Intonation Issue...

Discussion in 'Beginners/FAQ' started by FILTHnFEAR, Nov 22, 2019.

  1. FILTHnFEAR

    FILTHnFEAR Dread it, run from it....

    Messages:
    2,011
    Likes Received:
    242
    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2012
    Location:
    Naptown
    Bought a new set of the exact brand and gauge of strings that are were on my 1527, La Bella HRS 9-64's.

    And I cannot get the low B to intonate. Adjusted the saddle 6 or 7 times and it's just way off no matter how I adjust it forward or backward.

    Could it be a bad string? I've never had an issue intonating this guitar in the several years I've owned it, and never had a string sound this off after several adjustments.

    Any ideas?
     
  2. ixlramp

    ixlramp SS.org Regular

    Messages:
    2,610
    Likes Received:
    1,328
    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2007
    Location:
    UK
    Intonate. Then set the witness points. Then intonate again, here is an accurate method:

    Use a tuner to tune the open string.
    Then use the tuner to check pitch of fret 1 (to check it is in tune with the nut) and several frets up to the highest played fret. Every 4th fret is probably enough.

    Do not use the commonly stated 'harmonic / 12th fret' method, it is inaccurate and prone to error.
     
  3. Adieu

    Adieu SS.org Regular

    Messages:
    989
    Likes Received:
    728
    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2010
    Location:
    Moscow
    If your new identical string sorely needs intonation adjustments vs. its predecessor.... yeah, something is iffy
     
  4. c7spheres

    c7spheres GuitArtist

    Messages:
    2,096
    Likes Received:
    1,776
    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2017
    Location:
    Arizona
    If you didn't change anythign but put a new string on it then probably something wrong with the string. I've gotten a few dud's of the years where they either break right away, won't stay in tune due to weak tensil strength, or sound weird and wobbly due to it not being evenly wound or thinner at some part of it. Same goes for buzzing strings that don't stop buzzing witout major adjustments. It's rare but happens.
     
    FILTHnFEAR likes this.
  5. MaxOfMetal

    MaxOfMetal Likes trem wankery. Super Moderator

    Messages:
    34,124
    Likes Received:
    19,176
    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2008
    Location:
    Racine, WI
    Always make sure the string is well stretched and settled before checking/adjusting intonation.

    What tuner are you using?

    Be sure that the saddle is clean too, and the string is well seated.
     
  6. FILTHnFEAR

    FILTHnFEAR Dread it, run from it....

    Messages:
    2,011
    Likes Received:
    242
    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2012
    Location:
    Naptown
    Stretched the strings out really well. Saddle is clean, string seated. Using my TU-3.

    I put the new strings on a couple days ago, sat and tried it again last night. Still terribly off. Waiting for a new set to come in.

    Thanks for the help everyone.
     
  7. NoodleFace

    NoodleFace Delicious Noodles

    Messages:
    588
    Likes Received:
    354
    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2007
    Location:
    Somerset, MA
    Friend had a bad experience with la Bella similar to this
     
    gienek likes this.
  8. MaxOfMetal

    MaxOfMetal Likes trem wankery. Super Moderator

    Messages:
    34,124
    Likes Received:
    19,176
    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2008
    Location:
    Racine, WI
    This definitely makes a string defect issue look more likely.
     
  9. Tuned

    Tuned SS.org Regular

    Messages:
    434
    Likes Received:
    62
    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2013
    Location:
    Europe
    Iterestingly this came up now, as I just spent an evening last night to set the intonation on my 7-string with a FR. As a result, I managed to get 2-3 cents tolerance per string (I heard from a pro piano tuner 5 cents are fine), but they are terribly off when in octaves or in a large chord

    new strings: as usual, Ernie Ball 'Petrucci set' Regular Slinky 10-46,56. That said, I did have issues with these before. I bought a sixpack from the US and as I was restringing through the packs, the intonation was all over, especially on the low B
    tuner: in-built Kemper, strobe type
    procedure: restring, tune, let sit to stretch (I was busy so it stayed for a few days) with toplocks unlocked. Bridgeplate check with a metal ruler, almost flush with the body, just a smallest bit of bow toward the neck (as some recommend). Neck relieve: ok. Then action: a bit high, like 1,8 mm on the low E but fine with my heavy picking.

