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Are Fender guitars never REALLY intonated?

LoopyBullet

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,089
Or are all electric guitar manufacturer's guitars noticeably like this? I've always noticed that no matter how accurate I intonate my MIM Strat, it's always just a little out of tune in certain places on the neck. Namely, the high bass strings, and maybe a sour note here or there up high on the middle strings, and also right by the nut on the higher strings. This is not even with me really playing or depressing the strings harder than I should. I understand that the traditionally constructed guitar with straight frets is an instrument that's never "really" in tune, but rather, you can just get very close. I use D'Addario 10's or Ernie Ball 10's on occasion.

I've also heard Philip Sayce say in a recent interview that he had a conversation with...not sure who it was...maybe Tommy Emmanuel? Anyway, whoever it was, he said that the true PLAYERS are those who MAKE the guitar sound in tune. For instance, Eric Johnson. He always sounds incredibly in tune, and it's just knowing the idiosyncrasies of the guitar, how to play in certain areas of the neck, etc.

Anyway, has anyone noticed that guitar companies other than Fender have instruments with better intonation? I've only really ever played Fender guitars, so I can't really comment on other makers. PRS sounds like it would be a company with fantastic intonation on their instruments. I know that the guitar is never REALLY intonated, but I'm just curious if there are others who are noticeably...MORE intonated than Fender? haha. Hope someone can drop their 2 cents in.
 

Coldacre

Senior Member
Messages
9,839
out of all the guitar I've ever played.... Fenders, Gibsons, Gretsch, Rickenbacker, Noyce, etc etc... the best guitar I've ever played for intonation was a Squier "J Mascis" Jazzmaster.
 

stevel

Member
Messages
15,165
My 2 cents: It doesn't matter.

We humans clearly can tolerate a fairly wide berth around a center pitch. Furthermore, we've invented things like vibrato to "cover up" intonation issues.

If you listen to any musical performance, there are always tuning issues.

Did you know that Pianos are intentionally mistuned? They are - look up "Stretch Tuning".

IOW, there's an "uncanny valley" with tuning too - things that are too perfectly in tune tend to sound "sterile" to us - happened with early synthesizers and now it's all over the place with "auto tune" - it sounds "fake" if it's "right".

You can drive yourself crazy with this stuff and it gets in the way of making art.

Plenty of singers are out of tune, plenty of instruments are out of tune, many zillion-selling records not only have tuning issues, but even completely wrong notes.

There are some things that try to "true" their tuning - like Babershop Quartets - but it's pretty clear that we don't want all of our music to sound like that.

You can look into Plekking, and then get into Fanned Frets, and then get into Just Intonation, and so on and so on. That's fine if you're into that stuff.

But just like notes aren't music, neither is how those notes are tuned. Let music be an art and get on with making it.

2 cents.
 

cap10kirk

Member
Messages
8,831
No normal guitar, regardless of brand, will intonate perfectly on every fret of every string. Musical instruments are imperfect by design, it's just part of it.
The True Temperament frets are supposed to offer perfect intonation, if it's really that important to you. But imo, it's not worth obsessing over.
 

Kurt L

Member
Messages
5,561
I can't think of any reason Fender would be better or worse than any other manufacturer on that scale. I believe it comes down to the skill of the person doing the setup and how much time they can afford to spend doing it.

If one of my guitars sounds off, I am capable of making appropriate tweaks and improving it.

But a skilled luthier (in my case, Chris Forshage) will know how the truss rod, frets, nut and saddles interact to affect intonation. And he'll have a feel for it that I won't... as a result my guitars just sound better and more in tune when he does it.

And stevel raise some interesting points. I guess the big question is if your intonation is off to the point that it bothers you or impares your performance. At some point I start to cringe...
 

diego

Member
Messages
3,056
It helps if you cut the nut a little lower! Honest.
And with Fenders... being careful about the pickup height(s).

(P.S. I was surprised how well the PRS McCarty plays in tune... with no individual string adjustments available.)
 

MartinPiana

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
4,540
Western music is by it's nature out of tune. Equal temperment artificially tweaks the naturally occurring overtones to "unnatural" intervals so we can have an equal distance between all pitches and modulate easily. Try just temperment if you want to be in tune (but not if you want to play with most of your friends).
 

