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Kevs-the-name
01-28-2016, 11:51 PM
(long post alert)
Just completed another Dreadnaught concert, and Im really pleased with the final instrument... but!

The intonation is out, noticeably at the 12 fret (sharp)

I have previously struggled with a definitive position for saddle positions, I can’t find consistent advice. So I did some measuring!

The ‘book’ says 15 inches 381mm (nut to saddle)
However, My Koaloha is 385mm (nut-12 =190.5mm / 12-saddle 194.5mm)

I have CLEARLY got ‘my’ measurements wrong:
Dread.. 379.5mm (nut-12 =191.5mm / 12-saddle 188mm)
The fretboard was supplied cut by a VERY reliable source.

So, I guess I need to move the bridge back? Im just not sure where too/how far.

I know I’m learning, but it is a bit disappointing getting things wrong!
Can anybody advice please? I also need to know about tenor and soprano cause I got those wrong too!
(also how do I remove a bridge glued with titebond?)

orangeena
01-29-2016, 12:10 AM
hello
been there, made that mistake. this is all to do with compensation. depending upon the height of the string above the 12th fret, as you press it down to the fretboard, you stretch the string changing the pitch. so the note is higher than the 12th harmonic. to combat this, the bridge position needs to compensate for it by being a little bit farther away than you would imagine. i use the stewmac fret position calculator web page which gives you the compensated bridge position.
so you will probably either need to move the bridge or redo the fretboard, whichever is least horrible.
stick with it
Max

anthonyg
01-29-2016, 12:28 AM
Stewart MacDonald is your friend,

https://www.stewmac.com/FretCalculator

Theoretical scale length is, nut to centre 12th fret x 2. Actual scale length is nut to centre 12th fret x 2 + compensation. Compensation is mostly required because strings don't vibrate as perfectly as theory requires. The thicker a string gets the less perfectly it vibrates. String height adds to the issue although the fundamental string thickness issue remains. Generally the shorter the string length the more compensation is required.

Yes, any time the centre 12th fret to saddle distance is LESS than the nut (inside) to centre 12th fret is then the intonation will be horribly sharp.

Something to check too. Make absolutely sure that you know if the fret board is made in inches OR mm. OK, for a concert, 15" is 381mm but for a tenor 17" is 431.8mm. Sometimes a metric tenor will have a scale length of 432mm or I've seen 440mm to. That 0.2mm difference between 17" and the metric 432mm makes a difference.

There should never be a need for negative string compensation so place the saddles leading edge for the compensation required for the skinny strings and this should leave the saddle thick enough to file the contact point rearwards for the thicker strings.

Anthony

anthonyg
01-29-2016, 12:53 AM
I should add that the above information is based on very accurately placing the nut in relation to the centre of the 12th fret. The nuts position can be compensated too.

One of my ukuleles which has very good intonation has the nut moved away slightly from the centre 12th fret but it also has plenty of saddle compensation. The 2 cancel each other out. I'm not sure that I would recommend this but it works on one of my ukuleles.

Now of course the whole issue of what the instruments theoretical scale length is, can be confusing when builders do this. I find out by using the stewmac fret position calculator and measuring fret to fret in various positions.

Anthony

rudy
01-29-2016, 02:14 AM
Hi Kevs,

Regardless of who cut your board you should personally verify the slot spacing. To do that I recommend you use a printed fret spacing guide; it's very easy to introduce errors while measuring to the precision required. All of the fret placement calculators that spit out a string of numbers don't factor in how easy it is to mis-measure or the cumulative error introduced in the measuring / cutting process.

If you're running a PC I'll suggest downloading Wfret and printing your own fret placement guides. You can find the download link on my website on the "general banjo construction tips" page (as well as a couple of other ways to calculate fret position), or you can print a very accurate concert uke fret guide from my Uke page here:

http://www.bluestemstrings.com/pageUke1.html

In any case, being relatively new to this, I would suggest you do a bit of reading to clarify how to place a bridge and to understand and calculate compensation correctly.

