Intonation problems

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

  1. The_Whale

    The_Whale Strat-Talker Silver Member

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    Me too.

    The idea is to minimize the distance the string has to move to be fretted at the first fret.

    Get a cheap set of nut files, and file the slots a tiny bit at a time, with a decent amount of playing between filings.

    It takes a bit of practice so it's not a bad idea for your first attempt to be done on a cheap guitar.
     
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  2. Baelzebub

    Baelzebub Most Honored Senior Member

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    There was post in the past few days with a video of John Suhr talking about how he checks guitars and determines the need for various aspects of setup, i.e, truss rod adjustment, etc. He made an interesting comment/observation about intonating a guitar. He said that he never uses the open/harmonic or the open 12th fret, but rather uses another fret and it's octave. In his example he used the 3rd and the 15th frets. Said he does that because the further up the neck you do this, the more accurate intonation becomes, and if you get it on an upper fret the 12th fret will be where it needs to me. Stated reason for doing it this way, besides it allegedly being more accurate, is because it takes the nut out of the equation, which makes sense...
     
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  3. Acme8

    Acme8 Strat-Talk Member

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    Bumping this back. I adjusted the neck and intonation those few weeks back, and for a short while everything was better. But now the guitar is once again way off in intonation, and the tuning holding is worse than ever.

    Is there something in a guitar that can make it more sensitive to changes in the environment? My band's drummer said he had had a strat many years ago that was the same: it demanded constant fiddling. So my question I guess is, is it possible that my MIM is just a bad copy, as I'm starting to wonder whether it's worth paying a couple of hundred €'s to a tech or saving that money for a new guitar altogether?

    This guitar had other issues from the get go as well: the bridge screws were a mix of two different types. I never could get neither the seller (Thomann) nor Fender to admit to it being a QC-fault, the best I could get was for Fender to send me a new screw set....
     
  4. rockon1

    rockon1 Senior Stratmaster Silver Member

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    Id go over everything if you haven't already- even what seems far out- like checking all fasteners. Check the nut -making sure strings aren't binding. Stupid question- did you seat the strings after changing them? A funky wind on a posts can wreak havoc for a long time if I dont "seat" them by pulling up on each string pretty aggressively.
    More obvious stuff after that-always tune up, not down. Sorry you probably know all this -just got to throw it out there. Also (most) of this addresses tuning instability not intonation.
    Weather changes can affect the neck but usually not to the degree of noticeable intonation issues. If the intonation has really changed I would think something has to be moving. Never had a saddle move -except on a floyd where the are bolted down.
     
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  5. Ivan975

    Ivan975 Strat-Talker

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    A Stratocaster is an old construction design, very simple but it has quite a few inherited flaws, some are due to the equal temperament, yes, but some, as the very good setup, evening the string tension, keeping in tune even with floating tremolo is attainable.

    Assuming the nut was properly cut, the neck is properly set in and bolted (shim or no shim), and it's not warped or something, it can be set up very stable.
    But stretching the newly installed strings is A MUST. Along the whole length, just use your fingers along the length of all strings, even multiple times, so you know they can attain constant tension without acting like bubble gum.
    You don't seem to have a proper string radius so that can make bending out issues. But you need to do that BEFORE the intonation. It's the last thing on the list, always last. If other setup requirements are not met you just can't expect the guitar to intonate.

    It may never intonate perfectly, that's just impossible, but - set it up right, and as for the action (after the relief setting AND SETTLING), make it low. Avoid the fret buzz but set it low and that will add to the intonation setting. Then use John Suhr's method described above.
    It MAY help to set the springs in parallel to each other, not the ''traditional way''. This way the claw is holding the springs by 3 points that are farther away from each other so the tension is more equal - but this is not decisive. If you follow through everything people have posted you can make your Strat stay in tune and intonate very good all by yourself, without the luthier's help.
     
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  6. dirocyn

    dirocyn Senior Stratmaster

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    An issue with the guitar that can make tuning and intonation a moving target is having the pickups too high. The magnetic pull on the strings makes notes warbley.
     
  7. train

    train Strat-Talker Silver Member

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    The nut doesn’t look like it was cut right . After intonation the 6 Th at 1 should be f (standard tuning)it will take some finger finesse to get close . Watch your tuner and go down the neck fret at a time . If the cowboy chords are off but it gets better at 5 on down it’s the nut. Get a set of files and slowly start cutting . Little cut check tuner and so forth . Till it’s acceptable to you . Your nut from the pic looks like my slide guitar . But with the many problems that are constantly showing up I would trade it in. Like yesterday. If not for you, then for the band members.
     
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  8. Acme8

    Acme8 Strat-Talk Member

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    I'll try that tomorrow. And,yes I'm really thinking about getting a new guitar, there has been so many tears over this one that it doesn't have any magic in it left for me to want to play it. Probably a hardtail like a tele. Or actually I'm not sure if I'm ever gonna be comfortable buying a Fender after this experience...
     
