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#202443 by Pete Zaiatz
Fri Jan 18, 2013 7:17 pm
I have a consistent and consistently annoying issue that I am looking for advice on. All of my guitars but one (a PRS SE single cut) have the same issue. Standard tuning, tune open to snark or korg headsotck tuner..great. Intonation...spot on. Stum an open D.dissonance (really annoying when you have some distortion and are letting it ring) D on B string sounds flat. I can get it to be almost unnoticeable by tuning the 4-6 strings off the A and then tuning the 1-3 by ear to a first position D so there is no dissonance but now it's slightly out open. Adjusted the truss rod about 100 degrees counter clockwise. Now it's ok by the tuner but it just sounds wrong to my ears..too much dissonance. I know based on the PRS that this can be done but I'm missing some thing. Any hints?

FYI This guitar is an AS73 Ibby but my Tele and Ovation do the same thing but to a far lesser degree.

Thanks in advance and sorry if this topic is already covered....I didn't see anything that seemed to match but I may have missed something.

#202444 by J-HALEY
Fri Jan 18, 2013 8:18 pm
I would take the guitars to a trusted luthier or repairman and have him check it out. Are you sure your not pulling on the strings oh so slightly when playing chords? If Paleopete chimes in he will have lots of possibilities for you!
#202453 by t-Roy and The Smoking Section
Fri Jan 18, 2013 11:43 pm
Pete Zaiatz wrote:I have a consistent and consistently annoying issue that I am looking for advice on. All of my guitars but one (a PRS SE single cut) have the same issue. Standard tuning, tune open to snark or korg headsotck tuner..great. Intonation...spot on. Stum an open D.dissonance (really annoying when you have some distortion and are letting it ring) D on B string sounds flat. I can get it to be almost unnoticeable by tuning the 4-6 strings off the A and then tuning the 1-3 by ear to a first position D so there is no dissonance but now it's slightly out open. Adjusted the truss rod about 100 degrees counter clockwise. Now it's ok by the tuner but it just sounds wrong to my ears..too much dissonance. I know based on the PRS that this can be done but I'm missing some thing. Any hints?

FYI This guitar is an AS73 Ibby but my Tele and Ovation do the same thing but to a far lesser degree.

Thanks in advance and sorry if this topic is already covered....I didn't see anything that seemed to match but I may have missed something.





Yes, every guitar does that.

You can get what's called a "compensating nut" installed that will take care of it.

#202604 by GuitarMikeB
Mon Jan 21, 2013 4:00 pm
It's not unusual at all. Tuning/fret spacing is a compromise.
You'll do better using your Snark to tune one string (the A is probably best), then tuning all other strings to that base.
Use the A string 5th fret harmonic to tune the D string at 7th string harmonic.
Then 5th fret harmonic and the G string at 2nd fret.
D string 5th fret harmonic and the B string 3rd fret.
A string 7th fret harmonic and the high E open.
Tune the bottom E by its 5th fret with the A string 7th fret harmonic.
It's the way we used to tune before electronic tuners! We all get lazy, and you can usually hear the problem under certain exagerated conditions, like the distortion you mentioned. For example, the opening chords in my song that some commented on were 'out of tune' - I tuned the acoustic with the built-in tuner, and recorded, rather than using the harmonics.

#202625 by gbheil
Mon Jan 21, 2013 5:32 pm
Crank the MARSHALL to 11 and to hell with it. :lol:

#202741 by Pete Zaiatz
Tue Jan 22, 2013 4:26 pm
Thanks for the feedback I appreciate all the comments. Seems to me though that some guitars are better than others on this point. Like the a fore mentioned PRS. It makes me wonder about the break point and angle in the nut. As to taking it to a good luthier, I can do that but as one told me..then I don't learn anything. Using the tuning method I mentioned seems to be close. I did try an alternate using the a as the base. Tuning the e and d to it then the second fret G string to the octave but then I had the D octave to the D on the third fret of the B and 5-7 to the E..that seemed to work best. I know they say guitars now are made far better than their ancestors from the 20's but this seems like something that you would hear in the older guitars but don't....oh well..Thanks again.

#202791 by GuitarMikeB
Tue Jan 22, 2013 7:52 pm
Thicker gauge strings will also mask the intonation issues -which is why you don't hear the problem on those old guitars - they were using much thicker strings, no 8s and 9s back then!

I was having a bitch of a time with the G string on my Epi Dot, switched to thicker 'jazz' strings with a wound G string and the problem disappeared!

