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Intonation when capo'd. Southern Jumbo


Salfromchatham

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Guys, my Martin is set up so perfectly from the factory. Capo or no capo, even high up the neck, the chords are perfect. The intonation is perfect.

 

I love my SJTV, and the sound and feel more than my Martin. However when I capo above the second fret, the low E is just a tad sharp, and it becomes more pronounced higher up the neck I capo. When I look at the cut of my nut, the slots are deep, and the strings are low. It looks like the nut on my Martin. I do have a new nut in my draw that is compensated... The one on there now is not. That can't be it... It is the low E that is primarily the villain.

 

What do you think it is? Could the low E nut slot be deeper cut? Any thoughts? I have not touched the truss rod since I got the guitar, and I frankly don't know what the relief is. I suppose I could just take it to Russo's, but that is a pain. I could have them change the nut... But when they put in the K&K pickup I asked them to check the action, and they thought it was fine where it was... It is not high.

 

Thoughts and things I can try at home before taking it back to them to play with?

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Sal

 

Every guitar I have does that to some degree, some a bit more than others, except my crappy old Guild. I have never had a good set up on any of them. I always have to adjust the low E. Even the HD 28 I had for years did it.

 

I suppose it shouldn't be that way, but I'm used to it.

 

Rich

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Well, we made the trip from the frigid north to Florida (although it's been unusually cool here) and I'm all set to hit the show. After debating over which day to go (hate these two day shows), decided to make it today, Saturday. Since it's a two hour round trip to the show from where we're staying, the option of going both days won't work.

 

So, as I mentioned earlier, if any of you are planning on going today, give a shout, sure like to meet up.

Your capo tension is too strong. Ease that twister dealy thing back a half a turn counterclockwise.

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Interesting. I have observed the same thing. All my Martins are dead on as are my Taylor and Bourgeois. All 3 of my Gibsons go sharp to varying degrees on the E, A or D stings. Not a lot but it can be noticeable. Usually my poor playing masks it. No theories or explanation here just an observation. One of these days I will take them to my luthier to address it.

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I should have added that I messed around with capo tension but same thing happens when fretting with my fingers. And its not in all cases a steadily increasing sharpness as I move along a string up the fret board. Sometimes it increases then deceases when moving further up the neck being worst around the 7th fret. Again not a lot but noticeable.

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Very few guitars have perfect intonation all the way up the fretboard.

One of the things I did about a year ago was to buy a Peterson Stroboclip tuner with the sweetened tunings.

Not trying to sound like an ad for them, but the sweetened tunings are specifically designed to help eliminate

the bulk of intonation problems on stringed instruments. Check with a luthier for ease of mind, but the Stroboclip

is a great tool to have in your arsenal...

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pS0cEWwWnGQ

 

I find this video of Tommy Emmanuel on capo's to be neat, if anything he shows a few tricks that some people might not have thought about.

 

One thing to try is another capo, I have a few and have found that there's usually one that will work better than all the other's for a particular guitar... even though for me that one is usually the Shubb. The guitar could be in need of work at the nut or the saddle, I know when mine was out of whack when I first got it capoing up the neck was a nightmare.

 

And I'll have to second sixstringjustice on the Peterson Stroboclip, since I've bought mine the never dialed right in Snark clip on has been a benchwarmer.

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Thanks guys. It's not a big deal, but my Martin D15 is perfect. Maybe the radius is different or flatter on the Martin, and that has something to do with it.

 

Ps. I am using a Shubb. I'll try angling the capo. I have it straight across right just at a hair behind the fret.

 

The radius on the Martin is flatter, unless the 15 series uses a different radius from other Martins. I can well imagine that together with the shorter scale the more rounded Gibson radius might require a different capo placement. Presumably you don't have the same issue when you play bar chords, Sal?

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Im glad this topic came up, because I was having teh same frustrations with my HB TV Friday nite before a gig. I was shocked how much intonation was off on about 4 strings when capoed beyond the third. The bottom E in particular where I had to tune down about 20%.

