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Jazz Chording on a Tele

Discussion in 'Telecaster Discussion Forum' started by bottomfeeder, Jan 15, 2021.

  1. notroHnhoJ

    notroHnhoJ Tele-Meister

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    Not to put too a fine a point on it, but if in the OP thats the guitar you are using, and just looking at the saddles, I’m not sure how ANYTHING you are playing is going to sound in tune.

    I dont think you really need
    to do much besides having your guitar properly setup and intonated. I’m unconvinced any amount of swapping parts or changing string gauge will solve your problem.
     
  2. BigDaddyLH

    BigDaddyLH Tele Axpert Ad Free Member

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    I loved a comment I saw here, some time ago. A TDPRI member asked the recording engineer if his Tele sounded well intonated. The engineer replied, "it sounds like a Tele".

    For the curious...

     
  3. NorthenLights

    NorthenLights Tele-Meister

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    What's making me really suspicious reading what people are writing is that it is these "jazz chords" that are causing them trouble. Usually, it's chord voicing that includes true octaves and fifths that are most prone to sounding off, i.e the basic bar chords. Maj7s and b2s are per definition dissonant, and I'd say you have to have a really sophisticated ear to notice bad intonation on these notes.
    If you don't have any problems with basic chords, but do with jazz voicings, then you're either not fretting them correctly, or just not used to how they're supposed to sound.

    - two cents from a guy that's been playing jazz with D'addario 10-42s for the last 10 years
     
  4. dreamsinger

    dreamsinger TDPRI Member

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    If Tim can't tell you the answer nobody can.
     
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  5. BigDaddyLH

    BigDaddyLH Tele Axpert Ad Free Member

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    My question, directed at the original posting, is. if that jazz chord played at the 10th fret sounds off, what does a non-jazz chord played at the 10th fret sound like?
     
  6. Chadfish

    Chadfish TDPRI Member

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  7. davedederer

    davedederer TDPRI Member

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    Start by watching this mind-blowing video where James Taylor takes you through his approach to tuning:



    Yes, the great ones really are on another level in terms of attention to detail.

    Guitars are never quite in tune everywhere on the neck. Period. It's the reality of the Western-standard tempered scale and the mechanics of guitar design.

    Could be saddle adjustments. Could be nut. Could be truss rod. Could be neck pickup height (too close and it pulls strings sharp, one reason some rockers like a guitar with only a bridge pickup). Could be string gauge selection relative to all of the above. Could be technique. Most likely, a combination of all of those things.

    There is no easy fix. And when you solve one problem for a guitar, it will at some point develop another.

    There's another James Taylor video where he goes to his guitar storage vault and in the process of talking about his favorite instruments describes why he doesn't play the old Gibsons and other guitars he made his earlier records on...he explains that those guitars are WORN OUT and don't play well or stay in tune well any more. Vintage, schmintage!!!

    A truly great luthier can figure this stuff out for any given guitar or, if not, can determine with authority that that particular guitar has an unsolvable problem.
     
  8. brians356

    brians356 Tele-Meister

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    Ted Greene also did that a bit.
    -
     
  9. Joe Gore

    Joe Gore TDPRI Member

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    It's not the fact that it's a Tele-like guitar. It's not a matter of string gauge. It doesn't make any difference whether the third string is wound. You should be able to play in tune regardless of those factors.

    It's one of five things: The strings are out of tune,. Or you're bending them out of tune when you press them. Or the strings are so worn out that they can no longer intonate properly. Or (very unlikely on your sturdy and reliable ASAT) the neck is warped. Or (most likely) the open strings are in tune, but your guitar's intonation is off. When that happens, the sourness increases as you ascend the neck, and your 10th-position G7#9 is sure to suffer.

    You mentioned that you "tweaked at the saddles," but you didn't say what you tweaked. Specifically, did you set the intonation by comparing the pitch of the harmonics at the 12th and 19th frets with the fretted pitches at the same locations? And then make them match by adjusting the screws at the rear surface of the bridge, closest to the strap pin? You can find info about the process online.

    The ASAT is a fine and versatile guitar. There's no reason it can't be a fabulous jazz instrument. As other commentators have pointed out, there are plenty of great Tele jazz players, from the fabulous Tim Lerch embedded above, to my dear departed teacher, Ted Greene.
     
  10. jam

    jam Tele-Meister

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    Bear in mind that, that far down the neck, even the most minute string height and LH technique problems start to get noticeable.
     
  11. ImprovGuru

    ImprovGuru TDPRI Member

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    From decades of personal experience with MANY guitars with intonation issues, the answer to your tuning problems (and everyone else's) it the Buzz Feiten Tuning System. It has rescued every bad-intonation electric guitar I own. It is a nut mod to your guitar along with a special saddle calibration that correlates to your string gauge. It has to be done by a Buzz Feiten-certified repair person. I have a late-80s Strat Deluxe Plus that had the exact same issues you mentioned. When I had the Feiten tuning system installed on the guitar, it was a miraculous improvement. That Strat is always in tune everywhere up and down the neck. Check it out before you start making other less-successful mods to your Tele. I think you'll be glad you did. Good luck!
     
  12. Maguchi

    Maguchi Tele-Holic

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    Don't know if the model of G&L ASAT you have has 6 saddles or the compensating 3 saddle bridge. I will say that I have 6 Teles and 2 G&L ASATs, and I always change the 3 saddle bridges to 6 saddle bridges. Even with the 3 saddle compensated bridges, when I change them to 6 saddle, I hear an improvement in the intonation. I love Teles for jazz chords, and think they are the perfect guitar for that. I don't hear any out of tune issues up to the 12th fret or so. However to my ear, it is harder to hear something ever so slightly out of tune with complex jazz chords.
     
  13. Peegoo

    Peegoo Poster Extraordinaire

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    Make sure your setup (neck relief, nut action, and string action) is really dialed in.

    Setting intonation strictly by matching a 12th fret note with a 12th fret harmonic is not the best approach. Consider where you do most of your playing, and optimize each string's intonation for that range of frets. For example, if a player is a strummer of cowboy chords, I tweak the intonation to be as close as possible to perfect between the nut and the 5th fret.

    The reason is guitar intonation is an imperfect thing, and while some guitars do play in tune all over the neck, most do not--hence the tuning tweaks recommended by Lerch, Dickerson, Donahue, etc.

    Another inexpensive thing to do is try different strings. Pick up four or five sets of the same gauge by different brands. Chances are good you'll find one of the brands plays in tune better than the others. It's not because they're better quality; it's because they work better on that specific guitar and the physics of your personal playing style.
     
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  14. breadfreak

    breadfreak TDPRI Member

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    If your saddles are compensated 'three-and-three,' in two echelons, then a wound G will make matters much worse.

    If you have the ability to twist the saddles this way and that to compensate each string independently, then intonate your guitar the usual way, starting first by straightening the neck, then filing the nut slots down to practically the same height as the frets, then saddle height for desired action, then finally saddle compensation. By the way, assuming you mostly play fretted notes, avoid intonating with harmonics as they ring out at different pitches to their corresponding frets. Just match the open string to the twelfth fret.

    If the saddles won't twist and as such offer you adjustability in three pairs, then you still follow the same procedure, only you might have to make little compromises to make strings 2 and 3 and strings 4 and 5 work together.

    Forget intonating to a chord. In equal temperament, all intervals are a little dissonant except octaves, so you'll be trying to hit a moving target. The ones closest to harmony are the perfect fourth at just a few cents sharp and the perfect fifth at just a few cents flat. Knowing that the P4 should sound a little sharp and that the P5 should sound a little flat will help you get everything as close to right as possible.

    Forget compensated nuts, they're a lousy solution to having a nut cut too high. But if you're having trouble up at the tenth fret then that's unlikely to be the cause anyways.

    That some chord voicings are a little dissonant is just a fact of life, after doing your best with the guitar's adjustment, try playing pairs of the notes in the problem chords alone to see if you can find the interval that's driving you nuts... if you can't, it might be your fingers pushing things out of tune when you play the full chord.

    Hope this helps
     
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  15. tlerch

    tlerch TDPRI Member

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    I think the most common problem with intonation, assuming the saddles are positioned correctly and the strings are in good shape is pulling notes sharp while you are fretting them. if you try a difficult chord while looking into a mirror you will be able to see if you are pulling a note sharp. Up on the higher frets even just a little bit of pull will result in an audible "out of tune ness". I think I addressed this in the Tuning video but it bears repeating.
    all the best
    Tim
     
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  16. steely123

    steely123 TDPRI Member

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    I love my tele for jazz. I use 6 saddles and set intonation with a Peterson Flip tuner and then tune with a clip on. I usually check tuning with a favorite Em9 voicing 075700 to balance open string vs fretted because I use open strings frequently for a full effect. I think I have 10's on t now with unwound G so I can bend when playing bluesier jazz. Onan archtop with set intonation wood bridge the unwound G is horrible so I use a wound. good set up is essential as jazz voicing show any irregularities more than Country of Rock. As others have mentioned, getting comfortable with fingering so your not causing the intonation error but too much pressure or string bending just takes time as a lot of these voicings or just plain difficult. experiment with abbreviated voicings if the stretch is just too much as a totally accurate 4 not chord is just not needed for every voicing. However, learning the shapes of even the most difficult fingerings is valuable for envisioning the arpeggios and seeing the overall picture, something I am continually working on. Practice the inversions up the neck and learn the same voicings on different string sets, sometimes what is possible on one set of strings is nearly impossible but totally achievable on another. Don't get discouraged, just keep at it, the fact that you can hear it means you are heading towards the goal. So, my conclusion is that the Tele is well suited for jazz but it is definitely a harder genre nonmatter what the guitar and how well it is set up. good luck have fun.
     
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  17. Sea Devil

    Sea Devil Friend of Leo's

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    I have over twenty guitars, and every chord sounds fine on every guitar. The only exception is a C major in the first position, and that's only if you include the low E.

    You're probably just pressing harder when you play the chord than you are when you set the intonation. Either that, or just don't like the way a guitar sounds.
     
  18. CRMCRM

    CRMCRM Tele-Meister

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    Tim studied with Ted Greene. If you are interested, Tim has some stuff on Truefire.

    I play Jazz on an American Standard with a modern bridge and Thomastik Infeld flat 11's. I don't have any problems. I tend to tune the B string just a hair sharp.
     
  19. Nick Fanis

    Nick Fanis Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

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  20. edwardb

    edwardb TDPRI Member

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    As an alternative take on the issue, what voicing are you using?

    I tend to think of jazz comping as more arrangement than playing chords. One classic rule in arrangement is “avoid a minor ninth”. Why? Because it can sound really off. Orchestras, big band jazz ensembles, and guitars do not play in perfect tune all the time every time.

    If your voicing at the tenth fret is G B F Ab, then you have put a minor ninth in your arrangement. If you leave the root off, does it sound good to you? That could be one appropriate solution, especially if you are playing with a bassist (who will really not appreciate you taking up his root and fifth notes). If it’s a solo arrangement, and you feel it’s missing something in the low end, you could use the fifth in the root. Or you can reinforce the b9 by playing it in the root position: Ab D F B a diminished chord sub which is not uncommon.
     
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