    What's the idea behind setting the intonation from frets 1-4? I thought with saddles actually intonate from exactly the opposite side of the string scale
     
  10. MaxOfMetal

    MaxOfMetal Likes trem wankery. Super Moderator

    Messages:
    34,124
    Likes Received:
    19,176
    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2008
    Location:
    Racine, WI
    There are a few different ways to set intonation, the 12th fret/harmonic method has sort of become the default over the years, and it works well enough.

    I've found setting the 5th and 17th frets to work best for myself. It's the same method recommended by Peterson Strobe.

    I believe the method @ixlramp is referring to is the basis for the Buzz Feiten Tuning System, which is meant to compensate at the nut, which also works very well.
     
    Tuned likes this.
  11. NoodleFace

    NoodleFace Delicious Noodles

    Messages:
    588
    Likes Received:
    354
    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2007
    Location:
    Somerset, MA
    There's a dude here I argued with extensively that was arguing you should Intonate to your most used frets. I tried to argue that while 12th fret isn't without it's problems, it is the most common agreed way.
     
    c7spheres likes this.
  12. MaxOfMetal

    MaxOfMetal Likes trem wankery. Super Moderator

    Messages:
    34,124
    Likes Received:
    19,176
    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2008
    Location:
    Racine, WI
    Maybe that was me? :lol:

    The 12th fret is the most common, but that's mainly from it being parroted over and over as a secondary source, not because it's objectively easier or better or that there is some sort of consensus among professionals.

    In the end, use what's most convenient for yourself, but I'd recommend trying some of the other methods and see if it works better for you.
     
    Cyn__Theia and c7spheres like this.
  13. NoodleFace

    NoodleFace Delicious Noodles

    Messages:
    588
    Likes Received:
    354
    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2007
    Location:
    Somerset, MA
    It was another guy, I'd not forget arguing with you :p
     
  14. c7spheres

    c7spheres GuitArtist

    Messages:
    2,096
    Likes Received:
    1,776
    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2017
    Location:
    Arizona
    I have a pretty long thing I typed up about intonation if anyone is interested. It's not so much a how to but some things to look at and keep in mind when thinking about intonation and tuning.
    - I hesitate to post it because it's like 14k characters or 2 long posts and I don't want to hijack thread unless anyone is interested. I don't think it deserves it's own thread though and feel like it leeches on to this one pretty well because it has to do with intonation and isn't ancient.
    - If anyone's interested let me know and I'll post it up.
     
    FILTHnFEAR likes this.
  15. Walter W.

    Walter W. SS.org Regular

    Messages:
    130
    Likes Received:
    153
    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2019
    Location:
    Macon, Ga
    I'd like to read it
     
    c7spheres likes this.
  16. c7spheres

    c7spheres GuitArtist

    Messages:
    2,096
    Likes Received:
    1,776
    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2017
    Location:
    Arizona
    pt 1 of 2

    Sorry in advance for the long novel. Sorry to hijack thread. Figured I'd put some info here rather than another new thread.

