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Stuck in intonation hell...

Discussion in 'DIY Strat Forum' started by velvet_man, May 18, 2017.

  1. Stratoskater

    Stratoskater Senior Stratmaster

    Feb 8, 2011
    Raleigh NC
    Man that is an epic quote!

  2. Chont

    Chont Senior Stratmaster

    Sep 25, 2012
    I don’t trust the tuner on either my Mustang amp nor my Blackstar. They do ok for a quick tune but sometimes they’ll say I’m in tune and still sound off. If I use my little Korg Tuner its way better. I would never use the built in amp tuners for Intonation. But that’s just me. Others may have done it with good results. Hope you get it sorted. I agree with others that you should invest in a good dedicated tuner. If you follow the steps in order you can do this and it will be a good skill for the future.

  3. Dick Blackmore

    Dick Blackmore Strat-O-Master

    Jan 10, 2017
    San Diego
    Warbling is usually a sign that the pickups are too close to the strings. good call fezz

  4. fezz parka

    fezz parka The Wiggler of Sticks Strat-Talk Supporter

    Or such a high gauss that a low setup will not be possible. Lots of modern pickups are overcharged IMO. Yes, they're louder and hotter, but at what expense?
    I'd be curious to see if this happens with 9's, or even lighter. :D
    simoncroft likes this.

  5. simoncroft

    simoncroft Dr. Stratster Strat-Talk Supporter

    May 30, 2013
    SE England
    The other factor you might like to consider is that, far from your tuner not being accurate enough, it's maybe measuring pitch to scientific levels your ears aren't bothered about. I know that the tuner in Logic Pro is so sensitive, it detects if I even touch the tuner key of the string I'm adjusting, and with floating bridge guitars, it shows a lot of deviation that goes sharp on the initial strike, then settles down, with plenty of oscillation between the two states.

    I'm fussy about intonation, but not so fussy I'm going to let a meter readout tell me what I'm hearing.
    Textele likes this.

  6. Stevem

    Stevem Strat-O-Master

    Sep 3, 2014
    I have never met a Fender axe of any type that did not need a Earvana nut to get things 100% dead on!

  7. velvet_man

    velvet_man Strat-Talker

    Sep 7, 2016
    Thanks for all of the feedback! I played around with it some more last night, but I switched tuners. I couldn't go out and buy a proper tuner because all the places were closed, so I tried a tuner app on my phone. It had a "professional accuracy" mode that is supposedly accurate to +/- 1 cent. It seemed to work better, and I managed to get the intonation sounding pretty good. What's a good, not too expensive tuner for this purpose? I tried googling it, and everyone suggests Peterson strobe tuners, but that's more money than I'd want to spend on a tuner.

    I still have that annoying warbling sound, though. And yes, I can hear it through the amp. It's most prominent on the low E and G now, but it's still there on the A and D, too. I decked all the pickups and it's still there. I should note that I can't completely deck my bridge pickup. This guitar was MIJ and originally had shallow routing since it had a smaller switch and pots. I upgraded it with CTS pots and a CLS switch along with the new pickups, and all of this stuff just barely squeezed into the small space. That combined with the really thick four-lead wire on the rail pickups doesn't leave any room under the bridge pup to lower it all the way. But this pickup is still only 3-4 mm above the pickguard, so it's pretty low.

    As for the action,when I capo over the 1st fret and measure action at the 12th, I get E,D,G,B=4/64", A=4.5/64", e=3.5/64". When I take off the capo and measure action at the 1st, I get E-B=2.5/64", e=a hair under 2/64". Should the action be higher, or do I have to switch to a lighter string gauge. I have extra sets of 10-46s kicking around, but I just put these 11s on and don't want to waste them.

    And, @Ebidis I rolled up some paper towel and fed it through the springs. I'm not sure what effect this had, though it could be why the A and D warble is much less pronounced now. I also made sure the ceiling fan was turned off! That said, I just realized there's a computer fairly close to my amp, and it has 3 or 4 small fans running all the time... I'll have to move my setup and try again, just to be sure.
    Last edited: May 19, 2017

  8. fezz parka

    fezz parka The Wiggler of Sticks Strat-Talk Supporter

    Bridge pickup isn't as sensitive to Stratitis as the middle and neck are. Get your neck pickup as low as it can go without falling into the rout. Do the same with the middle.
    Your action is a bit low for my tastes. Raise it a bit and see what happens.
    Last edited: May 19, 2017

  9. velvet_man

    velvet_man Strat-Talker

    Sep 7, 2016
    When I got the guitar set up, the guy asked me if I wanted standard strat action. I asked if he could do it a little lower than standard since I was used to low action. He said he would, but that was with 10s. Did putting 11s on essentially lower the action even more? From what I've read on this forum, though, I think I'd be more open to trying higher action now. I've long since given up on becoming a shredder. What is considered standard strat action?

  10. fezz parka

    fezz parka The Wiggler of Sticks Strat-Talk Supporter

    Standard is a myth. Go with what is comfortable for you. Not so low as to cause problems, not so high as to be uncomfortable, not so high as to cause the fretted note to go sharp.
    Ebidis, Chont and CigBurn like this.

  11. sumran

    sumran Fan of Leo

    Mar 7, 2010
    Gainesville, FL
    Peterson makes a clip on version of the strobe tuner that is much cheaper. It works very well. It is still expensive relative to other tuners. Snark makes a more accurate version than their standard model. More reasonable in cost than the Peterson clip on and accurate enough for your purpose.
    velvet_man likes this.

  12. Chont

    Chont Senior Stratmaster

    Sep 25, 2012
    Peterson also makes a strobe app i found today for 10 bucks. I wonder how accurate it is.

  13. velvet_man

    velvet_man Strat-Talker

    Sep 7, 2016
    I raised the action to about 6/64" on the low E side to 5/64" on the high E. I even found a printable radius gauge and made one out of cardboard to make sure the saddles stayed roughly aligned with the neck curve. The warbling sound is gone on all strings now. I was able to raise the middle pickup slightly off the deck, but the neck pickup is still decked. Looks silly, but it's apparently necessary. I thought humbuckers could be closer to the strings that singles, or does that not apply to the single-sized rail buckers?

    I don't mind the higher action, though. I actually find it makes doing the big David Gilmour bends easier. I was about to post another thread asking how to do those bends on a 7.25 radius without sounding the string above, but that's not tripping me up anymore with the higher action. So it's a win all around! Thanks for all the help, everyone!

  14. fezz parka

    fezz parka The Wiggler of Sticks Strat-Talk Supporter

    Boom! :D
    velvet_man likes this.

  15. STK66

    STK66 Strat-Talk Member

    Feb 18, 2017
    String size does affect intonation, on your guitar there is but one problem, due to changed pull, caused by the tension of the higher gauge strings, those strings need more tension in order to reach the same pitch as thinner strings!
    It's a difference of several pounds!
    Adjust your trussrod, using the procedures widely described on several youtube video and you will see you got rid of those wolf tones soon!

  16. Newstratbuilder

    Newstratbuilder Strat-Talker

    Oct 30, 2016
    far east texas
    I bought a Sonic Research Turbo Tuner ST-300 on Reverb brand new for $129.99 shipped to my front door 2 months ago,and very accurate,but might be a little more than what you want to spend on a tuner.I am glad I bought one!
    velvet_man likes this.