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Intonation


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Arghghgh! Having problems with intonation.

Strung up my guitar, set the intonation at the 12th fret, trying to get it perfect. Good. Sounds pretty good.

Here's the problem - When I fret the strings between frets 1-5, the intonation is bad. Worse at fret 1 and gets better towards #5.

I've never cut a nut before and I think that the intonation problem in the first 5 frets could be caused by the nut slots being too high. Could that be it. I already spent 2 hours on the nut to get it where it is and I don't want to cut it too low and have to start over. Any help would be appreciated.

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the height of the nut is gonna give you action problems, not too sure about throwing off int. but anythings possible;

first thing i thought of was if your slots were cut on a down angle towards the fingerboard, which would cause you not to have an absolute end to your string; like... if you were missing half a fret towards the bridge that note would be off a mm or so , just like frets being put in the wrong place.........

i think i stated my point; its late;

maybe someone can clarify if its squirrly

good luck

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from http://www.fretnotguitarrepair.com/intonation.htm

"High action An instrument with high action will of course cause the string to be stretched further before contacting the fret, this stretching sharpens the note slightly. High action at the nut is particularly troublesome as chords played in the 1st to 3rd position can sound terribly out of tune."

So it sounds like my gut feeling was right. The next question is how low do I set the action at the nut? How do I measure it?

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You should use feeler gauges. Either this way:

http://www.stewmac.com/freeinfo/Nuts,_saddles/i-1811.html

or simpy measure the distance between fret 1 and the string. How high should the nut be then? A set of examples can be fouind here:

http://www.stewmac.com/freeinfo/Nuts,_saddles/i-5350.html

good luck

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So it sounds like my gut feeling was right. The next question is how low do I set the action at the nut? How do I measure it?

I once found a site that had a big chart listing the preferred measurements for the string height (at nut) for a variety of players -- I wish I could find it, it was very helpful for me (it was on another computer though). I'm pretty sure he gave the E string measurements, and the strings in between are graded in between.

So there's leeway, and a lot of it personal preference --if you have a heavy grip on the neck, then you'll want the strings to be slightly lower to keep them from going sharp. If you have a light touch, then you can leave them a bit higher.

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from http://www.fretnotguitarrepair.com/intonation.htm

"High action An instrument with high action will of course cause the string to be stretched further before contacting the fret, this stretching sharpens the note slightly. High action at the nut is particularly troublesome as chords played in the 1st to 3rd position can sound terribly out of tune."

So it sounds like my gut feeling was right. The next question is how low do I set the action at the nut? How do I measure it?

fret the string at the 3rd fret. and tap right over the first fret. it should make a high pitch sound. you should set the action as low as possible, but still having a very minimal gap between the 1st fret and the string (when fretting the 3rd fret) by minimal I mean, invisible! but you can still hear the high pitch sound when tapping over the fret. if you cant hear it anymore, then you`ve gone too deep, and should start over. go slow. that`s how I do it.

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from http://www.fretnotguitarrepair.com/intonation.htm

"High action An instrument with high action will of course cause the string to be stretched further before contacting the fret, this stretching sharpens the note slightly. High action at the nut is particularly troublesome as chords played in the 1st to 3rd position can sound terribly out of tune."

So it sounds like my gut feeling was right. The next question is how low do I set the action at the nut? How do I measure it?

fret the string at the 3rd fret. and tap right over the first fret. it should make a high pitch sound. you should set the action as low as possible, but still having a very minimal gap between the 1st fret and the string (when fretting the 3rd fret) by minimal I mean, invisible! but you can still hear the high pitch sound when tapping over the fret. if you cant hear it anymore, then you`ve gone too deep, and should start over. go slow. that`s how I do it.

Great tip there. :D

I checked two of my guitars and that's how they're setup. I'll do the same for this one. B)

How long it is supposed to take when cutting/making a nut? Seems like I've spent hours on this.

:D

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I've noticed that higher action at the nut causes more intonation issues than higher action at the 12th fret. It takes more tension to put down a string at the first fret since you actually have to bend the string to push it down. Most blues players like their action on the high side as you go down the neck as it tends to produce a warmer tone than super low action.

This is why you’ve noticed that the intonation comes in as you move down the neck.

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Thank you all.

Lowering the nut slots fixed the intonation issues. I was real nervous and started thinking "what if the fretboard is completely off" with those mini palpitations and feeling like the world is ending... I put so much time and effort in these two guitars.... B)

Pretty much perfect now. I set the intonation with a light touch, with the string just touching the fret. I figure that in "normal" playing the guitar might go off 5-15 cents kinda thing.

Geez, what a difference intonation makes! LOL!

Again, thanks. what would I do without you! :D

:D

Edited by guitar2005
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