need some advice on low strung intination

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need some advice on low strung intination

Postby bhelm » Fri Dec 04, 2009 8:14 pm

so, i got my takamine guitar and had it set up for low stings like the ones hedges used.the problem is the bridge (which is made for a standard strung instrument) is causing the intination to be way out of tune. has anyone else had this problem? and would anyone know how much it would cost to fix it? my dad spoke to someone he knows who makes guitars and he said that the bridge would have to be replaced and moved back further. i am hoping that it won't cost too much to have it done, but it needs to be fixed at somepoint.

any help or advice would be great!

thanks,

Ben
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Re: need some advice on low strung intination

Postby Rootwitch » Sun Dec 06, 2009 7:25 pm

What gauge strings are you using? Should be at least mediums. I've never had any major intonation issues on a low strung guitar, but there's a trick - Find a balance, by tuning the strings just slightly flat, but not so flat that it's noticable when strumming the open strings. I do this even when not using a low strung guitar. Typically the low E and A strings I tune just slightly flat. Because they have less tension than normal, even the open strings will vibrate more (wider), and those lower strings will can actually sound in tune, even if they're tuned a little flat. Just like when you tune a string down real low, and give it a good thump, and you'll hear it ring sharp, then as the vibrations lessen, the pitch will dive down.

Play with it and find a balance.

Good luch bro.
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Re: need some advice on low strung intination

Postby bhelm » Mon Dec 07, 2009 12:52 am

hey, thanks rootwitch! i was actually using a gauge that is far too uncommon to find at a store, D'Addario makes them. it's the same kind michael used. for songs like baal t'shuvah, rough wind in oaklahoma, i carry your heart, india, and so many others. i feel like almost half his songs are strung with these strings. i think i am going to have to get a new custom bridge put on once i can afford it. but for now i am just using mediums.

to get an idea of how big these strings are. take a look at this video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X_uS7M3Fuv0 look closely at the strings once they show them up close. it's pretty clear how big they are. i am not sure if i will ever be able to afford getting a new bridge put on but i am hoping.

thanks for the advice man!
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Re: need some advice on low strung intination

Postby Rootwitch » Mon Dec 07, 2009 5:22 pm

Yeah - 15-64's. I forgot about that. I didn't play any of his original low strung songs, but I would cover his covers of Eminence Front, and others. I used to buy the strings individually. Does D'Addario sell a pack with these gauges?
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Re: need some advice on low strung intination

Postby bhelm » Mon Dec 07, 2009 11:33 pm

i am not sure, what i do know is i went into guitar emporium and had them order some. they may sell them in packs but i think these we individual ones. they used a rubber band to hold them all together.

when you would play eminence front, what guitar did you use? was it one made for those gauges? or did you have to take it to someone to get it intonated? sorry if i am sounding like a broken record, but whenever i used the strings on my takamini the low e string was morbidly out of tune all across the fretboard as well as some of the others. i really hope i could someday find a way to get this thing intonated properly.
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Re: need some advice on low strung intination

Postby Rootwitch » Tue Dec 08, 2009 7:40 pm

I used my cheap Yamaha for a while, then switched to my cheap Martin. Neither of them needed any special setup. How is the action on the guitar? If it's really high, I can see havin intonation issues.
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Re: need some advice on low strung intination

Postby bhelm » Tue Dec 08, 2009 9:31 pm

the action is very low, probabley too low. the high e buzzes on the 12th fret. I do have mediums on it right now, do you think it's my guitar that's the problem? when i use the 15-64's and i play the low E string open it sounds fine, when i play the octive on that same string, it goes sharp. i clearly have intonation issues with this instrument with the heavy strings, with the mediums it sounds fine. i think the bridge probabley needs to be angled more.
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Re: need some advice on low strung intonation

Postby Rootwitch » Thu Dec 10, 2009 3:32 pm

Hard to say. All I can say for sure is I've been able to overcome the intonation issue that's presented with all these altered tunings/string gauges with the little tricks I mentioned before, like tuning certain strings slightly flat. Also, I do remember having to adjust the pressure of my fretting hand with certain tunings. If the strings were real loose, it would go sharp simply from pressing it too hard and causing it to "V" between the 2 frets.

I would still string it with the 15's, and experiment - See what fretting pressure does - Find out if fretting lighter reduces the problem. Also, sit with a tuner and find the balance between how flat you can tune the low strings before they actually "sound" out of tune, and try fretting chords to find the balance between the two.

Even on my D-35, with mediums, If I was tuning to (say) Woman Of The World, I would tune the low E and A slightly flat. On a tuner, you've got your center line showing you're perfectly in tune (in theory...LOL), then you've got the percentage lines showing how sharp or flat you are.

Image

If I'm tuning the low E down to a C, I'll typically tune it around 40% flat - If the A is down to a G, I'll go about 20-30%, if the D is tuned down at all, I might tune it 5% flat. The unwound strings I'll tune to pitch. Now, like I said before, because the string will have less tension on it than it was designed for, it will actually vibrate "wider" and sound in tune. Obviously, if you play a chord with these strings open, and they sound flat, you've gone too far.

Sounds odd to intentionally tune up "out of tune" but it works. Here's me playing my cheap Martin, low strung. Notice at the 0:23 mark, I fret too hard, and it goes sharp - Then (I try) to fret less aggressively throughout, so it won't do that again. It's all a balancing act, because we're asking the guitar to do something it wasn't designed to do - But you have to find the tricks for *your* guitar. Spending money on a custom bridge will be a waste (IMO) because the strings are still going to be really loose, still susceptible to fretting too hard, strumming too hard, etc.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zSdyM3jwdL0
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Re: need some advice on low strung intination

Postby bhelm » Tue Dec 15, 2009 11:43 pm

thank you so much roowitch!! i will get crackin on it ASAP!!!

i have a quick question about the hedges version of i don't live today (the jimi hendrix cover) any of what the tuning might be? i guess their are just so many songs he did that it's hard to transcribe them all and i understand that completely. i am very greatful for this site and I thank you and everyone else involved in keeping Michael Hedges music alive all these years later.

here is a link of the performance of "I Don't Live Today"

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vLuSx2HyCYw

my guess is that it's the same tuning as eminence front, but i could be wrong.

and just for kicks, my crappy version of ignition

hope you like it!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3L8ZMzRG6NE
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Re: need some advice on low strung intination

Postby Rootwitch » Wed Dec 16, 2009 10:34 am

Excellent job, man. I'm very impressed. And, glad you finally discovered Michael's music. Better late than never. :D
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