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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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    I don't have a tuner that gives me cents. I'm using the HX Stomp tuner, and shows it as "Amber sharp" (vs. Green or Red). In my experience, this is noticeably out of tune.

    I honestly didn't check the other strings other than the 12th fret for intonation, and just normal playing. Nothing stood out.

    Correct-- the spring is completely compressed, I'd have to removed it to get the saddle any further back.

    The other saddles are all normal front-to-back in the sort of 1-2-3 1-2-3 staggered shape (minus that last 3 being too far back...)

    Had a body centerline. Got the neck positioned, used a regular metal yardstick on either side and made sure they were both the same distance from the centerline at various locations. Measured 25 1/2" from the nut along the centerline. Marked that spot on centerline.

    With the bridge, ran saddles to extreme front and back, and tried to line the middle up with the measured spot on the centerline.

    My first time placing the bridge, I was less careful and placed it 1/16" too far back...doweled the holes and redrilled as above.

    I'll follow up on this one when I have a chance this evening. Thanks!
     
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  2. vt102

    vt102 TDPRI Member Silver Supporter

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    I still think, logically, that seems most likely. I used a nut file to try and make sure the slot was [/]. It did not help. I'll look at it this evening through a loop and see if I can visually make out what's going on there.

    I thought maybe the front of the nut wasn't straight. Put a staight edge up against it, and couldn't get a .0015 feeler gauge, so that's out.
     
  3. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Friend of Leo's

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    How about answering my other questions. Where is the bridge located relative to something (like the nut), how did you decide where to put it. What does "bridge is all the way back" mean? (I assume its the saddle and I assume you are at the end of its adjustment).
     
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  4. vt102

    vt102 TDPRI Member Silver Supporter

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    Had a body centerline. Got the neck positioned, used a regular metal yardstick on either side and made sure they were both the same distance from the centerline at various locations. Measured 25 1/2" from the nut along the centerline. Marked that spot on centerline.

    With the bridge, ran saddles to extreme front and back, and tried to line the middle up with the measured spot on the centerline.

    Correct-- the spring is completely compressed, I'd have to removed it to get the saddle any further back.

    The other saddles are all normal front-to-back in the sort of 1-2-3 1-2-3 staggered shape (minus that last 3 being too far back...)
     
  5. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Friend of Leo's

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    OK, positioning the bridge so the saddles are at the middle of their travel wastes half of the adjustment - you will never have "negative compensation". The fact that you are out of travel on the low E confirms that.

    I just ran the calculator for a typical low E string. The calculator takes two things into consideration - the action height which affects how much the string will be stretched as it is fretted (I chose 0.095 for a low E at the 12th fret) and the stiffness of the string (which affects the point where it starts flexing next to the nut and saddle). I chose a typical 0.042 gauge string with an 0.018 core). The calculator says I should add 0.274 inch to the scale to properly compensate it. Higher action and/or stiffer (larger diameter) strings will require more compensation. I'm happy to run it again if you give me your numbers.

    Once again, a measurement from the nut to the break point will tell us a lot.
     
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  6. MilwMark

    MilwMark Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    Before you get too far in the weeds, did you register @Wally's post?
     
  7. sudogeek

    sudogeek Tele-Meister

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    I had a similar problem with a Strat I put a new neck on. The fit in the pocket was slightly loose and, even though it was aligned initially, the neck was pulled slightly to the low E side by the tension in the low strings. You could measure that the E string was closer to the edge of the neck than the e string. This shortened the string length and affected the intonation (although not to a severe degree as I was able to intonate it). I ended up putting a pair of shims in the neck pocket to stabilize the neck and prevent if from moving in the horizontal plane.

    The nut may need work as others have pointed out, or the bridge may be crooked, or it may be a combination of all three. Regarding the fully compressed intonation spring, you can get a shorter one or simply cut the spring in half with wire cutters.
     
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  8. EsquireOK

    EsquireOK Friend of Leo's

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    Post high quality pix of your low E nut slot from multiple angles, so we can judge how properly it is cut (most importantly, the angle). Make sure to include one shot that shows the string in the nut slot at normal tuning, and another shot that shows us the nut below the string when it is in the slot. And while you're at it, tell us the string height of the problem string, along with the string height of a non-problem string. Both measured at the 12th fret.

    My first thought is that your string is "cresting" the nut at the wrong point, i.e. somewhere in the length of the slot, instead of at the forward edge of the nut. This can be caused by the file rounding over the forward edge of the nut slot. This is one reason why it's best to cut nut slots with a metal spacer in place that is equal to, or ever so slightly higher than, your first fret's height.
     