  9. rockon1

    rockon1 Senior Stratmaster Silver Member

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    Hope not. I fear youre missing something relatively simple. Besides whatever it messing with this one could happen on any guitar. As mentioned the low E and A look a bit funky at the nut but the pic is poor. But its easy to check the height and whether or not the groove is cut right. If the action height is ok- .020 or a bit less for the low side. make sure the string sits nicely in the groove and that the cut falls away towards the back. Often I'll press on the wound string where it exits the nut to make them conform better off the nut (without kinking of course and on a properly cut nut) Also the low E saddle spring might need cutting if it needs to go back more....

    I mention some simple stuff in my last post to check. Someone else mentioned "flossing" the nut slots with strings to make sure they move freely-good idea after ensuring the nut is ok.


    Anyways perhaps more exact info could help. I assume, of course, that when you say the intonation was "way off" this is open/12th fret? All of them? One or two?
     
  10. train

    train Strat-Talker Silver Member

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    The manufactures don’t always sell good entry level guitars. They want you to move up . Other people will argue that’s it’s just the cost cutting part of it. I think they do it on purpose.lol
     
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2020
  11. CB91710

    CB91710 No GAS shortage here Double Platinum Supporting Member

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    This is usually my first thought when intonation seems to be a problem, but the pictures look like they aren't too high, unless maybe they're Texas Specials.

    One thing that concerns me is the low E spring is coil-bound... that saddle won't go any further back unless you clip some of the coils off of that spring.
     
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  12. CB91710

    CB91710 No GAS shortage here Double Platinum Supporting Member

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    Normally, this would be because the nut is cut too high, so you are stretching the strings sharper.
    Put a capo on the first fret, retune to F/Bb/Eb/Ab/C/F, and try your open chords again.
    If everything sounds good, then the problem is the nut height.... which should not have changed when you changed strings.

    I suppose it's possible that you put too much relief into the neck if you messed with the truss rod, but that would tend to pull sharp in the middle of the neck more than on open chords.

    Properly intonated, you should be able to play a D or A chord fingered at the 14th fret against open strings and it should be in tune.
    If you are getting that, but it is out of tune at the 2nd fret, it's the nut height.
     
  13. CB91710

    CB91710 No GAS shortage here Double Platinum Supporting Member

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    The thing that concerns me is the unpainted tremolo spring cavity.
    These guitars are CNC cut, finish sanded, defects filled with Bondo, then painted. No cutting of the wood is done after painting.

    What we can see of the rest of the parts looks legit, and Thomann is a reputable dealer. The only way you're going to get a fake from them is if you are buying something that is used, and they didn't catch it when they took it in.
    If you put the serial number into Fender's registration page, what does it show? (assuming you have access to it in Finland) https://start.fender.com/serial-number
     
  14. Guitarmageddon

    Guitarmageddon Dr. Stratster

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    Fender Mexico bodies with the pickup/cavity routes and tremolo route done AFTER finishing have been very common the last few years.....
     
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  15. CB91710

    CB91710 No GAS shortage here Double Platinum Supporting Member

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    And no shielding paint, or only in the pickup cavity?

    Wonder why they would do that... The only hard tails are a couple of the signature models, and aren't the pickup routes all H-S-H?
    I can see them doing that if a significant percentage of production were hardtail.
     
  16. rockon1

    rockon1 Senior Stratmaster Silver Member

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    Yeah but I doubt that has anything to do with his issue. Seriously my Squier Bullet is rock solid AND the trem works as well as any out there. Yes I added fender locking tuners but the bridge is stock and I would add them to any guitar I intended to use the trem on. (Not needed if the trem is decked ). Zero intonation or tuning issues.


     
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2020
  17. Guitarmageddon

    Guitarmageddon Dr. Stratster

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    Yeah, I've seen it on Classic Series 50s and 60s bodies.....'why' they do it I have no idea....
     
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  18. Collin D Plonker

    Collin D Plonker Strat-Talker

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    This thread's often repeated, and lots of people offer good advice, but it doesn't really help much. Truth is, there's no reason your strat should not be perfectly set up. That said, it takes practice to get it right, and you need the right tools.

    I would recommend if you want to learn, go online and watch some videos or read some good articles. Fender has a good one on its Web site. Do everything in order.

    Be aware you may need to buy tools, the most expensive being nut files. Don't buy cheap nut files.

    If it's beyond your comfort level or mechanical aptitude, take it to a tech and get it done.

    BTW, I didn't read the whole thread, but sharp on the first three frets is quite likely a nut issue. That said, it could be something else. That's why it takes practice and technical know how.
     
  19. train

    train Strat-Talker Silver Member

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    I totally agree . I have not seen many bad Japanese builds . But the manufactures have moved . Case in point evh Wolfgang special mij. We’re great at the price point moved to China still pretty good moved to Mexico and I’ve had to shim the neck . Route the pickup cavities . Cut the nut on the hi end on a brand new guitar . I agree ya gotta bond with the inst. or move on .
     
  20. Acme8

    Acme8 Strat-Talk Member

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    Wow, a lot of info here from you all, thank you very much for all of it! I will try out what I can of them later today.

    This is what I got with the serial number. What people here suspected earlier,based on the different bridge screws, was that this would have been a B-stock item from Thomann (it wasn't what I ordered), but Thomann did not admit to that.

    Screenshot_20200928-062548.jpg
     
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