Scale length is ALWAYS going to be the distance from the face of the nut to the center of the 12th fret multiplied by 2 on a properly made instrument. Additional length beyond that is what is added for compensation. Compensation is added purely to handle the natural tendency for a string to raise in pitch as it is stretched from being pushed down during fretting.

In general it's best to add the compensation length as recommended by any of the standard sources. That part isn't difficult.

As far as your wonky bridge goes, sometimes you have to bite the bullet for this kind of error. If it were me I'd set up a pattern routing guide over the bridge and remove it by flush routing to the top. You can make a new bridge just slightly larger than your existing footprint if needed.

With a bridge glued down with Titebond you'll likely do a lot more damage to the soundboard by attempting to save it when removing it.

Depending on how far off you are and how your bridge is made you may also be able to fill and re-locate your saddle slot.

Kevs-the-name
01-29-2016, 02:15 AM
Thanks for taking the time to advise here.
I took the plunge and removed the bridge. I felt that “as I’m learning, I should learn to get it right”!
An instrument that isn’t ‘good enough’ isn’t good enough! I can’t play (or sell/give away) until its right.

So what next? I double the distance from nut to centre of 12th fret + add a bit of compensation (magic and prayer) ?
I

Kevs-the-name
01-29-2016, 02:19 AM
AHHH Rudy,

You replied while I was writing my post.... Thank you, I take on board your guidance, and thank you for the links.
I’ll check them out. You state to add compensation as recommended by standard sources? I am struggling to find these.

Thanks again

Andyk
01-29-2016, 02:46 AM
To add to the previously suggested website resources I figured I'd post a site I stumbled across a while ago when trying to get my head around compensation:
http://liutaiomottola.com/formulae/compensation.htm

rudy
01-29-2016, 02:54 AM
AHHH Rudy,

You replied while I was writing my post.... Thank you, I take on board your guidance, and thank you for the links.
I’ll check them out. You state to add compensation as recommended by standard sources? I am struggling to find these.

Thanks again

Shouldn't be a struggle to find recommended compensation numbers on any construction print you might be using. The struggle might be to find a common number from any builder!

Again, I'd recommend doing a bit of reading to understand compensation and in particular, why it's somewhat of a moving target. The actual amount of compensation needed is based on a number of variables such as scale length, preferred action, your playing technique, string guages, string type, and even the age of the string. For ukes you'll usually find 3/32" to 1/8" recommended compensation, but that varies a bit from builders who prefer not to add ANY to builders insisting that each string needs a separate amount, with the resulting need for a compensated saddle.

Do notice this is such a debated point that at least one prominent maker provides a bridge with adjustable saddle points.

I'd personally opt for 1/8" for a concert and call it good.

If you really want to see this in action and have a "once bitten twice shy" feeling about your bridge placement I'd recommend you rig up a simple jig to hold your strings a bit beyond where your bridge will be located and simply try out your bridge with a bit of double stick tape to test positioning before actually committing to a location. This is a great way to see how compensation and saddle placement will work for YOU before gluing anything down.

RPA_Ukuleles
01-29-2016, 04:43 AM
Kev, maybe it's best to rethink your understanding of "scale length".

Firstly, when referring to scale length, (lets say 16" for example) the reality is that the actual scale length is from the edge of the nut to the center of 12th fret x 2 = scale length. Period, fini, end, thats it, not fooling. Thats the scale length! (and it's also referred to as the octave).

If it comes out to slightly under or slightly over 16",most people still refer to it as 16" scale length. So in that regard measuring from the nut to the saddle is really not what to focus on. Especially when calculating bridge placement.!

There's no reason your fretboard wouldn't be correctly cut if you bought from a reputable source, but remember that anything close to 16" is called 16" scale length. The fact is many fret slotting templates you can purchase are usually off in one direction or another from what they say they are, and that's no big deal.! Why? because you don't place the bridge and saddle based on the listed 16" scale length. You as a builder will simply measure nut to 12th and double that, then add compensation.

Ah yes compensation. Wanna know how to what that's supposed to be? The answer is "it depends". Thank you very much.

So here's the thing, don't let that be a problem for you. There are a few factors to consider anyway, like, shorter scale lengths often require more compensation than longer, softer strings require less compensation than harder strings, certain brands and formulas respond differently, so one brand may intonate perfectly and another not so well.

