Rickenbacker International Corporation - Forum

Bizarre Intonation Problems
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Author:  junglejem [ Sun Mar 19, 2006 7:44 am ]
Post subject:  Bizarre Intonation Problems

I have a brand new lefty 330 12 with some serious intonation issues. Specifically, the entire guitar can be tuned to 440 and dialed in at the 12th fret. But then the low E pairs, and to a lesser degree the A pairs are almost 20 cents sharp at the third fret (G note and C note). Renders the guitar unplayable. This is NOT a problem with the 6 saddle bridge, as both the fundamental and the octave strings are equally off.

A local luthier adjusted the bass side truss rod a bit, and deepened the grooves in the nut, and this brought about a slight improvement, but the third fret G note on the low E strings is still a good 10 cents sharp.

Any suggestions? Similar experiences?

Author:  MattP123 [ Sun Mar 19, 2006 8:06 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Bizarre Intonation Problems

ive had the same issue on my 660/12 and that has the 12 saddle bridge. i just deal with it by tuning the open strings down a bit so that its just a bit flat open and just a bit sharp at the 3rd as opposed to perfect open and way off at the 3rd fret. its a "natural" thing i guess. you probably dont notice it on a 6 string because you dont have the octave pair.
this issue has been talked about plenty, so if you need more help search the forums.

Author:  MyFretless [ Sun Mar 19, 2006 9:03 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Bizarre Intonation Problems

My 12 saddle bridge fixed my problem on my 360-12.

Author:  jlw0091 [ Mon Mar 20, 2006 6:24 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Bizarre Intonation Problems

I don't have a lot of experience with Rics, but I do have many years of guitar setup experience. This bizarre intonation problem appears to be related to the height of the pickup, believe it or not. I've seen similar things many times. People raise the pickup height, trying to boost output, without realizing that the string-to-pickup gap determines the amount of mechanical interference the magnet has on the string vibration.

Pickups that are too close to the strings pull on the string and will cause the intonation to be off. For instance, the pickup influences the vibration when you set the string length at the 12th fret. This causes the string length to be incorrect for intonation even though the 12th fret note is in tune. However, because the string length is not correct for intonation, all the other frets are off by various amounts.

However, if you tell me that all the frets are in tune( within reason), except for the 3rd fret, then the 3rd fret position is incorrect.

My advice: Lower your pickups so that when you fret the string at your highest fret (22 or 24) the distance between the top of the pickup and the string is 3/32"-5/32". This should remove enough of the magnet's mechanical influence on the vibration of the string. More powerful pickups require more string-to-pickup gap.

Author:  jlw0091 [ Thu Mar 23, 2006 12:18 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Bizarre Intonation Problems

Hiya. I just got my 620/12 setup and I had the same sharp G at the 3rd fret that you mentioned. The neck had a considerable amount of relief (way too much). After I got the neck reasonably straight the intonation problem went away...so you may need to set your neck up with very little relief.

Author:  nightfire [ Thu Mar 23, 2006 2:51 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Bizarre Intonation Problems

My 1974 360/12 suffers bad tuning on the top (thick) E strings but it seems more important to tune it to make sure the third fret G is accurate than the open.I also tune the B strings slightly flat.Even McGuinn suggests tuning 'off tune' in open.He also tunes down half a tone but that's okay if you're not using a a band.I use chorus permanantly on my Roland JC 120 so even after tuning digitally I re adjust by ear to suit myself.My 2003 360/12 tunes perfect open to frets.Also I'm not a run aroune the neck player I rarely play past the third fret on the upper strings as I never barre chords - because the 12 has octaves all over the place I can play full chords on the lower four sets.

Author:  whoaitstodd [ Sat Mar 25, 2006 8:24 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Bizarre Intonation Problems

If your G string is sharp on the second or third fret you may want to have your guitar's nut checked. It might be a little high.

Author:  iiipopes [ Sun Oct 08, 2006 7:19 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Bizarre Intonation Problems

All guitars do this to some degree. It's called string stretch. It's just more noticable with either light gauge strings, or on guitars with a lot of overtones which you hear the tuning clash, like Ricks. The solution, which I have done on my guitars, is to add something to the nut to effectively shorten the scale length, either a narrow bit of nut material glued to the nut and fingerboard, then file the slot as low as you can without buzzing, or have Buzz Feiten do his thing on the guitar, and then raise the action so there is more string stretch in the middle instead of near the nut so the middle frets are not flat.

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