Intonation problems

Discussion in 'Tech-Talk' started by Acme8, Aug 29, 2020.

  1. Acme8

    Acme8 Strat-Talk Member

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    Hi

    I have this 3-4 old MIM Player's strat, that has been causing my beard to grow grey faster. I just changed new strings, adjusted the truss rod, and intonation (string lenght). Intonation is pretty much spot on with a tuner, but when you play a chord it's pretty bad, especially the higher three strings. What causes this?

    Also, the guitar has always been lousy at keeping it's tune, I have to tune after each song when playing with my band. Is this guitar just a "Monday" edition? It's frustrating :(
     
  2. Guitarmageddon

    Guitarmageddon Dr. Stratster

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    Don't worry - your guitar can be setup fine, you just have to learn how....

    As for the tuning issue, it's important to have the strings fully stretched out when putting new ones on, so the note never drops when bending or pulling on the strings......the guitar needs proper relief, and the nut slots and string trees and saddles need lubrication......

    As for intonation, did you use a high quality tuner and match the 12th fretted note to the open note on each string?

    Is the intonation on the 3 higher strings only bad and sharp on the first 2-3 frets? If so, it's probably the nut slots being too high.....

    We need more info from you to help more....
     
  3. Acme8

    Acme8 Strat-Talk Member

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    Thanks! I used the harmonic from the 12th fret against the 12th fretted note. Is the open note method better? My tuner is a Korg CA-1. I also add some pencil graphite to the nut slots as I change strings.

    I'll check the things you asked as soon as I get home.
     
  4. Guitarmageddon

    Guitarmageddon Dr. Stratster

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    Do not ever use the harmonic, that will give you bad intonation.....the open note method vs 12th fretted is the way to do it properly.....

    I think once you get the intonation set properly (pickups too high can also throw off intonation) and your strings are fully stretched, you shouldn't have any issues....
     
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  5. Acme8

    Acme8 Strat-Talk Member

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    Ok, I did the intonations with the open strings and it did really get quite a bit better! It still is a bit off on the lower frets. So should the nut grooves be filed deeper? I think I need to take it to a tech for that, I don't know if I have the skills for filing them...

    But there is still the problem with the really bad situation of holding in tune? These strings are now four days old and I've played with them quite a bit now, and still the tuning drops in a couple of minutes of playing. I've also noticed that when I take the guitar out of it's bag,the tuning has gone usually a bit sharp during the night; what would cause that? Should I somehow adjust the bridge tension, the claw or the springs or something? The not-holding-the-tune problem has pretty much been this way from since I bought this guitar :(
     
  6. Guitarmageddon

    Guitarmageddon Dr. Stratster

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    Did you take the time to purposely stretch your strings by pushing down behind the first fret, and using your strumming hand to yank on them with some force? Then re-tune up and re-do each string again and again until the note drops. This is a 5-10 minute process and is necessary on every guitar on every string change.....

    If all you do is put them on and tune up, they will always have tons of tuning problems.....

    Tuning going sharp during the night means your truss rod is working on the neck and pulling it into slightly more relief, usually.....OR that your bridge is backing down due to unbalanced tension with the tremolo springs....

    Can you show a pic of your pickup heights?

    Is your bridge floating or decked? how high is it setup? got pics of it?
     
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  7. The_Whale

    The_Whale Strat-Talker Silver Member

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    probably
     
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  8. dirocyn

    dirocyn Most Honored Senior Member

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    Several issues here. First thing, eliminate the trem as a source of instability. Tighten the trem claw screws until the trem plate is resting on the guitar body. Now it won't move unless you move it. You will probably need to adjust string height and intonation after this.

    Binding in the nut makes strings go sharp. Next string change, floss the slot with the strings and make sure it pulls through smoothly.

    Most prefab nuts are too tall, and often the slots are actually too deep. A good tech can easily diagnose whether yours needs attention.
     
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  9. Acme8

    Acme8 Strat-Talk Member

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    IMG_20200830_113306.jpg IMG_20200830_113135.jpg IMG_20200830_113113.jpg IMG_20200830_113054.jpg IMG_20200830_113032.jpg
     
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  10. Stevn

    Stevn Senior Stratmaster

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    I always tune new strings sharp, then lift the guitar up by the string, that stretches back down to the note.
     
  11. heltershelton

    heltershelton Vivamus libero Vivamus duris

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    i use a lock method when i install new strings, and i make sure there are plenty of wraps.
    also, check the tension of your tuners. there is a small screw on the top of the peg....if the tuner is too loose, it can slip and cause your strings to go flat. i always tighten mine to the tension i prefer.....but dont overtighten them or youll have problems.
    and yes, stretching the strings is one of the most important things you can do.
    i usually spend about 20 or so minutes stretching and retuning.
    you do that over and over until they dont go out when you stretch.
     
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  12. Triple Jim

    Triple Jim Guy Who Likes to Play Guitar Silver Member

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    It's possible to have a perfectly set up guitar and still play chords out of tune just by pressing on the strings too hard. I'm not saying you're doing this, but just mentioning it so you can be aware.
     
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  13. Rudedawg

    Rudedawg Senior Stratmaster

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    Just curious did you stretch each new string while pressing it down on the 1st-12th fret? This really helps for sure. You've probably watched this video posted here at S-T but it helped me tremendously.
     
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  14. rafasounds

    rafasounds Senior Stratmaster

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    There are a few tricks about intonation, it's not just check the fretted note on 12th fret.

    I could write a long paragraph, but in short - intonate low E and A slightly flat (depending on string gauge and how strong you attack). Intonate G slightly flat, and B a little less slightly flat. You have to "season" the ratio of flatness for each string according to your most used chord positions. It's a compromise and an illusion at the same time. You can make a guitar sound very in tune with itself all along the fretboard, even though it's an inherently imperfect instrument when it comes to tuning. Because of the temperament system etc etc, which has been vey discussed elsewhere.
     
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  15. heltershelton

    heltershelton Vivamus libero Vivamus duris

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    absolutely....in fact, sometimes when playing a chord i will on purpose press harder on a certain string(s) to make them go slightly sharp and then back to pitch.
    its a technique called
    "pressing harder on a string to make it go sharp".:p
     
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  16. Triple Jim

    Triple Jim Guy Who Likes to Play Guitar Silver Member

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    I hate it when high level players throw out technical terms just to make the rest of us feel stupid.
     
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  17. heltershelton

    heltershelton Vivamus libero Vivamus duris

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    check this thread out from a few years ago. it may help. if you have any questions, im here to help.
    https://www.strat-talk.com/threads/theres-something-about-this-sweetened-tuning.429412/
     
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  18. heltershelton

    heltershelton Vivamus libero Vivamus duris

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    you wanna buy me a new phone?
     
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  19. EricMD4692

    EricMD4692 Strat-Talk Member

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    Intonation, in my experience is a balance between high notes in tune and open notes tuned tunes down just enough to compensate for that odd open chord sound. Remember our tuning system itself is a compromise so keep that in mind. Try to work it out with the keys, other guitarist, bassist whoever for more polished playing together and it will work great if not be rather tedious. But then you can gang up on musicians with different intonations and we can bring back the 432hz debate!

    Sorry, I got carried away.
    Nothing to see here.
     
  20. Jason D

    Jason D Senior Stratmaster

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    I don’t like the look of how that nut is cut. It looks too high to me and the slot individually might not be following the radius of the neck. I like mine very low so there is very minimal added tension on the string when fretted. I go completely by feel, but I am sure several members who e already responded would actually know the optimal nominal depths of the slots and proper relief in the neck.
     
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