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Open string or 12th fret harmonic for intonation?

Discussion in 'Tele-Technical' started by NOLAslider, Aug 16, 2012.

  1. NOLAslider

    NOLAslider Tele-Meister

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    I was just checking out the thread from mikante about intonation problems on his Tele. I saw two different opinions on whether to use the 12th fret harmonic vs the 12th fretted note to intonate.

    I've always thought that the 12th fret harmonic was the correct pitch to reference against the fretted note, but one of the posters was pretty adamant about using the open string. 12th fret harmonic has always worked pretty well for me, but other than basic concept of string length between fret and bridge determining pitch, I'm not really hip to the physics of it. I take it there are varying opinions on this.

    Thanks!
     
  2. soulman969

    soulman969 Telefied Ad Free Member

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    I don't claim the expertise of others, and some may disagree, but in my experience the fretted 12th vs the open string is the proper way to go about it. The 12th fret harmonic will allow you a second option for tuning but it's not an accurate way to measure and set intonation.
     
  3. BackNtheSaddle

    BackNtheSaddle Tele-Holic

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    I always do open_string to 12th_fretted. I was taught that along time ago; my memory fails (but search is your friend here) but, there is a sound reason for that.

    I sometimes compare to the harmonic... usually there is only a very slight (if any) difference. But, in the end, I go with open & 12th.
     
  4. LocustPlague

    LocustPlague Tele-Holic

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    I usually try to dial in all three as close as I can.
     
  5. Otis Funkmeyer

    Otis Funkmeyer Tele-Holic

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    Is it wrong to do 12th fretted to tuner?
     
  6. BackNtheSaddle

    BackNtheSaddle Tele-Holic

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    No sure what you mean "fretted to tuner"...

    I use a tuner, a strobe if it's available, but I can get it pretty damn close with a Snark chromatic, too.

    Open string in tune, as shown by tuner.
    Fretted 12th in tune, as shown by tuner.
    Both match perfectly? Done.
    If not, adjust... retune, rinse & repeat.
    The whole thing should take < 5 minutes.
     
  7. soulman969

    soulman969 Telefied Ad Free Member

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    If I'm understanding correctly you're asking about tuning using the 12th fret rather than the open string or harmonic?

    If yes then your answer is if the guitar is in perfect intonation that would work but how often does that happen? The higher likelihood is that your lower notes and chords wouldn't sound quite right because the intonation isn't perfect. If the intonation is very far off at the 12th fretted then it should be adjusted to match the pitch of the open string.

    I use the open string and 12th fret harmonic to tune but even then some adjustments usually need to be made on certain strings to get open chord inversions in tune.
     
  8. jkingma

    jkingma Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Admin Post

    +1
     
  9. dsutton24

    dsutton24 Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    This is one of those subjects that gets complicated beyond reason far too often... The goal is simple; make as many notes as accurate as possible in as many places as possible. If you never stray above the 7th fret, don't worry about it. If your home is between 12 and 20 on the GBe, concentrate on that area of the fretboard. Intonating to the fretted notes at 12 is a good compromise for most players.

    Use fretted notes to intonate if you play fretted notes. If you entire repertoire is Roundabout, then intonate to harmonics. Use a strobe tuner if possible, but if you have another that has proven to be accurate, then go for it. I've compared the results using my Snark against my Peterson, and the Snark holds up pretty darned well, and is considerably faster.
     
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