#203344 by Paleopete
Sun Jan 27, 2013 4:08 am
This is a problem I have sometimes too.

As someone else already mentioned, fret spacing is a compromise. To get a guitar completely in tune all the way up you would have a really weird looking set of frets. Half a fret here, 2/3 of a fret there...and sometimes as much as 1/8 inch between them.

What this means is no guitar is actually completely in tune from one end to the other. Then you can have nut slots that are cut too high, so you pull some strings sharp when you play open chords, and due to the fret issue others might be flat...

I would say check the nut slot height. If the nut slots are not cut deep enough you have too much clearance at the first fret and you'll have intonation problems with open chords. The B string is especially problematic with a couple of my guitars, if I get them in tune and play a D or open B I'll have a slight off note...and the nut slots are OK. I have to make sure I don't push the strings too hard. The B string is usually the culprit.

Also check the way you play. Try to play normal, then try to just barely fret the strings tight enough to keep it from buzzing. You might see a great difference, you could be fretting too tight, causing most of the strings to be actually too sharp, and one seems flat. It's very difficult to change the way you play but it might be necessary to start trying to play by pushing the strings down just barely enough to get clean chords. I would suspect playing style has more to do with it than anything else. Holding some strings too tight, and others not tight enough is very common. I'm still trying to fight that exact issue. I pull strings out of tune all the time.

Tough issue to sort out, especially with the frets not being exactly accurate. Some company made a completely in tune guitar years ago, I saw a picture of it. Pieces of frets all over the place...I'd go crazy trying to play the thing...

#204539 by Pete Zaiatz
Wed Feb 06, 2013 6:03 pm
Thanks for all the feedback. I eventually settled for another adjustment of the truss rod and tuning as described above. Its good enough if I'm not adding too much dirt to notice (i.e. good enough for most blues, country etc.) but as you guys stated I really have to watch my grip not to pull it sharp. The other thing I noticed with this particular guitar is that it is really sensitive to how you hold it. If I am standing it's good. Sit on the sofa and lean back or pull the neck even slightly....out she goes. So Tune it for an open D...play standing up.....she passes muster.

Thanks again

#204711 by GuitarMikeB
Thu Feb 07, 2013 3:04 pm
My old Epi acoustic has a '0' fret - i.e. it doesn't use the nut for 'open' tones. What a brilliant idea. The nut broke on it last year, I just superglued it back in, made sure the grooves were deep enough that the strings went onto the 0 fret, and its as good as old!

#204888 by Paleopete
Sat Feb 09, 2013 1:40 pm
I had an Epi like that too, it was stolen in Austin years ago. I love the 0 fret, I wish every guitar had one. I could set that acoustic to play almost exactly like my electrics I own now, and can't get my Takamine even close. The 0 fret works great, and allows a lot better fine tuning of the action than most acoustics.

Pete - Glad you're getting good results. Did you check the bolts on bolt on necks? Bolt on necks are much more likely to be pulled out of tune if you out a little pressure one direction or the other. Glue in necks (set necks, to be proper) can take this a little better. I've seen people playing Les Pauls push forward on the neck and backward on the body to get a light whammy bar affect. You're doing the same thing in a minor way when you put a little pressure on the bolt on neck, and if those bolts are not tight it can let the neck move slightly.

If you haven't already done it, the toothpick trick might be worth trying. It's not hard to do, but you have to be careful to make sure things are well seated when going back together. Put a light coat of good wood glue on the tip 1/2 inch or so of a toothpick. Stick it in the open bolt hole and break it off flush to the surface. Put the screw back in. Let it sit overnight before putting strings back on so the glue can set. I've had to do this with strap pegs on every guitar I've ever owned, and have one that needs it now. It works very well, and helps tighten up loose threads anywhere on the guitar. Strap pegs, bridge screws, pickguard screws, tuner screws, virtually anything. I've also done it with doors and cabinets, shelf brackets around the house, you name it. Bigger screws may need match sticks, I prefer toohpicks, harder wood. You can also trim off excess left above the surface but be very very careful...I use an exacto knife. VERY carefully...masking tape over the hole before starting is a good idea so if you need to trim it, the masking tape helps avoid scratching the finish.

Anyway, if the threads in the neck bolts are wallowed a little, they can't hold as well. That allows more neck movement than normal, so as soon as I notice it pulling out of tune too easy, I get out the toothpicks...

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