As Rudy suggested you can poke around and find some average amounts for a given size uke. Like 3/32" is common for a tenor. And that's a fine place to start. But know that there is no magic number to use. As a builder you'll have to get some experience under your belt to get a feel for why one instrument you're making would need a little more or a little less. As will any player who changes out strings and finds the intonation is not as good as the last set. And regardless if you like the tone of certain strings, they may just not work with the current setup.

So reglue your bridge at 2x the nut-12th measurement, add 3/32", and never measure from the nut to the saddle. There's no reason to. If you're a little sharp or flat you can file the saddle ramps in one direction or the other to get closer. But remember, that will be for the strings you're using, and the action you've set.

There, now you're a luthier with luthier problems and will have to find your optimum setup, and strings for the instrument you just built.

Kevs-the-name
01-29-2016, 04:57 AM
So reglue your bridge at 2x the nut-12th measurement, add 3/32", and never measure from the nut to the saddle. There's no reason to. If you're a little sharp or flat you can file the saddle ramps in one direction or the other to get closer. But remember, that will be for the strings you're using, and the action you've set.

There, now you're a luthier with luthier problems and will have to find your optimum setup, and strings for the instrument you just built.

THIS is some very useful advice thank you very much. (in fact everything that has been written is really helpful)
I will do exactly this!
...and learn! and once I get around this, i’m sure there will be the ‘next’ thing that causes confusion.

Making ukes is quite easy! making good ukes is bloody hard!

kohanmike
01-29-2016, 07:44 AM
The simple explanation is; the intonation is controlled by the space from the nut to the 12th fret that has to be exactly the same as the space from the 12th fret to the saddle where the strings hit.

http://www.kohanmike.com/uploads/Scale and half.jpg

resoman
01-29-2016, 08:10 AM
Some really useful and informative reading is on Dr. David Hurd's website http://ukuleles.com/
There is just all kinds of info and a section on compensation. Good reading!

Kevs-the-name
01-29-2016, 09:27 AM
The simple explanation is; the intonation is controlled by the space from the nut to the 12th fret that has to be exactly the same as the space from the 12th fret to the saddle where the strings hit.


And there we have it....
Conflicting information. :confused:
What about the unknown compensation adjustment?

Timbuck
01-29-2016, 10:08 AM
The simple explanation is; the intonation is controlled by the space from the nut to the 12th fret that has to be exactly the same as the space from the 12th fret to the saddle where the strings hit.

http://www.kohanmike.com/uploads/Scale and half.jpg plus a little bit more ;)

anthonyg
01-29-2016, 01:00 PM
Kev, this post above from wildestcat is the best so far to build on. Importantly please not that this is a METRIC Concert with a 382mm nominal scale length. You have stated that yours is a 381mm or 15" nominal scale length. That 1mm is important to take into account.

As stated, if you use a saddle material that is thick enough then you can get away with placing the saddles leading edge precisely at the nominal scale length mark with the thickness of the saddle being beyond this mark. Later on when it comes to fine tuning the intonation you file the saddle contact point to suit each individual string.

You move the contact point long if the intonation is going sharp and shorter if the intonation is going flat. And this brings up an important point. Even with classic/nylon/nylgut/flurocarbon strings each individual string needs a slightly different compensation. Perfect intonation will not come from a perfectly perpendicular saddle contact point.

So quoted saddle compensation is to the string contact point which is somewhere within the thickness of the saddle material. Like everyone else I'm reluctant to say exactly where that point is because of all the reasons already mentioned.

Based on Wildestcats post and my experience I suggest placing the leading edge of the saddle at the nominal scale length +1mm if the saddle is thick enough. If your using a thin saddle (2mm, 3/32" is only 2.4mm which is still thin, try 3mm) then you may need more. In your case of a 381mm scale length (double check) this should be at 382mm. After the instrument is built you will need to individually compensate each string.

If by chance you go a little too far with the compensation at the saddle, and the intonation goes flat then it is possible to CAREFULLY compensate the nut by moving it away slightly from the 12th fret.

