#1
I own a Fender Fat Strat with a tremolo, all stock. I recently got a new tuner, and I noticed that when I play the low E "open", it is in tune, but then if I fret that same string at the 12th fret and play it, it goes sharp.

I saw some articles about setting up the guitar both on here and on you-tube. It seems like what I need to do is adjust the string length (intonation?) by adjusting the saddle on the tremolo in/out. I sat for about 30 minutes last night, adjusting it in one direction, re-tuning it, adjusting it the other direction, re-tuning.... no matter what I did, the same problem seemed to occur. Sharp at the 12th fret. I also tried adjusting the neck, thinking that might help. No difference (I did manage to get some string buzz... ugh, time to adjust it back out now).

The only thing I haven't tried messing with yet is the string height, which is next on my list.

In any event, before I drive myself insane, any ideas/tips on what could be causing the strings to go sharp in the higher frets?
#4
Here's the proper order of steps for intonating your guitar...

1. Tune the open string to pitch
2. Play the harmonic on the 12th fret of that string
3. Fret the note on the 12th fret of that string
4. If the fretted note is Sharp, Tighten the screw behind that saddle
5. If the fretted note is Flat, Loosen the screw behind that saddle
6. Repeat steps 1-5 until the 12th fret harmonic and 12th fret fretted note are in tune with eachother. (I recommend an electronic tuner for this)
Acoustics:
1994 Seagull SM6
2007 Takamine G5013SVFT

Electrics:
2008 Epiphone Les Paul Standard Plain Top (Cherryburst)
1964 Gibson Melody Maker D (DC)

Amps:
Traynor YGL-1

Pedals
MXR Distortion III (C4 Modded)
#5
Thank you RockinSince1993, I will try again tonight. What you described seems like what I was doing. Since it seems to be going consistently sharp, I'll wind the screw all the way out so I have as much correction room as possible and see what happens. Will string height and/or neck adjustment have any bearing on this?
#6
String height is all preference if its not buzzing.

To see if you need truss rod adj. with a balanced bridge.
Fret your low string at first and last frets.
Look at the 8-9 fret bar and note clearance, if you can fit a credit card in nicely then its okay.
More or less and you may need to adjust.
#7
The reason I ask about string height is because, from a physical standpoint, it seems like the farther you need to press the string until it makes contact with the fret, the more the string has to stretch/bend in order to reach the fretboard.

For sake of exaggeration, let's say your strings are 1/64" above the frets. The string barely has to move before it contacts the fret. Now, let's say the strings are a full 1" above the frets. In order to reach the fret, your finger would have to bend the string the full inch down, which would stretch the string and cause the note to be (very very) sharp. Does that make sense?

Getting back to reality, if the strings are 1/64" vs 3/64" above the frets, do the string that are higher have to stretch more to fret the note, and if so, wouldn't that cause them to go sharp?

Not trying to be wise-ass, just trying to understand the mechanics behind it so I can do a better job.
#8
I can see why you might think that, but it isn't the case. When you fret a note, the nut of the guitar is taken completely out of the equation. The note is determined by the distance between the saddle and the fret that the string is in contact with. Regardless of the action, the note will be the same.

If you still can't intonate the guitar properly, then there are only a few reasons: 1. The saddle is worn out, the bridge isn't placed properly (manufacturing error), the bridge is floating (which can cause intonation issues), the frets are worn or weren't placed properly at the factory (unlikely), Or the bridge humbucker is too close to the strings, and is pulling the string sharp (unlikely). In my experience, I can't think of anything else that could be causing this issue.

Please specify if you have the bridge floating or flush with the body.
Acoustics:
1994 Seagull SM6
2007 Takamine G5013SVFT

Electrics:
2008 Epiphone Les Paul Standard Plain Top (Cherryburst)
1964 Gibson Melody Maker D (DC)

Amps:
Traynor YGL-1

Pedals
MXR Distortion III (C4 Modded)
#9
Quote by toddhd
The reason I ask about string height is because, from a physical standpoint, it seems like the farther you need to press the string until it makes contact with the fret, the more the string has to stretch/bend in order to reach the fretboard.

For sake of exaggeration, let's say your strings are 1/64" above the frets. The string barely has to move before it contacts the fret. Now, let's say the strings are a full 1" above the frets. In order to reach the fret, your finger would have to bend the string the full inch down, which would stretch the string and cause the note to be (very very) sharp. Does that make sense?

Getting back to reality, if the strings are 1/64" vs 3/64" above the frets, do the string that are higher have to stretch more to fret the note, and if so, wouldn't that cause them to go sharp?

Not trying to be wise-ass, just trying to understand the mechanics behind it so I can do a better job.


You're right that the mere act of fretting will tension the string a small additional amount, but it is a small change, and the intonation adjustment of the string should be plenty large enough to deal with it, even with a fairly high action.

It's pretty typical for the low-E string to require the saddle to be set well back, toward the tail of the guitar. If you run out of adjustment room, you might try removing the little spring that wraps around the intonation adjustment screw for that saddle, which will give you a bit more adjustment room (to lengthen the string). Or, you could cut the spring to be a bit shorter, if you are confident enough!