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may1620

Basic Question on Fretboards and Intonation?

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Hi,

So I am fiddling around with the intonation on my new IB Texan, and have become curious about something. It seems to be the norm on most any fixed saddle guitar like this that the saddle is sloped away from the neck (that is not parallel to the frets) such that the bass E string length is quite a bit longer than the treble E string length. I realize this is likely due to characteristics of string vibration and height between the very thick bass end and the very thin treble. But why then are the frets (as I think they are) exactly parallel to each other and to the nut? It seems to me that whatever advantage the sloped saddle angle provides for intonation cannot be optimal both for the open string tuning and for 12th fret intonation, can it? It seems as if the effect of the slope on an open string would be roughly doubled at fret 12. I guess my central question is why aren't fret boards built with each fret progressively slightly more angled from 0 to 12 and beyond?

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Hi,

So I am fiddling around with the intonation on my new IB Texan, and have become curious about something. It seems to be the norm on most any fixed saddle guitar like this that the saddle is sloped away from the neck (that is not parallel to the frets) such that the bass E string length is quite a bit longer than the treble E string length. I realize this is likely due to characteristics of string vibration and height between the very thick bass end and the very thin treble. But why then are the frets (as I think they are) exactly parallel to each other and to the nut? It seems to me that whatever advantage the sloped saddle angle provides for intonation cannot be optimal both for the open string tuning and for 12th fret intonation, can it? It seems as if the effect of the slope on an open string would be roughly doubled at fret 12. I guess my central question is why aren't fret boards built with each fret progressively slightly more angled from 0 to 12 and beyond?

 

Oh, and why wouldn't a right handed fixed saddle guitar with strings swapped for a well known left handed player have just horrible intonation? Maybe it's not so evident if he's just using the first 3 or 4 frets, huh?

 

Sorry meant to edit, not reply to myself like that.

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Actually there is a guitar maker who does make a guitar with the frets angled toward the bridge. Off hand I don't remember the name of the manufacture, Andy McFee plays one; look him up on YouTude. It's a really weird looking fret board and I am not sure how you would go about playing it. I don't know if you have ever notice that a classical guitar's saddle is parallel with the frets, because the strings thicknesses between the bass and treble are not that different. As far as your guitar is concern and intonation you shouldn't have to have such a radical design to get decent intonation. Usually as long as the guitar has been manufactured correctly and then setup for the strings you'll normally use it should be just fine, so manufactures stay with what has worked for over a hundred plus years. Hope that helps.

 

Found the link about the guitar I mentioned.

 

Yamamoto Guitars

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You are correct that the saddle is off parallel with the frets because of the not quite exact difference in intonation of strings of various diameters.

 

You are also correct that a RH guitar re-strung for LH play needs the saddle reversed. It is the usual procedure.

 

If the 'famous Left Handed player' you are refering to is Paul McCartney. He 'reversed' his saddle in a quite unorthodox way. Instead of going to the expense and time of filling in the bridge's saddle slot, then re-cutting it, he had bits of saddle glued to the existing saddle, above the bridge, which, in effect, reversed the point where the strings break (Bend) towards the peg holes. I've seen it on a FT79 "Texan" he was actually playing. He is also in pictures of IB Texans' which are glamor shots for marketing purposes. These are not modified for Paul's use. He probably could not play these.

 

Reason for the unorthodox saddle mod? I have a theory. Way back in the day, before Paul was old enough to drink beer, he was tapped to take on the bass player's role in the Beatles (or whatever they were calling their group back then). He chose the famous Hoffner fiddle bass, because a. it was cheap and b. it could be quickly modified for left handed play, by simply swapping strings around and c. it didn't look weird when flipped as the body was symmetrical. I am read once that he did the modification himself. He mentioned that he used a bit of match stick to tighten up the big low string slot to better accommodate the higher treble string. I suspect he some how widened the high string slot to accommodate the fatter low string. Knowing that McCartney was smart enough to know how to modify a bass for LH play, he probably made his own field modification to his "Texan" since left handed guitars are about as scarce then as now. Without proper wood working tools, I suspect this was the best fix he could accomplish. It worked and he stuck with it.

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