Intonation - questions about technique

Discussion in 'Tele Home Depot' started by soggybag, Aug 3, 2013.

  1. soggybag

    soggybag Tele-Meister

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    I understand the basics of setting intonation, it's the details that elude me. It always seems I can get close but never perfect. At times it seems like I'm moving a saddle further back that it should go. In other words it seems the intonation at the 12th fret is always a little sharp, for me.

    I'm tuning the strings open then checking the 12th fret with the tuner. I think my issue stem from how hard I hit the string, and how hard I press the string at the 12th fret. Hitting the string harder and pressing more makes the strings go sharp.

    How do you pluck, check, and tune each string when setting intonation?
     
  2. Bongocaster

    Bongocaster Friend of Leo's

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    When you hit the string it will usually be a little sharp and then it will stabilize at a lower point and that's where you want to work at when tuning up or setting intonation. You can avoid that by hitting softer. Sometimes go close to the bridge can help as well.
     
  3. Ronkirn

    Ronkirn Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

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    there are a few "basics" that are rarely mentioned... as the magnets are moved closer to the strings, they can pull the string into asynchronous waveforms.. bad...

    also do not support the neck if you have the guitar resting on a table/desk.. the weight will cause the neck to bend forward..

    A good chromatic tuner will afford "better" control over the intonation..

    and, You have mail./

    Ron Kirn
     
  4. hemingway

    hemingway Poster Extraordinaire

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    I have a question about intonation, too.

    Like most of us I look at lots of guitars and lots of pictures of guitars. And some of them puzzle me when I look at the bridges.

    A guitar effectively has 2 sets of strings - the wound 3 and the plain 3, which is why, when you look at the bridge, you effectively see 2 sets of 3 strings sloping back in 3's towards the rear of the guitar at the bridge when intonated. And it's why, with a set of 3 compensated saddles, the middle one looks to be on "backwards" when it isn't.

    Am I making sense?

    But I see a lot of pictures of guitars where the bottom 3 strings are actually set shorter than the top 3. Okay, if I'm missing something simple, fine. I'm a dummy - you don't ask, you don't learn. But it's puzzling me. I can see 3 possible explanations.

    1: They're using very light-gauge bottom strings.
    2: They're setting up the bottom strings very high (to avoid buzz?)
    3: They're not very good at intonation.

    Can anyone enlighten me further?
     
  5. sax4blues

    sax4blues Friend of Leo's

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    Trouble with intonation may be from set up issues. Truss rod, saddle/string height, pick up height, nut slot,... all of these will affect the ability for a guitar to be in tune over the full range. For me intonation is the final thing I work on after all the other adjustments are where I want.
     
  6. Bentley

    Bentley Friend of Leo's

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    If you mean bottom, as in the unwound high strings, I believe that's how it is supposed to be.. When you find the position for a bridge, it's 25.5 at the high E and all the rest are back a little from there.

    IMHO intonation doesn't have to be exact. I mean if you have a six saddle bridge, get it as perfect as you can, obviously. But I recently built a guitar where the bridge is just a straight piece of corian slanted, and it intonates pretty well and it's not super noticable. My biggest pet peave is if a guitar is even slightly out of tune. That will drive me crazy.
     
  7. hemingway

    hemingway Poster Extraordinaire

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    No, by the bottom strings i mean the low ones, as in bottom E etc.
     
  8. Bellybuster

    Bellybuster Tele-Meister

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    I'm looking at 2 separate 6 saddle bridges right now. 1 on a tele and 1 on a strat.
    Both are completely different as to saddle position.
    The strat low E is the shortest string followed by the high E and gets longer towards the middle.
    The tele is almost straight across.
    Both guitars are well intoned as far as I can get them
     
  9. tedro

    tedro Tele-Afflicted

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    try substituting the 12th fret harmonic for the open string.
    i fret to with hit solid medium force.
    fret it right up behind the fret; make a conscious effort not to bend the fretted note.
    check your open position chords, positions V, VII and XIV, if you want...to make comparisons...eventually you'll know the instrument and how you affect its intonation when YOU play it. adjust accordingly.

    use new strings when setting. --yes, in playing position is what i do, some don't.
     
  10. beep.click

    beep.click Poster Extraordinaire

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    I always check intonation with the guitar IN PLAYING POSITION -- not lying flat. I didn't realize that mattered until I did a guitar lying flat once, flipped it up, re-checked it, and found that the intonation was out. Yes, just from rotating the body 90 degrees.

