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Guitar won’t intonate - head scratcher

Jim85IROC

Member
Messages
1,929
PIc attached...I am really happy with result View attachment 294129
That's a very clever fix, but to be honest, this is one of those cases where I would have much preferred a "permanent" fix. The guitar is really of no use with the nut in the wrong spot, so modifying the guitar by bringing the nut slot closer to the bridge where it belongs seems like it would be the most prudent way to repair the guitar, and ensure that all future nuts will intonate properly too.
 

Lutty Lutty

Member
Messages
294
Because that is an assumption...
An assumption? Really? Oh, the irony!

Because thinking that you can move the starting point of a scale division, not modify said scale division.... and not end up in putting the whole temperament/intonation off, now THAT is an assumption, and quite a cockeyed one!

You guys need a reality chek and a course in mathematics applied to music. Individual-string compensation at the nut on a parralel-frets guitar is totally one of these chasing rainbows, logic be damned, facts be damned, magical thinking things that flies in the face of physics, mathematics, basic logic, and the the well-established working of stringed instruments. :rotflmao

guitar scale division and harmonics.jpg

This is something feasable only either on fretless instruments (where it would be kinda useless anyway, from a practical point of view) or on instruments with non parrallel frets. A multi-scale, "fanned-frets" instrument is the most obvious example.

This is such an illogial claim that until I meet some real-world extraordinary evidence that "compensating" at the nut for individual strings can be done on a regular, parrallel-frets scale guitar without throwing intonation off, I'm going to call it baloney. As also do, incidentally, several other luthiers I know, who happen to be way more experienced and knowledgable than I am.

individual-sting-compensated-nut-is-nonsense.JPG

Just by googling the thing, you'll soon notice that it's even declared by some of the most experienced luthiers in the world, as... quackery.

So.... Bring on the evidence (and not just vague claims or anecdotes) and I'll change my mind. :beer

I'm willing to bet that the only instance when it would appear to improve things, is when the nut slots have too much vertical clearance with the frets plane, putting intonation off on the first positions from too much fretting tension. But it would be the wrong remedy to the problem and still skew intonation higher (pitch-wise) on the neck.

On basses with jumbo frets, with strings >110 gauge, where even the best players have a hard time not to over-press the string in reaction to the tactile feel, now that's another story. I do use the individual string nut hack sometimes in this case. It still skews intonation higher on the neck, but bass players rarely play the lowest-pitched string past the 10-12th fret, so it's an acceptable compromise for most of them. For the others, I propose different but more expensive workarounds (lower profile frets, mostly: bass players rarely bend, and jumbo frets are a little nonsensical for non-benders).
 
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Bill Dennis

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
189
An assumption? Really? Oh, the irony!

Because thinking that you can move the starting point of a scale division, not modify said scale division.... and not end up in putting the whole temperament/intonation off, now THAT is an assumption, and quite a cockeyed one!

You guys need a reality chek and a course in mathematics applied to music. Individual-string compensation at the nut on a parralel-frets guitar is totally one of these chasing rainbows, logic be damned, facts be damned, magical thinking things that flies in the face of physics, mathematics, basic logic, and the the well-established working of stringed instruments. :rotflmao

View attachment 296795

This is something feasable only either on fretless instruments (where it would be kinda useless anyway, from a practical point of view) or on instruments with non parrallel frets. A multi-scale, "fanned-frets" instrument is the most obvious example.

This is such an illogial claim that until I meet some real-world extraordinary evidence that "compensating" at the nut for individual strings can be done on a regular, parrallel-frets scale guitar without throwing intonation off, I'm going to call it baloney. As also do, incidentally, several other luthiers I know, who happen to be way more experienced and knowledgable than I am.



Just by googling the thing, you'll soon notice that it's even declared by some of the most experienced luthiers in the world, as... quackery.

Bring on the evidence (and not just vague claims or anecdotes) and I'll change my mind.

I'm willing to bet that the only instance when it would appear to improve things, is when the nut slots have too much vertical clearance with the frets plane, putting intonation off on the first positions from too much fretting tension. But it would be the wrong remedy to the problem and still skew intonation higher (pitch-wise) on the neck.