    ~ I'm sure many people already know this stuff, but for anyone who may not, here's some of my thoughts on intonation and tuning:

    - A lot of the different methods people use might work best in their experience, but it really has to do with a combination of the specific guitar AND how the person likes their guitar to be setup (action, string guage, tension etc). Sometimes there are ways to sweeten intonation if you play in one area of the neck all the time too (like always in the lower frets), but generally, uniform intonation is prefered.
    -- If a person likes low action and thinner gauges it's usually more user freindly to dial in tighter intonation because there is smaller distances to work with from string to fret, but buzzing can sometimes become an issue. Certainly easier to play lower action too (legato especially)
    --- A major factor also is if the guitar was actually made properly to begin with. Assuming the guitar is made properly, the action is as low as possible, and there is zero neck warp, the 12th fret method should work fine, technically, but many guitars have commonly overlooked issues.
    --- Factors like nut height, neck angle, fret height and width, and saddle adjustability are huge factors, in practical terms. Sometimes a saddle will not go back far enough, or raise or lower enough. Often the nut is to high causing notes to pull sharp in the lower frets. Larger fret height and width requires less fret hand pressure to stay intonated. Pushing to hard will cause the note to go sharp. More precise/consistant playing pressure is needed with larger frets. This may or may not be a noticeable thing.
    --- Depending where you place the finger between the frets also changes intonation. Placing it to far back will make the note go sharp, placing right next to the fret will be more accurate, but is not always possible or ideal depending on what you're playing, especially with chords. Usually fingers are somewhere in between, but still not perfectly in the middle either.
    --- Neck angle must also be taken into account. If the neck angle is to little then there will be to much space between the string and high frets causing the higher frets to be farther out of intonation as well. To much neck angle, and notes can choke out and not be playable. Adjusting saddle height can only compensate so much for this and also may result in action you don't want to use. This is one reason why I personally prefer bolt-necks, because neck-thru and set-neck guitars don't have easy neck angle adjustment through the use of shims. With shims you can get the angle exactly how you want it. There are obviously plenty of well setup neck-thru guitars though, but for me, it's not always physically possible to get what I'm looking for on a neck-thru or set neck, usually, and I like that extra point of adjustment being available if needed.
    -- Knowing the type of styles and chords and how a person usually plays on the specific guitar will allow even more fine adjustment. For example, wether someone plays really heavy rhythm guitar with lots of pressure and is almost always down in the lower frets, or plays low pressure and classical guitar with lots of inverted or complex chords/intervals, or if the guitar is specifically setup for lead playing and chords are rarely played on it compared to single notes, then this can all help to hone in on what is best for that instrument/person. Does the person bend a lot or play very fast? This can affect the tension put on a string to give more or less favoring to speed or bending etc., because a string can be tuned to the same note but still have a differnt feeling tension. The tension can be diverted to different areas of the guitar, like the string itself, the fine tuners or springs on a trem guitar, the string tree, truss rod etc. This balance of tension results in the same notes but different tensions on different locations of the string, just as a differnt guage of string will tune to the same note but feel different too (like slinky vs heavy strings). Some guitars are better at this diversion of tension more than others. Floyd type guitars do it best.
    -- People should learn how to adjust all this stuff and setup their guitars themselves as well. Everyone plays different. Fret hand pressure and where between the frets we play are huge factors. This varys from string to string and fret to fret and what is being played. It takes time to know what the happy medium for your particular style is. There isn't one perfect answer, but if you look at the frets on something like a true temperment system you can see what they came up with over the years and I'd say by the looks of it they understand it pretty well. For example you can tell they adjust the low strings fret more forward because on the low strings you almost always want to play as close to the fret as possible or it will go sharp in comparison to the other strings intonation. This is the basic principal and the same holds true for other strings and frets too.
    - If the person who actually is going to be playing the guitar also is who sets it up, then they can custom tailor it perfectly to how they play and how much median pressure they use while fretting. I find this a very important point. Adjusting to your own personal median pressure (how hard you normally push on the fret) goes a long way and takes a bit of getting use to knowing it. I personally find it is the pressure of just my hands weight resting on the fretboard without thinking about it. When you think about it then it's usually to hard or soft on the pressure. Apparently thoughts have weight too. It's how you normally play at all times for almost everything you play.
     
