Solving low string intonation

Discussion in 'Sevenstring Guitars' started by Doug Craft, May 5, 2021.

  1. Doug Craft

    Doug Craft The Squirminator

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    Hi guys and gals! I like to be able to play my practice exercises above the 12th fret, so intonation is an issue for me. I usually string with a 0.010-0.059 "lite" set, but I was having difficulty on my EBMM Majesty getting the B string to intonate properly. So, I decided to try getting a bigger B string. I installed a 0.064 and was able to get the low string to sound good.

    I did have to adjust the trem springs a bit to account for the greater tension, but it worked.

    Anybody else have to do this?
     
  2. nickgray

    nickgray SS.org Regular

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    That's quite normal :lol: String sets always suck anyway, I think it's mostly due to that idiotic Imperial system with its 69s 4 thousands of a 32nd of a quarter ankle weirdness. Someone at some point decided to measure strings in 1/1000 of an inch, and now the common gauges for the 1st string are 0.009, 0.010 and 0.011. The problem is that the tension difference is pretty significant between those three. But the sets are basically balanced for this 0.001 difference because that's the smallest unit of measurement. Sure, you can find 0.0095 strings and such that are halfway, but they're an oddity really, so unless you luck out and your specific brand and type of strings have those "in-between" plains - you're screwed.

    Another crap thing is that for the wounds, someone bright decided that 0.010 difference between consecutive strings is the way to go. So you know, for a 10-46 set we get 26, 36, 46 wounds. The problem is that with low tunings it seems that at a certain point gauge/tension ratio stops behaving linearly, and you need "progressively" more tension the lower you go. Already, 46 for a low E is floppier than 36 and 26 for the A and the D strings. 56 for a low B is a noodle. 59 is just barely-barely enough, imo. I use a 62 string myself. Ideally, for 10-46 for E standard, the D and G strings should have a wee bit less tension, and 46 should be 48, maybe 49. The low B should be 62 or 63. But I reckon that's just a lost battle.
     
  3. TrevorT

    TrevorT SS.org Regular

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    I use a 52 for the low B so...... Agree to disagree? lol

    Maybe my experience has been different from other people's, but I generally find that heavier strings are tougher to intonate properly. I'm using a 52 gauge for the low B now and it's intonation is much better than the 64 gauge I used to use.
     
  4. nickgray

    nickgray SS.org Regular

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    You must be using feathers instead of picks :lol:
     
  5. MaxOfMetal

    MaxOfMetal Likes trem wankery. Super Moderator

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    Same, though I usually use a 54. Thinner is best...if you have the picking chops for it.
     
  6. TrevorT

    TrevorT SS.org Regular

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    Hah, I actually use 2mm Flows! I think I just instinctively pick lightly on the lower strings.

    Regarding the intonation question, I had always thought lighter strings were better for intonation as they behave closer to "ideal" strings since ideal strings are massless. This also makes sense intuitively if you look at the saddle positions of a properly intonated guitar (i.e. thicker strings requiring the saddle to be set further back).
     
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  7. nickgray

    nickgray SS.org Regular

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    Haha, I use Flows as well, but 0.73mm. I can be pretty heavy handed, so the heavier gauge and a thinner pick (it's quite rigid despite being so thin though) really help.
     
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  8. Emperoff

    Emperoff Not using 5150s Contributor

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    String gauge is very dependent of the pick used, picking technique, gear, amount of gain used... People with a lighter touch can get away with lighter gauges.

    I like to slam the strings so 059 in the low B is my bare minimum, and I don't go thicker because it's a pain in the ass to find spares.

    Jeff Loomis used 080's for tracking DHIADW tuned to Bb. Now that's massive :lol:
     
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  9. Doug Craft

    Doug Craft The Squirminator

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    I am curious - what is your scale length? I find that on my longer scale 7str instruments with 26.5" or 27" that I have fewer problems with intonation. My Majesty is 25.5... no problems with my Jackson 7s.
     