On basses with jumbo frets, with strings >110 gauge, where even the best players have a hard time not to over-press the string in reaction to the tactile feel, now that's another story. I do use the individual string nut hack sometimes in this case. It still skews intonation higher on the neck, but bass players rarely play the lowest-pitched string past the 10-12th fret, so it's an acceptable compromise for most of them. For the others, I propose different but more expensive workarounds (lower profile frets, mostly: bass players rarely bend, and jumbo frets are a little nonsensical for non-benders).
You made the assumption that the fret crowns were off etc... The fellow that does the videos I linked to looks to be getting pretty damn accurate results in the real world with what he does and those results fly in the face of your theoretical data. I would be thrilled to here your explanations of the discrepencies, If its quackery as you suggest it should still be off a country mile but it isn't
 

Sweetfinger

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
12,227
This is such an illogial claim that until I meet some real-world extraordinary evidence that "compensating" at the nut for individual strings can be done on a regular, parrallel-frets scale guitar without throwing intonation off, I'm going to call it baloney. As also do, incidentally, several other luthiers I know, who happen to be way more experienced and knowledgable than I am.

I'm willing to bet that the only instance when it would appear to improve things, is when the nut slots have too much vertical clearance with the frets plane, putting intonation off on the first positions from too much fretting tension. But it would be the wrong remedy to the problem and still skew intonation higher (pitch-wise) on the neck.
Of course messing with the break point at the nut throws off intonation. THAT is the goal. It may not be a "fix all", but all anybody is trying to do is get a guitar where the chords sound acceptably consonant with different chord shapes, in different tunings, and playing in different keys. It is, an impossible task, which no amount of tuning offsetting, saddle intonation, nut intonation, or squiggly frets can entirely address.
Working the problem at the nut is simply using one point of adjustment to massage the notes where you need them to go, and is useful because many players are doing their primary chording in the lower area of the fingerboard, i.e. "cowboy chords".
Technologically, I think we're on the cusp of processing in a pedal or on-board form that could auto-tune your sour intervals as you are playing, but that won't be perfect either.
 

Timtam

Member
Messages
2,075
An assumption? Really? Oh, the irony!

Because thinking that you can move the starting point of a scale division, not modify said scale division.... and not end up in putting the whole temperament/intonation off, now THAT is an assumption, and quite a cockeyed one!

You guys need a reality chek and a course in mathematics applied to music. Individual-string compensation at the nut on a parralel-frets guitar is totally one of these chasing rainbows, logic be damned, facts be damned, magical thinking things that flies in the face of physics, mathematics, basic logic, and the the well-established working of stringed instruments. :rotflmao

View attachment 296795

This is something feasable only either on fretless instruments (where it would be kinda useless anyway, from a practical point of view) or on instruments with non parrallel frets. A multi-scale, "fanned-frets" instrument is the most obvious example.

This is such an illogial claim that until I meet some real-world extraordinary evidence that "compensating" at the nut for individual strings can be done on a regular, parrallel-frets scale guitar without throwing intonation off, I'm going to call it baloney. As also do, incidentally, several other luthiers I know, who happen to be way more experienced and knowledgable than I am.

View attachment 296802

Just by googling the thing, you'll soon notice that it's even declared by some of the most experienced luthiers in the world, as... quackery.

So.... Bring on the evidence (and not just vague claims or anecdotes) and I'll change my mind. :beer

I'm willing to bet that the only instance when it would appear to improve things, is when the nut slots have too much vertical clearance with the frets plane, putting intonation off on the first positions from too much fretting tension. But it would be the wrong remedy to the problem and still skew intonation higher (pitch-wise) on the neck.

On basses with jumbo frets, with strings >110 gauge, where even the best players have a hard time not to over-press the string in reaction to the tactile feel, now that's another story. I do use the individual string nut hack sometimes in this case. It still skews intonation higher on the neck, but bass players rarely play the lowest-pitched string past the 10-12th fret, so it's an acceptable compromise for most of them. For the others, I propose different but more expensive workarounds (lower profile frets, mostly: bass players rarely bend, and jumbo frets are a little nonsensical for non-benders).
Engineer/luthier Trevor Gore's method is to compensate at both the nut and the saddle (ie different saddle placement to conventional intonation). Changing each string's length - at both ends - avoids the need for fan frets etc. I haven't been able to get hold of the design/engineering volume of his two-volume book, so I haven't delved any further than what is publicly available (links below). But section 4.7 reviews the merits of extant methods for nut and saddle compensation, and shows that nut compensation on its own is not optimal. He then covers the background for his method, which is admittedly complex. It's based on modelling and experiments on string mechanical properties, and empirical verification of the modelling. The limitations of equal temperament tuning remain.

Standard nut, with 12th fret-based saddle intonation ...


