Jump to content
Gibson Brands Forums

Gibson Nighthawk intonation

Recommended Posts

I'm no expert, but I have been playing and setting up my guitars for many years (old guy). Yes the worn frets could be part of the issue, but I guess that depends how deep the gouges are. It also could be nut height, especially if the nut height is high, not low. And truss rod adjustment. I can't give you anything specific, but me personally, I would set the neck dead straight (or close) as a starting point with with the truss rod. Next I'd raise or lower the saddles until the action is good, however you like it. Then see if anything changes and go from there. If the neck is straight and the nut seems high, meaning the first few strings are too high off the fretboard, then the nut is the issue. All these things can be put back easily so nothing is permanent. You also may get a lot of advice on other internet forums, some are very active and can be useful. Good luck.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Being that close to the nut, I would be suspect of it. Capo at the 1st and tune the guitar appropriately (F,A#,D#,G#,C,F) . Remove the capo and check the  tuning with open strings, if you see a difference (flat) the nut slot may need a little back draft to make sure the contact point is at the edge of the nut and not behind it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Bert: 

Is this a new problem? A new guitar to you or used?

If your intonation is perfect then the out of tune is probably due to the stretch in the string required to contact the fret when fingering the chord.  Either the frets are too low and/or the nut slot (s) are too high and/or the action is really high.  All made worse if the string gauge is heavy.  I'm guessing that the D chord is more obviously out as the sound from the higher strings is more prominent as the lower E and A strings are not played; if the D chord is out then so will the upper part of a G chord and a chunk of an A chord; you just don't hear it as much.

What string gauge do you use?  Lighter strings are easier to bend and have less tension.  If you are using heavy strings, I'd advise dropping to 0.009" - 0.042" as a start.  Of course check the neck relief before doing anything and check the first fret relief when holding the strings down on the third fret; there should only be a tiny gap at the first fret.  Nut slots usually get deeper with age not shallower but it's still good to check.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Basically, in this situation, it could be one thing or a few things...  pickup height, nut slot depth, level frets, etc.  If you know how to check all the things that make a guitar play right, then go over everything for peace of mind.  If you still are stymied, then go to a trusted luthier and have them explain what was adjusted to correct the issue(s).  Nighthawks are great guitars.  I set mine up with Fender specs as it's a 25.5" scale guitar.  If you set your guitar pound-for-pound like a Tele and you still have issues, have someone else take a look. 

So @beyoung95

  • string height
  • pickup height
  • neck relief
  • intonation
  • saddles aren't slanting (should be parallel to the body's plane)
  • loose screws/bushings on tuners, bridge, etc. 

This lists what you can easily adjust if you know how and have the simple tools to do so.  If you have unlevel frets or nut slot issues, we are getting out of the league where I intervene with a guitar's destiny.  This is when I go to a luthier. 

But based on your title of the thread, immediately I am thinking nut slot depth issues when cowboy chords go out of tune on a "tuned-up" guitar.  Good luck! 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Spend a dime and some time, and get your guitar a professional setup by a trusted luthier or whatever work needs to be done to this. Now, after the guitar is professionaly set up, here is the thing about intonation: intonation is nothing to be concerned about. A guitar is always slightly out of tune. It is a tempered instrument after all, so you are always making compromises up and down the neck for what you are doing.

Edited by Leonard McCoy
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...