Intonation woes---what to do??

WaywerdSon

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I guess this is the best place to ask--

I cannot get my 5th string to intonate. The saddle is backed all the way and its still like a 1/8 step sharp. I have a standard tune-a-matic Gibson bridge. What bridge can you guys recommend that would give me a little extra travel? I need to replace anyway due to the screw on the 6th string being frozen and unadjustable. After close to 40 years of sweat and grunge a little corrosion on the screw is probably to be expected, but that's not what keeping the 5th from intoning. The other 4 strings are dead perfect. Thanx!!!
 

Sitedrifter

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TonePros

But you could try a different brand of strings too. Pretty odd for the A string to have issues. You can also try and top wrap your strings.
 

cmjohnson

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You mean the B string, right? Usually we count from the high E as the first string, to the low E as the sixth.

Can you turn the saddle around, or is it already turned around?
 

WaywerdSon

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You mean the B string, right? Usually we count from the high E as the first string, to the low E as the sixth.

Can you turn the saddle around, or is it already turned around?

No, I mean the A string. Yes I know its weird. But it is what it is. The saddle is already turned the way to get the furthest travel to the tailpiece side of the bridge and its still a little sharp so I just need a little more travel. I can live with it, I dont play much past the 12th on the low strings anyway, but its an irritant. D G B and hiE are all dead perfect. LoE wont intone at all because the screw is corroded and frozen, so I need to replace the bridge anyway. Its only 37 years old
 

Joth

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Gotohs version of the TOM seems to have the longest saddle travel I think, and available in the narrow Gibson type height post diameter.
Could you post a photo of your bridge? If you have the ABR TOM, which is the narrowest, even changing to Gibsons Nashville style TOM will help things.
 

WaywerdSon

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Yeah, I know its pretty grungy. It got sweated on a bunch back in the day
 

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jkes01

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It's got the wire, that makes it an ABR-1. Like joth suggested, swapping out for a "Nashville" bridge, should give you a little more travel.

Here's a couple of links from StewMac for reference.

First the ABR-1.

ABR-1_Tune-o-matic_Bridge.jpg


Then the "Nashville"

Nashville_Tune-o-matic_Bridge.jpg
 

cmjohnson

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Change the string, or string type. Even try a different brand.

For what it's worth, I've found D'Addarios to be remarkably consistent over the years. More so than any other string brand I have any experience with.
 

WaywerdSon

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It's got the wire, that makes it an ABR-1. Like joth suggested, swapping out for a "Nashville" bridge, should give you a little more travel.

Here's a couple of links from StewMac for reference.

First the ABR-1.

ABR-1_Tune-o-matic_Bridge.jpg


Then the "Nashville"

Nashville_Tune-o-matic_Bridge.jpg

Thanx!!! I'll give that a try when I swap and see if that helps. One more question tho, I see there is a small difference in the distance between the mouting screw holes. Will this still be a drop in replacement or would I need to change the holes in the body?
 

Brians Evil Twin

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Curious what the nut looks like. If it's cut high on the Low E and A, you could be pressing more than you have to and that would contribute to sharp intonation problems.

attachment.php
 

jkes01

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You may need to modify the holes. Is that a Gibson?

Just a thought. You might be able to remove the saddle and remove some of the material from the back of the saddle using a flat surface with some sandpaper.
 

WaywerdSon

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You may need to modify the holes. Is that a Gibson?

Just a thought. You might be able to remove the saddle and remove some of the material from the back of the saddle using a flat surface with some sandpaper.

Yes its a Gibson 1980 Sonex Standard
 

David Collins

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That looks like a bad string to me. What strings are you using? DR's?
 

cmjohnson

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A Sonex? The MDF experiment of the early 80s?

That by itself could be part of the problem. MDF is an odd material to try to make a musical instrument out of.
 

WaywerdSon

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That looks like a bad string to me. What strings are you using? DR's?

Just switched to GHS Boomers, and I liked them (been looking for a good replacement for the Deam Markley discontinued yellow label lites) which is why I was setting the intonation. Like I said eariler, its not the end of the world, I'm not on that string much past the 12th anyway, but its just annoying that i cant get it right

A Sonex? The MDF experiment of the early 80s?

That by itself could be part of the problem. MDF is an odd material to try to make a musical instrument out of.

Its not MDF exactly. Its a resin of some sort, but that wouldn't have anything to do with the effective length of a string. But in the sustain game I'll put that Sonex up against any Lester. And the original Dirty Fingers in it are some really badass pups. Its dogs ass ugly for sure, but that guitar screams
 

David Collins

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GHS are usually pretty reliable, but even with the best quality control there can still be the occasional defective string.

I would emphasize strongly though, and with a high degree of certainty, that your problem is not with lack of travel in the saddle, but something else odd is going on. If your top four strings are indeed spot on with the saddle positions shown in that photo, the is simply no way that the A string saddle should ever have to be set that far back behind the D and still be sharp if everything else were adjusted and working properly. The problem is not that the saddle can't go back far enough, but rather that some other issue is causing gross sharpening that you are having to overcorrect for in saddle compensation.

Could be a bad string, although usually this causes errors in the opposite direction. Magnetic pull from pickups too close likewise will usually cause upper frets to ring flat rather than sharp. Without seeing your setup and methods first hand it's hard to say, but I would certainly check the nut slot. If it were cut too flat so as to leave the string arcing up and departing from the back side rather than the face at the board, this would be one common problem that would explain the issues you're experiencing. If that's okay, I'd try another string. Even brand new strings can be bad straight out of the package once in a while.

*Edit: looking at the picture there is one more possibility that would mean the bridge doesn't have enough travel (Gibson has never been great with locating their bridge posts), but this would have to include the D string being defective, or adjusted too sharp. The difference between the A and D is a big red flag, as they should never have to be spaced that far apart to intonate proper. The D does look farther forward than it typically should from the G though, so this could be a plausible scenario.
 

emoney

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My vote is the bass side of the bridge is a smidgeon too far forward. I like the idea of sanding
the back of the saddle if it's just barely out. Assuming there's no twist/hump in the
fretboard, of course. Just out of curiosity, but have you confirmed the thing is, in fact, sharp
by using a different tuner?
 

timgman

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Once upon a time I had a 1989 les paul cherry burst standard with a 3 piece top.. the one that got away in fact. I still miss it..
Anyways, I had the same issue.
After changing to another brand of strings (from ernie ball 9's to d'adario 9's) it was gone.
strangest thing. i tried 2 sets of the EB mm 9's... maybe it was a bad batch.
I hope you get it fixed the sonex I had back in the day was a great guitar!
 

moreles

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Sorry not to know the name of the manufacturer, but somebody makes an offset bridge post that allows you to reposition one or both ends of the bridge if it is really is mis-located. Sounds like you need a new bridge, too. As David Collins posted, something is definitely wrong with even the current setup, as no two adjacent strings should require such extreme settings as your A and D. But I'd try installing new strings before making any decisions.
 

WaywerdSon

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My vote is the bass side of the bridge is a smidgeon too far forward. I like the idea of sanding
the back of the saddle if it's just barely out. Assuming there's no twist/hump in the
fretboard, of course. Just out of curiosity, but have you confirmed the thing is, in fact, sharp
by using a different tuner?

My ear says so too. If you can tune a guitar you should be able to set intonation by ear. I do double check with my Snark, and also the tuner built into my amp. I been lazy and hadn't fooled with it much but I have been kicking around putting a setlist together so I did a little setting up. I gotta replace the bridge anyway, the loE is fubarred from corrosion, I was just curious what bridge had the most travel. It is very odd that the A is the weird string, but everything else seems to check out
 

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