Results 1 to 12 of 12

Thread: Very strange intonation

  1. #1

    Default Very strange intonation

    My daughter owns a very cheap mandolin. I think it was a 40 dollars and includes a case and an electric tuner type of deals. Surprisingly, it doesn’t sound too bad. The issue is, the intonation on the E string and the E string only is flat by a full fret. All the other strings are intonated perfectly at the twelfth fret but the E string intonates at the 13th. Any ideas ?

  2. #2
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    Brooklyn, NY, USA
    Posts
    1,072

    Default Re: Very strange intonation

    My best guess is that the nut is cut so the contact point is at the head side of the nut rather than at the fretboard side of the nut.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Very strange intonation

    [QUOTE=Nevin;1795515]My best guess is that the nut is cut so the contact point is at the head side of the nut rather than at the fretboard side of the nut.[/QUOTE

    - - - Updated - - -

    Thank you. I will check that out.

  4. #4
    Registered User John Kelly's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    Ardnadam, Argyll, Scotland
    Posts
    1,681

    Default Re: Very strange intonation

    "Cheap" instruments, and dearer ones too, regularly have the nut slots left higher than needed when they leave the makers, working on the assumption that it is easier to lower a slot than to try to fill in one that is too deep. Shawn has pointed you to a possible cause of the problem and I would agree with his suggestion. Check the clearance at the first fret on your E strings and if it is higher than the other strings then it needs lowered. The fact that the string intonates a fret higher would also back up this idea - the string is having to travel further because of the high nut slots, so is playing out of pitch in relation to the other string pairs.
    I'm playing all the right notes, but not necessarily in the right order. - Eric Morecambe

    http://www.youtube.com/user/TheOldBores

  5. #5
    Lurkist dhergert's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Blue Zone, California
    Posts
    1,431
    Blog Entries
    1

    Default Re: Very strange intonation

    Not to discount any sage advice that has already been suggested, but is it also possible that the saddle is mounted on the bridge backwards so the intonation compensation is reversed?
    -- Don

    "Music: A minor auditory irritation occasionally characterized as pleasant."
    "It is a lot more fun to make music than it is to argue about it."


    2002 Gibson F-9
    2016 MK LFSTB
    1975 Suzuki taterbug (plus many other noisemakers)
    [About how I tune my mandolins]
    [7/29/2019 -- New Arrival!!!]

  6. The following members say thank you to dhergert for this post:


  7. #6
    Registered User John Soper's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Location
    Durham, NC
    Posts
    1,128

    Default Re: Very strange intonation

    My first mandolin - a $25 pawn shop Harmony - had a pair of E strings that would progressively go out of tune with each other as you went up the neck. It took a while to figure out that there was a small chip in the nut that moved the outer E string's point of contact back just slightly. I'd spend the money to have a pro look it over, perform a set-up and make it a playable mandolin rather than a mandolin-shaped object.

  8. #7

    Default Re: Very strange intonation

    Could the top have collapsed asymmetrically -on the fourth string side?
    Would that give the observed issues?

  9. #8

    Default Re: Very strange intonation

    I don't know about you guys but the first thing I would look at with it being a full fret off is the frets themselves. Like a high or low or loose fret in the area of that string. Specifically if the 11th fret were loose or raised in the slot then it would be a fret low at the 12th. Carefully tapping the fret down may fix it. Occasionally raising the bridge a small amount can fix it. If not it may need a luthier to look at it and file frets or glue the end of the fret down.

    A nut or bridge saddle is not likely to move the note by that much.

  10. #9
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    Riner, Virginia
    Posts
    117

    Default Re: Very strange intonation

    If I understand you correctly, the harmonic on the “e” strings occurs at the 13th fret instead of at the 12th fret like the other strings. To me, that indicates that the “e” strings are probably making full contact with the first fret, so the nut slots are too deep.

  11. The following members say thank you to Ward Elliott for this post:

    JL277z 

  12. #10

    Default Re: Very strange intonation

    Quote Originally Posted by Ward Elliott View Post
    If I understand you correctly, the harmonic on the “e” strings occurs at the 13th fret instead of at the 12th fret like the other strings. To me, that indicates that the “e” strings are probably making full contact with the first fret, so the nut slots are too deep.
    Me too.

    Easy to check - play that E string open and fretted at the 1st fret. If the notes are the same ...

  13. #11

    Default Re: Very strange intonation

    Quote Originally Posted by Nevin View Post
    My best guess is that the nut is cut so the contact point is at the head side of the nut rather than at the fretboard side of the nut.
    You were right. I made a new nut and it fixed the problem. Thank you for your help.

  14. #12
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    Brooklyn, NY, USA
    Posts
    1,072

    Default Re: Very strange intonation

    Good to hear.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •