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Thread: Intonation Question

  1. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by snowdenn View Post
    Whenever I hear about intonation issues from other people, it seems like the problem gets worse moving up the fretboard and is more/most pronounced at the 12th fret or so.

    But my own experience is that when there are intonation issues, it is worst nearest to the nut and gets better moving up the fretboard.

    Are there two different issues going on here? Why are intonation problems sometimes worse moving away from the nut and sometimes worse moving towards the nut?

    Would it be oversimplified to say one is a setup problem and the other is a build quality issue?
    Assuming that an instrument is correctly fretted (OK, a big assumption yet in these days of CNC cut fretboards its usually correct), there are two string contact points that need to be correctly placed for good intonation.
    The Nut and the Saddle.
    If the nut is correctly placed yet the saddle incorrectly placed then the intonation will get gradually worse up the neck.
    If the saddle is correctly placed yet the nut incorrectly placed then the intonation will get gradually better up the neck.
    If both are out then anything can happen.

    Equal temperament is a factor, a minor factor yet all to often Equal Temperament gets dragged out as the bogeyman for all intonation issues when really its not an important factor at all and as such don't mind me when I roll my eyes at anyone bringing up Equal Temperament as if it means anything.
    Saddles and nuts need to be placed very accurately or you will have intonation issues.

  2. #12
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    Equal Temperament is a MINOR factor when it comes to intonation. Equal temperament is a few cents + and a few cents - on the way up the neck.
    If Intonation is getting steadily worse or steadily better as you play up the neck then this has nothing to do with equal temperament and everything to do with nut or saddle placement.

    Sorry, but I'm just sick and tired of Equal Temperament being dragged out as the bogeyman (not just on this forum) anytime someone asks about intonation problems.
    Sure, you can never have perfect intonation on a stringed and fretted instrument yet this is completely different from seeing a worsening/improving trend as you play up the neck.

    That's not equal temperament.

  3. #13
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    My first ukulele went to Jake Wildwood for intonation work and a number of other repairs.

    With a few more in my possession, I thought I should pick up some tools to adjust things myself.
    Nut files.
    String lifter.
    Nut gauge.

    I made some adjustments for 2 of my ukuleles that were fairly far off of the recommendations at the nut.
    Big improvements in intonation near the nut.

    I would love to be able to make my own compensated saddles but I am worried that I will be so far down the rabbit hole I will never get out. (never-ending quest for perfect intonation)
    So far, this has been good enough. If/When I make more than the occasional journey up the fretboard I might revisit the saddle thing.
    Oscar-Schmidt Taropatch (1920)
    Cordoba Concert
    Oscar-Schmidt Soprano (1920)
    Cordoba Tenor (low G)

  4. #14
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    Some theoretical feed to you guys and girls. The difference between equal tempered system and just intonation. The latter can't be produced on fretted instruments. Only with voice or non fretted instruments like violins.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Equal_...ust_Intonation

    Look at the last 'Difference' column, so you see 3rds and 6th are about 15 cents off. 100 cent is one semitone, so 50 cents error would be totally out of tune. So it is not desirable to add much errors with intonation, IF we aim for close to just intonation

  5. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by ProfChris View Post
    There is an over-simplified answer, though it's not always right.

    If the problem is worse near the nut, then most probably the nut slots are not deep enough.

    If the problem is worse as you approach the 12th fret (and gets better again above the 12th if you have enough frets) then the saddle peak is in the wrong place, usually needing to go back a different amount for each string if the uke sharpens up the neck.
    I was thinking the same thing. If intonation is worse near the nut, the nut slots may not be deep enough and the string has to stretch more to reach the frets closest to the nut.
    Glenn

  6. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill1 View Post
    Equal temperament has nothing to do with cents. ...................blah, blah, blah...............
    Oh just stop it please Bill1.
    I'm knowledgeable enough in the matter to call the bluff of anyone who is trying to baffle anyone with lots of words.

    The Original Poster made some QUITE specific comments and asked some QUITE specific questions.

    The OP noted that most people claim that intonation gets WORSE as they go up the neck. The OP was asking what was the reason for the intonation on their instrument to be getting BETTER up the neck.

    The short answer is because on their instrument the NUT is in the wrong place (string height across the nut is a MINOR factor, its mostly about distance from the frets) where as many other instruments have the nut placed correctly but the saddle is out of place.

    If for some strange reason it was a problem of Equal temperament and the instrument was built perfectly then what you would see is perfect intonation at the 12th fret and a few other frets while the intonation at a few other frets would be sometimes a little sharp, and sometimes a little flat.

    There was enough information in the OP to work this out. I really don't need another 10 paragraphs on why you think that every intonation fault imaginable of a stringed and fretted instrument is just the fault of equal temperament.

  7. #17
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    The question of equal temperament may be very interesting to people of a certain mindset, but it has no place in a discussion of this nature. If the frets are in the correct places, relative to the nut and the saddle, and compensation has been allowed for, then the cause of any unacceptable variations in intonation must be down to the strings themselves, the way they are set up at both ends, or possibly the way the player uses the instrument.

    John Colter
    Last edited by ukantor; 11-20-2019 at 01:45 PM.

  8. #18
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    This has been an interesting discussion. I had a basic understanding of such things, but now comprehend it a little more.
    Because I pick around the middle of the fretboard I will often tune my ukes at the 7th or 10th fret, instead of open strings.
    My ukes sound different to me everyday, because my ears are almost as old as the rest of me. So it's always a bit of a compromise.

  9. #19
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    "I think a lot of people over complicate Equal Temperament"

    ---and some people over complicate the adjustment/correction of ukulele intonation.

    John Colter.

  10. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by ukantor View Post
    "I think a lot of people over complicate Equal Temperament"

    ---and some people over complicate the adjustment/correction of ukulele intonation.

    John Colter.
    We should not be put off with errors, because ukulele, guitar and piano are foremost accompanying instruments, yes. In that they work great.

    For melodies they can work sort of as a compromise. Not to be admired too much, but admired in a sense that they can do both. I could never much care about music from pianist Richard Clayderman, was it the name. The entertainment stuff. Some fixed pitch instruments like accordeon work better because of the dynamic volume control of a voice.

    Beethoven's piano music is another matter, cause it is so much based on harmony more than melody.

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