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Setting intonation

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Cristo, May 3, 2006.

  1. Anyone here use a different method for setting intonation besides the oft-cited "open string 12th harmonic" method?

    Specifically I'm referring to fretting the string octaves apart, e.g. 3rd/15th, 5th/17th, etc.

    I've read that some people do this to spread the error across the fretboard more evenly, as opposed to having a 12th fret perfectly intonated and the lower frets too sharp.

    I'm considering this because I'm not too happy with that lower fret sharpness, and I find that the vast majority of my lines are played at 7th fret and below.

  2. Rodent

    Rodent A Killer Pickup Lineā„¢ Commercial User

    Dec 20, 2004
    Upper Left Corner (Seattle)
    Player-Builder-Founder: Honey Badger Pickups & Regenerate Guitar Works
    I work a 'balanced' compromise between an open string, and the 5th, 7th, 12th, and 15th notes fretted. I find that if the open string and 15th fret fretted are 'on', the others are usually well behaved too.

    Of course I also adjust my necks relatively flat and set the action quite low so YMMV. If you like your electric to play like a URB, well ...

    all the best,

  3. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    Very important in not having the first frets play sharp, is having the nut groove be cut as low as possible. Ideally it is the same as the fret height- or the same as if there were a zero fret. The taller that nut is cut, the worse your sharp-at-the-first-frets problem will be.
  4. Moo

    Moo Banned

    Dec 14, 2002
    Oakland, CA
    Yes, I use an electronic tuner and simply check the pitch up the neck as it would be played, all the way up the neck. The only reason to use harmonics and the 12th fret is to aurally compare notes in the same octave if you don't have a digital tuner. IME setting intonation just at the 12th fret is inferior.
  5. Moo

    Moo Banned

    Dec 14, 2002
    Oakland, CA
    I agree, but I do find a lot of people who state the nut should be higher. I've also heard a zero fret should be higher than all the others. I don't understand that reasoning and personally aim for the nut or zero fret to be in line with all the other frets.

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