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Crazy intonation

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by BertBert, Mar 27, 2003.


  1. BertBert

    BertBert

    Nov 9, 2002
    Indianapolis
    I am having a sort of strange problem with the intonation of my Warwick (5-string). The strings are in tune, but I noticed that the notes played at the higher frets are WAY off -- nearly 1/4 step on the G and B strings. So I tried to tune the bridge. I could get the E, A, and D tuned up fine but never could quite get the G or B right. The G at the 12th fret is about 1/6 step sharp, and the G at the 24th fret is nearly half a step sharp!

    What's causing this? I've read around on the boards here and seen everything from "use a different gauge string" to "cut the spring on your saddles in half". Help!
     
  2. Saetia

    Saetia

    Mar 27, 2003
    Wisconsin
    alright, first you should adjust your bridge heights to the right heigth until you get the right intonation, if that doesnt get it just right adjust your truss rods, because everything about music is mathmatical, and the height of the strings comes into play with the scale length and bridge/saddle height. try that, and if you are unable to get it then take it too your local/ favorite guitar shop and have it fully run over.
    hope i helped
    peace
    -Ben
     
  3. jondog

    jondog

    Mar 14, 2002
    NYC metro area
    Saetia, you are confused. Your advice will not help w/ intonation.

    BertBert, please describe what you mean by tuning the bridge. Do you mean intonating by moving the saddles to put the 12th fret harmonic into tune w/the open string. That's what you need to be doing. A good tuner will help.
     
  4. BertBert

    BertBert

    Nov 9, 2002
    Indianapolis
    That's exactly what I meant. Sorry if I wasn't clear. I'm using a Boss TU electronic tuner which is very good.

    Actually now that I re-read your reply, what I was trying to do was getting the 12th fret harmonic in tune with the note played at the 12th fret. The harmonic is still in tune with the open string.
     
  5. jondog

    jondog

    Mar 14, 2002
    NYC metro area
    And the high notes are still out? I dunno then, I'm sure someone more expert will be along soon. I do know you don't want to mess w/ the truss rod or saddle heighth for intonation issues. I think you're doing the right thing checking the fretted note at the octave.

    B strings are notoriously tough to intonate. One thing to try is to make sure there is a good break angle over the saddle. Push down on the B right in front of the saddle to increase the break angle and then try to intonate again.
     
  6. pkr2

    pkr2

    Apr 28, 2000
    coastal N.C.
    Now I'm confused. :)

    What you should be doing is getting the fretted note at the 12th fret in tune with the open string. Forget the harmonic altogether. The harmonic will always be in tune with the open string regardless of where the intonation screws are set.

    And, not to be argumentative but the string heigth is a part of intonation. The higher the string heigth is the more the string has to stretch when it's fretted. The more it's stetched the sharper it goes.

    That's why intonation should always be the very last step in a setup. If you intonate it perfectly and then change the string heigth by very much at all, the intonation goes out.

    Good advice by Jondog about pushing the string where it crosses the nut to assure that the string has a good break angle over the nut. It also doesnt hurt to do the same thing at the bridge. If this step is not done it's possible to get a false witness point which will make the string impossible to intonate. The larger the string the more important this step becomes because of the stiffness of the string.

    Another step that shouldn't be ignored is to tune a new string up to pitch and give it a good firm pull away from the neck at the middle of the string. Most of the time the string will go just a little flat but when you retune it it will be much more stable.

    You mentioned the error at the 24th fret. Do yourself a favor and don't worry about the intonation at the 24th fret. If the intonation is perfect at the 12th fret but out at the 24th there is nothing that you can do about it- thats just the lack of absolute perfection in fret spacing and/or string tolerance.

    Sorry to be so long winded.

    Pkr2
     
  7. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member Administrator

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    the harmonic will be in tune with the open string, like pkr2 said, but since the harmonic and the note at the 12th fret are the same, i would use the harmonic as a ref. if the fretted note at the 12th fret is sharp, then move the saddle back away from the pickups. is that what you are doing?

    another thing to consider is try using tapered strings for the lowest strings - they intonate much better than the non tapers, especially for the largest gauge strings.
     
  8. All good advice.... now for my advice hehe

    peoples you spell it height Every post in this thread spells it wrong, sheesh! Read back and see. it can be oddly humourous...... lol!

    :D:D

    Merls
     
  9. pkr2

    pkr2

    Apr 28, 2000
    coastal N.C.
    You are rigth, Merls.