  10. TrevorT

    TrevorT SS.org Regular

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    I have two 7-string RGs. Both of them are 25.5" scale and tuned to B standard with 9-52 gauge. I don't have much experience with longer scale 7s (I've played a few but never owned any), but naively I would think that it makes sense for intonation to be a bit easier in general with a longer scale, although not exactly sure how much a difference 1" would make. Maybe in your case it could just be a quirk of that specific guitar?
     
  11. Matt08642

    Matt08642 SS.org Regular

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    "Thinner is best...if you have the picking chops for it."

    Meanwhile everyone here wondering why their 74 in B on a 30" scale is still "out of tune":

    [​IMG]
     
  12. ixlramp

    ixlramp SS.org Regular

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    My guess is that the larger gauge seemed to intonate better because the smaller gauge string had less stable pitch due to its low tension. So, if you picked it gently enough, with careful fretting pressure, the smaller gauge would intonate better, because inherently they do.
    Yes. Smaller gauges inherently intonate better as they are more flexible, if you can get around the problems caused by low tension. So it is a case of finding an optimum balance between the problems.
    Yes. For a particular gauge, a longer scale effectively makes the string 'thinner' relative to its length, so it is more flexible and intonates better.
     
  13. Rev2010

    Rev2010 Contributor

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    Thicker strings require more string length to intonate properly so you did the opposite of what you were trying to achieve. That said, you should be able to get a 25.5" scale guitar to intonate correctly with the usual string gauges at B standard so long as the bridge allows the saddle to be pushed back enough. Hipshot makes a special shorter saddle for the lowest string to give that little bit extra string length https://hipshotproducts.com/products/stainless-steel-guitar-saddle?variant=43378899912 Used to have to use that on my 26.5" 8-string but now I have a 27" scale 8-string so it's not needed. I use 26.5" scale for my 7's as I tune down to A standard so I need the extra length for perfect intonation that I just can't get at 25.5" scale in A. Your string action will also affect intontation as the higher the string the more pull on the string when you fret it.
     
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  14. Doug Craft

    Doug Craft The Squirminator

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    Thanks for the information everyone!
     
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  15. Jonathan20022

    Jonathan20022 Engineer

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    Also something to bear in mind with JP's and just about any ERG out there. When you're using gauges like these, you need to help guide them onto the saddle, there's no reason your 59 shouldn't have intonated to B well. But a 64 is a lot tighter, so that probably pushed the string onto the saddle more securely especially with your other adjustments.

    I just tuned my 7 string multiscale with a low 64 (25.5 - 27) to Drop F# and now between that and Monument's F# 7 string tuning. I haven't played in low tunings with gauges like that in so long that I just forgot to help it over the saddle, it wouldn't intonate at all and I realized why before I thankfully cranked anything.

    I'm a light string player in general, but only in downtuning cases. I prefer 10 - 46's in E Standard and hate using 9's unless I'm playing on an extended scale length. Right now I have these gauges for their respective tunings:

    - 6 String -
    10 - 46 E Standard/Drop D (25.5)
    10 - 49 Eb Standard (25.5)
    10 - 52 D Standard/Drop C (25.5)
    11 - 52 C# Standard/Drop B (25.5 - 27.5)
    11 - 56 C Standard/Drop A# (25.5 - 27.5)

    - 7 String -
    09 - 56 B Standard (26.5)
    10 - 60 Drop A (25.5)
    11 - 49 + 64 - Drop F#/Drop G (25.5 - 27)

    The most imbalanced set there is my D Standard set honestly and maybe the C Standard set, but the top strings are totally tolerable. I may have to up the C Standard's top 3 to 12 - 17 - 22 but I honestly rarely ever tune that guitar down an extra half step unless I'm learning a riff from a band in those tunings.
     
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  16. CanserDYI

    CanserDYI SS.org Regular

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    I've been using an evertune 7 and while i find it does help the intonation, man it is a dead sounding guitar and it bums me out.
     
  17. jruivo26

    jruivo26 SS.org Regular

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    I've had this issue as soon as I bought my first 7 string (Ibanez RG7620). The low B always seemed floppy and I couldn't intonate it.

    I started experimenting with different string sets and ended up settling on the Ernie Ball Cobalt 10-62. Sounds and feels amazing.
     
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