Intonation...

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benwalker
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Intonation...

Postby benwalker » Sat Nov 27, 2010 10:55 am

Two years in with my Fylde and although it's perfect 90% of the time, the rest it's frustratingly out of tune....

Brief history:
Bought two years ago second hand (2002/2003 model), my first "proper" acoustic guitar, despite having played for 18 years. The intonation was off on the B and E strings - confirmed by another luthier who mentioned about resetting the saddle. Since it was still under shop warranty, it was sent back to Roger who promptly sent it back having been set up with a note saying something along the lines of "it's an acoustic guitar, it will never be perfectly intoned, quit complaining" - it was better but maybe 95% there.

A couple of years on and I'm back to frustration territory. Don't know if it's the frets or what, but I'll put her in DADGAD, put a capo on (say) 5th fret (shubb btw), get her back in tune so it sounds correct openly, then find that the 10th fret B string is sharp in comparison to the 5th fret E string. The high E string then gets sharper around 10th, as does the bottom E string - nice to have a cutaway, but only if what you're playing is in tune. Take the capo off and everything's all over the place - I'd hate to attempt anything like the John Martyn track posted the other day, since I've a feeling my top two strings would be a quarter tone higher by the time I reached the 7th fret...

It doesn't help that during a typical set I'll go through Standard, Drop D, Dropped D's and DADGAD, occasionally passing through CGCGCD and CGCGCE. If I could get CGCFCE in there too I probably would...

String-wise, I'm using Newtone Phosphor Bronze 12-56. The 56 gauge stops the bottom strings going soggy when tuning down to C... I've tried 12-54s but the intonation is much the same.

Yesterday I had the pleasure of playing in support of Martin Simpson, who commented about open tunings and scale lengths - and never being able to get shorter scale guitars to intonate correctly in open tunings. All well and good when you can turn up to a gig with a Sobell and new PRS acoustic, but for those of us with less endowed wallets or endorsement deals, it really shouldn't be the case that one needs long scale guitars for open tunings, shorter ones for something else, should it? Does it simply sound like a case of sending this one back to Penrith for a once over?

I'd love to have the funds for another Fylde, and be able to carry more than one guitar to a gig (one for standard, one for DADGAD etc), but living in London you tend to be at the mercy of TfL, and I only have two arms, and the other is generally carrying an octave mandolin!

Thoughts, comments? Gordon, this may be aim at you but as a regular gigger with an Alchemist-like guitar, how often does yours go back? Fret wear, neck tightening etc. Do you, or have you ever had problems with the intonation on them, or have I just ended up with something that I have to live with???!!


Many thanks in advance,


Ben

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Postby GORDON » Sat Nov 27, 2010 7:08 pm

Hi Ben.

Sorry to hear about your frustrating intonation problems, I truly sympathise.

My advice..... give Roger at Fylde a call so he can sort it.

Secondly get yourself a GG Vintage as your second guitar!

Yes, I know what you are thinking BUT....believe me at £479 it is an outstanding guitar and is fast becoming along with my Fylde's my main stage guitar.

I used it last night on the following pieces...HEARTSONG.A DUBLIN DAY.ANGIE. ON CAMBER SANDS.SALLIE'S SONG. LUCIFER'S CAGE. DOWN THE RIVER. FIVE DOLLAR GUITAR. RACHEL'S REFLECTIONS. ISABELLA'S WEDDING.THE RACER.LADIES OF LICHFIELD.UNDER THIS BLUE SKY, and a brand new untitled piece.

This guitar handled them all with no problem whatsoever. Need I say more!

One of THE most famous guitarists in the world has expressed an interest in owning one,and if he does decide that it is worthy of his ownership everyone will know about it. Already this guitar has taken the UK market by storm.

Be Well.

G.

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Mike Stranks
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Postby Mike Stranks » Sat Nov 27, 2010 7:36 pm

GORDON wrote:I used it last night on the following pieces...HEARTSONG.A DUBLIN DAY.ANGIE. ON CAMBER SANDS.SALLIE'S SONG. LUCIFER'S CAGE. DOWN THE RIVER. FIVE DOLLAR GUITAR. RACHEL'S REFLECTIONS. ISABELLA'S WEDDING.THE RACER.LADIES OF LICHFIELD.UNDER THIS BLUE SKY, and a brand new untitled piece.

