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5th string tuning woes

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New Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 1
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Hi everyone , just joined as my pa told me about this site so hope I can find some help.

Just got hold of an older accoustic guitar that Im toying with everything is fine action Ive set nice and it has no bellying etc though its about 20 years old , neck set nice Ive adjusted truss rod and theres now just a little relief at the 7th fret with no buzzing and its had little use as the frets are nicely crowned still with no grooves although Ive oiled the fretboard a little.

I have a problem which is when the guitar is tuned correctly , open strings by using the usial 55545 method , to get chords to sound right I then have to take the 5th string UP slightly to get Aminor etc to sound sweet this means that its not then in tune open,

I can adjust the intonation as I can comensate at the bridge a little if I play with saddle position as the bridge slot would allow that.

Soooo what Im asking is IF it sounds like an intonation issue and if it is would I shorten the length or increase it at the saddle ?

I want to achieve this myself really as its just a mess around guitar and not worth a setup cost but as its going to a friend I would like to get it so that it sounds ok WHEN its tuned to a tuner and not having to tell my beguiner friend that he should just take the 5th string up a bit more. :?

Obviously Im a little confused over this as the guitar seems fine even the Nut was setup great by someone.

Hope you can help me someone of knowledge , Im usually ok with my electrics at setting them up and quite delicate and careful :wink:

Illustrious Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 7833

Tuning up by the 55545 method always means that by the time you finish tuning, the lower strings are again out of tune, flat. You have to recheck each string with a tuner (or other pitch reference), and it takes about 3 passes across all 6 strings on average before you're done. As you tune up any string, it causes flexion of the neck and other parts, relaxing the tension on the other strings a little bit. It's especially problematic on Strats with "trem" bridges and resonator guitars, the cones of which are springy and give with string tension.

If only the 5th string is giving you an intonation problem, it may mean the nut slot for that string is incorrectly cut.

However, on an acoustic with a straight, slanted saddle that's not adjustable, you'll almost never have all 6 strings perfectly intonated. It can only be intonated perfectly with 1 set of string gauges at best. You may need to use a different gauge string in that position.

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