EDIT again: I hate to say it but some are still giving wrong information as to the need for compensation. Its when a string is too thick or stiff to vibrate as theory requires that compensation is required. String height only adds to the problem. The underlying issue of string STIFFNESS doesn't go away.

Steel string instruments can have VERY low actions but still need LOTS of string compensation because steel strings are stiff.

Anthony

Wildestcat
01-29-2016, 01:06 PM
Sorry chaps - I ended up deleting my post as I was struggling with constant interruptions and an overdose of red wine at the time. The numbers didn't seem to match the photos. I'll have another go tomorrow!

anthonyg
01-29-2016, 01:22 PM
Sorry chaps - I ended up deleting my post as I was struggling with constant interruptions and an overdose of red wine at the time. The numbers didn't seem to match the photos. I'll have another go tomorrow!

Such photos are incredibly difficult to take accurately because of parallax error. I was once a professional photographer and I struggle with such photos. What's important is are the numbers quoted accurate?

For what its worth I thought they looked OK.

Anthony

Allen
01-29-2016, 06:07 PM
This really shouldn't be that difficult to get it close.

If you don't know the exact scale length the fret board was made to then you must measure from the end of the fret board at the nut to the middle of the 12th fret and then multiply X 2. I would do this in metric because it makes so much more sense to use numbers like 203mm X 2. But that's just me perhaps.

Then once you have that number for the scale length of the fret boards you bought, just go over to StewMac's website and use their free fret calculator (http://www.stewmac.com/FretCalculator.html) to work out how much compensation is recommended. Just be sure to pick some nominal number of frets and "ukulele" and if you are going metric or imperial.

Down at the bottom of the fret position printout there will be the scale length with compensation number. In the metric case it will say + or - 0.5mm. As compensation is so dependent on a lot of things, you just don't know until you've really dialled in your building. BUT then there is the width of your saddle that gives you some room for adjustments if required.

sequoia
01-29-2016, 06:10 PM
Such photos are incredibly difficult to take accurately because of parallax error.

Anthony

Can I say something here about obsessiveness? Sure scale length and compensation for string stretching are important, but more important things might be perhaps like how you thin your tops and brace things up for overall sound. Any string player worth his salt can compensate for off intonation by stretching the string while playing. It is really not that big a deal. As long as things are reasonably close, good enough. Play on!... Oh and also, few uke players play above the 5th fret anyway so who cares? It is not like most players are doing single string runs up at the 17th fret. I mean really. Who cares if you are 2 cents off at the 12th? We are talking about UKULELES here.

anthonyg
01-29-2016, 06:49 PM
Any string player worth his salt can compensate for off intonation by stretching the string while playing. It is really not that big a deal.

Who cares if you are 2 cents off at the 12th? We are talking about UKULELES here.

Umm no. You can only compensate intonation by stretching strings if the intonation is FLAT. 9 times out of 10 the intonation is sharp so this isn't going to happen. The idea that doing this is easy is also wrong.

If the intonation was only out by a couple of cents then we wouldn't be complaining in the first place. Its quite common for intonation to be out by 5 cents or more at the first fret and for the error to compound from there.

There's a lot of guitars out there with poor intonation due to sloppy construction. Ukuleles haver to be made with more accuracy than guitars for the intonation to be reasonably accurate.

Anthony

Kevs-the-name
01-29-2016, 10:57 PM
I mean really. Who cares if you are 2 cents off at the 12th? We are talking about UKULELES here.
I'm sorry to disagree here. But 'if' I were to try and sell a ukulele, I am CERTAIN that the buyer would care!

I do partly agree that many don't play above the 5th fret.... However, it doesn't mean that the dusty end should stay that way? I don't drive my Ferrari to the max either, but I'd be disappointed if it didn't run smoothly on all its cylinders :p

If I'm going to do this, I'd like to do the best that I can.

anthonyg
01-29-2016, 11:04 PM
Only being 2 cents out here and there isn't really a problem. If you're 2 cents out EVERYWHERE then this is a problem to fix. What I took issue with is the notion that buyers are complaining because their ukulele is out by 2 cents and this is a travesty.

The real problem is way bigger than that.

