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Hi Forum,

 

i have a vintage les paul custom from 1978, black beauty, but i think this problem is a general guitar issue.

 

the problem is, that on the high e-string, the 2nd harmonic (12 fret flageolet) is not exactly over the 12th fret (half of the string lenght). its like 1cm or more away from the 12th fret. tune-o-matic is out of range (saddles already flipped to get more room).

 

i had this problem before, then i got a new nut installed by a guitar tech, also a set of new strings. as i got the guitar back, it looked and sounded fine in the first days. also the saddles had like 3mm of room to go (towards fretboard).

 

after a few days of extensive playing i recognized that the intonation gets weird again.

i needed to move the saddles (highest 3 strings) more towards the fretboard to get intonation right again. i was thinking about, that this is a problem because of 'dirty strings'.

 

so, first question: do dirty strings change the intonation A LOT? because if i see it right, i need to move the saddle for the high e about one or more !centimeters! to get the 2nd harmonic over the 12th fret. (so, i think the string is 'too long'. i dont know how this can be possible. one string below (b-string) has exactly the same lenght, but here there is a harmonic exactly over the 12th fret). do you understand this problem? all harmonics are exactly over the 12th fret, except for the high e-string.

 

in my eyes, it seems that this guitar is perfectly tuned if you use totally new strings, if the strings get a little dirty (after like 3 days (~20hours) of playing) its getting out of tune. now the strings are very old (like 4 months) and its not more tuneable (intonation as mentioned above).

 

so, is it possible to set up this guitar so that it will stay more or less (not centimenters away) in good intonation, also with 'not totally new strings'? so, setup the guitar that it sounds more or less right with dirty strings? does this problem at all has to do with the strings? what else can cause the problem?

thank you in advance guys, i never got any answer for this problem. you know, its not possible to check for intonation if the harmonic which should be over the 12th fret, is on 12 1/2th fret :( i think about building some adapter for my tune-o-matic to allow me more room (out of the bridge itself).

 

i tried lowering the bridge, flipping saddles and stuff, but nothing of this works, because its not 'fine adjustment', something is totally wrong.

 

thank very much for your help

zeh

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hey guys,

 

thanks for your fast reply.

 

if i check intonation on the open string and the 12th fret, iam of course out of intonation. the note is like 1/4 tone above the octave.

since all strings except for the high e-string are (more or less) right (12th fret is same tone like open string), i tried to exchange the high e-string with the b-string (since gauge is more heavy). when i do so, at least the flageolet is at the right place, also intonation gets a lot better. so, i think, maybe a set of new strings will fix this problem.

 

imaginge the following scenario: i get new strings, everything is fine, i have room on the tune-o-matic. i play the strings extensivly for about 3 days (like 5-10h a day), then i have to re-intonate (move saddle towards fretboard). so far so good, nothing strange here i think (because intonation, or moveability of strings changes when the get dirty). this thing gets worst until i reach the end of the bridge (maybe also the end of string lifetime?). most of the strings (5 of them) are still more or less exact when played a long time, except the high e, it is getting unintonatable shifted, like if it was ~2cm to long.

 

my question now would be: is it possible to set up the guitar that is still has (more or less) good intonation when the strings are nearly dead? i mean, i cant change my strings once in a week. i was also thinking of building some kind of saddle out of aluminium to get more intonation space. is this a normal issue with les paul guitars that you get out of room very fast?

 

thanks guys.

so long

chris

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hey there,

 

i use slightly heavier strings, .011s. i don't know. i will try to exchange the strings first with maybe more expensive ones. all strings except the e-string are still in good tune even if the strings are totally dead. when i tried the b-string on the e-string place, it worked quite fine. maybe i must use a heavier e-string.

thanks for your help. also cleaning this high e-string didnt give any difference, i think this string is just dead. can it be some kind of overbended or so?

 

cheers

zeh

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Have had a few weird happennings in the past when first dealing with intonation.

 

Sometimes, all you have to do is to kind of 'reset' the guitar, just loose all the strings

with no rush, reset the tensions between the points of contact of the string by cleaning it,

waxing/grafite/whatever lube works best for your guitar, try to get the tension as even as

possible through all string, with all of them.

 

By then you will know if you need to work the relief of the neck.

 

I would recommend you to attain to standard string gauges (just avoid heavy bottom/whatever strings).

 

Good luck.

