Gotta tune G string VERY flat to sound right!?!?@#*

Discussion in 'Beginners/FAQ' started by Gmork, Mar 6, 2019.

  1. Gmork

    Gmork SS.org Regular

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    I know i know. That darned G string. But this seems a bit excessive. Just got my new (used) ibanez fanned ironlabel 8 yesterday.
    Restrung it, set saddle heights and fixed intonation (last owner clearly didnt give a shit lol)
    In order for the G string to sound correct it needs to be tuned VERY flat, almost (but not quite) to the high end of Gb

    My old ironlabel 8 has pristine tuning/intonation etc.

    What could be going on with this new fanned 8?
     
  2. Winspear

    Winspear Tom Winspear Vendor

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    I'd double check the intonation - there must be a saddle position at which a perfectly tuned open G also produces a perfectly tuned 12th fret. If not, I'd look at getting a new string before thinking too much about it.
     
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  3. Gmork

    Gmork SS.org Regular

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    I didnt rush through my set up. Im very meticulous and triple and qudruple checked. Brand new elixir strings.
    And the intonation and tuning is spot on (if i tune very flat) its almost like my tuner is malfunctioning on JUST the G string which id obviously crazy talk. Btw i use the shure glxd16 wireless unit with but in tuner. This is just bizarre
     
  4. ixlramp

    ixlramp SS.org Regular

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    The tuner is probably correct.
    The G is the thickest plain string so is a fairly stiff string, it's a solid metal rod after all, the stiffness will make it a little 'inharmonic': harmonics sharp and out of tune with fundamental. Maybe your ear is noticing the inharmonicity.
    What gauge is the G?

    How do you intonate? Don't do the 'match 12th fret to 2nd harmonic' thing, it can be very inaccurate. Use a tuner and observe the tuning of the open note and, perhaps, every 2nd fret along the fretboard.
    Due to various factors (nut slot too high, witness point not set at the nut) the open note can be out of tune with the frets. Maybe you are needing to tune the open note wrong to get the frets in tune?
    If you tune flat how can the tuning be spot on? If you're flat then it's not tuned.

    I suggest trusting the tuner, intonating correctly using the tuner, and distrusting your ears.
     
  5. ixlramp

    ixlramp SS.org Regular

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    That's not necessarily correctly intonated =)
     
  6. NoodleFace

    NoodleFace Delicious Noodles

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    I set intonation by checking 12th fretted vs 12th harmonic. Have you tried that?
     
  7. ixlramp

    ixlramp SS.org Regular

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    I guess you mean '2nd harmonic', the harmonic found at the 12th fret?
    And that's a inaccurate way to intonate, it doesn't even use a tuner. It's only a rough method for when you don't have a tuner.
    The 2nd harmonic is in tune with the open note, but the open note will often be out of tune with the frets for various reasons.

    I'm beginning to realise most guitarists have been given bad advice about intonation method.
     
  8. NoodleFace

    NoodleFace Delicious Noodles

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    I've seen you posting that a lot but I've never heard of it before. I'm always willing to learn, do you have sources?
     
  9. ixlramp

    ixlramp SS.org Regular

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    Just my own experience from checking the tuning of the open note and every fret, when intonating. Plus knowledge of physics.

    I found that if i intonated to get the open note and 12th fret in tune (the standard method, either using a tuner or matching the 2nd harmonic to 12th fret), often the frets would become increasingly out of tune as you proceed towards fret 1.
    Or, if i intonated by checking the tuning of every fret (not the open note), all the frets would be in tune but then the open note wasn't.

    The reason is because, for various reasons, the open note doesn't necessarily act like 'just another fret':
    • Nuts are often carelessly cut at the factory, if the slot is too high or too low that shifts the pitch of the open note relative to fret 1.
    • Nuts are not always placed where another fret would be placed, sometimes they are offset slightly to compensate for how fretting fret 1 increases the pitch slightly. Some nuts are 'compensated' with varying slot offsets per string. The required offset depends on various factors, but because guitars are made to be cheap, instead of providing adjustable per-string intonation at the nut, a simple carved nut is used with an average 'good enough' fixed offset. This causes the open note to often be slightly out of tune with fret 1.
    • A string goes through a bend over the nut, depending on the stiffness of the string, this bend may be more of a curve than a sharp kink, this has an effect on pitch too, which is why it's good to 'set the witness points': sharpen the bends over the nut.
    Therefore you need to check the tuning of the open note and every played fret (or to save time, every 2nd fret is good enough), and adjust intonation to get the best compromise and minimise the pitch errors.
    It takes a long time with many adjustments per string, it will take around 10 mins per string.

