Perfect Intonation but still Out of Tune

Discussion in 'Tonefreaks' started by GibsonSlash, Mar 3, 2009.

  1. GibsonSlash

    GibsonSlash Senior Member

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    Sounds weird, but that's what happens to both my guitars.
    I used a KORG tuner to intonate them, and I tried 2 ways to intonate them.

    First is to compare between open string and 12 fretted.
    Second is to compare between harmonic 12 and 12 fretted.

    They both give the same result.
    Here is the result:
    All strings but string 1 (High E) are in tuned to each other, meaning if I fret string 6 on first fret (F), it will tune with fretted string 4 on third fret (F), and so on.

    But when I fret string 3 on fret 5 (C), and I fret string 1 on fret 8 (C), they will be out-of-tuned. It will get worse for frets after 12. You'll hear it very clearly.

    When I pick harmonic string 2 on fret 5 and compare it with harmonic string 1 on fret 7, they're in perfect tune or when I strum both open string 1 and 2, they harmonized perfectly.

    I wish I could get advices or answers from MLP.

    Thank you
    GS
     
  2. BCRGreg

    BCRGreg V.I.P. Member

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    Your nut slots are probably too high, and your action could probably be lowered. As you fret the guitar, you technically bend the string away from straight. The more than you deflect, the worse you go out of tune.
     
  3. GibsonSlash

    GibsonSlash Senior Member

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    Thanks for the explanation, Greg.
    What would be the best solution other than changing the nuts on both guitars?
     
  4. fudd

    fudd Member

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    Wow this is strange because I've been messing around with the same thing :hmm:. I am using Gibson reissue strings and a Korg CA30 tuner.

    I tried to elimate things one at a time starting with string slippage, string binding in the nut then letting loose, and made sure that the strings were all seating good in the saddles.

    I didn't find a problem with any of these but here is what I did find. Have your tuner hooked up and tune the low E string dead nuts perfect. Now fret a G (3rd fret) on the low E string. Watch your tuner.

    I found out that no matter how sure I was, I was still bending the string :wow:. I messed around with a capo and intonation was perfect. What makes this more of an issue is that I also play an HD28 martin acoustic ALOT. Makes unintentional string bending on an electric even more prone to happen.

    At this point I remembered an interview that I heard Warren Haynes do.
    He was talking about how no guitar is ever perfectly in tune. He was stressing how important it is to develope a good ear and make adjustments as needed by slight bends and such. Might sound like bullshit but it made sense to me.

    I learned that trying to get perfect intonation across the board can drive you fuckin nuts real quick(short trip for me). This may sound like a bunch of BS to you but this has been my experience.

    Fudd
     
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  5. HogmanA

    HogmanA Senior Member

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    I have found exactly the same thing with my current les paul. used to drive me crazy until I realised that guitars arent perfect and gibsons can be worse than others (because of the large frets - I read in a luthier book).

    My previous les paul wasnt as bad, but then it was less expressive, and I'd rather live with a more expressive guitar thats a pain than the other way around.
    For me, its not a case of setting the guitar up perfect and thats it.
    Its constantly tweaked, action, intonation and pup height, depending on what I'm doing. to a lesser degree neck relief.

    It means there are certain chord voicings I'll avoid on that guitar, I have to bend strings into tune (even with chords), and I never set it up with a tuner, I think intonation is best done by ear - you know when it sounds right.

    and I've learned what compromises i want and where on the fretboard for any particular thing.


    I've found that neck relief plays a pretty big part of how the guitar will sound, even if it appears to be well intonated, it can just sound off. For me, typically with distortion, even a power chord just has a sound of 'offness' to it, even though the notes themselves (and just two of them!) are perfectly in tune. (in fact, even the tone of single notes too)
    I think Luthiers practice a 'dark art' to some degree.

    This whole issue is why I think LPs arent particularly easy guitars to play and really master. I have heard more players play an Lp where the player is the guitars 'bitch', when it should be the other way around, than on any other guitar.

    I think there is a price to pay for the sound we love.

    (bad backs/shoulders - intonation - envy - jealousy - fear - price - forgetting its a musical instrument - hunger - being stereotyped, etc)
     
  6. b-squared

    b-squared Banned

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    You might try a "tempered" tuning. On my Strobostomp it has a setting for it.

    Because of the scale of the guitar, it's mathmatically out of whack for the western scale. You could have the intonation perfect, and the guitar in-tune, but certain chords will always be out of tune.

    The tempered tuning takes this into consideration, and corrects the error.

    Eric Johnson would often tune the high 3 strings just a tad sharp, and the 3 low strings just a tad flat. By a "tad" I mean a hair off. This makes the guitar sound a bit better, and it blends with other instruments much better.

    Best bet--get a strobostomp tuner. I'd try that before taking all my guitars in to get nut work done.

    [Edit] I just found a neat link that describes the problem, and an easy way to tune to fix it--try this out. http://timberens.com/essays/tuning.htm

    BB
     
  7. jonesy

    jonesy GLOBAL WIRING GURU MLP Vendor

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    Try getting your action as low as possible and make sure your neck does not have excessive bow, that will through off intonation as well. I like to get my necks as flat as I can with just minimum amount of bow needed and found it makes intonation better.

