Headstock repair

Discussion in 'Luthier's Guitar & Bass Technical Discussion' started by Powerfibers, Oct 7, 2006.

  1. Powerfibers

    Powerfibers Member

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    Mar 8, 2005
    Location:
    Buffalo, NY
    I was interested in getting a Hamer for a back up to my usual guitar, and for $50 I bought a Korean model sunburst that had the headstock repaired, had no bridge or tailpiece and not tuners. The repair seemed good, but was a little rough and needs some apparent touch up work. I put on the bridge and some new PLanet Waves tuners. The guitar will not stay in tune for the life of me. It will be intonated properly at the open notes and 12th fret harmonic but then be off in other places once I play it for ten seconds or more. I don;t think I have the tuning pegs wrong or that they are slipping. I am looking for some advice on whether or not it could be the repair giving way as the strings tune up. Can this be a normal result of a bad job on the headstock repair?
    Thanks for the help in advance.
    Bob M.
     
  2. jmadill

    jmadill Gold Supporting Member

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    Location:
    Freeland, MD
    Just as a point of reference, the harmonic at the 12th fret will ALWAYS be in tune with the open string. This is because regardless of how close you are to the actual 12th fret, that harmonic is the strongest, and will always ring at the halfway point of the string length.

    The best way to check intonation for trueness is to compare the 12th fret harmonic to the fretted note at the 12th fret. Once that is in tune, then compare other notes below the 12th fret to those above the 12th fret.

    Always use good, new strings when setting intonation.

    Something to check in your process is how well the strings fit into the nut. If they are tight, and bind, you will THINK you are in tune, but after playing a bit, the string tension will even out and the string will be out of tune. You can lube the nut if it's binding. Just rubbing a pencil lead in the slot will serve as a graphite lubricant, and may help.

    Another thing that many people overlook is to always tune up to the note. If you go past the note, tune down past the note, and then back up to it. This ensures that the string tension is applied evenly. It also will compensate for loose tuners, as it ensures that the gears are engaged at all times.

    Excess wrapping of the string around the tuner can also be an issue. (My method for installing strings is to cut the string off 1 1/2" past the post. Make a right angle bend at the 1/2" point and insert that into the tuner hole. Tighten the tuner, wrapping the string first above the tail end, then below it. This will cinch the wire as the string gets tighter. There are other methods, but until I used this one, I always had issues with tuning due to string movement in the tuning peg.

    There could also be an issue with the truss rod. If you don't know what you are doing, don't mess with it because you can definitely ruin it, but if the tension is off on the truss rod, the neck may flex more than is desired. If you want to learn, get a good book (Dan Erlewine has a great one) or do some research through Google.

    I hope this helps.

    -jm
     
  3. Powerfibers

    Powerfibers Member

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    Location:
    Buffalo, NY
    Thanks JM.
    I was unaware that the harmonic was NOT what you set the intonation with. I will recheck and set it to the fretted note. I have never messed with the intonation much, and I must have been given misinformation. I have been real lucky to have a best friend and bandmate who is the best repair guy in town, and he always tweaks my stuff. I have not shown him this yet, and he was not the one who advised me as to how to intonate the tunomatic, so I think your post will be very helpful.

    I still wonder if a bad reglue would affect the tuning and staying in tune. As for the stringing info, the Planet Waves tuners are locking tuners with almost no string wrap because of the self cutting action they have.
    Thanks, Bob
     
  4. jmadill

    jmadill Gold Supporting Member

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    Location:
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    Yes, a bad reglue would affect the tuning, but I was just trying to point out things that would eliminate the headstock from the equation. I suspect that if it was bad, you would be able to see it. If it's really bad, you might have to be ready to duck. ;)

    If there are visible gaps between the parts, that would be a good clue. I might also be tempted to put pressure on it to see if there is indeed movement between the pieces. It's better to find out now rather than to wait until it comes apart while playing, and hits you on the head. :eek:

    -jm
     
  5. Powerfibers

    Powerfibers Member

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    Location:
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    Thanks JM.
    I think I have found the culprit. I set the intonation using the fretted note at 12, and it was off on 5 of 6 strings. I think that the only problem now is that the nut slots need to be a bit deeper. The nut is not cut properly and the added distance to the fret is causing the first few frets to be way sharp. The strings are visibly high up more on the face of the nut.
    Have you or others experienced this? Does it seem reasonable?
    Thanks in advance,
    Bob
     
  6. musicofanatic5

    musicofanatic5 Supporting Member

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    Yes. if your strings are too high at the nut, the first few fretted notes will be sharp. My rule of measurement is: fretting the string at the third fret, the string should just clear the first fret.
    ________
    how to roll blunts
     
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2011

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