    By the way, you misspelled " humorous". Sheesh! :) :) :)

    Can you spell "touche''?

    Pkr2
     
  10. I believe that's the Australian spelling.
     
  11. pkr2

    pkr2

    Apr 28, 2000
    coastal N.C.
    I know, Nicoli, I'm just rattling Merls cage. :)

    Pkr2
     
  12. BertBert

    BertBert

    Nov 9, 2002
    Indianapolis
    I'll try all this stuff out tonight when I get home. I am not doing anything with the saddle height, so that leaves the question of break angle and the other stuff you all mentioned. The whole notion of adjusting the truss rod scares me.

    One additional question -- what does string gauge have to do with these issues? As I mentioned I saw several bits of advice to try a different string gauge as I read around TB on this topic. Frankly I don't want to change gauges because I like what I am using already. Is this just an urban legend or does string gauge really affect intonation?
     
  13. String gauge can affect intonation in the sense that it will sit in the saddles and nut at a slightly different height, and put a different amount of pressure on the neck.
     

  14. This is a CAGE!!!? i thought it was this modern housing concept called "open living" lol!

    :D:D

    Merls
     
  15. Ok now I'm confused. I've been working on my intonation for the past hour and struggling with the A string. I've been going back and forth between the 12 harmonic and 12 fingered note and not been able to find a balance.

    You guys are saying to adjust the 12 fingered to the open string: I double checked my references and both Di Bartolo's "Serious Electric Bass" and Denyer's "The Guitar Handbook" say to use the 12 fingered and the 12th harmonic! Is this a matter of opinion or am I missing something basic?
    blip
     
  16. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member Administrator

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    hello, is this thing on? (taps mic)

    i've been saying to use the 12th harmonic and the 12th fret - using the open string and the 12th fret string isn't as good since the notes are an octave apart and discrepencies aren't as obvious.
     
  17. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Bettendorf, IA USA
    Intonation is not that tough.

    1. Use a tuner.
    2. Tune the open string to correct pitch.
    3. Check the 12th fretted note against the tuner. If it is sharp, move the saddle back to lengthen the scale length. If it is flat, move it forward.
    4. Tune the open string again. You MUST retune the open string after every adjustment before proceeding.
    5. Check the 12th again.
    6. Repeat until both the open string and the 12th fretted note are each in tune.

    Using the harmonic is best if you are setting it by ear.

    Chas
     
  18. Ok, thanks for clarifying JT sorry to misrepresent.

    There is still a basic concept that I'm not able to "bridge", there can never be a static reference point, as one moves the saddle screw both the harmonic and the fingered are going to move relative to one another. ...do we use the initial harmonic reading as a reference and just get the fingered note to match what it WAS rather than what it BECOMES (after adjustment)?
     
  19. pkr2

    pkr2

    Apr 28, 2000
    coastal N.C.
    The reference is ALWAYS the open string at standard pitch. That's why it is extremely important to retune the open string after EVERY adjustment.

    At the risk of being redundant, this is the proper order of steps. If this order is not followed, chances are good that you will fail to achieve proper intonation. NOTICE THAT THE HARMONIC IS NOT MENTIONED!

    1- Tune the instrument to standard pitch.

    2- fret the G string in the 12 fret. Notice whether the fretted note is sharp or flat.

    3- If the G string is flat, move the bridge saddle to make the string shorter, if it's sharp make the string longer.

    4- Retune the g string to standard pitch. Repeat step two and three. Steps 1 thru 4 probably will have to be repeated a few times for each string.

    5- repeat for each of the remaining strings.

    5-


    JT, the reason that I suggest not using the harmonic is because it is confusing to explain and it serves no real purpose.

    As Chasarms pointed out, if you are intonating by ear(not recommended), the harmonic method is a useful step. If you are using a tuner, the harmonic thing only adds confusion and serves no purpose.

    Even a cheap tuner is accurate enough for intonation purposes and I've never seen one that couldn't compare two notes an octave apart.

    Pkr2
     
  20. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member Administrator

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga

    i don't see the confusion aspect. since the note at the 12th fret and the harmonic are supposed to be the same note, using the two of them together as opposed to the open string and the 12th fret seems to help me that much more - a good ear is going to be able to distinguish more even than a bad tuner. there's an element of ear to everything we do - having the same notes side-by-side is going to give a much more accurate by-ear comparison than having the notes an octave apart.

    still, though, it's splitting a pretty fine hair, either will suffice.