Changing electric guitar strings and intonation???

Discussion in 'Luthier's Guitar & Bass Technical Discussion' started by 1984, Dec 2, 2019.

  1. 1984

    1984 Member

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    Hi,

    Does changing electric guitar strings effect the intonation of the guitar? I would be changing string gauges slightly as well...going from 9-42's to 9-46's. Switching from Elixir strings to GHS Boomers to be exact.

    Thanks.
     
  2. Killed_by_Death

    Killed_by_Death Member

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    It does affect it, which you'll find out as soon as you do a check.
    Intonation isn't really difficult, so just adjust it when you're done. It's the final step of a good setup.
     
    1984 likes this.
  3. 1984

    1984 Member

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    Just changing the strings...or changing the gauge as well? Or both?
     
  4. Killed_by_Death

    Killed_by_Death Member

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    changing old for new right away is going to throw it off, IME, even on the same brand & stringset
    the wire changes with fatigue & requires adjustments
    some bass players only change strings once they can no longer set intonation, due to metal fatigue

    Setting intonation takes a few minutes, just do it.
     
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2019 at 1:55 AM
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  5. Ayrton

    Ayrton Member

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    You should check and adjust your intonation after every string change, even if the same brand and gauge.
     
  6. 1984

    1984 Member

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    Thanks for your help. Is The Key the easiest way to set intonation for a guitar with a Floyd Rose? I'm using a Snark tuner as well. Not the greatest.
     
  7. RicOkc

    RicOkc Member

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    Check out the Floyd Rose set-up videos on YouTube.
     
  8. 70 Mach 1

    70 Mach 1 Supporting Member

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    maybe im the chosen one but my intonation only needs a tweak every 7-10 yrs or so

    i check them at every string change + or -1 cent and i dont mess with it

    your ears cant hear that difference

    But i do always use 10-46s. any name brand i can find a sale on. usually $3 for $10 deals at GC
    Im not brand loyal on strings

    if it matter i dont have have fancy Floyd rose or tremolo guitars to deal with. Hard Tail only
     
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  9. Wishing Wells

    Wishing Wells Member

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    The Key intonation tool definitely makes it easier but it isn't really that much easier. You can save yourself some slackening of the tension on your strings as you make your adjustments.

    Depending on how exacting you are about it, using strings with more tension like you are going to do also will change the trem angle and relief too, so you might need to tweak those as well.
     
  10. Killed_by_Death

    Killed_by_Death Member

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    If you need tremolo, just wiggle the volume knob :p
     
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  11. bob-i

    bob-i Member

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    I don’t believe a little change in string gauge requires intonation adjustment.

    the physics behind it is that heavier strings will require more pressure to fret the notes, and therefore pull the string sharp. So that means going from .042 to .046 should require moving the saddle back a little. In actual practice it’s a very small difference and not worth worrying about.

    guitar intonation is imperfect and how you tune and fret is more important than the bridge adjustment.

    JMO
     
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  12. Dominik

    Dominik Member

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    Without it you've got to detune, loosen the saddle locking screw, move the saddle, tighten the screw, tune back up to pitch, check the intonation, and repeat all those steps until it's right and hope you don't break a string before you're done.

    It's definitely worth getting the tool especially if this is something you'll be doing frequently.

    I use the Ibanez EJK1000 for my Lo-Pro Edge but this looks like the best one.

    [​IMG]
     
  13. Wishing Wells

    Wishing Wells Member

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    Eh if they were like 10 bucks I'd probably consider it worth it. I'm not re-intonating constantly though.

    I can't imagine much danger of breaking a string doing an intonation adjustment the old fashioned way but I might be overly careful
     
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2019 at 11:24 PM
  14. Mark Robinson

    Mark Robinson Member

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    With a vibrato equipped guitar, absolutely must check. I'm not sure about the Elixer strings, but GHS Boomers are wound on round core wire. Many other strings are wound on hexagonal core wire. This makes a difference in string tension. You could have an impact in neck relief and the vibrato can sink or rise, which absolutely will show in the intonation.

    So what I'd do is before changing the strings, measure the clearance between the Vibrato bridge plate and the body of the guitar. Write it down. Change the strings, stretch them very thoroughly. Tune the instrument to pitch, doesn't have to be ultra perfect, but very close. Re-measure the distance from bridge plate to guitar body. Adjust the claw, tightening to lower the plate, loosening to raise the plate, in an iterative process, adjust claw, tune, adjust claw tune, repeat. This takes quite a bit of effort and it is very important to be thorough. After the guitar is nominally tuned, open strings, then you check the intonation. Make those adjustments, then re-check the plate height. Like @Dominik says, a tool might be a good idea and save time. To me, what needs doing with Floyds in particular and doesn't hurt at all with simpler vibratos, is this: Settle on a string gauge and string brand for that instrument. That will reduce your frustration and time spent mucking around by 95%.

    I have found that once a guitar is competently set up, like @bob-i says, major intonation moves aren't super common with hard tail instruments. But its a thing that should be verified often, takes 35 seconds to do.

    Relief of the neck is the adjustment parameter I see in significant drift, most often when setting up customer guitars and some of my own that I play infrequently. Excessive relief creates all sorts of havoc, as does backbow.

    Look at acoustic guitars, rare indeed is one with adjustable intonation.
     
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  15. GenericUserName

    GenericUserName Member

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    No, it can be done without detuning by using a flat screwdriver. Been doing since I was 15 and didn't know about the intonation tool. Just be careful and tape off surrounding areas if you're worried.

    You're not making a drastic change by going to 46s. If I were you, I'd just put the new set on and play it. If it sounds good you're probably set. If it sounds off, then adjust if needed.

    I don't know why anyone would check their intonation when changing strings for exact replacements. I set mine when I get a new guitar...if need be. After that I never bother to check again. Why? If the strings are the same brand and gauge there's no reason. Only time I ever check is if something doesn't sound right. When that happens, 99% of the time it's a dud string so I change the offender(s) and it's always fixed it for me. And don't worry, I have a great ear so I'd know if there was a problem. The temperament that's built into guitars bothers me so I do have good pitch.
     
  16. Gevalt

    Gevalt Supporting Member

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    It's been a misnomer for 65 years. The war's over.
     
  17. Killed_by_Death

    Killed_by_Death Member

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    Not as long as there are still people out there who don't know the difference, and there are MANY!
     

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