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I am very bad at doing intonation, any advice?

Sun Mar 15, 2020 5:48 pm

Just went through 4 guitars and the strat seems to be very responsive to minimal screw turns adjusting the bridge, but 2 tuneamatic style ones barely make any change to them point that I have a few strings maxed out as long as I can make them and I am still a few lines sharp on the tuner. Any advice from people to do their own intonation that you could offer? I am likely getting some time away from work due to the coronavirus so I have time to get better :)

Re: I am very bad at doing intonation, any advice?

Sun Mar 15, 2020 6:36 pm

1. It's not impossible to run out of adjustment on a tunematic, so don't blame yourself.

2. String gauge can be an issue - heavier strings need more length between nut and saddle than lighter ones.

3. Sometimes you can get a little more adjustment by reversing a saddle (unless it's already reversed).

4. Sometimes you can get a little more adjustment by filing a slot/notch at an angle so that the point the string breaks over the saddle as far back as possible.

5. Sometimes it's a problem with the string - swapping it for another might solve the problem.

6. Sometimes the bridge isn't far enough back (maybe it's tipped forward a bit) and pushing it back helps.

7. Sometimes none of the above fixes it exactly because the bridge post holes are not quite far enough back.

That covers most of the issues I've had over the years. If there's a tuning/intonation issue towards the nut end then it's the nut that's at fault, not the bridge.

Re: I am very bad at doing intonation, any advice?

Sun Mar 15, 2020 7:25 pm

thanks!

is there only 1 point in the saddle that will be the proper intonation, or multiple points that I am just turning the screws too much when I adjust and am missing? on the strat it was 8ths and lower of turns on the screws to make noticeable changes, but on the tunematic i sometimes see nothing even with half turns...

Re: I am very bad at doing intonation, any advice?

Sun Mar 15, 2020 7:48 pm

What might be happening is that the bottom of the saddle is moving, but the top isn't - I often have to push the top of the saddle with the screwdriver after turning the screw, so as to get it to sit flat.

There are some bridges where this doesn't happen, but a lot of them need a bit of persuading.

Re: I am very bad at doing intonation, any advice?

Sun Mar 15, 2020 7:58 pm

There is really only one point where the intonation will be "right", but depending on how accurate your tuner is, it's quite easy to fret the note at the 12th fret and make it sharp or flat just by bringing your finger down at a slightly different angle.

The note can also spike slightly sharp when you first hit the string and go flat as it decays - and if the strings are knackered/dirty then you're wasting your time.

Not only that but if you buy (for example) three sets of Ernie Ball 10s and measure them, they'll all be slightly different - the 10 might be anywhere between 9.5 and 10.5 etc.

So as long as you're fairly close it would take a very good ear to hear anything sounding wrong.

Re: I am very bad at doing intonation, any advice?

Mon Mar 16, 2020 4:56 pm

very great tips, thanks, that helps a great bit. I didn't think I was having repeated terrible luck missing multiple "right" spots, but good to get some info from someone more knowledgeable

Re: I am very bad at doing intonation, any advice?

Sun Mar 22, 2020 8:19 am

make sure your nut is lubricated and cut properly too. You're tuning and re-tuning a lot when setting the intonation, so make sure the other end of the guitar is working right too!
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