12th harmonic is off


hunter1801
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hunter1801
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09/30/2009 5:18 am
I've had this guitar for at least 10 years. It was my first electric guitar. I have never taken it to get any adjustments over time or anything like that. For a while now I've noticed that its tone is off. On my high E string, the harmonic on the 12th fret is a lower tone than the actual note itself. How would I fix this?

....actually now that I check, every string is higher than its harmonic on the 12th fret

Oh and I have a Fender Strat
# 1
Neal Walter
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Neal Walter
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09/30/2009 5:49 am
Sounds like you're due for a set-up, intonation is in order. I would take it to a pro and get it dialed in.
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# 2
Razbo
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Razbo
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09/30/2009 12:32 pm
Bah! Get out your screwdriver and tuner. ;)

[edit:] Here is a link Steve White has provided on the topic:

http://images.onstagemag.com/files/46/0202Setuptxt.html
...so ever since then, I always hang on to the buckle.
# 3
hunter1801
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hunter1801
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09/30/2009 9:05 pm
Ya that's way too confusing
# 4
Dazoo
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Dazoo
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10/01/2009 12:33 am
I'm with Razbo!

Check out...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vSgAos_ICTY
It's better to regret something that you have done than something you haven't.
# 5
ChristopherSchlegel
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ChristopherSchlegel
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10/01/2009 12:52 am
Originally Posted by: hunter1801
....actually now that I check, every string is higher than its harmonic on the 12th fret

Oh and I have a Fender Strat

You definitely have intonation issues. It could be that you need to have the intonation set via the bridge saddles. BUT! It's also possible that the vibrato is causing problems.

Your 12th fret notes are sharp (higher than the 12th fret harmonic). This means that the string length from the bridge saddles to the 12th fret is too short. Moving the bridge saddles back the right amount will add the required string length.

However, it could instead (or also?) be the springs in the vibrato cavity are losing some of their tension. This happens over time (especially in the summer & with extra use). You might also have a heavier gauge of string on it than usual which would cause the springs to be pulled harder and the vibrato block to be pulled up a bit.

Check the claw plate in the vibrato cavity. Is it screwed all the way into the wood? How many springs are on it? 3? 4? 5? Is the vibrato plate sitting flush against the guitar body? Was it always?

If you are uncomfortable dealing with these things that is perfectly understandable, so you take it to someone that is competent in this area. But it's good to know all possible causes so you can judge the effectiveness of the person you choose to work on it.

Best of success with it.
Christopher Schlegel
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# 6
Razbo
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Razbo
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10/01/2009 11:14 am
Originally Posted by: hunter1801Ya that's way too confusing


In sooth, I have not attempted that method myself. I just use the open string/fretted 12th method and It's pretty straight forward that way. Best if you have a tuner that shows percent.
...so ever since then, I always hang on to the buckle.
# 7
Mike51
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Mike51
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10/08/2009 5:19 pm
Learning to properly set up action (string height) and intonation on your guitar are pretty basic things. It isn't rocket science. A good and worthwhile book to have is Dan Erlewine's How to Make Your Electric Guitar Play Great. Buy it new so that you'll be sure to have his measuring tools that he includes in the book. Tools to measure the radius of the frets and tools to make sure that your string height matches that radius.

When I purchased my first electric guitar I loved it, who wouldn't. After buying this book and properly setting up the guitar I loved the way it played and sounded even more. It was a world of difference. Very rarely do you get a guitar "off the rack" that's ready to go.
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guitarplayer196
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guitarplayer196
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10/08/2009 6:42 pm
Originally Posted by: Mike51Learning to properly set up action (string height) and intonation on your guitar are pretty basic things. It isn't rocket science. A good and worthwhile book to have is Dan Erlewine's How to Make Your Electric Guitar Play Great. Buy it new so that you'll be sure to have his measuring tools that he includes in the book. Tools to measure the radius of the frets and tools to make sure that your string height matches that radius.

When I purchased my first electric guitar I loved it, who wouldn't. After buying this book and properly setting up the guitar I loved the way it played and sounded even more. It was a world of difference. Very rarely do you get a guitar "off the rack" that's ready to go.


I agree its pretty basic but if he's never had it set up properly from a Luthier, he should have it done, as they do more than just the basics. Action is not just string height as the above poseter staes - it includes truss rod adjustment(for neck relief), sting height at bridge(which includes saddle adjustment and bridge adjustment, as well as string height at the nut in relation to the gauge strings you are using.

Most every guitar comes from the factory without proper setup since the manufacturer does not know your personal playing preferences. I do all my own setup and adjustments, but when I get a new guitar I have it done by a pro for the first time around, since they will do nutwork and saddlework as well, which involves filing, and is beyond most peoples skillset(And you don't have the right tools). A decent all around setup will cost you $50 to $60 bucks and will include a new set of strings(Important to use new strings when setting intonation). One thing I would recommend is make sure they know how you like your action, as they usually default to low action, which isn't good for all players. I prefer higher action because I am a hard strummer and notes sustain longer and I can't stand string buzz. Last guitar I had set up was my Less Paul, and it was worth it because he did alot of work on the nut and the saddle, but the action ended up being too low for me and I ended up changing it within a week, but it was still worth it for the other work done.
"I learned a long time ago that one note can go a long way if its the right one and it will probably whip the guy with 20 notes." Les Paul - 2002
# 9
hunter1801
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hunter1801
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10/10/2009 6:37 am
Ya I have been thinking about sending it to a luthier. Since it has never had any sort of setup before, I figured I would get it done right and then do the regular maintenance myself if I could from now on.
# 10
sixpicker
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sixpicker
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10/11/2009 8:20 am
Hey hunter1801,
It's not very hard to do, but if you've never done it before it could be very frustrating. Even with the videos, and an explanation it can still be confusing.

It might be better the first time, if you take it to someone else to have the work done. That way if there were something else wrong other than intonation, they could let you know what the problem is.

If you do it yourself, and it's not the intonation. You will be really frustrated then, and still have to take it to someone else. You would also be wondering if you set it right or not.

The first time I would have someone else do it, so you know it's set right. Most guys will also set up your guitar in the process, and you will also be able to see where the saddles are when it's done. This can be a good point of reference, as this should be checked when you change strings. Check it with a tuner, and then you should be able to make any slight adjustment needed.

If it's as far off as you make it seem, then it will take some major adjustment the first time. I don't think you want to try it this yet, but next time you change strings make sure you check it. If it needs some adjustment then, I think you should do it.

Have a great weekend, and let us know how it goes.
# 11

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