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Thread: Intonation

  1. #1
    Ibreathe Music Advisor EricV's Avatar
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    Intonation

    Hi,

    I got some emails regarding my "Setting-Up & maintaining your gear", and I thought I should explain something.
    The question was: why is it necessary to adjust the intonation of each string by itself, and why does moving those saddles change the pitch of the fretted note and not that of the harmonic.

    So, letīs see. The guitar is tough to have in tune all over the fretboard on all strings. While on instruments like the harp you do play open strings all the time, you have to fret the strings on a guitar.
    Now, the crucial point is that the fret-wiress do have the same distance for each string. But every string has a different gauge / diameter / thickness.
    And that is the problem, cause when you fret a string, the length of the ringing part ( the part between the position where you fret and the string ) is slightly altered by the thickness of the string.
    ( Like, letīs say you fret both e-strings at the 12th fret. Although physically, thereīs the same distance between 12th fret and bridge, the low E-string is way thicker and therefore might be slightly out of tune when you press it down, even though the high E-string might be perfectly in tune when you fret it there )

    So, what you do is you adjust the length of each string. You hit the harmonic at the 12th fret, and compare it to the fretted note at that fret. Then, if that latter note is sharp or flat, you move the saddle of that string.
    The whole string will get out of tune when you do that. So you have to retune the string, and check again.
    So actually, when checking the intonation, you are compensating the different gauges of the strings....

    I hope this answered some questions,
    and I hope it makes sense to everyone
    Warm regards
    Eric

  2. #2
    Resident Curmudgeon szulc's Avatar
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    Height Also

    The height of the string make a difference also since you are pressing down harder to fret a string that is farther from the fretboard and therefore making them sharp.

  3. #3
    Ibreathe Music Advisor EricV's Avatar
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    Thanks,

    I forgot to mention that !
    Warm regards
    Eric

    NP: Gambale, Garsed, Lane- Centrifugal Funk

  4. #4
    Ibreathe Music Advisor EricV's Avatar
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    By the way, a lot of beginners have problems with intonation when playing chords, especially on guitars with very thin strings or extremely high frets ( good olīDunlop 6105s... )
    You really need to adjust to that and figure out how much pressure to apply when fretting chords. Because if you press down to hard, one or more of the strings will be out of tune and the whole chord will sound like a mess.

    So it takes some time to switch from a Fender Tele with low-medium frets and a set of .012 strings to one of those Malmsteen-Strats with a scalloped fretboard and .008 strings

    Warm regards
    Eric

    NP: Extreme- III Sides To Every Story

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