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 Post subject: Saddle Intonation
PostPosted: Thu Mar 13, 2014 11:24 am 
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Joined: Sat Apr 10, 2010 10:50 pm
Posts: 2281
Location: Seattle
On each of my guitars I have at least attempted to intonate the saddle by positioning where the strings break. I have used an electric tuner to match the open note with the fretted 12th note. While working on my current project the fretted 6th strings was sharper than I thought it should be based on the saddle and where the other strings ended up. Before I pulled out the file I played a bit using some information I got from another forum.

The electronic tuner often will lock on a partial instead of the fundamental. Where the string in picked can influence which of the partials are the strongest. Based on different body resonances the partials could be pushed off a bit. The suggestion I used was to tune the open string picking at the 12th fret. I was surprised at the difference. Also I recently picked up a Peterson tuner with a mechanical strobe light. With it I could see some of the partials at slightly different frequencies. I was a bit intimidated at first with all of the swirling rings, but I finally got the concept of tuning the large ring (lowest frequency) that would tune. That way I was tuning the fundamental frequency.

It may be the placebo effect, but I also noticed that tuning the guitar with the cheap tuner picking at the 12 fret or using the Peterson instead of the electronic tuner the guitar sounded better in tune as I played.

To close the story, properly tuned the 6th string was much closer to being properly intonated, I could have very well de-intonated the string, it I had completely trusted the electronic tuner.

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 Post subject: Re: Saddle Intonation
PostPosted: Thu Mar 13, 2014 8:21 pm 
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Joined: Fri Mar 03, 2006 7:09 pm
Posts: 5422
Location: Hegins, Pa
to get the best intonation you have to set the guitar for a specific player situation. The variables that will change the intonation are
1 action height
2 Compensation angle
3 String gauge and age

the higher the action the more you need compensation for proper intonation. The initial set up has to take this into consideration . One set up will not work for all playing styles. I do not rely on may jigs for this process. You cannot have every fret perfectly intonated so you have to work to get the best.
I also intonate at the nut so I can get the guitar set up for the players style.

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 Post subject: Re: Saddle Intonation
PostPosted: Fri Mar 21, 2014 8:57 am 
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Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2012 9:42 pm
Posts: 709
Location: Hummelstown, PA
Intonation can be dependent on how a player tunes the instrument at times. For a spell in the 80's me and my bandmates got into tuning our stuff to beatless 5ths. Pythagorean I believe Dom said it was, I was never much on music theory and such. But we found that our guitars were badly intonated when we changed how we set the pitch for each string and instead of the usual truing of the half string harmonic to the fretted 12th we set the notes at the 5th and 17th frets exactly one octave apart. This allowed us to play above the third hand position without everything sounding sour. That was when most tuning was done by ear....the common use of modern digital tuners has pretty much put everyone at the same start position.

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 Post subject: Re: Saddle Intonation
PostPosted: Fri Mar 21, 2014 1:33 pm 
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Joined: Wed Nov 02, 2011 9:13 pm
Posts: 162
B. Howard wrote:
Intonation can be dependent on how a player tunes the instrument at times. For a spell in the 80's me and my bandmates got into tuning our stuff to beatless 5ths.


I'm not sure what you're referring to, unless it's like how I used to tune folk harps without a tuner back in the day. A tuning fork would give me an A-440, and I'd tune the E and D strings off the A strings using fifths, and then the B and G strings, and so on. It would sound fairly awful until I went back and fiddles with some of the strings so the chords came out better. I learned later that that's what "tempering" the strings was all about. I still trust electronic tuners only about 95% ... a little tempering still has to be done on my guitars and uke, particularly the B string. Maybe the Tune-Tech tuners are too cheap to give accurate results.


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 Post subject: Re: Saddle Intonation
PostPosted: Sat Mar 22, 2014 9:28 am 
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Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2012 9:42 pm
Posts: 709
Location: Hummelstown, PA
JLT wrote:
A tuning fork would give me an A-440, and I'd tune the E and D strings off the A strings using fifths, and then the B and G strings, and so on. It would sound fairly awful until I went back and fiddles with some of the strings so the chords came out better.


Yep...that's it. Basically tuning the open strings to be beatless 5ths ( except of course the B string which needs fretted to be a 5th). Standard intonation settings sounded sour so we balanced the intonation on 5thgs to correct it. FWIW supposedly this is the way Randy Rhoads tuned his axe....don't know if their was any truth to that or not but it did change our sound in a subtle way.

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