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Moo

Guitar Setup...

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Okay, so I freely admit this is a cheap-**** attempt at starting another guitar-related thread, but...

I have an intonation problem. Well, I say I have, I mean my semi-cheapo Chinese Les Paul copy (Epi Standard) has an intonation problem. I changed from .09s to .10s a few months back (sounds nicer, plus I find it easier to bend with a bit string to get hold of), and whilst it was pretty much fine at the time, the intonation has slowly got further and further off since that point. As a bit of novice at these things I was wondering whether it was worth spending the time to try and work out how to fix it myself, or whether it's better to just take it to a proper guitar tech.

My heart says "do it yourself, don't be a woose", whereas my head says "you'll just end up sodding it up and have to take it a tech anyway, so why bugger up a perfectly good evening with screwdrivers and tuner action".

Any thoughts?

Please note : Suggestions along the lines of "buy a better guitar" are not allowed. My deposit accrual rate is bloody good at the moment and I don't want to sod it up (yet...) by blowing a month on something expensive-but-lovely.

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Okay, so I freely admit this is a cheap-**** attempt at starting another guitar-related thread, but...

I have an intonation problem. Well, I say I have, I mean my semi-cheapo Chinese Les Paul copy (Epi Standard) has an intonation problem. I changed from .09s to .10s a few months back (sounds nicer, plus I find it easier to bend with a bit string to get hold of), and whilst it was pretty much fine at the time, the intonation has slowly got further and further off since that point. As a bit of novice at these things I was wondering whether it was worth spending the time to try and work out how to fix it myself, or whether it's better to just take it to a proper guitar tech.

My heart says "do it yourself, don't be a woose", whereas my head says "you'll just end up sodding it up and have to take it a tech anyway, so why bugger up a perfectly good evening with screwdrivers and tuner action".

Any thoughts?

Please note : Suggestions along the lines of "buy a better guitar" are not allowed. My deposit accrual rate is bloody good at the moment and I don't want to sod it up (yet...) by blowing a month on something expensive-but-lovely.

Ambient temperature...let it settle

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The very fact that you know what intonation is and have worked out that it's 'out' makes a strong case for you to do it yourself.

If you have an electronic tuner, a screwdriver and a little time it is very easy to do yourself. Find a good website tutorial and go for it.

You'll be glad you did.

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Just thought too that the screws in the cheapo LP bridges have a tendency to move about. A tiny spot of Loctite usually solves it.

Bolton Fury will be along soon with all the answers anyway. ;)

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Guest KingCharles1st

A little trick I learned a while ago

Firstly, learn hot to properly and neatly tie the string off at the tuning peg, so it can't slip.

Now, once you have tuned in all the strings and let the neck settle in for a few hours, take each string in turn, between thumb and forefinger,somewhere down near the pickups, and pull away from the guitar body with some force, before releasing, you will find that immediately the string has lowered its frequency by around a smitone or more. repeat until there is little or no change.

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Guest theboltonfury

My advice, for what it's worth.

Unless you can do it like a professional, leave it to a professional. Each shop has one, or outsources to one, and for around £40 you can specify action, type of strings, just about anything and it should come back perfect.

I have seen so many students turn up with self-repair jobs that need to be sent off to put right.

So, if you're up to it (and have the right tools) and know what at least you are trying to do, go for it. If not, don't be tempted if you can spare £40.

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Cheers for the thoughts chaps. I think I'll give it a go next week, when the room's at a more 'normal' temperature. I have all the necessary kit at least, so that's a start.

Deadman, I presume you mean the screws for adjusting the saddles?

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Unless you can do it like a professional, leave it to a professional. Each shop has one, or outsources to one, and for around £40 you can specify action, type of strings, just about anything and it should come back perfect.

That's actually not half bad pricewise. I think I'll have a bit more of a delve into attempting it myself, and if it turns out to be more hassle than it's worth, it's off to Guitar Village for some proper TLC.

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Guest UK Debt Slave
Okay, so I freely admit this is a cheap-**** attempt at starting another guitar-related thread, but...

I have an intonation problem. Well, I say I have, I mean my semi-cheapo Chinese Les Paul copy (Epi Standard) has an intonation problem. I changed from .09s to .10s a few months back (sounds nicer, plus I find it easier to bend with a bit string to get hold of), and whilst it was pretty much fine at the time, the intonation has slowly got further and further off since that point. As a bit of novice at these things I was wondering whether it was worth spending the time to try and work out how to fix it myself, or whether it's better to just take it to a proper guitar tech.

