Help!! - Serious Intonation Problem

Discussion in 'Luthier's Guitar & Bass Technical Discussion' started by KidMagic, Mar 10, 2006.


  1. KidMagic

    KidMagic Member

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    Hi - I bought a fairly expensive vintage Es335 (an early 70's) off ebay. Cosmetically the thing is in prestine shape (I was estatic when it first arrived). I restrung it, adjusted the neck, set the intonation (so the 12th fret matched open notes). But it still sounded a little weird when playing open cords.

    I kept checking the tuning, etc. and couldn't figure out why it didn't sound good.

    Well I finally got the tuner back out, and started checking each fret of each string.. AHHHHH!!! almost every string in the first fret was out by 5-6 Mhz. Going up the board, it got progressively better, until about the 5th-6th fret when the intonation settled into being w/in 1 mhz of the actual desired note.

    uhh, I can't play this thing unless I can get this fixed, - there is no sweet ring... it sounds like a bad epiphone for over $2K!!!

    Is there any chance to fix this?? Would a refret do it?? (by the way the frets seem to have plenty of life left).. THanks
     
  2. TheArchitect

    TheArchitect Guest

    Most guitars will be off a lot more in the first few frets than they are further up the neck. It sounds like the nut is cut too high. That will definitley cause what you are describing. If the nut is right the only other thing would be to do what PRS/Feiten do and have the nut moved forward a bit.
     
  3. bailnout

    bailnout Member

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    TheArchitect is right. It might be that the nut is to high.

    Also, if the nut slot isn't cut properly, it will badly mess with your intonation. The string should break over the nut right at the leading edge. If the nut is terminating the string somewhere further up into the nut, that string will be off on every fret except the 12th.

    If you've never cut nut slots before, you may want to take the guitar to a qualified repair tech. 34 years old makes that guitar pretty vintage stuff. You wouldn't want to F it up trying to be a do it yourselfer.

    Don't give up hope on that guitar until you have an experienced tech look at it.
     
  4. KidMagic

    KidMagic Member

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    The action is set nice and low, very very low, near first fret and probably rises to 3/16 - 1/4 inch by the 12th fret. But I hear what your saying about where the string contacts the nut. That could be the problem - but the weird thing is that all 6 strings are basically out by roughly the same amount (5mhz.). The notes are ringing sharp - so maybe a nut that leans forward a bit could help??

    I'm not experienced to do anything beyond basic neck adjustments and intonation - so it's definitely off to a good tech. Anyone know one in the San Diego area??

    Thanks.
     
  5. Guinness Lad

    Guinness Lad Silver Supporting Member

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    The best way to check if the nut is cut too high is to press any string down at the second fret. If cut correctly (height wise) there will be a very small gap between the string and the 1st fret. A trick to try is lightly tap the string above the 1st fret, when cut right you will get a cool little buzzing sound out of the string. I would not want much more space then a piece of paper between the string and the 1st fret when setting the nut height. Some guys will want more gap but it will play out of tune when you do all your cowboy chords.
     
  6. bailnout

    bailnout Member

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    Yea man. I don't know who in San Diego but their's gotta be just a ton of guys in SoCal that can help you out. 1/4 of an inch at the 12th fret seem REALLY high to me. If you can lower the bridge down to where you are getting about 3/64ths of an inch or even 1/16th, that might just solve your intonation problems. If lowering the bridge causes a lot of buzz, you may need a truss rod adjustment to take a bow out of the neck. You say you know how to do neck adjustments so I'm thinking you better get it to a real good tech. There really could be a number of things causing this.
     

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