My Ears Are Driving Me Crazy: Intonation

Discussion in 'The Tone Zone' started by GuitarIV, Jan 7, 2020.

  1. GuitarIV

    GuitarIV Well-Known Member

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    So I don't know when this started happening, but I never had this problem a few years back. I'm starting to recognize it more and more.

    I tune my guitar, according to the tuner, then I play a few chords. E, A, C, G, D. You know, the classic CAGED patterns. I hear something out of tune (most times the G and/or the B strings), tune it down or up till my ears are happy again and like the chord, I hit another one and I hear dissonance again!

    It's driving me crazy. I think my ears are refined enough by now to hear the imperfections in guitar tuning and the compromise, something I know the true temperament fret system fixes. But good luck affording a guitar with those weird frets or maintaining it.

    Anyway, I did a bit of research (remembering the name Buzz Feiten in the back of my head) and found this video:



    I will try this next time I intonate. Seems actually reasonable considering the G and B strings are the assholes in 99 percent of the cases.

    I took a screenshot of his piece of paper:


    IMG-20200107-WA0004.jpg

    So according to this you first intonate the G sharp and the B flat, then you tune em the other way around.

    The guitar in his video sounds quite in tune.

    Just thought I'd share. Opinions and your experiences are welcome!
     
  2. SkyMonkey

    SkyMonkey Well-Known Member

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    Not tried that. I never really worry too much over intonation after I have set it for a certain gauge of strings on a guitar.

    I do: Truss Rod > Action > Intonation > Repeat.

    I might give this a go. Though I don't own a Polytune, so it isn't really going to be very scientific!
    Using words like "not too low" and "not too high" aren't actually that helpful if there is no quantitative definition of correct.
     
  3. houseofrock

    houseofrock Well-Known Member

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    This video takes this concept to the extreme. Good information just don't kill yourself after watching it.


    The second half of the video explains what he is doing.
     
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2020
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  4. Nik Henville

    Nik Henville Well-Known Member

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    At one stage a decade or so back, I was just about ready to quit playing altogether because the slight imperfections in 'standard' tuning with normal equally tempered intonations were sounding so fugly to my ears. These days I am less fussy - but 'out of tune' is still never acceptable.

    I played one of those guitars with wibbly frets a few times, but couldn't afford to buy one... and looked at getting the Feiten system retrofitted, but the return on cost really wasn't worth it, quite apart from the hassle involved... and so, these days I work round it or ignore it - because 99% of the listeners just can't hear it at all, or don't care.

    :hippie::pirate::uk:
     
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  5. Kinkless Tetrode

    Kinkless Tetrode Well-Known Member

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    I had that problem with a used PRS I bought. The nut was worn out, so I replaced the nut and cut it myself. It had the same problem but different strings. I cut a second nut but did a better job. This solved the problem. I learned a lesson:

    1) these type of intonation problems are often caused by a faulty or worn nut.

    2) the fat Gibson style nuts require great precision.

    3) a zero fret might be a better solution.
     
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  6. Lance Chambers

    Lance Chambers Well-Known Member

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    :ohno:
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2020
  7. AAHIHaveNoIdeaWhatImDoing

    AAHIHaveNoIdeaWhatImDoing Well-Known Member

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    interesting. Mine always sounds slightly off and yeah usually one of the three unwound strings.

    But I also probably press too hard, probably like many of us. I mean technically you only need enough pressure for a solid connection with desired fret but many us from either adrenaline or whatever really clamp down and pull every note slightly sharp.
     
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  8. SkyMonkey

    SkyMonkey Well-Known Member

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    Are these they Nik?

    XMm2rOh[1]-2000.jpg
     
  9. Michael Roe

    Michael Roe Well-Known Member

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    I learned that a loooong time ago.
    Yep, it's a guitar and it's never going to be perfectly in tune.
    I learned to just tune to where it sounds good in the cowboy chord area and I spend most of my time there.
    Kind of awkward for a metal guy but I learned to adapt.
    Sarcasm>>>Another thing that helps is use a Gibson Les Paul. They are always out of tune anyhow, so you get use to it :)
     
  10. Nik Henville

    Nik Henville Well-Known Member

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    That's the buggers... though they weren't on an Ibby electric, it was an acoustic, can't remember what make.
    Sounded bloody marvellous, though, and though they looked bizzarre, they played as well as straight ones.
    I recall they were "true temperament frets", and when finger-picking chordal stuff they sounded blissful to me...

    :hippie::pirate::uk:
     
  11. mickeydg5

    mickeydg5 Well-Known Member VIP Member

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    That always erked me too.
    I ended up looking at strings with cetain makup, their tension at tune and devised my own string set recipe. I started ordering my strings singularly and making sets.
    Of course all strings are tuned relative to normal tuning and each other being a few cents up or down depending on the specific string.

    This also became a quest since I have and use TransTrem. That throws a big wrench into the works. It had to work with the TransTrem.

    At the end of the day nothing is perfect. I just made it the best it could be.
     
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2020
  12. SkyMonkey

    SkyMonkey Well-Known Member

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  13. ampmadscientist

    ampmadscientist Well-Known Member

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    First you should be using a strobe tuner to set the intonation.
    String height at the nut can be a major factor when too high.
    Angle of the nut on all 6 strings is also a major factor. When the angle is cut wrong the intonation can be thrown way off.

    Fortunately, I think there is strobe tuner for smart phones...

    You see this type thing happen often where the nut has been filed / lowered and the nut slots are cut at the wrong angles, or with the wrong sized file.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2020
  14. GuitarIV

    GuitarIV Well-Known Member

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    Very insightful posts everyone! Next thing on my shopping list is a Peterson Strobe Tuner...

    I might have to stop at one point or I will get obsessed over it. And I'd much rather play guitar. No matter how out of tune the fret system is :'D
     
  15. purpleplexi

    purpleplexi Well-Known Member

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    For me if you hit an open A chord on a Les Paul going into a slightly crunchy Marshall and it's 'very' slightly out of tune that is the sound of rock. But then I am a bit odd.
     
  16. BanditPanda

    BanditPanda Well-Known Member

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    Truer words were never spoken.
    BP
     
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  17. purpleplexi

    purpleplexi Well-Known Member

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    Thank you kind Sir. Someone once told me rock and roll should neither be too profound in its message, too complex in its construction or too well played. Fortunately all of these suit my ability levels to a tee.
     
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  18. Im247frogs

    Im247frogs Well-Known Member

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    I put the Peterson Strobe tuner app on my phone to set intonation and it's 100x more accurate. Also, I use it to tune my guitars when they're not even plugged in, w the phone close to the guitar, and I don't think I've ever been more in tune. It's so much more accurate it's amazing.
    I suppose I should get one of the actual stomp tuners.
     
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  19. mcblink

    mcblink Well-Known Member

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    Here's a little peice of advice from RT I remember from a few years back:


    He then goes on to explain to another member:


    Might be worth a shot!
     
  20. GuitarIV

    GuitarIV Well-Known Member

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    I am looking at the Strobostomp. Will probably get one with my next pedal purchase :D

    Awesome, thanks! I'll try it out. Does he mean tuning the guitar or setting the intonation? :)
     

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