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  9. LOSTVENTURE

    LOSTVENTURE Tele-Afflicted

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    I have to go with the high/non-level nut slot theory. If that's not perfect, all thoses adjustments are a waste of time.
     
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  10. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Friend of Leo's

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    If you are posting pictures, throw one in of the bridge and saddles, preferably with your measuring stick next to it.

    And VT, just so you don't feel too bad, here is a real fender with factory installed bridge (its a squire if that matters). The springs are totally compressed. And no, it cannot be made to play in tune either

    IMG_6556.JPG
     
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2020
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  11. vt102

    vt102 TDPRI Member Silver Supporter

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    First, let me thank everybody who has responded!! I have gotten a lot of good info off TDPRI over the years. I thought I would ask this question here, and have a been overwhelmed by the great information!!

    Anyways, back to my intonation...

    Summary: going to shim neck before completing intonation.

    Before I started taking pictures and measurements, I shimmed the front of the pocket with some sandpaper to raise the neck and that seemed to improve the intonation (still very sharp, but moved from amber to green range on my Stomp).

    I'm going to spend some time fixing that before proceeding further with the intonation, just because I know it's an issue and it may be related. Double check my thinking here:

    1. Set the neck relief (Capo 1st fret. Fret at last fret; get 0.008 at 8th fret)
    2. Set outside saddles roughly medium height
    3. Shim the neck until I get 12th fret 0.09” on low E, 0.07” at high E (may have to play with the saddles and shims here to get this right)
    4. Finish radiusing the other saddles

    Thoughts?
     
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  12. CapnCrunch

    CapnCrunch Friend of Leo's

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    Did you read the post by @Wally? Sounds like one or more of your pickups is too close to the strings. Check this first before you go down the rabbit hole. Or if you would rather continue to chase your tail, ignore his advise.........
     
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  13. Wally

    Wally Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Fwiw, it is not uncommon that the Low E spring needs to be shortened to allow a saddle to move far enough back to re2ch the compensation point. IF the magnet is not affecting that E string and IF you cannot achieve compensation after shortening the spring, then your bridge is in the wrong place.
     
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  14. Ronkirn

    Ronkirn Doctor of Teleocity

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    while Peegoo's illustration correctly illustrates the number one reason for your problems.. I take it one step beyond.. I cut the slots so that the string rests on a knife edge at the point of exit toward the neck . that eliminates any possibility that the string might rest loosely on the flat bed of the nut slot and give ya a "sitar" sound..

    You can see if the nut is cut correctly... after tuning.. check the slot.. the string will leave a small mark at the point where the string is actually resting in the slot.

    r
     
  15. vt102

    vt102 TDPRI Member Silver Supporter

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    Yes, I've read the advice, and appreciate it. The pickup is 0.2" from the bottom of the string, it's not pickup height unless I've got a really strong magnet in that specific spot.

    I've filed the nut slot down (StewMac .046 nut file, .042 string)-- it may not be great, but it should be close enough. So I don't believe it's the ramp there, either. But I will get some pics.
     
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  16. vt102

    vt102 TDPRI Member Silver Supporter

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    Thanks, I haven't heard of people changing the springs, although I was thinking about simply removing the spring, pulling the saddle all the way back, and just seeing how that looked.

    Given that the other 5 strings intonate as normal-- nothing unusually short or long-- does not seem to imply the bridge is at least pretty close to spot on?

    What are your thoughts about focusing on shimming the neck first? It seems to be the neck angle could influence the string length-- by bringing the neck up, it is reducing the overall string length.
     
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2020
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  17. PhredE

    PhredE Tele-Holic

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    This advice has served me very well. Highly recommend this approach. +1
    Peegoo's diagram is a excellent as well.
    :)
     
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  18. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Friend of Leo's

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    Shimming the neck is one way to correct geometry problems. Neck geometry (angle and overstand) determines whether you an adjust the saddles (along with nut slots and relief) to give you playable action on all parts of the fretboard. There are some rules of thumb but just like the intonation adjustment, it is wise to start such that you are within the range of your particular saddle.

    When I am laying out and building a guitar the first thing I determine is where to put the bridge relative to the scale so that I have enough adjustment to make it play in tune. The I set the neck angle and overstand so I can make that adjustment. Then I set relief, followed by nut slots, followed by action. All of those things affect each other and all of them affect intonation. Once they are set I can do the intonation.
     