This guitar handled them all with no problem whatsoever. Need I say more!



... and very good it sounded too!

In my accustomed place at the sound desk, for the second half of the concert I was waiting for the usual guitar swaps to occur, but they didn't. Tune after tune was played on the GG Vintage and I could tell that Gordon was relaxing into the set and really enjoying it. The set list went out the window and Mr G was playing at top form and simply having a whale of a time playing.

I'm in the fortunate position of hearing Gordon play this guitar at concert after concert. Its a stunning instrument for any money - never mind less than £500 - and like a fine wine it's improving with age - and playing.

As Gordon said last night, "Get one for the wife for Christmas - even if she doesn't play." :lol:
The older I get, the better I used to be

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benwalker
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Postby benwalker » Sat Nov 27, 2010 10:13 pm

Thanks for the input :)

I'll try to arrange something with Roger early next year - might even be a trip up to rolling hills and so forth, for a change of scenery. Just have to remember not to take any form of credit card or cheque book!

The GG Vintage

Yes, I know what you are thinking BUT...


ha! you can see my "tar all far-eastern guitars with the same brush" typical guitarist's reaction from there!?

I have a Vintage AMG-1 Resonator (Knopfler National clone, bizarrely bought from Giltrap and Cope's in Solihull back in 1998 along with my GG-10..) which is still going and used live. I think my prejudice comes from at the time of purchase, being 17 and all, I removed the logo from the headstock (it was screwed on!) only to find "Encore" labelled underneath... and Encore made the plywood guitars at school with action so high off the freboard they were only good for slide... needless to say it was soon wet/dryed off the headstock, which is why it to this day looks like it was made by a smudge...

Anyway - digression. Okay - I'll take a look. How do you find the difference in scale length compared to the 24 3/4" of the Fylde? More suitable for certain styles/tunings? I was surprised at MS's comments regarding scale length and suitability for open tuning - then again it's all personal preference isn't it? :) The shorter 24 3/4" does seem popular for English luthiers (Brook, Fylde etc), which if it wasn't great for intonation I wouldn't expect to be so prevalent! Then again, I can't tell much of a difference, playing wise, between 24 3/4" and 25 1/2" (though I do have a Fender Jaguar, which is definitely short at 24"!!), only in the apparent tuneability it would seem.

One of THE most famous guitarists in the world has expressed an interest in owning one,


Hank? ;)

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Postby GORDON » Sat Nov 27, 2010 10:42 pm

Hi Ben.

Last posting from me on the subject, for this evening anyway.

I bought a Tri-cone Vintage from Mr Cope and like you I covered the logo.I found a nice Celtic badge.Not for reasons of snobbery but for the reason that I thought it looked really cool, and I sort of put my stamp on it!

This guitar sounded wonderful, so wonderful in fact that it made an appearance on Ring of Kerry on my latest CD. I parted with it a year or so back as it wasn't being played and I hate guitars hanging round gathering dust.

With regard to scale length. You know at the end of the day if it sounds good and plays well I really have no problem with scale length. My FYLDE GG is a short scale length and as we all know, the shorter the scale the less tension. It really is down to the individual player. I have tried not to be a snob when it comes to guitars hence the reason that I played a modified car boot perchase for many years. I really don't worry about what is on the headstock as long as it inspires me. Having said that of course, I have been in the enviable postion of owning some of the most wonderful high end guitars ever made.

I shan't try and convince you about the GG Vintage, I have no need to, the instrument speaks for itself. It is a winner.

No, not Hank, but you never know there is a lot of future out there and Hank knows a great instrument when he hears it.

Be Well Ben and happy gigging sir.

G.

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benwalker
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Postby benwalker » Mon Nov 29, 2010 9:38 am

It seems the only place to try out a Vintage GG in London is Ivor Mairants, when they next have them in stock (particularly like the user review btw :)) - I always get drawn to the basement there, or stop over at Hobgoblin across the road (where I got my Fylde).

I agree with you on the inspiration point - I've an eBay special Octave Mandolin (or short-scale Bouzouki?) , which is regularly gigged and features fairly prominently on our album. Despite it being nowhere near the tone or construction of something hand-made, it's a fun instrument to play, and at the end of the day that's what counts.