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imaginge the following scenario: i get new strings, everything is fine, i have room on the tune-o-matic. i play the strings extensivly for about 3 days (like 5-10h a day), then i have to re-intonate (move saddle towards fretboard).

 

No offense intended, but at 5 - 10 hours a day, you have no shortage of time on your hands.

 

so far so good, nothing strange here i think (because intonation, or moveability of strings changes when the get dirty).

 

I think that 5-10 hours a day for three days is pretty much taking the life out of your strings, they are longer than they should be and the guitar can't be tightened up anymore to compensate. At least, that's what I think.

 

my question now would be: is it possible to set up the guitar that is still has (more or less) good intonation when the strings are nearly dead? i mean, i cant change my strings once in a week. i was also thinking of building some kind of saddle out of aluminium to get more intonation space. is this a normal issue with les paul guitars that you get out of room very fast?

 

I don't think this is "normal" at all. But I also don't think that looking at a string to determine where the harmonic is found is "normal". And I don't think that using the harmonic to intonate the guitar is at all good.

 

Open string and fretted 12th. Fretted 5th and fretted 17th, maybe 7th and 19th. A combination of those should intonate your guitar just fine.

 

In case this gets any more guitar seriouser, heres a tip: The sounding or not sounding of a harmonic also depends on pickup location.

 

My current telecaster and my current les paul have both not had their saddles moved in years. I check the intonation each string change, which is very frequent, but I don't change string brand or gauge, so they are "set up" for very long times. Your belief that "dead" strings require somewhat different intonation is a bit off. The idea that you can't change your strings once a week? At 5 - 10 hours a day you really should be changing them once a week. I change them for every gig, no matter how many we have this week.

 

Good luck with it, it sounds like you have quite a ways to go with this.

 

rct

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I'm not sure what the heck you're doing, but whatever it is, I'm sure it's wrong. Once you set the intonation, you won't have to change it - period - until you put on a different size of strings.

 

Why not look at a video that shows how to set your intonation? Whatever flagolet means, that has nothing to do with intonating your guitar. Until you understand this, you can't go any further.

 

Set your high e saddle roughly like this, in line with the other 2 saddles next to it. No matter what, the three high saddles should be pretty much in line:

 

DSC_0042_zpsf28f6f6b.jpg

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I'm gonna preach this until I'm blue: If you want to intonate, the open string is the worst place to tune from.

 

Use a tuner, check EVERY fret, and come up with the best average. The nut is the most often and most likely to be off a little.

 

Intonation at best, is a compromize. But the closer you are to having every note close, the more "in tune" it will be. So close it won't matter.

 

OK. So...I would check all the notes before determining if there is a problem. Also, if it seems to be happening with the string(s) aging, I might be more inclined to suspect the string than the guitar itself.

 

Strings get damage from playing. Sometimes none, sometimes a lot. They can get kinks in them, too. It effects how they tune. Especially true, if you move the saddle, there might be a kink where it was on the saddle before.

 

I'm kinda with RCT on this one- if the strings are dead and replacing them fixes the problem, replace the strings.

 

These are all guesses, have to be guesses, as I don't know the cause. But maybe some of it will help you find the "problem".

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hey there,

 

i use slightly heavier strings, .011s. i don't know. i will try to exchange the strings first with maybe more expensive ones. all strings except the e-string are still in good tune even if the strings are totally dead. when i tried the b-string on the e-string place, it worked quite fine. maybe i must use a heavier e-string.

thanks for your help. also cleaning this high e-string didnt give any difference, i think this string is just dead. can it be some kind of overbended or so?

 

cheers

zeh

 

Hi Zeh,

 

what are you using as a tuner for this? If there are temperment settings, make sure you have it set to equal temperment.

 

Also one of the primary rules of thumb with intonations is to not do this with old strings. I've never known why it would make a huge difference with the plain steel strings, but still, having read that many years ago,,, I always check intonation during a string change.

 

if the other strings intonate ok, then I would be looking at something specific to that string as well (nut/saddle fret issue at the 12th fret is possible too).

 

to rule out a high or low fret, intonate with open E then the harmonic E @12th fret.. then, fret the E, see what you got.

 

also, check the height of the pickup, if the bridge pickup up is too close the string, the magnetic pull from the magnet could do funky things as well.

 

Good luck!

