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Open string in tune; all frets sharp

Discussion in 'Tele Home Depot' started by vt102, Oct 22, 2020.

  1. vt102

    vt102 TDPRI Member Silver Supporter

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    Summary: my 6th string is sharp on every fret while in tune open. Bridge all the way back, and I'm not pressing too hard.


    I'm putting together my first guitar, with a purchased neck. I'm stuck getting the 6th string intonated. The other strings seem okay.

    I do have one known issue-- I believe the neck angle is a bit too far back. My bridges (individual ones) are all pretty high to clear the bottom of the neck, but every other string is intonating and playing okay (frets out a bit around 15th fret on 1st string, planning on shimming it, but I haven't yet).

    I want to say I initially had it intonated okay, and played for a while before noticing the issue. I may be fooling myself though. When I checked it later, it was very sharp at the 12th fret. In my mind, that means the distance from the 12th fret to the saddle is too short, relative to the open string. So, I started backing the saddle down, but even all the way back in the bridge, it's still very sharp on all frets.

    I replaced the 6th string. I examined the old one, and couldn't see anything obviously out of sorts.

    It's not me pressing down too hard on the frets. I'm intonating by just touching the fret-- I'm aware of how pressing down to hard can pull things sharp, and I'm not doing that when I'm checking the intonation here. Plus, the other 5 strings don't show this behavior.

    In my mind, it had to be the take off point in the nut. If it was just a bit back in the slot, the string would be too long relative to the frets. Well, I got my Stew Mac nut files out, and filed that slot so far down I'll probably have to replace the nut, and all the frets are *still* sharp.

    What else should I be checking?

    Thanks!!
     
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  2. highwaycat

    highwaycat Tele-Holic

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    Did you try a new string?
     
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  3. vt102

    vt102 TDPRI Member Silver Supporter

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    I did. The new string (same brand, D'Addario XL 9 set, .042 diameter) acted similarly, and I couldn't see any obvious issues with the old one.
     
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  4. dogmeat

    dogmeat Friend of Leo's

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    as for the slots in the nut, you can fill them with baking soda and hit it with superglue, that will build them up
     
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  5. highwaycat

    highwaycat Tele-Holic

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    You can try to determine if the parts are made well and compatible. What parts are these?
     
  6. Art VanDelay

    Art VanDelay Tele-Afflicted

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    To check intonation, use the "follow the needle" technique. Have a chromatic tuner and check open string tuning followed by 12th fret tuning. If the needle (or LED light) goes to the right (sharp), move the bridge saddle to the right. If to the left, move the saddle to the left.
     
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  7. kbold

    kbold Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    Another recent post mentioned this.
    Look at "intonation tricks", post #13
     
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  8. guitarbuilder

    guitarbuilder Telefied Ad Free Member

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  9. MatsEriksson

    MatsEriksson Tele-Afflicted

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    First you could tell us about you guitar, is it a Telecaster with 3 part bridge saddles? Something else?
    Pics of bridge please.

    On Les Paul like bridges, tune-o-matics you may have to turn on the edgy bridge saddles the other way around, so the "witness point" or intonation point is further back at the end of the bridge.

    1. you can have too high action so that the mount of movement in mm or centimeters isn't enough at the bridge to get it to the intonation you want.
    2. The nut slot for that particular string is way too high. It can be determined in this way: If you don't already own one, borrow a capo from someone else, and put it on the first fret. Tune down and intonate again, see if it mitigates the problem. Then the nut is something to be looked at.
    3. Putting together your guitar with a purchased neck...hmmm...this makes me wonder, are you sure you got

    a) the right body and right neck for ONE - the same - scale only? The 25 strat/tele scale or the 24 7/8 for the both body and neck?
    b) 22 fret neck for a 22 fret body? or a 24 fret neck for a 24 fret body (i e the placement of the bridge on the body).

    See you can't buy a body with a neck pocket and bridge routed for a 24 fret neck, and put on a 22 fret neck on there.
    Neither the other way around. And neither mix the scales up. You can't use a 24 7/8 scale neck on a body made for 25" strat/tele scale.

    So, you really have to tell us more about the nit picky details about your build. Of course, it may turn out that all other strings would go south too in intonation but it can be a fine line.


    4.
    On some bodies, the routing for the bridge are often slanted a bit back on the bass side to allow for more room for intonation. It's because of that the range given within certain kind of bridges aren't enough. So they have a slight bit longer length for the low e-string, that only can be remedied so much with intonation sadddles.
     
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  10. vt102

    vt102 TDPRI Member Silver Supporter

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    So, just to be clear-- I have intonated the other 5 strings correctly. I'm no expert, and I appreciate the links, but this doesn't seem to be a case of playing at the 12th fret and sliding the saddle forwards or backwards.

    I played this one string at the 12th fret, it was sharp. I moved the bridge backwards. Repeated this until I had no more room to move the saddle any more. That's when I realized it was sharp at every fret.

    I may be wrong, but here is my understanding of intonation:

    If my bridge is off, I will tune my string and the 12th fret will be off, because it is not halfway between the nut and the saddle. However, my F should still be almost in tune-- it's not off the same proportion the 12th fret is. It's practically at the nut, and would be slightly sharp, but less sharp than the 12th fret.

    However, my F, and every other fret, is very sharp.
     
