#1
Hello UG forum,

Just finished building my first guitar, tele style, came from a wee kit (feels like cheating really but I had to sand, paint and wire everything)
It works (hurrah) and sounds ok, no hums/buzz etc.

The strings have been placed and tuned thousands of times until they've stretched out.

The issue is that they sound out of tune when pressure is applied to the frets (like when I hold a chord). Different pressure causes different notes across each string and so the whole guitar SOUNDS out of tune, but when checked with harmonics and an electronic tuner, the open strings are perfectly fine.

I remember having this issue on my first guitar and it was resolved simply by replacing the strings, but these are brand new and I don't know what else could be the cause?
What's making my guitar strings sounds out of tune when they're played but remain in tune when open?

Any help or advice appreciated,

Trevelyan
#2
you need to tune the strings then fret the strings on the 12th fret and it should read as the same note on the tuner ex: Low E will also show up as E while fretted

If the fretted note is sharp then the saddle must be adjusted twards the back of the guitar. If it is Flat when fretted then the saddle needs to move twards the headstock.

You adjust them with the screws at the back of the tail plate.

make sure you losen the string each time you adjust the saddle for that string. Then retun and check at the 12th fret. It is really easy, but will take a little patience
2002 PRS CE22
2013 G&L ASAT Deluxe
2009 Epiphone G-400 (SH-4)
Marshall JCM2000 DSL100
Krank 1980 Jr 20watt
Krank Rev 4x12 (eminence V12)
GFS Greenie/Digitech Bad Monkey
Morley Bad Horsie 2
MXR Smart Gate
#3
But the harmonics on the 12th fret are perfectly in tune with the open notes?
Putting pressure on the strings creates almost a bend between notes.
Would adjusting the saddle still help?
The intonation is good so far as I can tell.
#4
Quote by Trevelyan

The intonation is good so far as I can tell.


No, its not. Because that is your problem. Are you sure you know what intonation is?

You have to tune open, then fret at the 12th, and see how much its off. then, adjust the saddle forward or back depending on if it is flat or sharp. THAT is how you set up intonation.
Unless your action or nut is insanely high, your intonation is off.
#5
It is in tune on the 12th fret. The intonation isn't the problem. Stop saying the intonation is the problem. It's not the problem. The problem is different. Please accept that.
#6
Quote by Trevelyan
It is in tune on the 12th fret. The intonation isn't the problem. Stop saying the intonation is the problem. It's not the problem. The problem is different. Please accept that.

Well obviously the intonation is not right or you would not be experiencing your problem.

Measure from the Nut to the 12th fret, next measure from the 12th fret to the bridge saddle, are they the same distance (or really close like within 1/8").

if you have done this and the distance and the notes are right then there is something else going on. How high is the action? if it is too high you can be out of tune on certain frets.
2002 PRS CE22
2013 G&L ASAT Deluxe
2009 Epiphone G-400 (SH-4)
Marshall JCM2000 DSL100
Krank 1980 Jr 20watt
Krank Rev 4x12 (eminence V12)
GFS Greenie/Digitech Bad Monkey
Morley Bad Horsie 2
MXR Smart Gate
#7
Hmm, it does have very high action...
Would that be the problem then?
I'm sorry about the last response, just caught me at a bad time :/
The higher frets are fine, it's like the first five frets and only on the low E string and maybe the A string.
#8
That would be a likely culprit yes as you'll effectively be doing a bend when fretting. Get the action set properly, reset the intonation and then see how it is.
#9
Also check the neck relif to make sure you don't have too much or to little
2002 PRS CE22
2013 G&L ASAT Deluxe
2009 Epiphone G-400 (SH-4)
Marshall JCM2000 DSL100
Krank 1980 Jr 20watt
Krank Rev 4x12 (eminence V12)
GFS Greenie/Digitech Bad Monkey
Morley Bad Horsie 2
MXR Smart Gate
#11
Quote by Trevelyan
Hmm, it does have very high action...
Would that be the problem then?
I'm sorry about the last response, just caught me at a bad time :/
The higher frets are fine, it's like the first five frets and only on the low E string and maybe the A string.