Anthony

Wildestcat
01-29-2016, 11:24 PM
Firstly - apologies Anthony. I didn't realise anyone had responded to what I had posted, until after I had given up editing to try and explain why the photos didn't seem to match the text and deleted it all! I thought photos might help Kev, but yes, parallax error is difficult to avoid and I think I might have added to the confusion!
Anyway, all I was really doing was to re-iterate what Sven mentioned in an earlier thread, basically that scale length plus about 2.5 mm to the centre of an approximately 3.5 mm wide saddle (final slot width depends on how well my drill press was functioning as an overhead router) works pretty well for all scale lengths on my nylon strung ukes. From that start point, individual strings are compensated by filing ramps on the saddle. The shorter scale lengths tend to need more compensation as a percentage of their length, but in absolute terms the compensation stays pretty well the same. Having said that, I think I will try and err towards 3 mm on concerts and sopranos in future, as I have found the C string can end up right at the back edge of the saddle with the strings I use. Knowing my luck I will probably then end up with a flat A string :).

Hluth
01-30-2016, 05:29 AM
One thing missing from this discussion is twelve fret even temperament, or TET. This refers to using strings of different diameter and mass on mathematically derived 12 fret spacing. With TET only one string of a given diameter and mass can play in tune on every fret, and strings with more or less diameter and mass will play a few cents out of tune on some frets. So, even if your compensation is a little off you’re still dealing with TET, and if you are within a few cents on your compensation, you will still be playing in tune elsewhere, but not at the 12th fret.

Vespa Bob
01-30-2016, 06:36 AM
I have gained so much knowledge on the fascinating subject of intonation from this and the other thread dealing with the subject. Thanks to all who took the trouble to share their knowledge! However, the subject would not be complete without mentioning how one goes about checking for intonation on a given instrument. I was informed that once the open string has been tuned in, fretting the same string at the twelfth fret should produce the identical note. Is that correct, or is there more to it?

Bob

Hluth
01-30-2016, 06:56 AM
That's right, if it plays in tune on the 12th fret, it's copensated; that's the long and short of it.

Michael N.
01-30-2016, 07:42 AM
The fretted instruments (at least western) are usually equal temperament, which allows us to play in all the major and minor keys. It's somewhat of a compromise, so no fretted instrument plays entirely in tune. You might say it's the best we have got. The 12 th fret should be mighty close but it's very easy to throw off the intonation, just by how you finger the string.

anthonyg
01-30-2016, 11:39 AM
12th fret even temperament is a big part of it but not the only story. I've played instruments that had good intonation at the 12th fret but were going sharp when fretting open position chords. You need to asses the whole fretboard and take care of the nut placement. Possibly compensate the nut placement.

Anthony

Vespa Bob
01-30-2016, 02:40 PM
Thanks for the replies to my question. I've always checked my instruments that way. I realize that the subject of intonation can be as complicated or simple as one wants to make it, judging by the varied comments on these threads! All very informative. I'll soon be able to talk as if I know everything.;)
Bob

sequoia
01-30-2016, 05:42 PM
Possibly compensate the nut placement. Anthony

How would one compensate intonation at the nut? I having trouble visualizing this as a practical matter?

anthonyg
01-30-2016, 07:17 PM
How would one compensate intonation at the nut? I having trouble visualizing this as a practical matter?

At the nut end if you move the nut towards the 12th fret you flatten the intonation. If you move the nut away from the 12th fret you sharpen the intonation. Well all frets really but the centre of the 12th fret is the 0,0 position when working on an instruments intonation.

All the adjustments that you make at the saddle ASSUME perfect nut placement in relation to the centre of the 12th fret. If the nut isn't perfectly placed then your working against the nut placement. Or with it. It depends.

Its best to measure up accurately and have an idea of what's going on.

Anthony

Michael N.
01-31-2016, 12:45 AM
12th fret even temperament is a big part of it but not the only story. I've played instruments that had good intonation at the 12th fret but were going sharp when fretting open position chords. You need to asses the whole fretboard and take care of the nut placement. Possibly compensate the nut placement.