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  19. MatsEriksson

    MatsEriksson Tele-Holic

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    I think it's nothing wrong with removing the spring totally if that helps. However it will turn a liability when and if you should have to move that saddle forward again, as it has no counter-force to move it forward you might have to move it yourself. FWIW I've never really understood the need for springs as the threads inside the holes should be sufficient enough to move the saddles either way.

    I have removed spring for that e-string on numerous guitars. Especially on those who require high action, and play slide and bottleneck, but those doesn't need to be that nit picky intonated anyway.

    I would suggest you using by the book intonation measures and no "sweeteners" at all. Are you sure your tuner is set to regular, standard tuning, and no such built in features such as BFTS tuning or other "sweeteners" ? I used my Peterson Software Strobe for a while before I detected that its default settings were set on some other peoples ideas of how a guitar should be intonated.

    - - - - - - -

    Remember one thing. This with the capo on first fret eliminates anything with the nut. Nut problems, height, grooves, slots, angle behind it ONLY affects open strings. Period. As fast as you press down any fret, you could just as well remove the nut entirely if you'd like.

    I do not think those P90s should be prone to Magnetic String Pull (MSP). Then your tuner needle will jump wildly and never freeze, it will never be set at amber or red and STAY there. It should wobble wildly between red, amber, green back and forth, only then are the pickups too close. Granted, low e-string PLUS plain G-string are most prone to this since they have the least tension, and are most slack. But if you can lower them for a moment as far into the body as possible, do that for a while, just to be on the safe side. Mind you that output will be severly lowered.

    One other slight tip too, but I think you've already got that down: Make sure the bridge saddle follow the exact radius of the neck if it has one. If it came with a "vintage" radius, like 7" or 9" you may have to have the outermost strings higher action than usual to facilitate bending. So bending strings doesn't choke out on the radiused fret wires. See to that first, and then intonate again.

    - - - - - - - - - - - -

    If the neck is askew, leaving one of the outermost string too close to the edge of the fretboard, do this while it's tuned up to pitch (disregard intonation for now). Keeping the guitar in a position with headstock pointing to the roof, and you can hold it there, try lightly loosening all neck screws at the back slowly and carefully, turn just one quarter on each four of them in a slow succession. Once you have turned a quarter on one screw, move to the next, rinse and repeat until you hear it starts to make sounds as in small "creaks" and "cracklings". Then you're pulling the neck heel towards into the body a bit more, and if you hear those creaks and cracks it was not aligned properly in the first place. Once the strings have pulled the neck into place, tighten the screws again. With the same method, only reverse. This small distance can wreak havoc on intonation, since all of the neck is just a hair out of its supposed total scale. And will pull the outer strings more aligned with the edge of the fretboard.

    If you don't hear any crackling noise, creaks, then don't loosen the screws so you much that you start to seeing the threads on the screws. Then the neck's all set as far in, as it is possible anyway!

    This may sound scary for you though, and best left to skilled repairmen. But as you have assembled it yourself, and seems to have good hands with tools, you know when to stop, and if something should happen you seem able to fix it.
     
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  20. MatsEriksson

    MatsEriksson Tele-Holic

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    As I said, get the capo trick done first, put in on the first fret and intonate at 13th fret harmonic, compare the harmonic to 13th fret and "open" string, I mean the "open" that the capo provides you with now, and come back here. If the frets are still too sharp and out of tune, all things with the nut is out of the equation, and all subsequent tips on the nut this or that, is waste.

    Now, if you should have made other adjustments and it's intonating perfectly all along the string and frets with the capo on, but as fast as you remove the capo it is thrown out again, THEN AND ONLY THEN it's the nut. Or groove in the nut for that particular string.

    - - - - - - - - - -

    String check II:

    1. Tune the open string without any capo on, to open pitch low E. If you can get it 0 cent, dead on. No deviance.
    2. Just pinch /play the 12th fret harmonic over the 12th fret again, and read the tuner needle. It must be 0 cent dead on. Do not fret anywhere.

    If it isn't the exact same pitch it's a dud of a string. Mind you, this test is before even pressing down any fret. You just comparing open string - full length - to half length of the string. The needle should show exact the same, and freeze. If it isn't it's a dud string, or the P90s pulling the string magnetically! Or both!! There is no way you can "intonate" any open string that has its natural halfway node at a different pitch.
     
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