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stephencoh

J15 tuning peculiarities....

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I have owned my J15 since the end of 2015, so I'm not sure why I've only just got around to posting this. I am, on the whole, very happy with my J15. Beautiful tone, looks great, comfortable to play and even smells good. However, something I quickly noticed about this guitar is that when tuned to pitch (using a D'Addario tuner or the 5th fret method) it does not sound good. In fact, tuned spot on it sound terrible. Tuned to the sweetened tuning ACU on my Peterson Stroboclip HD, however, it sounds fantastic. I've always just accepted this as a peculiarity of this particular guitar or perhaps of short scale guitars in general...but I've not seen it mentioned here before. Has anyone else had or heard of this issue? It's not a deal breaker, I love the guitar and am used to the rigmarole of tuning the Peterson way but just wondering! (One thing I just remembered is that the issue was definitely more pronounced with the under saddle transducer installed, but I removed that as had no intention of using it).

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Scale has absolutely nothing to do with it. Only thing I can think of is the intonation of the guitar is not matching the action. This is usually a saddle issue. Also make sure you pluck only one string at a time when tuning while muting the others. Tuners can pick up even the most subtle of harmonic frequencies. In my opinion though, this is what keeps luthiers in business. Have the guitar looked at or not, as it suits you.

Edited by zombywoof

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Mine is a little touchy (no pun). But when I hear the sweet spot it matches the tuner's reading. Hope you gain some more contentment soon with your own.

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is it that the chords played in opened positions don't sound right?

 

if that seems to be the more noticeable problem, I'd have the nut checked for proper depth where the string slots are.

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It sounds like your J15 needs a setup. If the string height at the nut is a little high, it’s easy to pull notes sharp when playing first position chords, if the neck relief is too great it’s easy to pull notes sharp when playing mid-neck, and if the saddle height is too great it’s easy to pull notes sharp at the dusty end.

 

It’s true to a very minor extent that short scale guitars will expose intonation/setup shortcomings a little more readily (when the entire resonant length of the string is shorter, less change is required to alter the pitch-the frets of a guitar are progressively closer to one another as you work up the neck for the same reason) but unless there is an issue with saddle placement, any tuning issues will be easily rectified by a setup, as long as this is carried out by a capable and experienced luthier.

 

Another thought is string choice-what are you using? My old J15 was super sensitive to strings and would sound really odd with some. D’Addario Phosphor Bronze EXPs worked best with mine, but all ears and fingers are different.

 

Let us know what transpires!

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I'm not sure what's going on either. Strobe tuners count as among the most accurate chromatic tuners money can buy. If the other tuners are not working as intended, it speaks to their quality rather than that of the guitar.

Edited by Leonard McCoy

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Most acoustic guitars don't sound good when tuned "exactly" to pitch

James Taylor explains why here:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

JC

Interesting.

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You have discovered an age old problem. Google "Tempered Tuning" and you will find out the problem. Your guitar is very sensitive and it plays almost every vibration sent to the top. Even the bad ones. This is not a problem with your tuner or your guitar. It's just the failing of the fret system and has been know for a couple of hundred years. In the past guitars weren't as well made and didn't pick up all it information the strings were sending it. Now that a $10.00 electronic tuner is available to everyone the problem of getting a guitar in exact tune is apparent. It just isn't possible due to the math of the fret system. I have never heard you play but I bet that you can get your guitar in close enough tune that your audience wouldn't know the difference.

 

If you solve the math problem let us know as we will all benefit from your findings.

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Thank you for your input, everyone. I have seen the James Taylor video before, and actually that was what turned me on to the idea of using a 'sweetened' tuning...before that I was getting very frustrated with what was going on. I mentioned that I had removed the under-saddle transducer. When I did that I also installed a bone saddle and together those two steps did seem to improve the situation (the original saddle was actually pretty loose in the slot). After posting the original post, I did some checking with my tuners and noticed that tuning to equal temperament (EQU on the Peterson tuner) sounds acceptable, but tuning to standard on the D'Addario tuner still sounds weird. As for strings, I have on D'Addario 80/20 EXPs at the moment, but I've noticed the issue with various types of strings.

