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Intonation help needed on a strat knockoff

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(@josephnyc)
Eminent Member
Joined: 14 years ago
Posts: 15
Topic starter  

Hi,

I'm pretty new to playing (about 5 month) and loving it.

I've got a cheap strat knockoff (GE39 Assasin by BGuitars) for traveling with and I'm having a difficult time getting the intonation good.

Open strings tune just fine, but as soon as I'm at just about any fret, most of the strings go off-tune. At the 12th fret, 4 out of 6 strings are more than 20hz sharp (I think that's how I read the tuner).

I watched a bunch of youtube videos and followed the instructions, adjusting the string length by turning the little screws on the saddle (clockwise to move saddle back to fix sharpness).

It seems that the adjustments are not affecting the intonation at all -- whether I lengthen or shorten the strings, the degree of sharpness doesn't change much.

Is there something else I could check?

Could it be as simple as needing the replace the new strings (guitar was purchased a few months ago and never played)?

Thank you,

Joseph


   
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(@dogbite)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 6348
 

you could take an actual measurement. there is a precise number you want.
I am sorry I haven't a link to a fretboard scale. search on line.
by knowing the correct numeric distances and then checking your guitar
will let you know if something is grossly wrong or just a millimeter off.
I will look around.

http://www.soundclick.com/bands/pagemusic.cfm?bandID=644552
http://www.soundclick.com/couleerockinvaders


   
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(@blue-jay)
Noble Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 1630
 

I won't be long with a full page, and there can be other opinions. Maybe you can still work on your guitar tonight, but it's late on the clock where you're at, NYC?

Anyhow, the guitar looks like it could be a bugger to intonate, if your bridge is high at the back, or trem springs are weak. Some techs and players at large say the strings make a difference, so you could go that route and with light 9's.
I just find that old, stretched, or bad original strings might go out of tune, but are not always a true intonation issue.

That's your axe and standard bridge type with stamped steel saddles. I wonder if the bridge is high at the tail end, which occurs with heavier gauge strings or weak trem springs - but you can tighten the trem claw if that is the case. That may bring the bridge height down, and will lengthen strings. Yes, short strings are sharp and long strings are flatter. Mine is a mockup of a future build, nothing screwed in but the saddle pattern should work except for a slightly off B or E saddle. :D

Like a bird on the wire,
like a drunk in a midnight choir
I have tried in my way to be free.


   
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(@josephnyc)
Eminent Member
Joined: 14 years ago
Posts: 15
Topic starter  

you could take an actual measurement. there is a precise number you want.
I am sorry I haven't a link to a fretboard scale. search on line.
by knowing the correct numeric distances and then checking your guitar
will let you know if something is grossly wrong or just a millimeter off.
I will look around.

Thanks for the response. I have to look into this, as I don't have a clue regarding string length calculation.


   
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(@josephnyc)
Eminent Member
Joined: 14 years ago
Posts: 15
Topic starter  

I won't be long with a full page, and there can be other opinions. Maybe you can still work on your guitar tonight, but it's late on the clock where you're at, NYC?

Anyhow, the guitar looks like it could be a bugger to intonate, if your bridge is high at the back, or trem springs are weak. Some techs and players at large say the strings make a difference, so you could go that route and with light 9's.
I just find that old, stretched, or bad original strings might go out of tune, but are not always a true intonation issue.

That's your axe and standard bridge type with stamped steel saddles. I wonder if the bridge is high at the tail end, which occurs with heavier gauge strings or weak trem springs - but you can tighten the trem claw if that is the case. That may bring the bridge height down, and will lengthen strings. Yes, short strings are sharp and long strings are flatter. Mine is a mockup of a future build, nothing screwed in but the saddle pattern should work except for a slightly off B or E saddle. :D

Thanks for the details and the pics and the suggestions.

I now know what a trem claw and tremolo bridge is!

I notice the blocks (saddles?) on the bridge have a height adjustment (2 little allen screws). If I lower these saddles, will that lengthen the strings and possibly improve the intonation?

Is this worth trying or am I likely to hopeless mess this up?

Thanks!


   
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(@daven)
Estimable Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 184
 

Lowering the bridge won't change the string length much but it will reduce the amount the strings stretch as you fret them. It will also make your guitar easier to play. I recently set up a guitar I got from Rondo, when it arrived the strings were really high, over 1/4 inch above the fret wire at the 12th fret and the intonation was terrible. I lowered the bridge until I started getting string buzz then rasied it until I could barre the strings anywhere on the fret board without buzzing. Once I got the strings lowered the intonation was easy to set.


   
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(@josephnyc)
Eminent Member
Joined: 14 years ago
Posts: 15
Topic starter  

Lowering the bridge won't change the string length much but it will reduce the amount the strings stretch as you fret them. It will also make your guitar easier to play. I recently set up a guitar I got from Rondo, when it arrived the strings were really high, over 1/4 inch above the fret wire at the 12th fret and the intonation was terrible. I lowered the bridge until I started getting string buzz then rasied it until I could barre the strings anywhere on the fret board without buzzing. Once I got the strings lowered the intonation was easy to set.

I just measured the height of the string at the 12th fret. As best I can tell, it's 3/32 of an inch above the top of the fret (fret wire).


   
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(@blue-jay)
Noble Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 1630
 

Here's your setup guide. Most of us know about it, but it seems like only a few members are here at the moment.

I left some room... and it's great when we can hear from everybody, IMO, and fit the pieces of the puzzle together.

http://www.fender.com/support/stratocaster_setup_guide.php

True, lowering saddles will not lengthen the strings, if you envision the strings like a regular piece of string, pinned or tacked to a fixed object, and then rotate around its radius to draw a circle. At every point on the circle, the string is the same length. That relates to your strings beingd "fixed" at the nut, and deeming that their other end on the saddle or "take off" point is the outside of the imaginary circle - the strings are the same length whether the saddle is up or down.

However, string height makes a difference, as was mentioned, when they are fretted, because if they are higher they strrrretttch further, and might go sharp. :shock: Boing! Same principle as stretching a rubber band or wash tub bass string.

Conversely, pulling the tail of the bridge down, where the 6 individual saddle screws are, will pull back on the saddles which are the take off points, lengthening the strings, and THAT makes a difference.

Everybody will be tired of my same Purple Strat which I have here, so I'll find a picture of another to show the trem claw.
Your claw is on the left there, under the cover, with two screws in it, ground wire and springs attached. This one is what I would call "cranked" or tightened in pretty hard, not to mention 5 springs instead of 3 making it very stiff, but stable.

This is the low tail that I'm talking about, but with a whammy bar in, it works, it floats, goes both ways, yet sustains. I definitely pulled up on this one, so it doesn't only dive. The posts help it float, but that's a long story. Yours has a 6 screw hold-down and it doesn't truly pivot but can rock on them all if the heads are up just a bit. A business card or a thin pick fits under this tail. In that link from Fender, I believe that a space of 1/8" of an inch is called for, but you can go lower.

Like a bird on the wire,
like a drunk in a midnight choir
I have tried in my way to be free.


   
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