    I don't fret or pluck very hard at all, and that's how I play. I do notice, checking intonation at the 12th fret is very often a "best 3 out of 5" proposition. Gut feel, tuners are probably more sensitive than the human ear. In other words, TOO accurate!
     
  11. tedro

    tedro Tele-Afflicted

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    must be other factors: neck set; relief; various height adjustments--but yeah, that "sounds wrong."
     
  12. Flynztone

    Flynztone Tele-Holic

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    Intonation/compensation can be a very tricky thing. Depending on your ear and how you hear things and your playing technique can make a huge difference in the way a guitar plays, feels and sounds. Many (in fact most) guitar builders, techs, musicians etc tend to favor electronic tuners when setting up a guitar. I would presume there are many qualified luthiers that can indeed build a fabulous instrument but IMO this doesn't necessarily qualify the luthier to intonate the instrument although I would also suggest that a master luthier has these skills under his/her belt as well.

    Guitars are not so different from a piano when it comes to tuning, intonation and temperament. The best piano tuners know how to temper tune a piano and there's really not that many piano tuners can do this properly. Electronic tuners are a tool that can get you in the ballpark and no further and even though they are very accurate (especially a good Peterson strobe tuner) I don't believe that they can compensate for the fret height etc as well as a trained ear. If you really want to learn to set your intonation then you need to train your ear to hear these subtle temperaments. The tuner isn't going to cut it period.

    The best method I know of electronically is to match the open string with the fretted note at the 12th fret with a strobe tuner. If a strobe tuner is unavailable then you're better off matching the harmonic at the 12th fret with the fretted note at the 12th fret with one of those tuners that everybody has. Then, even if you tune to a pitch fork and intonate from there, most pitch forks are off a few cents and need to be tuned as well. Depends on how anal you wanna get with it but myself, I ain't quite that anal albeit I ain't that far from it either.

    As mentioned previously there are many factors that play into a guitars intonation action, relief etc needs to be right before you ever attempt to intonate the instrument. I could go on and on for days on this topic but for my 2 cents ole Buzzy Feiten has taken the topic to a level which makes total sense. Google it if you don't know about the Buzzy Feiten system which basically takes adds nut height and feet height into the equations that were never considered when the formulas were developed to begin with. Buzzy is also a guitarists guitarist and his work is pioneering in this mans opinion and beyond brilliant!
     
  13. hemingway

    hemingway Poster Extraordinaire

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    That sounds like an awful lot of good sense and experience.

    I don't use my tuner at all when setting up - maybe I should. But I always find that whenever I use it to tune the guitar I have to then retune to what sounds "right" to my ears. "Correct" tuning sounds, well, out of tune. I think you're spot on about the tuner getting you in the ballpark and no further.
     
  14. ELET Henry

    ELET Henry Tele-Meister

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    +1 I always intonate my guitars in the playing position. I also set up my Stratocaster tremolos and check neck relief with the guitar in the playing position. I should add that it seems to me that electronic tuners have made us very picky about intonation, Leo would never have got away with the brilliant classic three saddle Tele bridge if electronic tuners had been around in the 1950s'.
     
  15. tedro

    tedro Tele-Afflicted

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    yep. i use it when i change 'em.
    no tuner on he two p-boards i built...and i seem never to run to one. guys ask me, "where's the tuner?"
    well, ...in your head! no, i point and say, "over there."

    ok, there, said it.
    of course i know how to use a tuner! :D
     
  16. Flynztone

    Flynztone Tele-Holic

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    Almost, but I think it's more like "For tuning to Sound Correct, the instrument needs to be Desafinado (slightly out of tune) or tempered"
     
  17. Blue Bear

    Blue Bear Tele-Meister

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    Zero frets rule! The nut becomes fret one and all notes are consistent, when playing open chords all strings are on frets, not two or three on bone and three or four on frets. And intonating becomes easier because of consistent fret height. Dress the whole fretboard not just up to the nut. Use the nut as it was intended, as a string guide.
     
  18. Flynztone

    Flynztone Tele-Holic

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    Never tried em but have been thinking about it
     
  19. ezas

    ezas TDPRI Member

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    There is a fairly new tuner app for android devices called Pitch Lab. It's what I have been using for checking intonation. It has 8 different views including some with a strobe view. It's the most accurate tuner I have used. Not that I have had any really expensive tuners.

    And best of all it's free. I have no affiliation with the creators of the app and gain nothing by mentioning it. I'm just super impressed with it, and of course the strobe feature is very useful.
     
  20. tklaavo

    tklaavo Tele-Holic

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