My heart says "do it yourself, don't be a woose", whereas my head says "you'll just end up sodding it up and have to take it a tech anyway, so why bugger up a perfectly good evening with screwdrivers and tuner action".

Any thoughts?

Please note : Suggestions along the lines of "buy a better guitar" are not allowed. My deposit accrual rate is bloody good at the moment and I don't want to sod it up (yet...) by blowing a month on something expensive-but-lovely.

I have made several guitars in my time and even sold a few

Do it yourself. It's really not difficult to set up a guitar and alot of the so called professional repairers out there shouldn't be allowed anywhere near a guitar.

First thing is to check the truss rud adjustment because you have ftted heavier strings and this will be applying more tension to the neck

Fret the guitar at the first and last positions and check the concave curvature of the neck. Max deflection will be somewhere around the 7-8th fret position. The amount of deflection can vary but the neck must be slightly concave to account for the amplitude of the vibrating strings. Anything more than 1mm gap between the crown of the 7th or 8th fret and the underside of the strings will make the guitar more difficult to play. Tighten the truss rod VERY CAREFULLY to reduce the neck relief. Even a tiny rotation of the adjuster can make quite a difference to the neck relief. The least neck relief you can achieve without excessive string rattle is what you need to aim for. It'll make the guitar much smoother to play.

Check the neck relief like this on the top and bottom strings. If the relief in the neck varies substantially across the fretboard, the neck is twisted. This shouldn't be a problem but it's worth checking.

If the guitar is a les Paul copy, it probably has a Gibson style 'Tunomatic' bridge with the intonation screws at the back.

Set the intonation of the top E string first. Use a guitar tuner to check the tone when the string is played open and at the 12th fret position (the next octave). On guitars with 24 frets, you can check the intonation at the 24th fret too but because a Les Paul only has 22 frets, you can't do this.

Repeat for the other unwound strings.

You will usually find the scale length increases slightly as the strings get thicker.

A good starting point is to set the scale length of the top E string at 629mm (24 3/4") using a tape measure. This is the standard Gibson scale length for electric guitars.

After you have adjusted the intonation of the top unwound strings, play some chords on these strings only at various positions on the fingerboard and see how it sounds.

Repeat the process with the wound strings.

You might find that the D string (the first wound string) will have a slightly shorter scale length than the G string (the thickest unwound string). This is quite normal

send me a message if you are still having problems.

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Guest theboltonfury
I have made several guitars in my time and even sold a few

Do it yourself. It's really not difficult to set up a guitar and alot of the so called professional repairers out there shouldn't be allowed anywhere near a guitar.

First thing is to check the truss rud adjustment because you have ftted heavier strings and this will be applying more tension to the neck

Fret the guitar at the first and last positions and check the concave curvature of the neck. Max deflection will be somewhere around the 7-8th fret position. The amount of deflection can vary but the neck must be slightly concave to account for the amplitude of the vibrating strings. Anything more than 1mm gap between the crown of the 7th or 8th fret and the underside of the strings will make the guitar more difficult to play. Tighten the truss rod VERY CAREFULLY to reduce the neck relief. Even a tiny rotation of the adjuster can make quite a difference to the neck relief. The least neck relief you can achieve without excessive string rattle is what you need to aim for. It'll make the guitar much smoother to play.

Check the neck relief like this on the top and bottom strings. If the relief in the neck varies substantially across the fretboard, the neck is twisted. This shouldn't be a problem but it's worth checking.

If the guitar is a les Paul copy, it probably has a Gibson style 'Tunomatic' bridge with the intonation screws at the back.

Set the intonation of the top E string first. Use a guitar tuner to check the tone when the string is played open and at the 12th fret position (the next octave). On guitars with 24 frets, you can check the intonation at the 24th fret too but because a Les Paul only has 22 frets, you can't do this.

Repeat for the other unwound strings.

You will usually find the scale length increases slightly as the strings get thicker.

A good starting point is to set the scale length of the top E string at 629mm (24 3/4") using a tape measure. This is the standard Gibson scale length for electric guitars.

After you have adjusted the intonation of the top unwound strings, play some chords on these strings only at various positions on the fingerboard and see how it sounds.

Repeat the process with the wound strings.

You might find that the D string (the first wound string) will have a slightly shorter scale length than the G string (the thickest unwound string). This is quite normal

send me a message if you are still having problems.

I'm not sure the man on the street will be able to get past stage 1 of this. Without your obvious skill and aptitude this sounds like an accident waiting to happen.

