#1
Hey guys, I got an American strat a few months ago but it's always had some irritating intonation problems. I always set up my own guitars but this one is proving quite difficult. I don't have a reliable shop nearby so I either have to sort it out myself or spend more in gas than it would cost to get a set up.

The intonation on my 6th string is terrible. I have the saddle cranked back as far as it will go and it'll still about 10 cents off. What can I do when I've reached this point?
Winner of the 2011 Virginia Guitar Festival

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65 Deluxe Reverb
PRS CE 22
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Taylor 712
#2
Is the bridge parallel to the body and are you using new strings (some old strings just don't want intonate because they've been worn out unevenly or something)
#3
Nah, I've done the simple checks. New, stretched strings which are about a day old. The bridge is blocked as well.
Winner of the 2011 Virginia Guitar Festival

Protools HD
Lynx Aurora 16/HD192
Mojave, Sennheiser, AKG, EV etc mics
Focusrite ISA828 pres
Waves Mercury
Random Rack Gear

65 Deluxe Reverb
PRS CE 22
American Standard Strat
Taylor 712
#5
Reads about 20 cents sharp on the tuner. Also, another problem popped up that I hadn't checked before. If the G string is perfectly in tune, the A on the second fret is about 20 cents sharp. I know guitars don't have great intonation, I'm talking with a guy about making me a fan fret right now, but this seems worse than usual. Weird for an American Fender too...
Winner of the 2011 Virginia Guitar Festival

Protools HD
Lynx Aurora 16/HD192
Mojave, Sennheiser, AKG, EV etc mics
Focusrite ISA828 pres
Waves Mercury
Random Rack Gear

65 Deluxe Reverb
PRS CE 22
American Standard Strat
Taylor 712
#7
Yes? Most strats come with a tremolo. I prefer not to use one but there were no hard tails available so I had it blocked. This is nothing unusual.
Winner of the 2011 Virginia Guitar Festival

Protools HD
Lynx Aurora 16/HD192
Mojave, Sennheiser, AKG, EV etc mics
Focusrite ISA828 pres
Waves Mercury
Random Rack Gear

65 Deluxe Reverb
PRS CE 22
American Standard Strat
Taylor 712
#8
What kind of nut is on it? Plastic, Bone, LSR Roller, etc. What kind of tremolo does it have? Vintage or two point? I'm assuming you've already checked for neck relief. Also what method are you using to set the intonation? Open and 12th harmonic or something else? I've had better luck using the highest fret to get the intonation at the shortest point of the string, but I doubt that'll really help anything here.
#9
It's a 2011, so I'd assume plastic for the nut and it's a 2 point tremolo. Neck relief is good, I had to fix it when I first got it though. When I do my PRS I use a couple of methods, obviously first is the 12th harmonic and 12th fret. Then I also check 7th and 19th fret harmonics and their respective note and edge it a little this way or that way. I've never tried using the highest fret though, can you explain any reasoning behind that?
Winner of the 2011 Virginia Guitar Festival

Protools HD
Lynx Aurora 16/HD192
Mojave, Sennheiser, AKG, EV etc mics
Focusrite ISA828 pres
Waves Mercury
Random Rack Gear

65 Deluxe Reverb
PRS CE 22
American Standard Strat
Taylor 712
#10
I started doing it that way based on the tech guides at ibanezrules. Rich explains how he gets better results by using the shorted string section. Evidently you can get it adjusted perfectly at the 12th fret and still be off a fair bit at the 24th fret (or 22nd) But if you get it perfect at the 24th fret the 12th fret still ends up being almost spot on. Evidently the shorted the length of the string, the more accurate the measurement.

I've been working with an old RX170 that we swapped a cheap 2 point trem very much like your own to a Wilkinson 2 point. We are having similar issues with this guitar both before and after the swap. The Low E in this case is the one that is cranked all the way back and still reading a few cents sharp. At this point all we can do is down tune it a bit until is sounds right even though it isn't. You've really got very limited options.

1) relocate the bridge. This would require filling and rerouting the cavity and post holes though so it's probably the most invasive.
2) relocate the neck. This can be very tricky though. You'd have to pull the neck off, fill the holes in it, place a shim in the neck pocket vertically to fill up some space between the edge of the neck and the guitar body, and reattach the neck with new holes. It's less invasive than moving the bridge but still a major pain and may weaken your neck joint or effect sustain if not done perfectly solid.
3) try a new nut like an Earvana Compensated nut. These have staggered slots to give your string a little more length on the nut end. This is the least invasive but they are expensive and depending on how far out the intonation is, it might not be enough difference to do the trick.

It gets to a point where it's a real pain to figure out what will work. You are also looking at modifying and possibly devaluing a US Strat. At least the RX I'm working on is a $180 Korean piece of junk.
#11
A couple more things.
1) what kind of tuner are you using for this?
2) It is actually possible to be an octave out on your intonation. You could have the saddle cranked so far back that it's out of intonation and giving a false reading. You can try moving the saddle all the way forward and gradually bring it back to see if you can line it up any better. This may not be the problem but it is possible. This is not the case on the RX170 unfortunately.
#12
Quote by poppameth
A couple more things.
1) what kind of tuner are you using for this?
2) It is actually possible to be an octave out on your intonation. You could have the saddle cranked so far back that it's out of intonation and giving a false reading. You can try moving the saddle all the way forward and gradually bring it back to see if you can line it up any better. This may not be the problem but it is possible. This is not the case on the RX170 unfortunately.


+1 done #2 before :-/
Fender Contemporary Stratocaster, MIJ, SSS pups, white, maple neck
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#14
Lot to respond to. I find it hard to believe that an American standard strat would be improperly routed. Or at least be allowed out of their factory, I may be wrong though!

As for the tuner, a simple Korg digital tuner with a quarter inch cable. I never considered that I may have overshot by an octave though, that doesn't seem possible to me but I'll certainly check. Another thing, it's literally a quarter turn away from being in tune, could I just cut the spring a bit shorter?

Saddle height is a little high since I flattened the bridge but not awful.
Winner of the 2011 Virginia Guitar Festival

Protools HD
Lynx Aurora 16/HD192
Mojave, Sennheiser, AKG, EV etc mics
Focusrite ISA828 pres
Waves Mercury
Random Rack Gear

65 Deluxe Reverb
PRS CE 22
American Standard Strat
Taylor 712
#15
Well, I'll be damned. I don't think I over shot by an octave but backing the screw all the way out and then adjusting it again brought it into tune.
Winner of the 2011 Virginia Guitar Festival

Protools HD
Lynx Aurora 16/HD192
Mojave, Sennheiser, AKG, EV etc mics
Focusrite ISA828 pres
Waves Mercury
Random Rack Gear

65 Deluxe Reverb
PRS CE 22
American Standard Strat
Taylor 712
#16
Good to hear. At least you found the easy fix. It is unusual for a US strat to have a problem like this that needs major surgery to fix. However, with the way quality control is on virtually anything you buy now days you never really know.