For some reason, my guitar's intonation is completely shot and I have no idea why...

I adjusted the saddles so that the harmonic at the 12th fret and the fretted note at the 12th fret are at the same pitch. It's even in tune at the 24th fret...but if I tune my guitar using harmonics the strings are completely out of tune relative to one another when I am actually fretting notes. The open strings are fine too, and I've checked with a tuner, with new batteries, that I'm not messing up the harmonic tuning. But chords sound absolutely terrible. And if I try doing the old fashioned "fret the 5th on one string to get the open tone of the next one" thing then all the strings are out of tune in the open string, 12th fret, and 24th fret notes...

Anybody know how I can fix this?

Last edited by Colonel Sanders : Yesterday at 10:54 PM.
Im assuming you got a FR and a locking nut. If that is indeed the case tune your guitar, lock the nut, then intonate. In my experiences you have to do this a few times to get the tune and intonation correct. Good luck bro, I ****ing hate intonating new strings.
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I may be wrong, but I think the 12th harmonic is going to be a little sharper than the 12th fretted note. Try starting by matching the open string to the 12th fretted note, if you havent already done this.
Ahh here's the thing...it's a fixed bridge guitar and I've confirmed with the tuner that the 12 harmonic is the same as the 12th fret note for all the strings.

Last edited by Colonel Sanders : Yesterday at 10:54 PM.
Quote by RozzLe
hmmm...around which frets are the strings starting to go out of tune?

Mostly the frets in between the nut and the 12th fret. A bit between the 12th and the 24th as well. Only the open, 12, and 24 seem to be in tune...

Anyone know what is going on?

Last edited by Colonel Sanders : Yesterday at 10:54 PM.
For starters, you should be comparing the open string notes to the fretted 12th when checking intonation. It'll give you more accurate results. Secondly, your tuning method is all wrong. Think about this, when you play the guitar do a) perform mostly all harmonics or b) you play it by fretting the strings?
If you said b, then why would you be tuning by using harmonics? Natural harmonics, like the ones you use when tuning are not going to allow you to tune a guitar very accurately simply because you are not fretting the notes. When you fret the strings, you are slightly stretching out each string so that it touches the fret wire where it can then make the new note. This stretch is important to remember, as it's actually causing each string to go sharp a tad. That tad bit is enough to throw off your entire guitar if you've previously tuned up solely by using harmonics, which don't involve pressing the strings down onto the frets.

Here's a much better method of tuning, and is highly accurate.
First off, get your intonation all set by comparing the open string notes to the fretted 12th. Adjust your saddles accordingly so that you are as close as possible. Retune the open strings as needed until you get these back in line with each other. Forget about any harmonics for now, they aren't helping you.

Now, start the fine tuning process as follows:
Tune your high E string as accurately as possible to an electronic tuner. Try to get it right on if you can. Then, fret the 2nd, or B string, at the 5th fret and compare to the open 1st string. Adjust the 2nd string to match the open first.
Fret the 3rd string at the 9th and compare it to the open 1st. Adjust 3rd string until same.
Fret the 4th string at the 14th fret and compare it to the 1st. Adjust 4th string until same.
Fret the 5th string at the 7th fret and compare to the 1st string. Adjust the 5th until it's the same as the 1st.
Fret the 6th string at the 12th fret and compare to the 1st string, and adjust the 6th until it's the same as the 1st.

When tuning up the way I've stated, you are creating a reference note, E, with which you are tuning the rest of the guitar to. If you do it right, the guitar will be very close to being in tune to itself all along the fretboard. Notice that you are fretting at various points along the fretboard? I've set those fret points for a reason so that you are getting E notes in the same or within 1 octave of the open high E string. You can use other locations for E as well, but if it's 2 octaves off from high E, you may not get as good of results.

Now, here's an excellent way of cross checking your first tuning method. This will tattle-tale on any string that may be off, and also tests your intonation simultaneously. This is where the harmonics come into the picture.
Perform a harmonic of the low E 6th string at the 12th fret and compare it to the fretted note of the 5th string at the 7th fret. Get the harmonic ringing first, then right away fret the A string at the 7th fret. They should ring out the same note, with no wavering, out of sync sound. Both are E notes.
Perform a harmonic of the 5th string at the 12th fret and compare to the 4th string 7th fret. Again, should be the same note, no wavering. Both are A notes.
Harmonic of 4th string at the 12th fret to the 3rd string fretted at the 7th. Both are D notes.
Harmonic of the 3rd string at the 12th fret to the 2nd string fretted at the 8th fret. Remeber to do the B string here at the 8th fret in order to match up the notes. Both are G notes.
Lastly, harmonic the 2nd string at the 12th and compare to the fretted 7th of the 1st string, high E. Both are B notes.

It sounds odd, and I'm sorry for it being so long winded, but this cross check does indeed work flawlessly, and will tell you how closely you are in tune, how accurate your intonation is and if you've done both set's correctly, your guitar will sound tons better. It may take a few times of doing this to get it down, but once you get used to it, you'll be able to do it in no time at all and you'll see results in your tuning and accuracy.
Last edited by LeftyDave at Feb 13, 2009,
You should always mention the make of guitar... if it's solid wood, it could simply need a week in the case with a dampit 'cause of dry weather.

Tuners aren't necessarily perfect but if you are using one, and it still sounds "absolutely terrible" then it seems something more is going on.

Any fast temperature changes?

Ya know ....too... on the rare occasion... sometimes my ear is just bad. ... anyone else around that can try tuning it and see if they get the same result.
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The issue is this:

When you fret a note you are pressing down on the string and stretching it. If you fret a note and wiggle you get vibrato. Just fretting it alone makes it go a little sharp.

Adjust you intonation with the fretted notes.