Edited by stephencoh

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My J15 had a loose saddle, oddly enough. I cut a slightly oversized one from a blank which sorted the saddle rock.

 

I would definitely get it to a luthier for further inspection.

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.......Tuned to the sweetened tuning ACU on my Peterson Stroboclip HD, however, it sounds fantastic. I've always just accepted this as a peculiarity of this particular guitar or perhaps of short scale guitars in general...but I've not seen it mentioned here before. Has anyone else had or heard of this issue?

 

I have some job-related experience with this topic.

 

About a dozen years ago I got a call from Sammy Sanchez, James Taylor's tech at the time.

He wanted to know if it was possible to program a custom Sweetened tuning into JT's stage tuner (a Peterson StroboStomp).

JT had some cent values he wanted to use which made it possible to tune open strings quickly while counteracting the typical string deflection and make it possible, if necessary, to put a capo on without re-tuning.

The plan was to program the cent values into the tuner to avoid having to remember which cent offset belonged to which string in the middle of a gig, just tune as normal and have the tuner do the rest.

 

I walked Sammy through the process of entering the cent offsets into the tuner and all was good.

A short time later I later met Sammy working a Ben Harper gig and Ben was also using the offsets, I seem to remember Keb'Mo' doing likewise but I could be mistaken, this was back in 2005 or thereabouts.

 

The cent offsets also worked very well when I tried them on my own collection of guitars both with and without capos.

Those are some pretty respectable offsets, not just a cent here or there, but deviations of up to 12 cents in size.

It's a useful and repeatable tweak IMO, well worth trying before getting surgical.

 

JT was not interested in endorsing gear at the time, but was cool with us making it a stock preset Sweetened Tuning in future tuners, so that's what we did, the preset is called ACU and it's been in all Peterson tuners since 2005.

The connection between the JT offsets and Peterson tuners only recently became public knowledge so to my mind Peterson tuners (both hardware and software) are the only tuners which have this feature.

 

The system of Equal temperament never was created with guitars in mind but its a starting point, you won't get sent to jail for veering away from it from time to time to suit a particular situation.

IMHO only of course

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You have discovered an age old problem. Google "Tempered Tuning" and you will find out the problem. Your guitar is very sensitive and it plays almost every vibration sent to the top. Even the bad ones. This is not a problem with your tuner or your guitar. It's just the failing of the fret system and has been know for a couple of hundred years. In the past guitars weren't as well made and didn't pick up all it information the strings were sending it. Now that a $10.00 electronic tuner is available to everyone the problem of getting a guitar in exact tune is apparent. It just isn't possible due to the math of the fret system. I have never heard you play but I bet that you can get your guitar in close enough tune that your audience wouldn't know the difference.

 

If you solve the math problem let us know as we will all benefit from your findings.

 

Some probably know better then me about this, but i have been told that this problem can be partly solved by having a "fret 0".

We often find this on European made luthier guitars but in the US i dont know about any use of this.

 

exemple :

1408997748-formatfactory20140825-183054.jpg

 

For the rest you have this solution :

 

https://youtu.be/iRsSjh5TTqI

 

Can't figure out still how to put a video... [unsure]

Edited by Mafy31

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Some probably know better then me about this, but i have been told that this problem can be partly solved by having a "fret 0".

We often find this on European made luthier guitars but in the US i dont know about any use of this.

 

exemple :

1408997748-formatfactory20140825-183054.jpg

 

For the rest you have this solution :

 

https://youtu.be/iRsSjh5TTqI

 

Can't figure out still how to put a video... [unsure]

 

WTF?

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Plenty of guitars in this neck of the woods with a zero fret, I’ve owned a few. Great until you want to change something playability wise.

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