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  11. vt102

    vt102 TDPRI Member Silver Supporter

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    Bridge is Gotoh hardtail.

    This is the actual neck I purchased. It seats well in the pocket, top of fretboard measures 3/8" above the body, but as I mentioned I think it has a very slight back tilt and expect to shim the top of the pocket.

    I built the body from scratch, neck pocket was done with StewMac template.

    This is great advice, I will do this when I have a chance and follow up here! Thank you!

    FWIW here's a picture of the guitar pretty much as it is today: https://www.dropbox.com/s/f0ycb71vsf2zl1w/01_current_state.jpeg?dl=0
     
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  12. Peegoo

    Peegoo Poster Extraordinaire

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    If you're sharp at every fret on the high E string with all other strings intonating ok, go back to the beginning (do the basic setup steps). Tune the guitar to pitch and do the following, in order.

    1. Measure the distance between the front of the nut and the center of the 12th fret. Adjust the high E saddle so the center of the saddle (the string's take-off point) is the same distance from the 12th fret. Loosen the string before adjusting the saddle, and then re-tune it.

    2. Adjust the neck profile: Place a capo lightly at the 1st fret. Gently press the low E string to the 17th fret. Holding this, measure the gap between the low E string and the top of the 8th fret. It should be between .010" and .012". If it's not, adjust the truss rod so you have .012" between the low E string and the 8th fret. Remove the capo.

    3. Adjust the nut action: Measure the gap between each open string and the first fret. It should be between .018" and .020". If it's not, adjust the nut/slots.

    4. Adjust string action: Adjust the saddles for each string so you have 5/64" gap between each string and the top of the 12th fret.

    5. Re-do steps 2 and 3. The reason you re-check is because anytime you adjust one factor ina setup, it affects the other factors.

    6. Check intonation on the high E string and adjust as needed. Very small movements of the saddle are all that's necessary.

    7. Lower the strings' heights (via the saddles, 1/8-turn at a time) until they begin to buzz against the frets between the 12th and 15th frets, when fretted there. Generally, this string action adjustment leaves the low E at 5/64" from the 12th fret, and the high E string about 4/64" (1/16") from the 12th fret. All other strings are graduated in between these two settings.

    8. Last step: re-check intonation.
     
  13. Wally

    Wally Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Lower the pickup and check your intonation. If the magnet is too close to the string, it is impossible to intonate a string. Fretting at the last fret, make sure that you have 3/16” between the pickups’ magnet and the string. If you can intonate the string with the pickups in this relationship, then you know that you need to be careful about how close the pickups are to the strings.
     
  14. kennl

    kennl Tele-Afflicted

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    Nut slot
    Imagine what would happen if the 6th string nut slot was moved like an adjustable saddle toward the machine head 1/4"
    You would need to re-tune UP to correct pitch for the open string, causing notes at all fretted positions to sound sharp
    The nut slot should have its highest point at the side of the nut near the 1st fret, and an angle downward to the other side of the nut [/]
    The problem you describe might indicate a string contact point in the middle of the nut [^] or worse [\]

    Wally covered the other possible cause - pickup magnet deflecting the string
     
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2020
  15. Peegoo

    Peegoo Poster Extraordinaire

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    Here's a visual (clic on the pic):

    [​IMG]
     
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  16. tfarny

    tfarny Friend of Leo's

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    Sounds like a bad nut (ooops I see others answered that already).
     
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  17. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Friend of Leo's

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    You have received very good advise so far and it will be hard to sort it all out. However I would like you to clarify one thing for me - it is only the 6th string that is sharp and it is sharp at every fret. How much sharp at each fret in cents? All the other strings are perfect at all frets? When you say the "bridge is all the way back" that means the you don't have any more travel in the adjuster for that string? Where are the adjustments for the other strings?

    How did you locate the bridge when you built the body? Please describe the exact steps you followed. Last, and far from least, measure accurately from the face of the nut to the break point of the 6th string (and give me the specifications for the string you are using - if possible measure the diameter of the core) - I can run the calculator and tell you where theory says it should be.
     
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2020
  18. MilwMark

    MilwMark Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    My first thought as well.

    Ok, second thought. Bad string was the first. But @highwaycat handled that one.
     
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  19. bumnote

    bumnote Tele-Holic Ad Free Member

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    Assuming nut is correct and pickup is not too high so that the pole magnet to pulling too hard.

    I used to have that problem with low e.
    What type of tuner are you using? When I changed to Peterson Strob pedal tuner it solved the problem in two ways. First off tuning all the strings to "0" on my cheaper tuners wasn't giving me the best results. The Peterson "sweetens" the tuning to different types to stringed instruments.

    In a nutshell:
    low E: -12 cents
    A: -10
    D: -8
    G: -4
    B: -6
    E: -3
    Here's a article about that.

    https://www.guitarworld.com/lessons...tendency to,of A440 as such: low E: -12 cents

    Secondly, I learned a better method of setting intonation. Pluck the string at the 5th & 17th frets and setting intonation from there. It's more time consuming, but the results for me were much better.
     
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  20. Boreas

    Boreas Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    That is the only thing that I can think of. Essentially, all frets play in tune but the open position, which is relatively flat. About the only thing that can cause that on only one string would be the high point isn't at the nut face, but further toward the headstock. Make sure your slot is wide enough for the string and is sloped properly. Conceivably the string may not be bottomed in the slot.
     
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