 

/KB (ray)

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I'm gonna preach this until I'm blue: If you want to intonate, the open string is the worst place to tune from.

 

If we are going to use this thread for the edification of intonation education...

 

WhatchutalkinboutWillis?

 

I've always understood why not to use the harmonic. But intonating is getting the string exactly(more or less) the right length, based on the open note being in tune.

 

So why not use the open string?

 

rct

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If we are going to use this thread for the edification of intonation education...

 

WhatchutalkinboutWillis?

 

I've always understood why not to use the harmonic. But intonating is getting the string exactly(more or less) the right length, based on the open note being in tune.

 

So why not use the open string?

 

rct

Nothing wrong with tuning however. But when adjusting, the idea of "intonating" is really to bring the guitar as close as possible to ideal. So that most notes, most of the time, are as 'in-tune' as one can get.

 

Off ALL the places on the guitar, the nut is usually the most away from everything else. If you check each fret with a tuner, chances are the nut will be the one furthest away from the rest.

 

So...for a reference, why depend on the most inherently inaccurate? I mean, you can either have the guitar intonated to have the note at the nut and the twelve fret "perfect" and have the rest be out a little bit, or have the rest closer to "perfect" and have the nut out a little bit.

 

Checking every fret, it's always going to be a comprimise of some sort where one will choose to place the saddle. I think the best place, is where ever it gets everything closest. Only way to know THAT is to check the note on more frets.

 

Also, that will tell you how far, if any, the nut is out from the rest of the guitar.

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So...for a reference, why depend on the most inherently inaccurate? I mean, you can either have the guitar intonated to have the note at the nut and the twelve fret "perfect" and have the rest be out a little bit, or have the rest closer to "perfect" and have the nut out a little bit.

 

I think we have two very different ideas, beliefs as to what intonating a guitar actually does. I don't see perfection anywhere, nor do I see it as tuning each fret at all.

 

The open string is the open string, the only way to know anything is to tune the open string and then measure the streng length by fretting at the 12th to ensure that the 12th is exactly(more or less) half the distance between the two places the string stops.

 

So intonation is always relative to the open string, that is, the guitar will be as close to in tune with itself, all over the neck for the most part, as it can be if the 12th is exactly(more or less) half the distance between the two stops, the nut and the saddle.

 

The rest of it all can only be heard by tuners, and the proliferation of tuners has made everyone a luthier in the last 20 years, and so all of the intonation mythology and horse beating that goes on. Most halfway accomplished decent guitar players play around poorly intonating guitars, they should be used to it if they grew up on Fenders! [laugh][laugh][laugh]

 

So I'm not down wit da tuning each fret, to me, it means nothing if the open and the 12th aren't right, followed by any two frets that are an octave apart being right. After that, it's <beer of choice> time.

 

rct

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also if your string action is very high, every time you press down the string, you are adding tension,

this can cause the note to be a bit flat when when your changing to an open string note.

it is impossible to get intonation 100% perfect, but if your setup is correct, you can get it 99.90% .

the lower your action on your strings are, the closer you will get to having perfect intonation.

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also if your string action is very high, every time you press down the string, you are adding tension,

this can cause the note to be a bit flat when when your changing to an open string note.

it is impossible to get intonation 100% perfect, but if your setup is correct, you can get it 99.90% .

the lower your action on your strings are, the closer you will get to having perfect intonation.

 

That has not been my experience at all. People play with stupid high action and their guitars are no less intonated or intonatable than anyone elses. A guitar is not "perfect"ly intonated for many reasons, and as long as we are talking within reason, string height is not one of them.

 

rct

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That has not been my experience at all. People play with stupid high action and their guitars are no less intonated or intonatable than anyone elses. A guitar is not "perfect"ly intonated for many reasons, and as long as we are talking within reason, string height is not one of them.

 

rct

 

 

If we're referring to the string height as it relates to the first fret if the nut is poorly regulated, that makes a difference, but once you get past the lower registers, RCT is pretty right here.

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Hey There,

 

thanks for all your replies and useful information.

today i bought some new strings and it changed the situation totally [thumbup]

i think those strings where just too old and i have to pay more attention on this, buy new strings more regulary. i have plenty of space at the saddles now, except for one string but i dont mind because its intonated correctly. maybe i will try to exchange this single string till its perfect and then always buy the same set of strings. i did not know that strings really make such a great difference.

 

bye

zeh

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