Intonation question: Open string and 12th fret in tune, 5th fret sharp.

NoahL

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1,423
I haven't had time to check to see if this is a problem across all strings, sorry. It showed up last night after a string change and a quick intonation. I fear that I don't do the intonation the best way -- just open and 12th fret depressed. How do I incorporate the harmonic into this? And what about that 5th fret that's sharp? This was on the G string and I'll check the others tonight, plus at other spots on the neck. I know intonation is a compromise, but this seems wacky.
 

NoahL

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1,423
That's what my Korg stompbox tuner said. It read a couple red dots north of in-tune.
 

Hargrett

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127
If the G string read "in tune" from open through the fourth fret, sharp at the fifth, and "in tune" all the rest of the way up, that's a strange one... the first thing I'd try is a new G string.
 

Scumback Speakers

Platinum Supporting Member
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10,849
Sounds to me like you have too much relief in the neck, forcing you to press down the string too far at the 5th fret, thereby causing it to read/sound sharp.
 

Hargrett

Member
Messages
127
If the G string read "in tune" from open through the fourth fret, sharp at the fifth, and "in tune" all the rest of the way up, that's a strange one... the first thing I'd try is a new G string.
When adjusting intonation, I think a lot of folks tune the open string, check the harmonic at the 12th fret, gently fret the string at the 12th fret, check the tuning at 12, and adjust the bridge saddle accordingly. There are other adjustments that may need to be made for the guitar to be intonated correctly... it's not all in the bridge, by any means.
If your guitar is playing in such a way that you feel you need to check each note with a tuner (a sure formula for frustration), the best bet is probably to take it to a shop for a set-up, including truss rod adjustment, fret level and crown, nut dress, bridge adjustment (height and intonation), and pickup adjustment. After all that, it should be as good as it's going to get. All the best!
 

EADGBE

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12,344
Try getting the harmonic at the 12th fret to sound exactly in tune to the string fretted at the 12th fret and both of these exactly one octave above the open string using your ear. I don't think Korg tuners are very accurate. Do this in a quiet room and take your time.
 

walterw

Platinum Supporting Member
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38,016
If the G string read "in tune" from open through the fourth fret, sharp at the fifth, and "in tune" all the rest of the way up, that's a strange one... the first thing I'd try is a new G string.
yep.
Sounds to me like you have too much relief in the neck, forcing you to press down the string too far at the 5th fret, thereby causing it to read/sound sharp.
+1, or the nut might be too high, causing the same problem that too much relief would cause on the first few frets, and especially on a plain G.
 

forestryguy

Member
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810
Could also be a string guage problem if it was intonated for one guage and another was used. Particularly if it was a plain 3rd replaced with a wound one.
 

NoahL

Member
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1,423
Try getting the harmonic at the 12th fret to sound exactly in tune to the string fretted at the 12th fret and both of these exactly one octave above the open string using your ear. I don't think Korg tuners are very accurate. Do this in a quiet room and take your time.
this isn't one of those $20 Korgs. it's the $100 stompbox type. is that still unreliable? does Korg have a bad rep? i guess that brings up the question of what is the cheapest really good tuner for intonating?
 
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1,092
this isn't one of those $20 Korgs. it's the $100 stompbox type. is that still unreliable? does Korg have a bad rep? i guess that brings up the question of what is the cheapest really good tuner for intonating?

i have better results setting intonation with a strobe tuner (like a peterson). never tried a korg, but i tried setting intonation once with one of the boss tu-2's and it was not helpful at all...
 

Super Locrian

Member
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1,508
A guitar tech told me that you either have to use your ear or a strobe tuner to intonate a guitar properly. Regular tuners are neither precise nor consistent enough. And it's not just a matter of adjusting at the bridge, you need to adjust the truss rod for the right neck relief as well.
 

Hargrett

Member
Messages
127
... and if the nut slot angles aren't cut right, you won't get the intonation right by adjusting the bridge...
 

gtrnstuff

Member
Messages
2,496
Is it only the 3rd string? Time for a new string. I've had good brands that have a bad one in the set, brand new.

Try comparing 1st fret to 13th, intonating the bridge. That takes the nut height/location out of the equation. Then check the middle frets.

Most tuners in the $100 range will do an acceptable job. My Peterson Virtual Strobe reads faster and more accurately, but I get OK results with Korg DT-7.
 

NoahL

Member
Messages
1,423
I hear you guys. I'm going to do an open/12th/12th harmonic setup to the best of my ability, then test every fret multiple times and see what's what. If it's all f*cked up, I'll go get a full setup with inspection of nut, frets, relief, etc. I'll check back with y'all.
 

Mike Navarro

Member
Messages
106
I'm agree with Hargrett, first thing is change the string, you don't have an idea how many times this happen in my shop including new strings, depending the brand of the string, this problem is more frequent in those brands doesn't come in sealed baggages as D Addario, sometimes strings are storage month's in the warehouse distributor an then in the store warehouse and when you buy this strings has a year from warehouse to warehouse, and you believe you are installing "new fresh" string!!! so
change the strings, then adjust trus rod in tune, then height and last octaves (harmonics, saddles) in this order. Another consideration is how hard you press the string!!, when you check any fret, and the possibility of a miscalculate fret depends of the precision of the guitar brand!!
http://guitarzonepr.com
 

fumbler

Member
Messages
1,471
Sounds like the nut to me. After you've done the open/12th fret intonation you should check the first few frets. My guess is they will all be pretty sharp. The G-string is always the worst.

Definitely do the 1st fret/13th fret intonation.

I'm a big believer in the Earvana nut.
 

Flyin' Brian

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
30,113
I can't find the thread but I remember John Suhr saying that he never used open strings to intonate guitars but use 2nd fret/14th fret to check octaves. I think maybe that won't help your 5th fret problem, but anything's worth a try. It does sound like it's a neck relief issue though.
 




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