New Tele: intonation problem on 3rd fret?

Discussion in 'Telecaster Discussion Forum' started by frettchen, May 26, 2020.

  1. frettchen

    frettchen TDPRI Member

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    Hi!
    I bought my first Tele (2020 Player Series) from a local store in a few days. Yesterday night, while doing a G chord, it seemed to my hears the low G on the 6th string/3rd fret was not properly intonated. Then I did some checks with my Korg pedal tuner, and it seemed strange to me that the 6th string open gave a "E" (OK), but on the same string at the 3rd fret I don't get a pure "G", but it seems to be slightly out of tune, as the following pictures show:

    6th string open:
    upload_2020-5-26_8-39-6.png

    6th string / 3rd fret:
    upload_2020-5-26_8-38-38.png

    The strange is that on the same string, at the 12th fret, I still have a "E" (OK).

    Since I've been playing for years, but I'm anything but an expert, what do you think? Does my new Tele have some thind of issue or it can be considered as normal? Have I to contact the seller for this?
    Thanks in advance.
     
  2. Cesspit

    Cesspit Tele-Holic

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    Tele's with 3 saddle bridge (two strings per saddle) often have these minor intonation issues, usually the G string. If it bothers you there are lots of remedies from compensation saddles to slight deviations in tuning the guitar. Folk on here will have plenty of advice or if you goggle it you'll be swamped with knowledge.
    I personally have no issues with it. Best of luck.
     
  3. frettchen

    frettchen TDPRI Member

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    Thans for your quick response. I have the 6 saddle bridge, the standard one for the player series, sorry for not mentioning before..
     
  4. aerhed

    aerhed Friend of Leo's

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    If that G string has correct pitch when fretted higher up the neck, then your nut is too high.
     
  5. Matthias

    Matthias Friend of Leo's Gold Supporter

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    Have you tried adjusting that bridge saddle? Sharp means the string distance nut-to-bridge is too short so you want to tighten the end screw a bit. If it’s going out no matter what, the nut could be cut too high.

    It’s best to test these things with new strings by the way.
     
  6. beagle

    beagle Friend of Leo's

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    New guitars usually need the nut fettling. They come from the factory too high.
     
  7. frettchen

    frettchen TDPRI Member

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    I didn't know that. It this true in general or usually for low-mid quality guitars? Should it be replaced?
     
  8. richiek65

    richiek65 Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    Impossible to get a guitar in tune all over the neck, due to (forgive me if I've got these terms incorrect) just vs even tempered tuning. 3rd fret is where it tends to show up the most from my experience.

    A well cut nut and proper set up will certainly help but it will always be slightly out of tune here and there, a guitar is a compromise as far as tuning /intonation goes. Took me years to work that out.

    There's hundreds of articles and videos out there, google is your friend.

    Here's an example
     
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  9. lepaulo

    lepaulo TDPRI Member

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    I recently bought a Telecaster Ultra and the nut was definitely too high (it was even a smidge above Fender's own spec). Once I brought it back down, intonation was hugely improved on the first few frets.
     
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  10. frettchen

    frettchen TDPRI Member

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    thanks, I will watch thatvideo as soon as possible, I'm quite interested.
    @lepaulo did you change the nut or you leveled/polished it with some tool?
     
  11. Peegoo

    Peegoo Friend of Leo's

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    The nut slot (depth of the slot) needs to be adjusted downward. Look on yootoob for examples of how nut slots are adjusted.

    If you can work with patience, precision, and a very light touch, you can do this yourself.
     
  12. beagle

    beagle Friend of Leo's

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    The store where you bought it should offer you a free set up, most do. Ring them and ask.
     
  13. AAT65

    AAT65 Friend of Leo's

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    Guitars are certainly a compromise intonation-wise, but the just-vs-even-temperament thing is a sideshow. Guitar tuning / intonation issues are dominated by two factors:
    1) strings are real-world objects not ideal strings: that means they don’t start bending immediately at the bridge, nut or fret. This is The main reason why the bridge needs to be adjusted to length the scale length for the heavier strings.
    2) fretting the string bends it: even if you have the lightest of touches you need to pull the string down to the fret. Having light touch, low action and a well-cut nut can mitigate this effect (but not eliminate it).

    In the OP’s case, it’s the second factor (since the 12th fret note and open are in tune).
     
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  14. lepaulo

    lepaulo TDPRI Member

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    I left the nut in place (the Ultra uses a nice bone nut so no need to change that) and did some very, very minor and slow adjustments to bring the action down at the nut. As I only have the one guitar, I used home-made tools (feeler gauges and a finger length piece of 600 grit wet paper folded over with a nice neat fold) to get things where I wanted them.

    I haven't sanded the top of the nut down to the new string height as they sounded fine as-is and I didn't want to overdo. I also did not polish the slots or introduce any lubricant and have not found them to bind (perhaps because the nut itself was decent quality).

    As it's my first adjustment, I took it real slow and checked the ringing of each string every couple of strokes in the slot. I started with the easier wound strings and only had a scare on the G string (it started producing a sitar sound after my first pass). I did some very light passes until the problem cleared and then kept cutting slowly. It got tricky on the high E so that took the most time - keeping the cut straight and angled slightly down towards the pegs took plenty of concentration.

    They're probably still a fraction too high but I'm happy to leave it there as the guitar will go to the luthier for a once-over when I get home. But the little adjustments to each string have made a world of difference.

    Before starting, I read every resource here and by Erlewine. This vid is a good one as well: https://www.stewmac.com/articles-an...-tips-for-filing-string-slots-at-the-nut.html He has a neat tip of filling the slots with pencil graphite before you file so you can judged the angle and progress of the file.
     
    Last edited: May 26, 2020
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  15. frettchen

    frettchen TDPRI Member

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    @lepaulo thanks for your time, very interesting!
     
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