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2019
    CM_X5, FILTHnFEAR and Walter W. like this.
  17. c7spheres

    c7spheres GuitArtist

    Messages:
    2,096
    Likes Received:
    1,776
    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2017
    Location:
    Arizona
    pt 2 of 2

    -- I think it's important to note that there is a difference between techinically correct and practically correct intonation and tuning. I've never heard the term practical intonation or tuning used before, but it's the term I use. I guess I'll coin it. What people will find is that because of the aformentioned issues of hand pressure, action, setup etc, that although they may get the guitar to a point where everything is techincally correct and registering perfect on a tuner that it doesn't always sound good in reality for certain things. It's not practical. It might sound good for some stuff but not for others. - Practical intonation and tuning is trying to make everthing as acceptable as possible for how it actually sounds realted to how you actually play,- because we're not robots and don't play perfect all of the time and we don't hear perfectly either. We get into it and move around, might play hard etc. This takes time to find this medium and comes over time and with experimentation.
    -- After you find this spot you'll notice other things that are odd, like once you get the intonation all good it then becomes a practical tuning method issue. You'll have the intonation you want by this time and discover that you actually like your guitar slightly out of tune. This is an adjustment for a few things; how hard you play(pressure) and the instrument itself (whether standing, sitting, leaning back, forward, etc.) Similar to what Peterson tuners came up with regarding sweetened tunings for when James Taylor used his capo and how it pulled everything sharp. They put offsets into the tuner to compensate for this (recalibration). Some of their tuners offer you the ability to enter your own custom offsets, but the reality is that you can do this already with most tuners, manually. The difference is so slight that one string might show perfectly in tune at 440hz and another at 437 another at 444 etc, once you find your special sweetened tuning. It's almost like this use to be a thing and everyone forgot about it.
    -- You may have or may not have noticed before that if you tune your guitar with it laying flat on a bench then pick it up to play it, then it might be slightly out of tune (especially with tremolo spring equipped guitars). This is due to the weight of the bridge, springs, and gravity. What makes it worse is it's not dispersed evenly across all strings either. Some will be in tune some will not after checking again on the tuner. Then if you stand up it might even change again as opposed to sitting down, depending how you stand with it. This is the same thing, gravity and angle of guitar etc. Leaning forward or laying back can change it too sometimes. This may not happen on all guitars, but I've noticed it on most I've owned, especially the floating tremolo bridge guitars. So what you do to resolve this is play your guitar however you like (sitting, standing etc) in your standard issue rock star pose, get everything how you want it to sound with chord inversions, intonation, tuning etc. and then take off the guitar and lay it flat on the table again. Now with it laying flat on the table the guitar is stable. Check it on the tuner now and it will be all offset from the zero position on some or all strings. Mark all these offsets down on paper and next time you tune your guitar or do a setup you can lay it flat and get it perfect again for when you pick it up. You can also mark the offsets for what they look like when you are standing or sitting as well, but that's only for quick stuff, not for setups. Always do the laydown method for setups because of the stability. You can mark how many cents the tuning is off or you can adjust the calibration meter to 4??-hz until it goes in to the center dot of the tuner. So in reality certain strings will be at different HZ to show center on the tuner. This is basically what a sweetened tuning is. It's just an alternate method to try to tighten things up and make them predictable. When you stand back up then you tune to what it looks like when standing and sounding good. So the only difference is what is displayed on the tuner because of the guitars position. My guitar looks basically all around centered on the tuner when I stand up normal and when it lays flat is something like +10,+10,+10,+6,+6,+8,-2 cent's. but it's all at zero and sounds and intonates great when I stand up. Weird stuff. btw, don't use these numbers, they will be different for each guitar.
    -- Even though most guitars aren't perfect, usually the 12th fret method can be used, and it gets intonation close enough for most people. Nowadays, most guitars are built pretty well and within a close enough tolerance that imperfections aren't that big a deal.
