#1
i have a classical guitar which is about 30 to 35 years old and it is a bit battered, though i dont know by how much because thats the only classical guitar ive played. the neck is a bit bent and the hardware has not been replaced. i use Savarez strings, normal tension.

it stay in tune, but i think the intonation is off, or there is something else which causes it to sound out of tune depending on where i play on the fretboard. for example, i play the basic E major chord and i tune it so it is in tune for that chord, but then i play a C chord and it sounds out of tune, mainly the B string. other strings also sound out of tune if i play higher up.

is there a way to adjust the intonation on a classical guitar, or on a steel string acoustic for that matter? or should i just buy a new classical?

thanks!
Quote by mh.666
This man is right.


My life in all aspects is going fucking brilliantly, so I just thought I'd offer a cyncial scrap of wisdom, gloat a little, and then leave.
#2
First off, try tuning and testing the correct way. Tuning to one particular chord is not the answer. Open tune the guitar to standard EADGBe. Try to nail it dead on if at all possible, as it will help with the next step. If you can't quite seem to get certain strings dead on, just note how far off those strings are on your tuner.
Now compare each open note to the fretted 12th. The tuner should match note for note, and for those that may not be tuned precisely when played open, the tuner should still match, indicating that the intonation is correct. If the intonation is off, either flat or sharp, the tuner will show it when fretting the 12th versus the corresponding string played open. Say low E is right on when played open, but at the 12th the needle shows the E note a bit sharp. The bridge saddle would then need to be compensated rearward, away from the headstock to bring the intonation in line. This should be done in a shop.
Classicals normally don't require much for fine intonation because the nylon strings are all roughly the same diameter, or gauge. This is why the saddle is nearly straight across, rather than angled like you'd see on a steel string acoustic.
Before you do any changes or mods to intonate, try a new set of strings. Savarez strings are good, but you didn't mention how old they are.
Ok, now for the tricky part. lol. If you find that the intonation is spot on by testing the above way, but the guitar still plays out of tune higher up on the fretboard, then the nut may need attention. The placement of the nut to the first fret(and all other frets for that matter) is very critical for proper intonation of the guitar as well. Again, start with the guitar in tune, but rather than fretting the 12th, fret across all strings at the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and check those notes. You won't be doing a comparison this time, just checking notes. This is where a quality tuner comes in handy. One that shows both sharps and flats. All notes should be correct, but if not, and assuming that the open vs. 12th fret intonation is ok, the nut may need to be removed and reset, or filed to compensate.
This, in a nutshell, is what's required to intonate. Hope you find this useful and can narrow down the problem.
Last edited by LeftyDave at Jul 8, 2008,
#3
thanks for your informative reply.

i know how to check and adjust the intonation because i have 2 electrics and a chromatic tuner. its just on a classical the bridge is one piece and there are no screws to turn. i have tried various tuning methods, including tuning the open strings, tuning to chords, using harmonics. when i get it in tune using one of those methods, it sounds out of tune using a different method. i dont use the tuner for all the strings - i just get the 5th or 4th string in tune and then do it by ear.

the Savarez strings i use are brand new - i just put them on about a week ago, and i dont sweat or anything when i play classical, so they last pretty long. i have thought about taking it into my local guitar shop but i figured that it would cost a lot to fix and spruce up, and even then it wont be perfect and it might be a better idea to spend some more money on a new guitar.
Quote by mh.666
This man is right.


My life in all aspects is going fucking brilliantly, so I just thought I'd offer a cyncial scrap of wisdom, gloat a little, and then leave.
#4
I'm assuming you've had the problem for a while now, not just since putting on new strings. Nylons take a fair bit of time to stretch out and become stable enough to hold their tune nicely. 3 days to a week is not uncommon.
Let's try a different method of tuning once and see of that doesn't help some.
Here's what I want you to do:
Start with the high E string this time. Tune it to pitch with your chromatic tuner.
Now set the tuner aside and do the rest by ear.
Fret the B string at the 5th fret and tune to match the open high E.
Fret the D string at the 9th fret and tune to match the open high E.
Fret the G string at the 14th fret and tune to match the open high E.
Perform a natural harmonic of the A string at the 7th fret and tune to match the high E.
Perform a natural harmonic of the low E string at the 12th fret and tune to match the high E.
This method utilizes the high E string as the base reference note and allows the rest of the guitar to be tuned to it. Highly accurate.
Now, check the accuracy by doing the following:
Perform a natural harmonic on the 12th fret of the low E string and compare to the fretted 7th of the A string. Listen for the out of sync sound.
Do a nat. harm. on 12th fret of the A string and compare to the fretted 7th of the D string. Again, listen for the wavering sound.
Nat. harm. on the 12th fret of the D string and compare to the fretted 7th of the G string.
Nat. harm. on the 12th fret of the G string compared to the fretted 8th of the B string.
Nat. harm. on the 12th fret of the B string compared to the fretted 7th of the high E.
If you find that wavering, out of sync sound between any 2 strings, go back to the first method and retune those strings to the high E.
By doing the second routine, you are accurately double checking the tuning you previously performed in the first series of steps. This method, while more time consuming, is much, much more accurate, helps to develop your ear, and eliminates some of the errors inherent in other methods of tuning, especially the 4/5 harmonic way, which no one should ever use.
Try this and let me know what the results are.
Last edited by LeftyDave at Jul 8, 2008,