    If that still does not help, you could try increasing the string length by moving the saddles back a little further(Tempering), even if it reads just a little flat on your Tuner. Better a little bit flat than too sharp IMO that should also help to correct what your string pull is causing as well?
     
  8. Classicplayer

    Classicplayer Senior Member

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    GibsonSlash,

    Here is a method I use to get my guitar in tune (over the entire fingerboad).

    I used to have the same problems as you. I think guitars are not perfectly tuned instruments. I'm not sure about necks that have been plek'd. We need an expert on that technique.

    If your saddles are not too worn or the nut is not either, and the guitar's action is set at factory specs, try this. I tune the 5th string A using a tuner, then I tune the rest by ear. Then I use the tuner to check the 12th fret harmonics to the actual fretted 12th fret for all strings. If those check out OK, then proceed to do the following.

    Play the 2nd (B) string 12th fret harmonic and compare it to the 1st (E) string when fretted at the 7th fret. Put the tuner aside for now. The two strings should sound the same (to your ear).

    Now, compare 3rd string 12th fret harmonic to 1st string fretted at 3rd fret.
    Should sound the same to your ear also.

    Then 4th string 12th fret harmonic to the 2nd string fretted at the 3rd fret.

    Then 5th string 12 fret harmonic to the 3rd string fretted at the 2nd fret.

    Then 6th string 12 fret harmonic to the 4th string fretted athe the 2nd fret.

    If these sound OK, the play the octives that you described in your original question. Try them at a few frets up and down the neck. I start with the 6th string, 3rd fret to the 4th string 5th fret. I also move that to 3rd and 1st string octives. Both sets should sound the same. Do that up and down the neck. I don't go above the 12th fret. Try this and see what results you get.

    Classicplayer
     
  9. Loko

    Loko Senior Member

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    Not sure how close your strings are to your pickups, usually the bridge, but I had them too close on my SG and when open all strings were fine but where I noticed it the most was a D chord, it sounded funny. I then found out that this was due to the strings being too close to the magnetic field and getting pulled out of their natural vibration. Not sure if this will help you or if it is one of the others listed above, just thought I would share.

    Good luck,

    Tim
     
  10. Inca Mac

    Inca Mac Senior Member

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    Just a quick question - have u tried with a different tuner?
    If both guitars are out, it might be worth a look

    Also do you use the neck pick up?
    I read somewhere here its the best and I've it to be tru eespecially for the Low E
     
  11. GibsonSlash

    GibsonSlash Senior Member

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    I will for sure try each suggestions you guys have given.
    Thanks a bunch. :thumb:

    As Loko said, I can tell very easily that the high E String 1 is out of tune fretted when it's in D chord.
    I have to tune the string 1 sharp a bit to make it tuned, but then once I strum it open together with open string 2 (B), now it sounds unharmonized.
    I guess the string 1 is too close to either one or both pickups, I'll try to lower the pickups and see what goes.
     
  12. jack briggs

    jack briggs Senior Member

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    BCRGreg's got it right. When you play an octave, or a chord, you're fretting with different fingers giving different pressures on the strings. High frets accentuate this, as do flatter profiled frets. If the action is as low as it can go and the neck is straight, this will be minimized. All you have to do is squeeze a little more on the second finger or third to see the effect. You'll raise the pitch of that note only, while the other notes of the chord remain unaltered.

    It comes down to 'touch'. Learning how to squeeze and how not to squeeze the strings when playing those chords or octaves.



    Cheers,
     
  13. Big John

    Big John supplemental restraint V.I.P. Member

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    I have a Korg DT-10 which is fine for live gigs, but it's spec'd at +/-10 cents. This spec gives the possiblity of the strings being up to 20 cents off from each other while the LEDs on the Korg indicate all is well. I always set the intonation on my guitars with an old strobe tuner, and make sure that the guitar is in playing position when I set it.
     
  14. GibsonSlash

    GibsonSlash Senior Member

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    Is this the one BB?

    Which one?
    [​IMG]

    or

    [​IMG]

     
  15. 58lespaulman

    58lespaulman Member

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    I would make sure you truss rod is adjusted right. I had this on a couple guitar and after taking it to a tech he told me the truss rod needed adjusted and that fixed the problem.

    Shane
     
  16. b-squared

    b-squared Banned

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    I have the blue one, which is the older model. You might be able to get one cheaper used...in any case, both of them will work.

    Best tuner I've ever used on stage!

    BB
     
  17. Loko

    Loko Senior Member

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    If it is because of the bridge pickup being too close, you will notice the difference as soon as it gets far enough away. It always frustrated me that a D would sound horrid but most other things would sound good and I wouldn't use my SG. I actually found this out when I got my PRS set up by a local guy here and he said that was one big things that he looks for when it comes to adjusting pickups, so when I got home I lowered my bridge on my SG and I fell in love with it.

    Hope this helps,

    Tim
     
  18. GibsonSlash

    GibsonSlash Senior Member

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    BB, so in that tuner pedal, it has settings which tuning method you'd use? How many are there?

    I'm tempted to buy one, but kinda pricy, had to look for local deals.
     
  19. GibsonSlash

    GibsonSlash Senior Member

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    Hey Loko,

    Thanks for sharing.
    So how much distance you have now between strings and pickups?
     
  20. Loko

    Loko Senior Member

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    1/8" on my high e and 3/16" on my low e, these are just how mine are set and not necessarily the correct height for every guitar.
     

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