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Adjusting Tele Intonation

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I have an early 80's US-made Tele which hasn't had a setup in at least 15 years. Lately I've noticed intonation problems, so I thought I'd see if I can fix it myself. This model lets me individually adjust each string's intonation.

I tried the method where you tune the string, then check 12th fret harmonic and fretted, adjust intonation, retune the string, and try again until it's in tune. All of my strings initially are sharp when fretted at 12th fret. I tried starting with the E and B strings. What I found is that when I get it right at 12th fret, the fretted notes seem to get sharper as I go further down the neck towards nut, and they get flatter as I go up the neck to bridge. Any suggestions on diagnosing this?

- my strings are not brand new, and I will probably put on new strings tomorrow and try again, but they really aren't more than a few weeks old and have not been played very much

- I have medium gauge strings on, back in the day I used to play lights but I've moved up to mediums. I know string gauge can impact intonation, but would this be my problem?

- string height seems pretty good to me. My G string might be a tad low, as I get a little buzz if I play it hard down by the nut. BTW intonation on the G seems to be the furthest out of all the strings.

So what is most likely my problem?

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OK, first off new strings is a must. As soon as you start to play them, they change (wear against the frets etc). Change them. Tune them. Stretch them. Re-tune them. Leave over night. Tune them. Adjust relief in the neck (if needed). Adjust string height (if needed). Tune them. Now you are finally ready to intonate the guitar.

To me is sounds like you are finally starting to notice the problem that many of us starts to notice when we develop a better pitch. The nut is more or less always a bit high compared to the first fret and when fretting the strings closest to the nut you need to stretch them when fretting even if it is only a slight bit. That will make the notes go increasingly sharper when moving toward the nut. A test: Tune the guitar with a quality tuner that can tune semi notes. Now check all notes on the first fret. I imagine that they will be pretty sharp. If so, you need to either learn to live with that problem, like guitarists have done almost the entire time that guitars have existed (yeah, I know someone will jump in and say "in the 16th century guitar builders knew how to compensate for this", but yada yada...) OR you can consider solutions like Buzz Feiten, Earvana or True Temperament, or simply using a 0 fret (OK 0-fret on an existing guitar... maybe not). Buzz Feiten and Earvana nuts move the actual breaking point over the nut a tad toward the body to compensate for this, while True Temperament moves all the frets a bit toward the nut. I use Earvana nuts almost exclusively on my builds. My customers have that have been able to test different guitars and hear the difference have all asked me to install Earvana saddles on their instruments. Now I'm not saying that Earvana is the only solution, or the best solution, but is is a solution that is pretty cheap and removable, compared to changing the fretboard to a TT board or cutting a bit of the board for a BF nut.

Sorry for the long answer...

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