Tuning Question Please

Discussion in 'Guitars' started by Gfurman, Jun 12, 2019 at 11:03 PM.

  1. Gfurman

    Gfurman Member

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    My guitar is in standard tuning and all strings intonated at the 12th fret. So my question is, when I play each note individually on the 1st fret, why are all the notes sharp when looking at the tuner (except for the high E string)? Is that normal I guess?
     
  2. ronnx

    ronnx Well-Known Member

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    EADGBE at the nut
    FA#D#G#CF at the first fret
    your low E should also be F at the first fret
     
  3. MichaelR

    MichaelR Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    When you press on the first fret hard you can easily make it sharp if the nut is cut a little high. Try pressing lighter on the first fret so it barely touches the fret without pushing hard to do so. I bought a set of Hiroshima nut files because most guitar's arrive with the nut cut a little high. If its cut to close to the first fret it will buzz forcing one to repair it with baking soda and super glue or replace the nut. The manufacturer doesn't want to take that chance plus they don't know how hard you bang on the strings either.
    It took me a long time to stop mashing down on the cowboy cords thus making some of the notes sharp. I DO like to bang out the chords sometimes though:)!
     
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2019 at 12:30 AM

  4. cornfed

    cornfed Well-Known Member

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    Super high action ? .. hey that’s a good band name :)
     
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  5. MichaelR

    MichaelR Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    You may be on to something.
     
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2019 at 3:49 AM
  6. Gfurman

    Gfurman Member

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    What I meant to say was that all the notes you listed above are the right notes, but each one is sharp by 4-5 bars when looking at the Snark. Only my high E string is playing a perfect F like it should.
     
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  7. BrianSkeezer

    BrianSkeezer Well-Known Member

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    @MichaelR was on it. Nut slots are probably a bit too high and need to be filed. If you don't have proper files (like me), you can use welding tip cleaners (you can get these at home depot in the soldering aisle). It takes a while, but you can really sneak up on the perfect height with them. Just remember to angle the file toward the headstock a little to avoid the sitar sound.
     
  8. Gfurman

    Gfurman Member

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    Wow! Did I learn something today. I had no idea. So when I press lighter on the first few frets, it definitely reduces the sharpness of each note, but doesn't eliminate it. It drops from 4-6 bars sharp on the Snark to 1-2. My 3rd string is the worst, it drops to about 3 bars. This totally explains why the 3rd string always sounded sour when playing a D cord but when I checked open tuning everything was dead on.

    So it seems pressure makes a definite difference on the first few frets but the effect diminishes as I work my way up the neck. This totally blows my mind, I had no idea.

    So in order to eliminate all the slightly sharp notes on the early frets I think I have to file some of the nut slots lower. Although I wouldn't describe the action at the nut very high per se, when I press each string between the 2nd and 3rd fret and slip a slice of copy paper between the stings and 1st fret, there is some play, especially on the 3rd string which is the most sharp.

    I'm determined to figure out how to do this myself without spending a small fortune on a premier set of nut files I'll only use once. Heck, I only paid $139 for this Firefly. Thanks for the insight Mike!
     
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  9. Gfurman

    Gfurman Member

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    Thanks for this Brian. I will run up and grab a set of these cleaners today.
     
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  10. backinit

    backinit Well-Known Member

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    It's delicate geometry. I would use a tuner that's more accurate than a snark for this. If you're going to get tuning at the 1st fret then you better pick other locations as well. You will not get it perfect, but you can get it close.
     
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  11. Eicca

    Eicca Well-Known Member

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    Get it dialed at the twelfth fret, make sure the rest of the setup is good, and then if it sounds good, don’t worry about it. Intonation is not an exact science. We cello players have to deal with this all the time. Tuning our strings in perfect fifths means the lowest strings will be flat. Tuning to a tuner means the open strings won’t be in tune with each other.

    And if I tune my open strings to perfect fifths, an E that is perfectly matched to my A string is ridiculously sharp against my G string.

    This is why pianos are now tuned in equal temperament. They’re not perfectly in tune, they’re just out of tune enough to compromise so nothing is really too out of tune.

    I don’t understand why the relationships between notes can’t be fractionally perfect but that’s life.
     
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  12. SamIV

    SamIV Well-Known Member

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    I tried a set of these and quickly tore them up. You need to be judicious with pressure applied. I was not. They do work, but they are not very efficient.
     
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  13. andrewsrea

    andrewsrea Well-Known Member

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    Like others have said from the 1st to the 4th going sharp, it is typically the nut or slots are too high. 5th on up, it is either the bridge adjustment or individual fret crowning being off (or worst case, fret placement - but that is rare today).

    I've intonation for the 12th to be perfect, only to find out the crowning was driving it sharp and all the other frets were pretty much flat. So, I recrowned the 12th, re-intonated and voila - all in!
     
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  14. Gfurman

    Gfurman Member

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    For $4 I'll give them a try but be cautious not to screw up the nut. If I feel it's not working I'll back off.
     
  15. ID10T

    ID10T Member

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    I have used an old "D" or "A" string with a chopstick size scrap with holes and small screws (make like a small violin bow) to take just a bit off of the nut.
    I do use nut sauce and recommend you do to.
    It is a balance and I used the following just yesterday with Rocksmith scales (don't judge me, who am I kidding....judge) but I read once on the googleWeb that EVH tunes his "G and/or B" a little flat open so that when he frets them where he plays, they are perfect notes.
     
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  16. nomadh

    nomadh Well-Known Member

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    An easy test is to put a capo at the first fret then tweak the tuning to be correct for the first fret. They play and test. It will negate the nut too high problem and also if your nut is misplaced or misaligned a bit. For intonation I like to put a capo at 3 then compare to the 15th fret. Seems everything is more stable and it centers and averages things more
     
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2019 at 11:34 AM
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  17. voodoorat

    voodoorat Well-Known Member

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    sounds like high nut slots (as i'm sure the prior comments that i'm too lazy to read already speculated). you can get some real nut files for your strings or use the annoying little pipe cleaner ones or you can do what i do and be lazy and just use some sandpaper folded over a string (or just the folded sandpaper or just a wound string). just don't overdo it because you can always take a little more off but you can't put a little back on (unless you do the baking soda trick).
     
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  18. PsychoCid

    PsychoCid Well-Known Member

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    As a reference, professional guitars often tune slightly off. For example, each string of Eddie Van Halens guitar is tuned differently by a few cents. This is to compensate for how hard he presses while fretting.

    It's a guitar, after all. They are all inherently out of tune by design.
     
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  19. Mr. Leyvatone

    Mr. Leyvatone Well-Known Member

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    Yes, nut action too high. Watch this video starting at the 9:00 point for an explanation.
     
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  20. jtcnj

    jtcnj Well-Known Member

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    Graphtech has a good method for dialing in the heights;
    fret at the third then eyeing or measuring the clearance at the 1st. See step 5 below.

    Also -if you file slots - tune up / put tension to check the clearance - Also mentioned in Step 5.
    If you dont, and check it with the string pretty firm but not tuned to pitch -it will pull down more under tension once you tune up.
    I have done this a few times already when dialing in individual slots or when fitting a new nut.
    GRRRRR.

    I always use pencil graphite by "writing" in the slots too, initially then at string change.

    graphtec install.png
     
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