Anthony

That's the product of equal temperament, where the perfect 5th is narrowed. I can't remember how much it's narrowed by but it will be in the order of 1 or 2 cents.
The system is a fudge but it might be considered the best that we have that enables us to play in all the keys. That's why you will never get perfect intonation in equal temperament with fixed frets, nut/saddle compensation or not. You can only get it as good as 'acceptable'. The 'acceptable' bit is largely defined by the person doing the listening. If the person playing the instrument finds it acceptable, there's nothing more to do.
If you want to play in just a handful of keys there are other temperaments that may be more suited. Lute players often use them because they can alter the fret position at will. With fixed frets you are stuck with what you are given.

Michael N.
01-31-2016, 02:36 AM
How would one compensate intonation at the nut? I having trouble visualizing this as a practical matter?

You'll need a good tuner, unless you have incredibly exceptional hearing. The method that I've tried was from a post given by Al Carruth on a classical guitar forum. It's more of a practical hands on method.
Put in a blank saddle, with little compensation. Both Nut action and saddle action need to be very close to their final parameters.
Some folk chop off 1 mm or so from the theoretical length of the fretboard, at the nut end. I don't. Instead I glue on a veneer to the existing nut, that effectively shortens the distance from the end of the fretboard to the 1 st fret. If you really want to play it safe you can use 2 mm's nut compensation and use a hardwood like Ebony as your Nut material. Put on your 1 st string and tune it up. You'll have to let it settle, so a pre stretched string is preferrable. Now fret this string at fret 1. Note how many cents flat it is. Start taking material off the front of your nut 'compensation' , effectively moving the Nut further away from the first fret. Leave it a few cents flat, don't go all the way to 'perfect' as you haven't done saddle compensation yet!
Now switch your attention to the saddle. Al uses a saddle with a flat top (again it can be a hardwood) and he uses a short piece of wire that allows one to define the break of the string over the saddle. Of course this wire is easily changed in it's position - from the front of the saddle to the back of the saddle and all positions between. Now fret the string at the octave but be careful how you actually press it, straight down and just enough to get a clean note. Now move the wire on the top of the saddle until you get the octave as close as you possibly can. Note it's exact position. It's rounded 'peak' is exactly where you want the peak on your saddle.
Now you have to go back and check the compensation at the first fret. It will be close but likely the nut will need a little more refining. Note exactly how much compensation is required. Digital calipers are handy for this.
You will need to repeat the same procedure for all 4 strings. Once you have all these measurements you can go ahead and make a permanent nut and saddle.
This gives you both saddle and nut compensation for that particular type of string. Change string type (or even brand) and you can scrap what you have just done. Hopefully the position of your frets are highly accurate too.
If this all seems like hard work just leave the nut where it is and do the standard nut compensation. You can refine the saddle for each individual strings should you wish. The most unacceptable (at least to modern ears) is a string length with zero compensation. The standard compensation method does seem to be acceptable to well over 90% of players. In fact I can't remember anyone complaining to myself of intonation issues when done with standard, save for the odd faulty string.

Hluth
01-31-2016, 03:04 AM
This picture illustrates how far off even temperament can be. Each fret is adjusted for errors temperament and they all play in tune.

87904

Andyk
01-31-2016, 06:57 AM
This picture illustrates how far off even temperament can be. Each fret is adjusted for errors temperament and they all play in tune.

87904

Looks like I've finally found a use for my bent/wonky fret saw ☺

sequoia
01-31-2016, 05:11 PM
The standard compensation method does seem to be acceptable to well over 90% of players. In fact I can't remember anyone complaining to myself of intonation issues when done with standard, save for the odd faulty string.

Hey thanks Michael for the explanation on how to compensate from the nut side. It makes perfect sense. Not that I'm going to do it though, but it makes sense and has merit. The cutting off of a 1 to 2 mm angle cut on my nutside fretboard is enough to give me long pause. I don't think I wanna go there if you know what I mean. It is sooooo permanent. But I see where it would work. However at my level of building there is such a thing as too many variables and too many variables can land me in the bushes or worse. I think I'm just gonna compensate from the saddle side which seems to work for me.

rudy
02-01-2016, 02:49 AM
Temperament is a difficult concept for folks to wrap their head around, but it's important to understand that the problems associated with 12TET have NOTHING to do with string guages, tension, or any of the other vagarities attributed to it.