    - For those who do notice it can be annoying and trigger intonation OCD. For this the tolerances must be tightened and this can be done by using the alternate methods such as the 5th and 17th method mentioned above as suggested by Peterson, or the 24th fret method as used by guys like Rich at Ibanez Rules. They all have legitimate points, but which is best for you? It honestly, imo, comes down to learning how to do it, experimenting with different options and learning how to assess which is best for what you want compared to the guitar you're working with. There is no one size fits all method really. Only a generally adopted method, the 12th fret method, beacuse if everything else on the guitar is set right and you're a low action guy it works great. Even then you need to decide where to put your finger on the 12th fret when comparing to the harmonic. Roll it forward near the fret and the pitch dives, roll it back and it rises, put it in the middle and it's so sensitve everything will be slightly out. I believe that practical intonation and practical tuning are best. I think it's what people subconsiously do anyways when tuning their guitar by ear offsetting things to sound good. I use combinations of everything and make sure my open chords, low strings, power chords, string skipped inverted 4ths, 3rds, standard, inverted and string skipped octaves up and down the neck are all balanced out and sound good on a distortion channel, which really brings out any flaws or beating in off sounding intervals. Once these are balanced pretty much everything sounds good regarless of where or what you play. There will always be some variance in the tolerance here, but this leaves it basically and literally in your hands. Your instrument then becomes pressure sensitive and really expressive if you work with it.
    - Other things to keep in mind are setting witness points and string stretching. To set witness points doesn't take much other than smoothing over or rounding over the string at the nut and saddle. Stretching should not be over done. I stretch several times throughout the tuning process and keep repeating the procecsses until everything settles. Do not over stretch the strings or witness points, that can lead to thinned out parts of the string and cause bad intonation or wobbly sounding notes. I tune up, smooth over the witness points, retune, stretch the string by lightly pulling it taut from the 12th fret straight up then back and forth a bit while tuat. Retune, go to next string repeat etc. After going through all the strings several times (sometimes dozens), readjusting small turns for spring tension, fine tuners etc. eventually everything settles and then the guitar doesn't go out of tune for weeks or months on end, even after heavy playing. Only a couple cents if anything here and there.
    - I think guitar setup is an art and like art everyone has their method. It's totally worth getting good at it for setting up your own instruments alone. It will drive you crazy for awhile until you get good at it, and even then some guitars are very tempermental. When I setup a new guitar or a freinds guitar for the first time I tell them this is a process and to get the guitar perfect can take several days, weeks or even string changes and fine adjustment periods before it's really dialed in and perfect, but it's worth it and they're always happy. I call this process "breaking the guitars will". Some guitars are easier than others.
    - I hope this helps anyone interested and to anyone who already knows this stuff maybe you picked up something too. If not sorry for the long novel on this.
     
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2019
  18. FILTHnFEAR

    FILTHnFEAR Dread it, run from it....

    Messages:
    2,011
    Likes Received:
    242
    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2012
    Location:
    Naptown
    @c7spheres Thanks for posting, i'll have a read after work.
     
    c7spheres likes this.
  19. Cyn__Theia

    Cyn__Theia They freak you out

    Messages:
    152
    Likes Received:
    6
    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2014
    Location:
    Indianapolis, IN
    I've had the very same issue with the exact set concerning the exact string (.64) on my 25.5" 7 string tuned in Drop A#. It's not just the one set, or the company, either. It's every low string I've ever tried to get to intonate properly on the guitar, ranging from every LaBella set I've owned to other brands as well when I've gone outside my default. The most recent set I put on was a D'Addario XL .11-.64 set though, the first set different than the LaBella .09-.64 that I've used in about 3 or 4 years; the low string incorrect/sharp intonation is still there with full distance on my bridge. I tune the string slightly flat in attempt to compensate for this.

    I'm going to try a few of the different methods mentioned in this thread as I've only been using 12th fret, 12th fret harmonics, and open-playing-attack as a means to try to get the lowest string to have better intonation, as well as go through the posts made by c7spheres.
     
    c7spheres likes this.

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.