Jump to content

Oh No! I've Intonation Problems


Recommended Posts

Hi - I bought a fairly expensive vintage Es335 (an early 70's) off ebay. Cosmetically the thing is in prestine shape (I was estatic when it first arrived). I restrung it, adjusted the neck, set the intonation (so the 12th fret matched open notes). But it still sounded a little weird when playing open cords.

I kept checking the tuning, etc. and couldn't figure out why it didn't sound good.

Well I finally got the tuner back out, and started checking each fret of each string.. AHHHHH!!! almost every string in the first fret was out by 5-6 Mhz. Going up the board, it got progressively better, until about the 5th-6th fret when the intonation settled into being w/in 1 mhz of the actual desired note.

uhh, I'm not going play this thing, unless I can get this fixed, - there is no sweet ring... it sounds like a bad epiphone for over $2K!!!

Is there any chance to fix this?? Would a refret do it?? (by the way the frets seem to have plenty of life left).. THanks

Link to comment
Share on other sites

How high is your action and are the out of tune notes sharp or flat? It's possible you're having to depress the strings to such an extent that you're putting the notes at those frets out of tune.

Action is pretty low (very low by 1st fret, and probably 3/16 of inch by the 12th fret). The nut seems to be adjusted (grooves cut) very well. The notes are sharp. ahh this sucks, the guitar is just beautiful.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You might want read up on compensated nuts to get an idea of what can cause this.

Hi - I bought a fairly expensive vintage Es335 (an early 70's) off ebay. Cosmetically the thing is in prestine shape (I was estatic when it first arrived). I restrung it, adjusted the neck, set the intonation (so the 12th fret matched open notes). But it still sounded a little weird when playing open cords.

I kept checking the tuning, etc. and couldn't figure out why it didn't sound good.

Well I finally got the tuner back out, and started checking each fret of each string.. AHHHHH!!! almost every string in the first fret was out by 5-6 Mhz. Going up the board, it got progressively better, until about the 5th-6th fret when the intonation settled into being w/in 1 mhz of the actual desired note.

uhh, I'm not going play this thing, unless I can get this fixed, - there is no sweet ring... it sounds like a bad epiphone for over $2K!!!

Is there any chance to fix this?? Would a refret do it?? (by the way the frets seem to have plenty of life left).. THanks

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well I finally got the tuner back out, and started checking each fret of each string.. AHHHHH!!! almost every string in the first fret was out by 5-6 Mhz. Going up the board, it got progressively better, until about the 5th-6th fret when the intonation settled into being w/in 1 mhz of the actual desired note.

In the meantime, a few more details might help.

First off, how did the guitar play when you first got it?

What guage strings were on there when you got it and what guage did you put on there?

And when you say the first fret is out by 5-6 mhz, you mean it's sharp, right? (just checking).

I'm not the expert you're waiting for, but it seems likely that there's an issue with the nut. Maybe the height of the slots were okay, but the new strings are not settling down completely --especially if you replaced the strings with a larger guage.

Just something to keep you busy until the big guns show up :D

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Not one of the experts either, but I don't think you can really diagnose these sort of things without seeing the guitar anyway.

The first thing you should check in a setup is the neck relief, which is the thing most likely to go amiss when a guitar is shipped. Relief measurements aren't meaningful unless you've had the neck evaluated for straightness and fret condition. If you don't know how to do this, take it to a shop, especially if you're not experienced with adjusting truss rods.

It may be the nut, but you should still evaluate the relief first. I'm guessing it'd be sharp too, indicating a too high nut. That'd be unusual in a 335 but could be caused by fret wear too.

If it were a $150 Jay Turser I may be inclined to mess with it but I'd take a $2K Gibbie to someone who actually knows what they're doing and can actually get their hands on it. If there's anything I've learned about setting a guitar up, it's that a great deal has to do with being able to tell what you have to work with, and that you don't want to approach adjusting the truss rod lightly. It's easy to screw up the guitar if you don;t know what you're doing. That's why some expensive guitars don't come with a truss rod adjustment wrench.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ok. more details.

1. It played poorly, the intonation was weird.

2. had probably 11 gauge strings on it. They were old, and the guitar sounded dead, the pups were way too high, and the neck had too much relief. I put 10's on it - and found I only had to make a 1/4 turn of the truss rod to set the relief to minimal.

3. after my adjustments, the neck plays great, and is straight. no buzzing anywhere - just the intonation problem.

3. It's ringing sharp. the nut is not too high - if you depress the 2nd fret, there is almost zero clearance over the 1st fret with all strings.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

OK, Kidmag. Here are some leads.

Is the first fret very worn? A worn nut gets flatter and that moves the breaking point up the neck, hence pushing the note into the sharper range.

Take a look at the nut slot bottoms. If they are worn out and not perfectly shaped they can move the string break pint towards the head and by this elongating the string scale. When you then intonate the guitar you will get good intonation at the 12th fret but progressively worse intonation when you move down the neck. And what is the correct shape of the nut slot bottoms? If you look at the nut from the playing position the slot should start out perpendicular with the fret board for about 1/3 of the nut thickness. Then it should gradually “bend” toward the head so that the string leaves the nut perpendicular to the head surface. Tricky to describe in words… The most important thing is that the nut slot bottom isn’t rounded in the first 1/3 towards the fret board. It should be perfectly flat.

If you have checked these things and found no problems, then it is time to pull out your ruler. Measure the distance from the nut to all the frets (ok the first couple of frets anyway). Make a table and compare it to what you get using this tool: http://www.stewmac.com/FretCalculator/

If the nut to fret distance is to long on you’re guitar the nut is misplaced. Then you need to get the nut moved.

If all these things checks out you might consider a compensated nut. What a compensated nut does is to move the nut closer to the first fret than the stewmac calculator tells you. The theory is that the nut is actually a bit higher than the frets and fretting the strings at the first couple of frets stretches the strings a bit more than when fretting on the higher frets. And everyone knows that stretch = higher pitch. There are a couple of systems for compensated nuts, but only one that I know of that is for retrofitting by a DIY. It’s the Earvana system. I use it quite often on my builds. More info a www.earvana.com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...