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Thread: Guitar question

  1. #1
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    Guitar question

    I just realized that if I tune my low e string perfect (according to my fancy vibration reading tuner) then the string gets progressively sharper as you move down the frets.. never to another note, but sharp, none the less.

    If I tune low e just slightly flat (about 1.5 notches on the tuner) the notes fretted are perfect..

    Is this a normal thing?? Can it be fixed? Should I tune it so the fretted strings are correct or the open string? Split the difference?

    I'm not good enough to tell how big of a deal it is, but its driving my OCD crazy.

    The guitar is a Taylor GS mini so not super fancy but should be tunable? It stays in tune for days, otherwise.

  2. #2
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    Tuner readers tend to be sharp
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  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by irul&ublo View Post
    Tuner readers tend to be sharp
    But if it was that the who guitar would be sharp consistently? And I wouldn't notice because it would match itself?

  4. #4
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    You could be pressing too hard as you fret it and inadvertently adding tension to the string

  5. #5
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    Maybe. I just tested that theory and pressing just enough to not buzz makes it less sharp but it still gets really sharp at the 12th fret. The other strings don't do it at all.

  6. #6
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    Guitar question

    It sounds like the intonation is off. Check what the tuner says on the harmonic at the 12th fret, and then what the fretted note at the 12th reads (don't press too hard). They should match. If not, the intonation is off.

    This can be fixed if your guitar has string saddles to micro adjust the string length individually.

    Edit: I didn't want to patronize, but I also don't want to just throw terms here and there. If you have any questions about anything I said, I'm really happy to explain.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fofo View Post
    It sounds like the intonation is off. Check what the tuner says on the harmonic at the 12th fret, and then what the fretted note at the 12th reads (don't press too hard). They should match. If not, the intonation is off.

    This can be fixed if your guitar has string saddles to micro adjust the string length individually.
    Shouldn't the 12th fret on e be e? 12 is the octave?

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Salvelinusconfluentus View Post
    Shouldn't the 12th fret on e be e? 12 is the octave?

    Yeah, exactly! And the harmonic at the 12th fret (the ringing sound you get when you gently touch the string right above the 12th fret and pick the string) should also be an E.

    But sometimes the placement of the fret is a tiny bit off and it won't exactly be an octave from the open string. The harmonic shows what it should be, the fretted sound shows what it actually is.

    Some guitars have string saddles that allow for micro adjustments of the string length to compensate for this.

  9. #9
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    This is how the saddles in my guitar look like. They're not even, and with these adjustments, a fretted note anywhere on the fretboard should be in tune.

  10. #10
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    You (well someone skilled like a luthier) can also adjust intonation by making a new compensated saddle.
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  11. #11
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    Yeah if I'm super careful its still just a tiny bit sharp. I'll ask guitar teacher Tuesday about it.

    This is the guitar.

    https://www.taylorguitars.com/guitar...-mini-mahogany

  12. #12
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    That's a beautiful guitar!

    With an acoustic it is a little bit more challenging, and yeah, as dunfree mentioned, a compensated saddle should help. If it really bothers you a luthier can help you.

    The other thing is that tuning will never be perfect. It's like a compromise to what is "good enough."

    There are companies that measure each individual fret for each string and then make special frets that look all squiggly to have each note closer to perfect, but for almost all players this is way overkill.

  13. #13
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    Could string gauge be a factor?

    Sorry if thatís a dumb question- played for almost thirty years yet I have never gotten into the technical setup part of guitars whatsoever.

  14. #14
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    Yeah, compensated saddle and level and maybe lower the frets, at least at the low E end. Question is how much money to put into a $500 guitar. Has the guitar ever had a professional setup?

    Other question--the first one to ask really--does it bother your ears when you play or does it only bother your tuner? If it doesn't sound off to you and your teacher don't worry about what the tuner says. I'd tune it as best you can and then play for your teacher without telling him you're concerned about the tuning. Chances are if it's really off they'll say something about it without you asking. Or you need a teacher who isn't tone-deaf.

  15. #15
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    Thanks! I'm really enjoying it!

    Its only a tiny bit off and nobody has noticed it and I only did because I was playing with the tuner...