    For an example:
    If the open note is sharp compared to fret 1, the solution is to intonate to minimise the errors, such that the open note is slightly sharp, fret 1 is slightly flat (by the same amount), then the frets gradually become more in tune as you go up the fretboard. When tuning the guitar you would therefore need to check the open note and fret 1 and compromise between the 2.

    An approach i like is to consider that the frets are far more played than the open note, 12 to 24 times more often, so the frets have priority, so intonate by only checking the tuning of the frets and get the frets well intonated, then tune the guitar by playing fret 1 instead of the open note, and live with a slightly out of tune open note.

    Also, for example, if fret 2 and fret 14 are correctly tuned, it's not necessarily the case that all the frets between will be in tune. Intonation isn't simple and linear like that. Often the pitches will 'sag' or rise between the in-tune frets, so every fret should be checked and a compromise intonation created.
     
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2019
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  10. TheWarAgainstTime

    TheWarAgainstTime "TWAT" for short

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    I would try a wound 3rd string. You need to bump up the gauge a bit to get a similar feel/tension, but it helps with intonation and how chords ring out IME. If you're used to a plain 17, you would probably like a wound 20, wound 22 for a plain 18, etc.
     
  11. NoodleFace

    NoodleFace Delicious Noodles

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    I understand what you're saying, and I appreciate the thought you've put into this. But you said:

    "I'm beginning to realise most guitarists have been given bad advice about intonation method."

    My way listed is the standard way, and yours by your own admission is a method you created. I understand that not every string or neck is created equal, but intonating to the 12th fretted note is a good balance for almost all players.
     
  12. ixlramp

    ixlramp SS.org Regular

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    Concerning 'checking 12th fret against 2nd harmonic': Standard according to who? It's commonly recommended in many places yes, probably most places, also in places seeming to have some authority, but it's still unarguably prone to error for the reasons explained.
    It doesn't use a tuner, guitarists usually have a tuner available and accurate measurement of pitch will help in this situation, because it's intonation. Using a tuner you then don't have to play a harmonic and do an inaccurate before-after match by ear to the 12th fret. The method is for when you don't have a tuner.
    It assumes the open note is in tune with the 1st fret, which is often not the case as is obvious considering the factors explained, and as can be seen by using a tuner.
    No, what i recommend is using a tuner to observe the pitch of the open note and every commonly played fret. This isn't a personally created 'method', it's simply careful measurement of the pitch of every played note, which is what intonation is.
    Apart from measurement i write: "and adjust intonation to get the best compromise and minimise the pitch errors.". Minimising pitch errors seems obvious, would anyone want anything else? but i mosty leave it to the individual to decide what is 'the best compromise'.
    It's not a good balance against time and effort, intonating a guitar is only done when using a new set of gauges or a new brand, so on average every few months? an hour spent intonating is not long in comparison and well worth it to avoid all the intonation grief guitarists suffer.

    A lot of guitar advice, probably most of it, is written to be as 'popular' as possible and so assumes the guitarist is a teenager who can't be bothered to spend more than 5 minutes on anything (which is often true). But lack of effort means poor results.
    Intonating properly is also very rewarding and makes you feel really good afterwards, it's just as important as spending an hour playing guitar.
    /////////////////////

    Although i write 'check every fret' i actually mean you can check every 2nd, 3rd or 4th fret, which is good enough. I just don't want to write all that repeatedly.
    At the very least i recommend using a tuner to check: open, 1st, 12th, 24th (or whatever the highest fret is).
    Some lower strings with big gauges may not sound good high up the neck and may be difficult to intonate up to the 24th, so intonating up to the 24th is not essential for some big strings, especially on a bass guitar E or B strings.
    Intonation is more sensitive higher up the neck, so checking the 24th or highest fret is important.
     
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  13. NoodleFace

    NoodleFace Delicious Noodles

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    I'm getting too confused reading this.

    I use a strobe tuner and match the pitch of 12th fretted to the 2nd harmonic to set my intonation. I'm not really sure what's going on here but hopefully OP can find a balance.
     