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My twopennorth.

I changed from .09s to .10s a few months back (sounds nicer, plus I find it easier to bend with a bit string to get hold of), and whilst it was pretty much fine at the time, the intonation has slowly got further and further off since that point.

The OP wasn't complaining about the action: he was having a register problem.

Ergo it can only be either (i) The strings have stretched in a non-linear way: or,

(ii) The Bridge Saddles have moved.

Obviously (One would hope!) the Top Knut is fixed.

Excessive "Winding" strings back and forth across the fingerboard and frets will indeed wear out strings much faster than normal: also the quality of the strings dictates their useful life.

Remedy:

1. Set of new strings:

2. Tune:

3. If tonation problem still exists then ergo, it is the bridge saddles.

4. Re-Set tonation screws: main method. Tune strings one-by-one commencing with top E. (Using decent tuner). Check 12th fret. If this octave E is out, then adjust saddle.

5. Repeat for each string.

Job done.

Setting up truss rods and action and taking out any lateral "Wind" in the neck is not for the fainthearted or inexperienced, I would suggest, and as BF says, leave this to your local guitar Doc.

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I have an intonation problem.

I changed from .09s to .10s a few months back (sounds nicer, plus I find it easier to bend with a bit string to get hold of), and whilst it was pretty much fine at the time, the intonation has slowly got further and further off since that point.

Don't underestimate the power of a new set of strings.

At the same time, stop trying to suffer for your art. Go back to 9's.

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Guest UK Debt Slave
Don't underestimate the power of a new set of strings.

At the same time, stop trying to suffer for your art. Go back to 9's.

Agreed :rolleyes:

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I too have made several guitars in my time and I do setups if and when asked.

I would say before you spend money on a "pro" setup be sure of the gauge of strings you want to use as if the intonation is setup for nines it is likely to be out if you change to a heavier gauge later on.

It is also true that an old worn out string will have deteriorated enough to throw out the intonation significantly, so maybe just change the strings for a start.

If you want to get the guitar setup properly you should be in a position to specify the string gauge you want, the action you prefer and explain to the tech how hard you squeeze. Equally importantly is the quality of the tuner used to set the intonation. Most electronic tuners are perfectly adequate for tuning a well setup guitar for general playing but are nowhere near accurate enough for intonation purposes. You really need to use a tuner that is accurate to one tenth of a cent or better and that usually means one made by Peterson. unfortunately these are strobe tuners and start from around a couple of hundred quid.

One last thing is that although guitar manufacturers have got pretty good at putting frets in the right place they tend to be not so good at positioning the nut. Or even cutting the string slots. Without going into too much detail it`s difficult to explain why but I`ve found that moving the nut half a mm to 1mm toward the first fret can improve the intonation dramatically.

You must be careful though. When I do a setup I first check the position of all the frets and the theoretical scale length before I move anything. And don`t do it if you`re not confident you know how to correctly cut the string slots.

Oh dear....I could go on and on etc....but it`s all getting a bit boring.

p.m. me if you want more info or even to see if we are close enough so I can do it for you.

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OK Limpet you've set me off so I'm going for it!

:lol:

Agree with your comments.

Mass produced Far Eastern "Re-Issues" are machine made.

There are two fundamental keys to tonation and action (How tight the strings sit to the fingerboard, can be played and suffer no fret buzz).

Tonation is predicated by the Arithmetic Regression of the frets, (i.e. as you ascend the scale, the gap between the frests decreases on an arithmetic scale which relates absolutely to the rising frequency of the note), between the fret and the bridge saddle.

Now if the placement of those frets is off by a whisker, then no amount of twiddling with bridge saddle adjustment will change this core reality.

You can set a string to be tonally accurate at fret 7, for example: and it will be out thereafter, e.g.

Often, machine laid frets are not totally square, laterally to the fingerboard: and then progressively, moving across, each string will be progressively more and more out of register.

A decent "Action" is only achieved by a skilled craftsman filing each and every fret to individually adjust the height.

The instrument is assembled, using "Slave" Strings and the action adjusted, microscopically, fret-by-fret for each string.

This is after, of course, the position of the neck assembly has been carefully set to the body: and the truss rod adjusted, provisionally.

It is a very time consuming process: and thus expensive.

But very well worth the cost if one is seeking ultimate playability.

Next prob is that post Hendrix, "Winding" the strings is a given: strings are steel (Have to be, otherwise the Electro-Mechanical Faraday Effect wouldn't work!) and frets are soft alloy.

