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Bad intonation problems

Discussion in 'Tech-Talk' started by dirtyclinic, May 15, 2019.

  1. dirtyclinic

    dirtyclinic Strat-Talk Member

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    I just picked up a 1989 Fender Stratocaster '62 reissue Made in Japan. The high E and B strings are flat on the 12th fret when in tune played open. The saddles are as far forward as they can go and they are still flat. What should I try to fix this? Please help, I love the look and feel of the guitar and want to make it main player.

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  2. nederemer

    nederemer Senior Stratmaster

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    Intonation is the last part of a setup. Have you set everything else up first?
     
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  3. johnnymg

    johnnymg Most Honored Senior Member Strat-Talk Supporter

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    The pups look like they might be too high.
     
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  4. nederemer

    nederemer Senior Stratmaster

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    If you have set everything else up, including the relief, the action etc. I would probably loosen the strings, then try to loosen the neck and move it as far toward the bridge before retightening as possible just to make sure it is snugly in there.
     
  5. Mark Harris

    Mark Harris Strat-Talk Member

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    Setup
    1. Tune guitar
    2. Check truss rod
    3. Re-Tune guitar
    4. Set action
    5. Intonation.
    Do it in that order and you may find it has resolved the issue.

    Good luck
     
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  6. dirtyclinic

    dirtyclinic Strat-Talk Member

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    Thanks for the comments. After messing with the saddles and saddle heights last night I figured I would tighten the truss rod a tiny bit but the screw is where the body meets the neck so that is kind of a drag. I will try to use you guys' advice when I put it back together and if that doesn't work, I will take it to a professional. I was told that by taking everything apart and putting it back together it sometimes gets magically fixed.
     
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  7. EAllen

    EAllen Strat-Talker

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    Everyone else is right on. Intonation is last and echo the check pickup height. Magnetic pull of pickup too close can really mess with getting it to intonate.

    Eric
     
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  8. BallisticSquid

    BallisticSquid Senior Stratmaster

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    I didn't see it mentioned anywhere...did you put new strings on? If the strings are old it will cause intonation issues. I have also had a case where a kinked string caused me major intonation problems.

    If the strings have excessive corrosion or gunk buildup, they will cause intonation issues. If the strings are clean but have indentations where the frets are, you'll also have intonation problems.
     
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  9. nutball73

    nutball73 Senior Stratmaster

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    Yes, I hope you have new strings. Also the intonation doesn't look right on the other strings - the G saddle should be fairly close to the lowest E, so that the saddles are two groups of 3.

    What are you using to check intonation? Are you tuning to the 12th harmonic and then checking the fretted note? Don't try tuning the fretted note to the open string; unless you have a staggered nut (Buzz Feiten) it will be off.
     
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  10. Biddlin

    Biddlin Senior Stratmaster

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    Tightening the trussrod will move the nut further from the saddle. You need it closer.
     
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  11. nutball73

    nutball73 Senior Stratmaster

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    Mmm - the truss rod shouldn't be used to set intonation. Tune the guitar and adjust the truss rod for neck relief. Then set the action, and finally the intonation.
     
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  12. dirocyn

    dirocyn Senior Stratmaster

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    What's the bridge/trem doing during all this? If your trem is floating too high, that can also cause intonation troubles (because it moves the bridge). The cure is more springs or tighter claw.

    I agree with everything that's been posted so far.

    Check your relief before adjusting--with a capo on the first fret and a finger on the highest fret, a business card should just slide between the string & fret (whichever's highest, usually 7th or 8th) without moving the string. If too much space, tighten. If too little, loosen.

    I'm not a fan of truss rods you can't adjust with the strings on, a lot of Strats with that design have damaged pickguards where somebody tried to make an adjustment while it's put together. Is it possible to adjust without removing the neck (by slacking the strings & removing the pickguard)? IMO that would be better than taking the neck on & off 9 times trying to get the relief right.
     
  13. Biddlin

    Biddlin Senior Stratmaster

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    No, but that doesn't change the geometry of the guitar or the veracity of my observation.
     
  14. Morf2540

    Morf2540 Strat-O-Master

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    I was always taught to fret the note at the 12th when setting intonation. Is it universally accepted that the harmonic should be used?
     
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  15. nutball73

    nutball73 Senior Stratmaster

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    No, perhaps I wasn't clear. Tune the guitar using 12th fret harmonic, then fret the note and compare, i.e. compare the fretted note with the pure harmonic. Don't tune the open string and then compare that with the fretted note.
     
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  16. Mark Harris

    Mark Harris Strat-Talk Member

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    The good news is there are many factors before hitting the panic button, this is a brill learning exercise, so get going and let us know how it goes, then we will give you marks from 10 before we set your next task.
     
  17. jaxjaxon

    jaxjaxon Strat-Talker

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    well as far as the truss rod adjustment goes all of the ones that adjust from the heal have a cut out in the pick guard to fit the right angle flat head that is used to adjust them.
     
  18. Thrup'ny Bit

    Thrup'ny Bit Grand Master Curmudgeon Strat-Talk Supporter

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    No they don't.

    truss nut.jpg
     
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  19. stratomatt

    stratomatt Strat-O-Master

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    As @nutball73 said, the saddles do not look right. There should be two groups of 3, one for the wound strings and one for the plain strings, with the lowest string in each group farthest from the nut. I recommend setting up the bridge for the factory spec amount of float, and your saddle height to match the neck radius if you haven't already, and make sure the neck is snug in the pocket by loosening the screws slightly with the guitar in tune and see if you can hear/feel it settle in. I don't think the truss rod will solve the issue. Best of luck!
     
  20. dirtyclinic

    dirtyclinic Strat-Talk Member

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    That was the way the saddles were when I got it. I put them so that they looked right after I took the picture but soon learned that it still sounded very flat.
     
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