Error with numerically-optimized compensated nut and saddle (ie string length and relative fret positions effectively different for both fretted and open notes) ...


www.classicalguitardelcamp.com/viewtopic.php?p=1162445&sid=37fae9c61228ddb529f7a13466b24e1e#p1162445
www.goreguitars.com.au/main/page_the_book_overview.html
www.goreguitars.com.au/main/page_innovation_summary_nut__saddle_compensation.html

Calculating the required nut and saddle compensation for a single string (whose mechanical properties must be known/measured) is an iterative numerical process (numerical optimization) to minimize tuning error across all frets. It can be done in a spreadsheet and looks something like this ...
Clipboard01.jpg
 

Lutty Lutty

Member
Messages
294
As usual Timtam, you're bringing fascinating and (*swallowing sound*) intimidating data to the table.

Is it me, or Isn't this extremely similar to what is known as the Buzz Feiten system? Which I tried, and found zero real-world benefit to be found, probably because of the limitations from finger pressure control on the player side; fret height; and loose manufacturing tolerances for scale division and fret placement (among others).

I'm definitly going to try and study this. It's enthralling enough. Thanks! :)

But rightaway, something bothers me: the Fp and G0 variables, mentioned as "user preference"... Very curious as to what they mean... in case they have something to do with vertical clearance at the nut haha ;-)
 
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Lutty Lutty

Member
Messages
294
You made the assumption that the fret crowns were off etc...
?????????????????????????????????????
You're inferring from my posts opinions that I didn't have the intention to voice, not specifically about this video anyways.
Maybe it's clumsiness from my part though. I don't always re-read what I write.
 

Bill Dennis

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
189
?????????????????????????????????????
You're inferring from my posts opinions that I didn't have the intention to voice, not specifically about this video anyways.
Maybe it's clumsiness from my part though. I don't always re-read what I write.
You are just straight up incoherent now.. Done here...
 

Lutty Lutty

Member
Messages
294
When you change the string length at the nut and saddle, and re-tune to pitch at that new length, you are effectively changing the relative position of every fret in relation to the (new) length of the string, both open and fretted.
Exactly! :) I thought this was obvious for everyone working in the trade (tech or luthier) and even lots of musicians.

It was obvious to me, way before I learned the trade, but I have formal classical training, this maybe explaining that...

The fact that you seem to stress the point, seems to indicate that I was wrong to assume that everyone gets the part I quote. Thus I guess I was making my position less clear than it should have been, which triggered what I perceived as very strange, irrrelevant responses to my posts. Just a hypothesis lol

I'll be back after studying Trevor Gore's fascinating research/analysis. But as you can guess, I'm biased towards looking for inconsistencies in it ;-)
 
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Lutty Lutty

Member
Messages
294
simply using one point of adjustment to massage the notes where you need them to go, and is useful because many players are doing their primary chording in the lower area of the fingerboard, i.e. "cowboy chords".
Put this way, it kinda makes sense, I reckon.

Assuming, though, that the guitar is not supposed to be played differently at any time (not without a lot of sour notes past the 10-12th fret)... it will be a "one-trick pony", right? Nothing wrong with that in my book, IF the player is fully aware of the limitation.

Kinda the same reason I'm ok to do such individual-string nut compensations for some 5-strings bass players who rarely play the lower strings (E/B) past the 10th fret.
 
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Sweetfinger

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
12,227
Put this way, it kinda makes sense, I reckon.

Assuming, though, that the guitar is not supposed to be played differently at any time (not without a lot of sour, over-sharp notes passed the 10-12th fret)... it will be a "one-trick pony", right? Nothing wrong with that IMO, IF the player is fully aware of the limitation.
You compensate as best you can by adjusting the saddle intonation. If a guitar WAS a "one trick pony", we'd be able to get it to do that trick a lot better. IMO, a squiggle fret guitar IS more of a one trick pony than a stock standard type.
The Buzz Feiten system has a shelf nut, AND a set of intonation offsets.
Again, the goal is to try and get something that's evened out and consonant enough for the player to be happy. If your goal is for every note to be "perfect", were you able to achieve that goal, you'd be out of tune with every other instrument. Pianos are not perfectly intonated.
The fact that a guitar, or any multi-key instrument can't be perfectly intonated, is a "limitation" players and luthiers/techs alike should be aware of.
You ask your customer to choose what's most important and try to work on that.
I use the car analogy:
Everybody wants a big, powerful engine that gets really great mileage. It doesn't exist. Your big ol' Ford truck that you use to haul a four-horse trailer isn't going to get 60 miles per gallon. If you are simply commuting to work on surface streets 15 minutes a day, a "smart car" might be a great solution.