Thus they wear.

A much played instrument with lots of string bending means signficant wear: ergo fingerboard needs periodical re-fretting.

And then the whole fine tuning fret filing businesss must be done all over again!

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Cheers for the thoughts chaps. I think I'll give it a go next week, when the room's at a more 'normal' temperature. I have all the necessary kit at least, so that's a start.

Deadman, I presume you mean the screws for adjusting the saddles?

Moo, give a go with a little trial and error. I usually just use my pic as to turn the little screws. I have got mine sounding all right. I have done this with my strat. I need to sort out my 1979 Tele as it seems to a little off.

As for the Gibson copy, well you said not to mention a new guitar. If you can pick one of these up you will not be disapointed.

A Dearmond Guild M75T. They are not made anymore, and I had quite a few people waxing lyrical about the one I play...I have a sunburst in this guitar, I cannot even find a image of it...

Guild

Another One

These are very resonably priced guitars, and they will be are becoming collectors items. I ll never sell mine. I have played with a real GIbson Les Paul, and for me this is my preferred one. Of course it is your fingers that will get the real tone, but this is a good start. It is very heavy, and the tremolo bar is so good, tone from pick ups great. They are not priced yet like Les Pauls.

Here is one on ebay...Dearmond

Cannot beleive how cheap they are.

Anyway, don't take my word for it, read user reviews below...I urge you to get one, you ll not regret it.

Waxing Lyrical

For me this is a much better made guitar than my strat and Tele and a third of the cost. I haven't needed to do anything with the intonation since I have had it. Use 10 gauge strings also.

Youtube demo...

This guy doesnt do it justice as he is a little textbook but gives you an idea of the sound.
textbooks playing

Maybe I would make a good sales man for these guitars...haha...Just give the tuning a go,learn by direct experience mate...its not like you are taking a can of ligher fluid and setting the thing on fire and bowing down to it beside your amp. If you mess it up at least you can take to the guitar tech anyway.

Gdluck

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OK Limpet you've set me off so I'm going for it!

:lol:

Agree with your comments.

Mass produced Far Eastern "Re-Issues" are machine made.

Agreed, although I would add that most high end ( eg PRS etc ) are also largely CNC manufactured. They may do some hand building for a select few players ( eg Santana and the like ) but they are largely rattled out by machine. Although they do use some nice timbers.

One of the signs is that although they may want to charge you £2k for a guitar you will rarely be offered one with an ebony fingerboard, although the difference in cost would only be a few dollars, to them over a rosewood board. The main reason for this is that ebony does not take kindly to having frets inserted by machine. It`s prone to splitting. While rosewood is much more forgiving.

There are two fundamental keys to tonation and action (How tight the strings sit to the fingerboard, can be played and suffer no fret buzz).

Tonation is predicated by the Arithmetic Regression of the frets, (i.e. as you ascend the scale, the gap between the frests decreases on an arithmetic scale which relates absolutely to the rising frequency of the note), between the fret and the bridge saddle.

Now if the placement of those frets is off by a whisker, then no amount of twiddling with bridge saddle adjustment will change this core reality.

Agree once again.

I think we are talking about the twelfth root of two here. Or the rule of just under 18 :lol:

The battle with guitar intonation revolves around the fact that it is an equal tempered instrument. And to make it sound " in tune " it is necessary to average out the inherent error in the intonation to try to make equally out of tune all over the fretboard.

Piano tuners for example ( I am led to believe )generally stretch the tuning of a keyboard by tuning gradually sharper the further above middle C they get and flatter the further below middle C they get.

Apparently this is because human hearing likes to hear higher notes get slightly sharper and lower notes get slightly flatter. It just sounds right, although mathematically it may not be correct or accurate.

Next prob is that post Hendrix, "Winding" the strings is a given: strings are steel (Have to be, otherwise the Electro-Mechanical Faraday Effect wouldn't work!) and frets are soft alloy.

Thus they wear.

A much played instrument with lots of string bending means signficant wear: ergo fingerboard needs periodical re-fretting.

And then the whole fine tuning fret filing businesss must be done all over again!

Exactly.

The last guitar I adjusted had been played " a lot " around the first 3 frets by someone who really squeezed hard. He even dug holes in the fretboard with his fingernails. It meant re profiling all the frets, recutting the nut slots and then setting the intonation at the bridge. He wouldn`t let me move the nut forward even though with him being such a hard squeezer it would have helped the open chords sound in tune. I just got it as close as I could and advised him to try not to grip so hard.