    I'm not sure I have the ear to hear it.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by steepconcrete View Post
    Could string gauge be a factor?

    Sorry if thatís a dumb question- played for almost thirty years yet I have never gotten into the technical setup part of guitars whatsoever.
    Pretty sure it has factory strings on it, they put mediums on the gs minis because of it being littler.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by dunfree View Post
    You (well someone skilled like a luthier) can also adjust intonation by making a new compensated saddle.
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    To reply to myself - if you are a decent craftsman with maybe $20 of materials (Micarta blanks) and $50 of tools (sandpaper, flat plate, needle files, razor saw, caliper) you can learn to do it yourself of course in a week or so of evenings.

  18. #18
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    fix it so the intonation
    Would not offend yer ear

  19. #19
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    Tune to your ear and play. If one string is in tune to the next and your a campfire commando no one will notice.

    Sent from my SM-G998U using Tapatalk
    Why don't you go practice fallin' down? I'll be there in a minute.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by dunfree View Post
    To reply to myself - if you are a decent craftsman with maybe $20 of materials (Micarta blanks) and $50 of tools (sandpaper, flat plate, needle files, razor saw, caliper) you can learn to do it yourself of course in a week or so of evenings.
    They guy who reset the neck on my old Martin and replaced the frets threw in the compensated saddle for free.
    Unless the strings are fairly new a bad string could be the problem. Old strings can be hard to tune. I don't know the reason. Maybe they stretch unevenly so parts of the string are thinner than others?

    So in order of importance--1) ignore the problem if you and your teacher can't hear it.
    2) change the strings
    3) take it to a luthier--Taylor probably has someone they use for warranty work in your area. I'd use them even it it's not a warranty issue.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by old goat View Post
    They guy who reset the neck on my old Martin and replaced the frets threw in the compensated saddle for free
    that’s just a vintage Martin service. He should have done a nut too.
    Last edited by dunfree ; 09-05-2021 at 09:43 PM.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by old goat View Post
    Unless the strings are fairly new a bad string could be the problem. Old strings can be hard to tune. I don't know the reason. Maybe they stretch unevenly so parts of the string are thinner than others?
    It's because the strings need to move through the nut. If the nut has grooves in it that prevent the strings from moving (aka the nut is worn out), or if the strings have enough corrosion on them that they resist moving, the guitar won't be in tune. Even if you tune it, the first time the string moves it'll sit in its new position and be out of tune again.

    To prevent that from happening you should lubricate the nut with graphite (a regular pencil will work fine) or a guitar store will sell you some super expensive very light oil, same difference)

  23. #23
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    I will ask guitar teacher.

    It was used but practically new from guitar store (NOT guitar center). I think they'd put new springs on?

    Its just one increment sharp so I dont know who could even hear that. I dont know what measurements the tuner uses...

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ted Striker View Post
    It's because the strings need to move through the nut. If the nut has grooves in it that prevent the strings from moving (aka the nut is worn out), or if the strings have enough corrosion on them that they resist moving, the guitar won't be in tune. Even if you tune it, the first time the string moves it'll sit in its new position and be out of tune again.

    To prevent that from happening you should lubricate the nut with graphite (a regular pencil will work fine) or a guitar store will sell you some super expensive very light oil, same difference)
    That's a different problem--you should be able to hear the sudden change in pitch when the stuck string unstuck but it's a possibility. Graphite is cheap and you can use the rest of it on sticky locks but be careful--it can make a mess.

    The neck reset on the Martin was warrantied--30 years after I bought it. I sent a picture of me with the guitar when it was new and contemporary to prove I was the original owner. The frets were on me.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by old goat View Post
    That's a different problem--you should be able to hear the sudden change in pitch when the stuck string unstuck but it's a possibility.
    Yeah, I was just replying to your "Old strings can be hard to tune. I don't know the reason." OP's problem is intonation.

    OP have you learned to play harmonics? If not, it's easy and you should do it now. It's basically just touching the string directly above the fret (not pushing it down). That way you can tune the guitar to itself using only one reference note. Even if the intonation isn't quite right, the guitar will play in tune in the first 5 frets.


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