If you believe you have set the intonation correctly at the 12th then a very high action can cause this, and the sharpness of the note will be pressure dependant.

If after you optimise the action, neck relief and reset the intonation and you still experience some sharpness, it may be you are just be pressing too hard.

There is only so much that action and intonation adjustment can account for.
'It takes 100 guitar players to change a light. One to change the light and 99 to stand around pointing, saying..."Yeah man, look...I can do that too"...'

My gear is in my Profile

Builds & Refurbs
Hondo 780 Deluxe
Gibson Studio
Epi LP100
#12
I'm worried about the neck relief, how do I adjust it safely?
The rest is easy enough and I'm pretty certain the intonation is sound.
#14
loosen the strings first and tighten the truss-rod or loosen it depending on what you need. The truss rod should be at the head of the guitar under the nut, or in the heel end.
When you tighten the truss rod, you are creating a bow in the neck, when you loosen the truss rod you are straightening the neck. You need to find the happy medium for your guitar and the string gauge you use.
2002 PRS CE22
2013 G&L ASAT Deluxe
2009 Epiphone G-400 (SH-4)
Marshall JCM2000 DSL100
Krank 1980 Jr 20watt
Krank Rev 4x12 (eminence V12)
GFS Greenie/Digitech Bad Monkey
Morley Bad Horsie 2
MXR Smart Gate
#15
Quote by Trevelyan
But the harmonics on the 12th fret are perfectly in tune with the open notes

Good, but that's not how you do the intonation. Fret the 12th fret and use the 12th fret harmonic. If those notes are the exact same, then the intonation for that string is fine. And use tuner, don't do this by ear.

While the intonation could be out for a few other reasons, like a high nut slot, it could also be out because you did adjusted it wrong.
#16
Quote by W4RP1G
Good, but that's not how you do the intonation. Fret the 12th fret and use the 12th fret harmonic. If those notes are the exact same, then the intonation for that string is fine. And use tuner, don't do this by ear.

While the intonation could be out for a few other reasons, like a high nut slot, it could also be out because you did adjusted it wrong.


I said this exact same thing earlier in the thread, and he refuses to listen.
#17
Quote by W4RP1G
Good, but that's not how you do the intonation. Fret the 12th fret and use the 12th fret harmonic. If those notes are the exact same, then the intonation for that string is fine. And use tuner, don't do this by ear.

While the intonation could be out for a few other reasons, like a high nut slot, it could also be out because you did adjusted it wrong.

This.
Get a tuner, tune perfectly to the pitch, then do a 12th fret harmonic, then fret the 12th fret. You want them to be as close as possible, I've got my guitar intonated within a few cents. The simple fact is, if your string is in tune, but the notes you play are not, your intonation is off for one reason or the other, that's all there is to it.
Quote by R45VT
Bastards.
#18
Quote by EVERYBODY
<How to check your intonation>
Make sure the 12th fret harmonic and fretted note are the same by adjusting the saddles on the bridge. Use a tuner while you're doing it.

Sorry. Can't resist a bandwagon.

BTW, OP: The harmonic around the 12th fret and open note are bound to be in tune with each other because that's how harmonics work.
#19
I did everything you guys said about the intonation just to be sure. The 12th fret is in perfect tune with the 12th harmonic and yes, I used a tuner. I admit, a couple of strings were slightly off but not nearly as much as the lower frets. All has been adjusted and to repeat, the 12th fret harmonic is in perfect tune with the 12th fret, checked when using a tuner.
Can we all stop talking about this method of adjustment please, it's been done, twice and it hasn't helped.
Again, I apologise for an early response, but that doesn't change the fact I've tried your method and it has failed. The 12 fret harmonic is in tune with the 12th fret, confirmed with a tuner.
Everyone understand?

I'll try adjusting the action and neck relief and see if it helps. Fingers crossed.
Just in case nobody caught it the first time, it's the lower frets that sound out of tune, not the higher ones. You're talking frets 1-7 mainly on the thicker strings.

Thanks for everyones help so far.
#20
How high is your nut? how much distance between the string and the first fret? It may be that you need to do some serious nut filing.

Photos always help.
Cornford Hellcat
Peavey 5150
1994 Ibanez Jem 7V