 

I have a feeling that Gibson in general have an itonation issue, it seems to happen on most of my models when capoed, even with different capos. No issue with the Martin or Furch, or even the beaten up Cort.

 

Its quite frustrating actually.

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The Peterson tuners like the StroboClip have a variety of 'sweeteners'. The ACU sweetener is for capo, it does what James Taylor saying. I don't use a capo very often but play up the neck a lot, at the end of JTs clip he goes into the harmonic fine-tuning to finish the job... that's the one. Playing up the neck and barre chords do not apply the same, consistent pressure on the strings as a capo. It doesn't matter what manufacturers name is on the headstock, the sound freqs are always based on the same rules for all stringed instruments. JT's clip busts the myth of perfect intonation... but the nose knows.

ps, the PlanetWaves capo is also my favorite

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I decided to check my 67 D18 and lo and behold it is right on all the way up the neck. This was just set up at Russo with a new saddle as the old saddle cracked. The new saddle is compensated on the B string only. So I was wrong when I said all of mine did that.

EDIT EDIT EDIT

 

Took out the Sheryl Crow SJ and noticed that it is good up the neck on the low E as long as I fret it with my finger, but when I put the capo on the same spot it goes sharp. D18 does the same. I'm using a planet waves capo.

 

Toby Walker did a whole analysis on capos a while back. I have quite a few different kinds but I thought this was best. I tried to video this but I need another hand. Putting the capo on the fret instead of behind it helps as you might imagine, but that's a precision maneuver.

 

Rich

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Hey Sal, Just a couple of more things to consider when you get back to it. [confused]

Did you change the guage of strings this last time? You also mentioned that the nut slots were cut 'deep or low'. Perhaps the low E is binding in the slot if you used a heavier guage. You should not have 'excessive' nut material above the string itself. This could cause issues also.

 

I would check the nut and also experiment with a lighter or heavier guage of( Low E only) and see if that makes a difference when capoed.

 

Good Luck!

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You know what I think would be telling? If someone had a Martin D-18 SS (short scale), and they did or did not experience this same issue. If they did have the same issue, I think it would point to it just being the nature of the beast with short scale guitars. If they didn't, it points to the curved fretboard.

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I really don't think it's a scale length issue as I have owned many short scale guitars, Gibson and Martin (000-42), and not had this issue. I believe, since the problem is isolated to the low E string, it is the intonation of this one string. If the note goes sharp as you go up the fretboard with the capo (or bar chords) then the low E is not long enough.....the saddle needs to made to make contact further back........and it shouldn't take much to correct the issue. How does the open E note compare to the 12th fret harmonic on this string? They should be the same (or very, very close) on a guitar that is correctly intonated. Having the saddle filed at the low E contact point can correct this.....move this contact point toward the tail block end of the guitar, effectively making the string just a bit longer in scale. A good luthier could handle this in a few minutes time for cheap and you'll once agian be a happy camper!

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I really don't think it's a scale length issue as I have owned many short scale guitars, Gibson and Martin (000-42), and not had this issue. I believe, since the problem is isolated to the low E string, it is the intonation of this one string. If the note goes sharp as you go up the fretboard with the capo (or bar chords) then the low E is not long enough.....the saddle needs to made to make contact further back........and it shouldn't take much to correct the issue. How does the open E note compare to the 12th fret harmonic on this string? They should be the same (or very, very close) on a guitar that is correctly intonated. Having the saddle filed at the low E contact point can correct this.....move this contact point toward the tail block end of the guitar, effectively making the string just a bit longer in scale. A good luthier could handle this in a few minutes time for cheap and you'll once agian be a happy camper!

 

Buc - Thanks. I think I will try to find a time to take the guitar to Russo's in the next two weeks, give them my compensated (b string) spare saddle, have them play with the low E, and do a fresh setup for low action. Id like to keep the original saddle as is.

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