The most "in tune" guitar I've ever owned was a Danelectro U2 reissue. It was absolutely not, intonated with reference to an electronic tuner. The high E and B strings were flat in the upper register, G and D were sharp, the saddle was the stock straight piece of rosewood.
The strings were a flattened radius, because the bridge plate, as is common, had "smiley-faced", and bent down from string pressure.'
Stock Aluminum nut.
Whatever random acts that happened to bring all those "wrong" things together was a happy accident, as the result of the higher action on the outside of the neck, sharp and flat intonation at the bridge, made this guitar play chords with more consonance than most others. I even loaned it out to someone for recording.
If I get a customer who has a style that doesn't work well with a "correctly" intonated guitar, I'll experiment with some offsets to see if they work better.
There's nothing wrong with trying to make a nicely compensated guitar, but at the same time, luthiers, players, techs, need to realize that the "perfect" guitar doesn't exist, and can't.
 

Lutty Lutty

Member
Messages
294
You compensate as best you can by adjusting the saddle intonation. If a guitar WAS a "one trick pony", we'd be able to get it to do that trick a lot better. IMO, a squiggle fret guitar IS more of a one trick pony than a stock standard type.
The Buzz Feiten system has a shelf nut, AND a set of intonation offsets.
Again, the goal is to try and get something that's evened out and consonant enough for the player to be happy. If your goal is for every note to be "perfect", were you able to achieve that goal, you'd be out of tune with every other instrument. Pianos are not perfectly intonated.
The fact that a guitar, or any multi-key instrument can't be perfectly intonated, is a "limitation" players and luthiers/techs alike should be aware of.
You ask your customer to choose what's most important and try to work on that.
I use the car analogy:
Everybody wants a big, powerful engine that gets really great mileage. It doesn't exist. Your big ol' Ford truck that you use to haul a four-horse trailer isn't going to get 60 miles per gallon. If you are simply commuting to work on surface streets 15 minutes a day, a "smart car" might be a great solution.

The most "in tune" guitar I've ever owned was a Danelectro U2 reissue. It was absolutely not, intonated with reference to an electronic tuner. The high E and B strings were flat in the upper register, G and D were sharp, the saddle was the stock straight piece of rosewood.
The strings were a flattened radius, because the bridge plate, as is common, had "smiley-faced", and bent down from string pressure.'
Stock Aluminum nut.
Whatever random acts that happened to bring all those "wrong" things together was a happy accident, as the result of the higher action on the outside of the neck, sharp and flat intonation at the bridge, made this guitar play chords with more consonance than most others. I even loaned it out to someone for recording.
If I get a customer who has a style that doesn't work well with a "correctly" intonated guitar, I'll experiment with some offsets to see if they work better.
There's nothing wrong with trying to make a nicely compensated guitar, but at the same time, luthiers, players, techs, need to realize that the "perfect" guitar doesn't exist, and can't.
Maybe it's not your intention, so sorry in advance for any offense, but from where I stand your post, while making a couple of perfectly good points, is full of red herrings and strawman arguments.

So before going any further, I'd like to verify something.

First, let's entirely forget about "perfect pitch" (a red herring if there's any...) and merely work under the basic assumption that the theoritical target is "as good as can be" equal temperament. After all, it's what fretted guitars are supposed to do 99,9% of the time (or they'd sound off with most other instruments).

OT/Opinionated position from my part: don't want equal temperament? Play fretless! (that's what I do BTW). All other tricks to avoid equal temperament are vain and chasing rainbows (except compensated frets but then you have only ONE key sounding right - which is why equal temperament was developed and finally adopted during the late stages of the Baroque era).

Do you agree that on a "standard" guitar, by moving the starting point of the standard equal-temperament scale division for a given string, at the nut, towards the first fret, and then compensating with the saddle at the other end to bring back the coincidence of the 12th fret with the octave harmonic, will end up in:
  1. shortening the effective scale for this string, relative to the theoritical equal-temperament scale originally calculated to place the frets?
  2. Make on this string, all notes lower (pitch-wise) than the 12th fret, sound flatter than the original scale, the closer to the nut the flatter relative to the original scale?
  3. Make all notes on this string, higher (pitch-wise) than the 12th fret, sound sharper than the original scale, the further from the 12th fret the sharper relative to the original scale?

If you reply "yes" to all three questions, we can continue this discussion.

