to learn before I can fully understand and utilize whats shared, I sense the book would be a better way for me at this time.
And I thank you once again for all of your thoughts, I rteally do.
R

Mark has two versions of his book, Technology of the Guitar and Engineering the guitar. Technology uses nothing more than high school math (quite a bit but its manageable), Engineering uses calculus and some higher level math. Both are good, Technology is adequate for what we are doing and has a condensed version of the nut compensation material.

How high should the nut be on a Telecaster?



Image result for Nut Height for a 1966 Fender telecaster


String Action at Nut

A good place to start is at the factory heights which are 1.5/64″ or . 022″ for the Low E, A, D, and G strings, and 1/64″ or . 018″ for the B and high E strings.Feb 6, 2019

Those numbers are on the high side of what I like but will work and are absolutely buzz free. I would go a little lower, 0.012 or so on the high E and 0.016 - 18 on the low.

Along with all the other reading, you might want to spend some time with this.


I approach every guitar that crosses my bench in exactly the same way - I measure everything before I touch anything and I write the measurements down. I know which adjustments affect each other and what order to do them in. I have target values for each parameter that I know will work for many players, I also know how to modify them when necessary.
 

RickatAscap

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Mark has two versions of his book, Technology of the Guitar and Engineering the guitar. Technology uses nothing more than high school math (quite a bit but its manageable), Engineering uses calculus and some higher level math. Both are good, Technology is adequate for what we are doing and has a condensed version of the nut compensation material.



Those numbers are on the high side of what I like but will work and are absolutely buzz free. I would go a little lower, 0.012 or so on the high E and 0.016 - 18 on the low.

Along with all the other reading, you might want to spend some time with this.


I approach every guitar that crosses my bench in exactly the same way - I measure everything before I touch anything and I write the measurements down. I know which adjustments affect each other and what order to do them in. I have target values for each parameter that I know will work for many players, I also know how to modify them when necessary.
I wish you were in NYC, I sense you would someone I would feel comfortable working on my guitars. I’ll start with the Technology book, As well as check out the other threads.
 

Freeman Keller

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I wish you were in NYC, I sense you would someone I would feel comfortable working on my guitars. I’ll start with the Technology book, As well as check out the other threads.
Actually, we would work on your guitar together and you would feel comfortable with what you were doing.

PM me your e-mail addy and I'll send you the setup discussion as a pdf. It is much easier to deal with if you are working on your guitar - you can print out the part you need and take it out to the shop. Spreadsheet and specifications also.
 

RickatAscap

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Actually, we would work on your guitar together and you would feel comfortable with what you were doing.

PM me your e-mail addy and I'll send you the setup discussion as a pdf. It is much easier to deal with if you are working on your guitar - you can print out the part you need and take it out to the shop. Spreadsheet and specifications also.
 

RickatAscap

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Im in the middle of a project now, and I have my phone off while I'm at work. I'll get back, should you respond once I finish up.
Thanks
Rick
 

Freeman Keller

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Sent. One little thing, I've always heard it is bad to put e-mail addresses in public conversations like this - the spam bots will get you. Might be wise to go back and edit them out. Thats why I suggested Personal Message
 

Telenator

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Don't even attempt the new nut until the frets are leveled and crowned. The frets are your absolute reference points. Starting out with imperfect frets will make the whole job flawed and useless.
 

charlie chitlin

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Make sure your nut slots are angled away from the fretboard so the string take-off point is the edge closest to the fretboard.
 

Winky

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I was curious about why a fifty year old guitar would have intonation issues now. Either it did before and you didn't notice or something has changed.

Its also important to define "intonation" and how we measure it and what we do to correct it.

Most of use use the term to describe the process of compensating the action to account for sharpening of the strings as they are fretted. It is a very complex physical problem as you will find if you go thru the links that I gave you before - it involves the fact that our musical system is not mathmatically correct (so called even tempered scale), the fact that real strings don't follow the perfect model (they have stiffness), and the fact that as we fret a note we stretch the string and thus sharpen it. All of this is very well documented, again if you read the Mark French reference I gave you.

Most of us adjust our guitars, the process is called "intonating" or "compensating" by comparing the fretted octave note with the open string harmonic - ie compare the fretted 12th fret with the 12th fret harmonic. The fretted note will be sharp, we "compensate" by moving the break point of the saddle farther from the nut. The amount we move it depends on string parameter, it can be calculated.

This is adequate for most guitar players but some folks are very sensitive to their instrument not being in tune with itself. That is where all the Gary Magliari stuff comes in. I doubt that you've read it but again, its all there. The first few frets do play out of tune . In fact it is ironic that the better you make the 12th fret the worse the first few will be. However there are methods for compensating the nut end of the fretboard and at least making it better.

View attachment 1076058

Some things that can cause a properly intonated guitar to change are - the saddles have moved (duh), the action has changed (since it depends on how much you stretch the strings), the strings have changed (intonation depends on string parameter - diameter, material, wrap, core construction). All of the factors that affect action (relief, nut and saddle heights) affect intonation Having the guitar refretted can influence it. Even the way you play can have a big affect.

So it would be very helpful to know how you are measuring intonation, what values you are measuring (frequency in hz, number of cents a note is sharp or flat) and exactly what has been done to the guitar.
That picture has always looked exactly wrong to me. The issue of sharp fretted notes near the nut (in my experience) is most notable on the E and A strings. I therefore want them to exit the nut CLOSER to the first fret not further away. That nut would make my intonation issues even worse. Maybe that's just me.
 




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