Anyway, I'll schedule something with Roger regarding the intonation, and check out the Vintage GG model in due course. The 12 string looks particularly tempting at some point in the slightly more distant future..

Many thanks for your input, and hope to catch you when you're down this neck of the woods sometime soon.



Ben

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Terry60
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Re: Intonation...

Postby Terry60 » Tue Jul 24, 2012 6:37 pm

Here's a DIY mod I made to my Levin 45 years ago, and it's played in tune ever since.
(with medium gauge strings - only an adjustable bridge a la stratocaster could cope with differing gauges)
https://skydrive.live.com/redir?resid=5 ... C220C8!385
Terry
1966 Levin Super Goliath 466098

Trevor Raggatt
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Re: Intonation...

Postby Trevor Raggatt » Wed Jul 25, 2012 8:54 am

Ben,

I was thinking about your comment on RB saying, to paraphrase, "It's an acoustic... deal with it...". There is some merit in what he says, of course.

It's worth remembering that we all live in a compromise world - and that includes the very musical scale which we use for the majority of our music. The even tempered scale which is fundamental to western music IS out of tune and deliberately so. The amount of literature which has been written in magazines and online about how to deal with this as a guitarist is manifold. It's sadly a fact of engineering that the shorter the scale of a guitar the more pronounced the tuning issues at higher frets will become. It's just physics and engineering. Don't forget that, irrespective of the true scale length of a guitar, the higher up the neck you place a capo the shorter actual scale length becomes and the more you are going to run into intonation difficulties.

It is possible to set guitars up to play "perfectly tempered" but that way a certain madness lies as each different key requires different fret placement and differently designed necks. Have a look here for True Tempered guitars... GULP! :shock: http://www.truetemperament.com/site/index.php How about carrying a separate guitar for each key AND each tuning to a gig? http://www.gregsguitar.com/well-tempered.html

I smiled at your comment "it really shouldn't be the case that one needs long scale guitars for open tunings, shorter ones for something else, should it?", Different scales and different body designs are better suited for different things too. Again it's down to the engineering of the system and how it all interacts. You won't get a big rich country rhythm sound from a tiny bodied parlour guitar (that's J200 territory) and similarly you won;t get that nice focused middly ragtime sound out of a J200... horses for courses. Again, it's just the way this world of compromises is.

Now there's also the matter of perception. The truth is most people just can't hear the out-of-tuneness of even temperament or intonation problems. For those that can the same guitar will produce reactions ranging from "Well, that's the compromise of even tempers for you" to "OMG how hideously out of tune is that?" The question usually comes down to... "What are the personal set of compromises that you can bear to live with?" If perfect intonation and tuning at all times is paramount then that personal decision may push you down the multiple guitar route. If, like many, you want to keep it simple and tube-train friendly then retuning between each song is where your personal compromise may lie.

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Terry60
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Re: Intonation...

Postby Terry60 » Wed Jul 25, 2012 11:27 am

I should add (I'd forgotten after all this time), that as well as filing the bridge to give clearance, and inserting the new bridge pieces behind, I'd first removed the bridge and planed it down on the underside to lower the action. The high action was responsible for most of the intonation problems at the octave, and the individual mods per string were the "fine tuning".
Terry

1966 Levin Super Goliath 466098

aviator
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Re: Intonation...

Postby aviator » Fri Jul 27, 2012 8:42 pm

I was looking into the subject of scale lengths recently, as I was briefly interested in getting a Seagull Artist Series, mostly because of its particularly wide neck.

But its 24 3/4" scale length concerned me, not least because I do regularly drop my low E four steps to C. I don't have a rattle, and this is on a super-cheap Encore (yep, one of them!) W2250FT dreadnaught with a 25 1/2" long scale, laminated wood, €99 from a shop in Galway, made in China.

Although I read of exceptions on some Web forums, the general opinion seemed to be that a long scale length of 25 1/2" minimum is needed for alternate tunings (down), simply because of rattle and intonation problems with the reduced tension on the strings.

Saying that, I did see a lot references suggesting going up a string gauge or more if alternate tuning with a short scale length.


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