  14. budda

    budda Guiterrorizer Contributor

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    OP: take it to a tech, get them to show you how they do it.
     
  15. ixlramp

    ixlramp SS.org Regular

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    The slightly better advice is 'use a tuner to check the pitch of the open note and the 12th fret'.

    Still not good advice though because it doesn't advise checking the highest fret.
    It also has a fixation on the open note and 12th fret for some reason. Maybe it's to cope with some older, really bad tuners that can't tune chromatically, maybe it patronisingly assumes the player will be scared off by a tuner's chromatic mode, maybe it's just due to the influence of the no-tuner method.

    The pitch change caused by moving the saddle is larger for higher frets, because the string length is shorter. So the intonation of the higher frets is much more sensitive to adjustments.
    This means that if you get the open and 12th fret in tune, it's still highly likely the highest fret won't be intonated. It will also require finer adjustments.
    Intonation doesn't linearly extrapolate, having the open and 12th fret in tune doesn't mean the higher frets are or even the frets inbetween. It's more curved, and intonating is almost always a compromise to minimise the pitch errors at various places on a string.
    That's a strange and inaccurate method influenced by the bad no-tuner method. The only reason the bad method advises matching the 12th fret to the 2nd harmonic is because it is for when you don't have a tuner so can't use it to check the pitch of both the open note and the 12th fret.

    With a tuner you should use it to check the pitch of the open note and the 12th fret. That's what intonation is, the correct tuning of pitches of the notes at various points on a string. Your method may use a strobe tuner, but matching the 12th fret to the 2nd harmonic, however precisely you do this, has most of the same potential errors as the bad method, so you lose all the benefit of using a tuner or a strobe tuner.
    You also then don't check other pitches along the string, the most important ones being 1st fret and the highest fret.

    It's unfortunate you have been influenced by bad advice, but i'm not surprised, for guitar there is more bad advice out there than for any instrument.
     
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  16. LeviathanKiller

    LeviathanKiller Knee-shooting Archer

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    @ixlramp I don't understand why people are being so dismissive of the methods you've explained. lol

    Very useful information. It is indeed always a compromise and the current "standard/popular" way of setting it is just the easiest method, not the most accurate or precise. Unless you're constantly switching tunings or string sets, it would seem to be well worth it to take the time to carefully set the intonation as best you can for your desired needs.
     
  17. NoodleFace

    NoodleFace Delicious Noodles

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    I'm not being dismissive. It's just there are hundreds/thousands of sites that say check the 12th fretted note vs 2nd harmonic, and he's saying that's awful advice.

    If I bring my guitar to a tech, he's going to do what I do. I'm trying to understand where his advice is coming to, and all I'm getting is "it is my own method" which is fine. But he's telling me what I'm doing is idiotic... the standard method.
     
  18. LeviathanKiller

    LeviathanKiller Knee-shooting Archer

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    What I think he's getting at, and what I also understand it to be, is that it's rather obvious if you take a scientific approach to it. The common method of 12th note and 2nd harmonic, was never accompanied with a reason as to why are we choosing those points to test at.

    The common method is equivalent to averaging or "close enough". The proposed method is checking everything and deciding what you want to set it to based off of where you are going to have to compromise at on the fretboard. It's just a more fine-tuned way of setting your tuning/intonation up.

    It's not exactly a method that gives you different results but really rather just observing more than what you do now so that you can affect your results more precisely. In a way, it's just common sense.

    It's like the common method is people checking only one of their tires for air pressure and filling up all of their tires with the same fixed amount of air based off that. The better method is to measure all of your tires and air them up individually.

    Here, the common method is people checking two notes to set intonation. The better method is to check all of your frets and fine tune the intonation so that you end up intonated where it matters most to you because most guitars aren't capable of having perfect intonation at every single fret. That's why they have the true temperament system.

    For me, it's better for me to be intonated more in the upper register on the 3 high/light strings but more in the middle of the board or lower register for the low/heavy 4 strings to account for rhythm and lead.
     
  19. diagrammatiks

    diagrammatiks SS.org Regular

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    You can’t intonate it properly anyway. So I don’t know why you’d go through that much trouble instead of using the good enough method.
     
  20. LeviathanKiller

    LeviathanKiller Knee-shooting Archer

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    Because the good enough method targets a specific area instead of where you might prefer it as done by the more involved method (which isn't really that long to do honestly)
     

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