Intonation Problems? Look To Your Frets!

Intonation Problems? Look To Your Frets!

From time to time I’ll have conversations with players about intonation issues. Often, they’re worried about weird tuning inconsistencies that have crept in to their guitar or bass. Maybe, they’ll even have done the 12th-fret intonation check and found that it seemed ok but the problems persisted. 

Here's why you should consider your frets…

Hum and Guitar String Ground

Hum and Guitar String Ground

So here's the problem: 

You’ve got your guitar plugged in. You’re not playing it and there’s a noise. A hum. It’s not terribly pleasant. 

Thing is, you touch the strings and it’s gone.

The response: It's ok. It's not a problem. That’s all as it should be. Guitars pick up interference and that comes out the amp as a hum. When you touch the strings, it's supposed to get quieter. 

Because, 'grounding'.

Quick Tip: Tele Truss Rod Adjustment

Quick Tip: Tele Truss Rod Adjustment

Removing a neck to adjust the truss rod is a bit of a pain. 

Some Telecasters, however have a channel cut between the neck pocket and the front pickup cavity. Because the neck pickup is often mounted direct to the body, removing the pickguard on those Teles is easy. And, if you're lucky, you'll have a little notched channel to get at the truss rod.

Electric Guitar String Ground

Electric Guitar String Ground

In an electric guitar or bass, it's usually necessary to 'ground' the strings. 

By this, I mean that all the strings should have a path to ground — a wire that connects them to a ground point inside the instrument. Usually that ground point will be the back of a pot or the sleeve of the output jack. 

When it's properly grounded, you can touch the strings of your guitar and you'll usually hear the background hiss reduce. Yay.

There’s a common misconception that by touching the strings you are grounding the guitar.

Shaving an Acoustic Guitar Bridge

Shaving an Acoustic Guitar Bridge

This is an acoustic guitar bridge and there’s something wrong with this picture. Well, the picture’s ok, but there’s definitely a problem with the guitar. 

You can see how low the saddle is. The string’s have no ‘break’ angle over it—that first string sits almost horizontally on the saddle. 

This means the strings impart very little downward pressure to the saddle. No downward pressure means that much of the strings’ vibration is lost rather than being transferred into the guitar top (which is what provides most of your tone and volume with an acoustic instrument). Poor tone and poor sustain.

Nasty Acoustic Guitar Side Cracks

Nasty Acoustic Guitar Side Cracks

This guitar's see better days. You can see a couple of nasty cracks along the shoulder. They begun at the preamp cutout and because of the tension on that area of bent wood, they easily spread as the centre 'relaxed' while the edges stayed in place, bound to the top and back. 

Someone has had a go at repairing this damage already. The previous repairer tried using fibreglass and some mesh tape to secure things. A brace was added near the preamp cutout to reinforce it but that and the fibreglass weren't enough. The arrow shows where that brace has broken. The crack's back.

Martin Guitar Non-Adjustable Truss Rods

Martin Guitar Non-Adjustable Truss Rods

In the very old days*, guitars had no truss rods at all. This wasn’t so much of a problem with gut strings but, once steel strings came along, builders realised that some sort of strengthening was required and so various things began to be inserted into guitar necks to help make them stronger. 

A while back, I realised I had a couple of Martin guitars of different vintages in for neck resets. So, with the necks off, I took a photo showing the steel rods they've used over the years. 

Season's Greetings and Christmas Opening

Season's greetings, everyone. 

We've reached that time of year again. I'll be taking a bit of a break for a few days. There are Christmas traditions that must be attended to (mostly eating too much and perhaps indulging in an interesting ale or two). 

With that in mind: 

Haze Guitars will be closed from 23rd December and will open again from January 4th. 

Thank you

At this time of year, it's really important to me to say a huge 'thank you' to everyone who has trusted me with their guitars this year. I'm very aware of how much these instruments mean to you and it means a lot to me that you would trust me with them. Thank you so much and I really hope I was able to help out. 

Ho Ho Ho

Whatever particular holiday you celebrate at this time of year, I hope it's a fantastic one (and if you don't celebrate anything around now, just have a nice day). 

Cheers, everyone.