If you reply "no" to any of these, well... I'm throwing the towel. :)
 
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Dave Weir

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
1,225
You are just straight up incoherent now.. Done here...
It didn’t seem incoherent to me. I think Lutty is one of the newer guys posting here but I find his contributions interesting and he seems well informed and passionate about his work.
so welcome aboard Mr. Lutty!
As to the repair in question I’m surprised the nut was that far off, but it looks very well done. Oversized the shelf a bit and then dialing it back seems like a good approach.
ive never been a fan of compensated nuts and actually always use zero frets. I can, with the proper finger pressure, play every note on every string in tune. Actually doing it in real time is another issue, and takes considerable skill and a good ear
 

Lutty Lutty

Member
Messages
294
Support from Dave Weir???? Really?

Wow I'm in heaven lol :love:

Explanation: before joining this board, Dave's contributions have been among the most inspiring and enlightening to me.

So... I seize the opportunity to say "thank you Dave"!! :) for the welcome, for the support, but above all, for educating me (without knowing it lol)
 

Dave Weir

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
1,225
Support from Dave Weir???? Really?

Wow I'm in heaven lol :love:

Explanation: before joining this board, Dave's contributions have been among the most inspiring and enlightening to me.

So... I seize the opportunity to say "thank you Dave"!! :) for the welcome, for the support, but above all, for educating me (without knowing it lol)
Well, that was a little over the top, which immediately makes me suspicious, but I’ll take it at face value, and thank you.
I also appreciate Sweetfinger’s perspective and even though on the surface it can look like a disagreement, I think you guys actually both have a pretty good understanding of how it all works, and are really just about “in tune.”
I try to follow Timtam’s references but I think I just don’t have the attention span for it. I usually fall back to David Collins’s videos on intonation as my bass line. If you haven’t watched them, they are well worth looking them up
 

Lutty Lutty

Member
Messages
294
Well, that was a little over the top, which immediately makes me suspicious,
Yeah, after writing the post I had second thoughts, fearing it could be taken the wrong way (especially since you noticed that I'm often being a little sarcastic ;-) but that's only towards a certain "kind" of posters ;-)).

Sorry about that, I'm just an "over the top" kind of guy when I'm in a good mood. :)
I’ll take it at face value, and thank you
Was meant to. And you're welcome. (aren't we going in circles here? lol)
I think you guys actually both have a pretty good understanding of how it all works, and are really just about “in tune.”
I certainly hope so. :) Thing is, I'm just generally leery. (not sure about the word "leery" in this context - english is not my mother language, as you can tell).
I usually fall back to David Collins’s videos on intonation as my bass line. If you haven’t watched them, they are well worth looking them up
Haven't. Will do. Thanks for the hint.
"Bass line". Funny typo lol - was it a pun per chance?
 

Dave Weir

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
1,225
"Bass line". Funny typo lol - was it a pun per chance?
It wasn't meant to be, but I caught it as I wrote it.
I think for you personally, the Collins video is going to be more of a confirmation than any new information.
I like it because it's pretty straight forward and understandable and lines up with my preferred reality.
 

Sweetfinger

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
12,227
Maybe it's not your intention, so sorry in advance for any offense, but from where I stand your post, while making a couple of perfectly good points, is full of red herrings and strawman arguments.
Where's the fun in internet conversation without a strawman or two? What may be straw men and red herrings, I may be referencing because they've come up before, not necessarily in this thread, and "perfect tuning" isn't so much a red herring, as a Unicorn.
Do you agree that on a "standard" guitar, by moving the starting point of the standard equal-temperament scale division for a given string, at the nut, towards the first fret, and then compensating with the saddle at the other end to bring back the coincidence of the 12th fret with the octave harmonic, will end up in:
  1. shortening the effective scale for this string, relative to the theoritical equal-temperament scale originally calculated to place the frets?
  2. Make on this string, all notes lower (pitch-wise) than the 12th fret, sound flatter than the original scale, the closer to the nut the flatter relative to the original scale?
  3. Make all notes on this string, higher (pitch-wise) than the 12th fret, sound sharper than the original scale, the further from the 12th fret the sharper relative to the original scale?

If you reply "yes" to all three questions, we can continue this discussion.

If you reply "no" to any of these, well... I'm throwing the towel. :)
Sure, I agree, but again, I view nut break offsets, saddle intonation intonation offsets, and tuning offsets, as tools that can be helpful trying to get a guitar to sound good to the player, or listener, maybe both, in whatever playing situation is important to them.
It can be a deep, dark, rabbit hole, making fractional adjustments for middling returns. That's a hole I don't want to go down.
Spending hours looking at pearloid encrusted Soviet era electric guitars from Russia, Czechoslovakia, and East Germany? I like that rabbit hole.

99% of the time, I wouldn't bother with nut placement or front shims. Is it rockin? Yeah? Let's roll!
 




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