Here's an explanation written so it's not necessary to have an engineering degree to understand it. I wrote it as relating to 5 string banjo, but the principals apply to any instrument fretted for 12 TET.

http://www.bluestemstrings.com/pageBanjoConstructionTips3.html

sequoia
02-01-2016, 04:56 PM
Thanks Rudy. Your article pretty much sums it up...

“Simply put, equal temperament allows us to play equally out of tune in any key -- the thirds are not mathematically "pure" intervals, which is why you need to tune your B string slightly flat in G tuning. We are so used to this; it passes unnoticed by all but a few unlucky souls who are cursed with perfect pitch. Unless you want to have interchangeable fingerboards with frets placed for different tunings in different keys or movable frets (like a lute), or no frets at all, there's no getting around it.”

anthonyg
02-01-2016, 06:10 PM
I've read information similar to what rudy has posted before which is why I'm certainly not complaining about a 2 cent error here and there. Carefully looking at my tuner I've discerned that the errors I'm complaining about are in the order of 8 to 10 cents when you gently hold down a string at the 2nd fret. Errors at the 12th fret are getting on for 20 cents or more.

When I measure these instruments I find that the saddle has been glued on without any compensation and/or the nut is misplaced. A little bit of effort goes a long way.

Anthony

Michael N.
02-01-2016, 10:21 PM
Thanks Rudy. Your article pretty much sums it up...

“Simply put, equal temperament allows us to play equally out of tune in any key -- the thirds are not mathematically "pure" intervals, which is why you need to tune your B string slightly flat in G tuning. We are so used to this; it passes unnoticed by all but a few unlucky souls who are cursed with perfect pitch. Unless you want to have interchangeable fingerboards with frets placed for different tunings in different keys or movable frets (like a lute), or no frets at all, there's no getting around it.”

I think those that aim for highly accurate intonation would argue that because equal temperament is 'out of tune' it's better to aim for 'less out of tune', rather than use the foibles of equal temperament as an excuse for poor overall intonation.
In other words it's 'out', why make it worse?

rudy
02-03-2016, 02:11 AM
I think those that aim for highly accurate intonation would argue that because equal temperament is 'out of tune' it's better to aim for 'less out of tune', rather than use the foibles of equal temperament as an excuse for poor overall intonation.
In other words it's 'out', why make it worse?

I haven't seen ANY serious instrument maker NOT use compensation to correct the discrepancy that results from pitch change due to stretching of the string.

The problem is when someone makes the assumption that it takes care of the relationships of how pitch interrelationships are perceived as being in harmony.

As long as someone's not making an errored assumption that compensation is going to correct perception of inharmony as introduced by equal temperament I'm good with that.

Hluth
02-03-2016, 04:27 AM
Temperament is a difficult concept for folks to wrap their head around, but it's important to understand that the problems associated with 12TET have NOTHING to do with string guages, tension, or any of the other vagarities attributed to it.


I have to disagree a little here. Using different string tensions and gauges is the method used to make strings play a specific open note on a given scale length (it might be better to just say "tuning" instead of tension and gauge). By changing the tuning, you change the way each string plays in or out of tune when fretted on a TET instrument. Some string tunings will be very close to playing perfectly on each fret and others will pretty far off.

Acoustic instruments are full of imperfections beyond our control, and to me wolf notes are probably even more annoying than TET inconsistency's. Sometimes I think I'd sleep better at night if I built fretless electric bass guitars.

sequoia
02-03-2016, 05:45 PM
Acoustic instruments are full of imperfections beyond our control, and to me wolf notes are probably even more annoying than TET inconsistency's.

Wolfiness is a scary thing because, at least for me, they are beyond my control. I did build an instrument that has a wolf tone that is quite strong and not totally unpleasant if you play in the right key. Wolfiness in ukes is like a sort of accoustic feed-back where the note just won't die and that can be a bad thing unless you are into knarly dissonances. Sustain from hell. But wolf tones are off-thread here so I will shut-up. ..... Arruuuuuuuuuuuuuu....