Mikhael

Member
Messages
3,482
No guitar ever plays truly in tune; that's an indisputable fact. But with a good setup, it gets closer. I have also got into using a compensated nut, which has improved the tuning on my guitars immensely. No, it's not an Earvana; they had a good idea, but the offsets are too exaggerated, and not balanced from string to string. I use a slightly different set of offsets, probably closer to the Funky Nut that a luthier in Britain uses; it resembles that one somewhat.

But Fenders more than another brand? Not that I've noticed. It seems to be more random than that. My friend has a PRS that won't intonate correctly at all. When I contacted PRS about it, they said not to replace the nut, that they had already compensated somewhat by moving nut a hair closer to the bridge. Whatever; the damn thing won't play in tune to save its life. He has a Strat that does much better.
 

ksandvik

Member
Messages
6,328
Seems the standard for shipping electrical guitars today is 9-42, someone puts in a different string set, intonation wrong, wonders why the company didn't intonate the guitar...
 

bluesoul

Senior Member
Messages
4,646
Seems the standard for shipping electrical guitars today is 9-42, someone puts in a different string set, intonation wrong, wonders why the company didn't intonate the guitar...
How many players will need to make some set up adjusts to a guitar they receive?...most I would guess. Intonation set at the factory would be specific to a setup...so a change in string gauge, intonation will change a bit...change string height, it can change a lot. Anyone with tuner and a few minutes can make the adjustments needed...it would be impossible to set up guitars hoping they please everyone! If intonation is setup by the builder...at least it won't be way off with the new owner makes changes.
 

dazco

Member
Messages
15,299
As has been said, it's inherent. But do note that the higher your action the worse it'll be. My guitars are all set with very low action so when i fret a string it doesn't stretch it enough to be noticeably out of tune to any degree that is bothersome.
 

kowalski440

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,550
Learn how to properly setup your instrument on your own and you'll never lose intonation.
 

slider

Member
Messages
1,533
Played a Tom Andersen with a Buzz Feiten system that was amazingly close to perfect. Also the Modulus basses with the graphite necks are really close. But as somebody above said, you can make really good music with an imperfectly intonated instrument. John Mclaughlin and John Coltrane both play out of tune all the time, and they're brilliant.
 
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The_Whale

Member
Messages
6,133
Or are all electric guitar manufacturer's guitars noticeably like this? I've always noticed that no matter how accurate I intonate my MIM Strat, it's always just a little out of tune in certain places on the neck. QUOTE]

Floating bridges, by their nature, have more variables that need to accommodated for when making the compromises necessary when setting the intonation.
 

qblue

Member
Messages
1,048
My 2012 Gibson LP Tribute 60's is my most un-intonated guitar. My 3 Fenders are spot on, including a Baja Tele with a 3 barrel bridge. The other two are Strats from 1970 and 1990.

Maybe it's the high nut, or the binds that occur at the nut, but I'm considering a TP-6 replacement of the stopbar. I've tried to intonate the G string on the TOM bridge, but all the movement of the blade just gets me close. My other Gibsons are fine. The ES-347 has a TP-6, and really helps for poor intonation difficulty due to temp changes. See my avatar.

My Yamaha SBG2100 and the Ibanez AFJ95 jazzbox are really well intonated, and only go out of tune if I don't play them on a routine basis.
 

shakeshakeshake

Senior Member
Messages
5,030
I've read that the shorter the scale length, the more out of whack things get in terms of intonation (with traditional nuts)-

anyone know if thats true?
 

ToneKing

Member
Messages
1,424
My anderson cobra w/buzz feiten setup was the best intoned guitar I have ver owned, but my strats and teles are pretty close. I've had more trouble with the gibbons I have owned. ymmv.
 

Jimmy R

Member
Messages
1,384
I've honestly never had much of a problem with intonation on Stratocasters and Telecasters, other than a little difficulty balancing uncompensated Telecaster saddles. It's really not that big of a deal to me.

"I find that if you use the same kind of strings and change them on a regular basis, your intonation starts to set in and you don't have to move the bridge pieces that much. If you only change strings every week or two, it seems like you have to move the bridge pieces a lot more." - Eric Johnson
 






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