But it`s an example of why your "tech" needs to know your playing style if possible.

I`ve also done some work on compensated nuts but that`s another story :D

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There's been some great pro advice in this thread already, so who do I think I am adding anything? Well, I'm going to anyway ;)

Intonation problems can be a pain in the a**. And yours will be if it's a recurring one. Yes you can correct it yourself, but I suspect if just a new set of heavier gauge strings put it out in the first place, that you're going to have future problems keeping it all in tune. Ask yourself if you want to spend time keeping your guitar in check or paying someone else to?

In the world of guitars you get what you pay for. Frankly a Chinese made copy is going to make your life difficult, and may even put you off playing. For a little more money you could buy a Gibson LP Studio perhaps, decent quality without the frills. Strats and Telecasters are far cheaper than Gibsons generally too. But if you prefer heavier guitars, then also consider Explorers and all the rest.

Buying a really nice guitar can renew your motivation to play.

Ditch the copy.

ps - if tuning issues really irk you, maybe a Gibson Robot Les Paul is the one for you :P

robot_guitar-286x300.jpg

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Cheers again for the advice chaps. It will never cease to amaze me how asking a question like that here gets so many well thought answers, whereas trawling round guitar sites turns up loads of "it's easy, just twiddle part X" threads.

For what it's worth, I had a limited pop at it last night - loosened the strings right off, and moved the saddles around a bit. Results? Well, it's now all fine 'n dandy to the 12th fret, although thereafter the sharpness progressively creeps back in as I go up the neck. Given that I spend very little time up that end of neck at the moment, I can live with that right now, and it certainly sounds an awful lot better (obviously...). That said, I think a trip to one of the local guitar emporia next week (week off) is in order, as it would at least be interesting to see what a pro could do with it, and it's hardly big money.

As for the Gibson copy, well you said not to mention a new guitar. If you can pick one of these up you will not be disapointed.

Cheers for the pointer there VT - always nice to have a few pointers for the future. Yes, replacement is an option I'd rather skip at the moment due to extreme tightness, but the day will come at some point. I'll have to be a bit careful though, as the shock of not just piling money up might finish the missus off, which wouldn't be good.

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Guest UK Debt Slave

For anyone who is interested

The maths used to calculated fret positions is a geometric series and can be calculated for any given scale length of instrument

The distance between frets is calculated as follows

The distance to the 12th fret is always 1/2 scale length.

We can use the equation for the sum of a geometric series to solve for 'r' , the common ratio. This ratio determines the rate at which the fret positions become progressively closer to eachother as you move up the fingerboard.

Thus from the equation Sn = a.( 1 - rn) / (1 - r)

We can deduce that S12 = a.( 1 - r12) / (1 - r) ,where S12 is the sum of distances from the top-nut to the 12th fret position.

'a' is the first term of the series but as we shall see, this is cancelled out from both sides of the equation to solve for 'r'

We can also deduce that the 24th fret position is always 1.5 x the distance to the 12th fret position.

Thus S24 = (1 - r24) / (1 - r) , where S24 is the sum of distances to the 24th fret position

And because S24 = 1.5 x S12

a.(1 - r24)/(1 - r) = 1.5 x a.(1 - r12)/(1 - r)

This simplifies to:

1 - r24 = 1.5 x (1 - r12)

This can be multiplied out and rearranged into a simple quadratic equation to solve for 'r'

r24 - 1.5r12 + 0.5 = 0

factorize to solve:

(r12 - 1) (r12 - 0.5) = 0

Ergo, this quadratic equation gives 2 solutions

r12 = 1

and

r12 = 0.5

Therefore the solutions are

r = 1 (which is ignored because you cannot use a ratio of 1)

and

r = (12th root) of 0.5 = 0.943874312

All you need to do is multiply the scale length by this ratio to determine the first fret position. Then multiply the remainder by the same ratio, and again, and again, until you have calculated all the fret positions.

This ratio will work for all scale lengths.

All you need to do now is create a simple spreadsheet in Excel and you can calculate the fret positions for any guitar of bass using the scale length of your choice.

Hope that helps any aspiring guitar makers out there.

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In the world of guitars you get what you pay for. Frankly a Chinese made copy is going to make your life difficult, and may even put you off playing. Buying a really nice guitar can renew your motivation to play.

Ditch the copy.

I know I know I know, that the OP does not want to buy another one, but couldn't agree more with the above post!!

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