View Full Version : Tuning ....even GC cant figgure this one

10-23-2012, 08:49 PM
Took my PRS/BM to Guitar center to get the bridge adjusted and a new set of Elixers installed..For 40 U.S they cleaned the frets, polished it etc...When I got it home it played GREAT! but when I put it on the tuner on my Valvetonix an tuned it, the top E string when fretted at 5th fret and the A string open, the A string was flat..or the E string was sharp.. From A on down doing fret tuning it was on the mark. What gives?

Appreciate any help

10-23-2012, 08:56 PM
I can't quite work out what you're asking here? Are you saying you tuned all the open strings using a tuner, but then when you checked the A string compared to the 5th fret on low E it seemed like the A string was flat?

p.s. a relatively new guitar shouldn't need the frets touched

10-24-2012, 08:24 AM
Guitars are flawed by design. Everything is a compromise, so the intonation will never be perfect (unless you do THIS (http://www.truetemperament.com/site/gfx/content/Start_body_vanster.jpg)). Tune the open string, then pluck the 12th fret harmonic and check it with the tuner. If the harmonic and the open string are both in tune, you're doing well. If they're not, take the guitar back and have them intonate it.

The low frets especially tend to fret sharp. One thing that helps is to relax your left hand and make sure you don't squeeze the strings too hard. Another thing is to use different tuning techniques and train your ear to what sounds good. Then you can tweak the tuning a few different ways to make it sound best to you.

10-24-2012, 10:12 AM
$40 for a set up?!?!

For an extra $20 you could buy a perfectly good tuning pedal and do the setups for free. That way you'd have a guitar that plays exactly the way YOU want and not how someone at GC thinks it should. Plenty of info on the internet (Plenty folk here who could guide you too i'm sure) and in all honesty, it's not that hard. Just a few minutes of your time too keep it in tip top playing condition.

The tuner on the Valvetronix is probably on an ok tuner but I doubt it'll have the accuracy of a good tuning pedal. As Garrett said, it's partly a compromise anyhow. You simply won't have every fret perfectly in tune. If it's well out then that's a problem but if it's only fractional then that may be as good as you'll get it.

Could also be a number of other issues such as a bad string, technique issue, etc...

Very hard to sort something like that other the t'interweb.

How does it sound to your ears when tuned up?

10-24-2012, 05:51 PM
How far off is it? All guitars may have a slight quirk with tuning here or there, but it should not be very audible at all. Try a different string. a bad string can cause intonation problems.

10-24-2012, 08:20 PM
I find 90% of my tuning problems are related to squeezing too hard.

10-24-2012, 09:51 PM
Tried the 12th fret test..its ALL messed up! On EVERY string. I hate going back..Should I do this myself? Now Im worried that they messed with the rod etc... Gee, Im not a pro but Im not a moron, either.

10-24-2012, 10:08 PM
It sounds like the intonation needs to be set. Not a big deal at all. The PRS stoptail is very simple.

It's all laid out on this page:

10-24-2012, 10:58 PM
Tried the 12th fret test..its ALL messed up! On EVERY string. I hate going back..Should I do this myself? Now Im worried that they messed with the rod etc... Gee, Im not a pro but Im not a moron, either.

Nah... No one thinks you're a moron bud, I can assure you. We all have (had) to start somewhere! :)

You mentioned you took it to GC to have the bridge adjusted. Was there an issue before you took the guitar or did you just want a general setup?

You mention in the thread title that GC can't figure it out?

Either way, it sounds like GC made a pigs ear of this set-up and you'd be well within your rights to go back and ask them to do it properly!

No idea if they touched the truss or not. Press the low E down at the first fret (Or use a capo) and the last fet. There should be a very slight gap around the 7th / 8th fret... Around the thickness of a business card as a crude example. If there's no gap - or worse a back bow - or too much of a gap you may need that looking at.

It just sounds like the intonation is out. The link provided by _Pete_ will help you with that. If you still have issues you may be better off consulting a good tech to give it a once over.

Hopefully, the issue is purely a case of setting the intonation.

10-24-2012, 11:19 PM
Okay...I dont have a machinists ruler (GC was supposed to have adjusted bridge) but Ill get one..The 12th fret test goes as follows..E tuned open, sharp at 12 (including harmonics) sharp as in full red. A tuned open..flat at 12 full red.D tuned open ..flat at 12 full red/G tuned open..sharp at 12, full red. B tuned open...sharp at 12 full red. E tuned open..sharp at 12 full red..(Full Red means that the green in the middle does not blink.My neighbor brought his Conn Strobe over and the same results occured.
Now should I start from scratch? PRS has a lot of very good customer support on this, and all of you guys have given me great support. Or should I take it back to GC. I wanted to watch but they told me that it would be 1-2 days. I really think that I should just write off the 40 and learn from you guys.. This is a flat tail and I cannot adjust intonation on individual strings.
Mike..will get a capo and find out about the truss..Thanks!
Please Advise.

10-25-2012, 08:57 AM
Epilogue....I worked with a bunch of scientists durig the BP oil spill (taking them out to the slick) and one of them was a true PRS fanatic. He once told me if you cant watch someone work on your guitar do it yourself. I guess he meant that when left unattended other people can pick it up and mess with it and there is always the chance it will fall on the floor in a moments haste. So I used the advice here plus I found a great vid that was showing how to intonate by a PRS tech ( dont remember the name but it was a beautiful emerald green guitar). Going to buy another tuner and a machinists ruler and do this myself. Still like our GC here in Pensacola, the manager always gives me a freebie wnen I buy something.. Plus doing this myself will help me learn "Why" a guitar sounds certain ways. Any other equipment I might need to do minor work on Honey Boo-Boo( my BM's name )?

10-25-2012, 10:46 AM
The main thing, to me, if you're not doing it yourself, is to make sure each time it's the same person you trust. I can do some tweaks with my Fender guitars, but the PRS stoptails are too fiddly for my patience level, so I take them to a guy who is actually an educated and certified luthier. I tell him what I want, he makes recommendations, if I don't like it I bring it back for a tweak.

The trouble with guitar techs: anybody can be a "guitar tech" and the level of competency can vary widely. If you don't bring your guitar to a specific tech every time, they'll just do whatever they think is a set up and not necessarily what you want.

10-26-2012, 06:05 AM
I'd get a feeler gauge for measuring neck relief. That and what you're already buying + the wrenches that came with the guitar should be all you need for basic setups.

10-26-2012, 02:59 PM
You can also make a homemade feeler gauge by gluing a piece of a .010 e string on a Popsicle stick. Simple! And you get to eat a Popsicle...

10-26-2012, 06:29 PM
One thing to keep in mind is that different steps of a full set-up can affect the prior steps. So some level of re-iteration is usually needed. Your intonation seems way off on the E (I think you said the high E, but perhaps not) and the A strings.

In general, a good order for doing things is to:

1. Put the new strings on (if changing strings), and do a preliminary tuning first (as the string type and gauge can effect step 2)
2. Make sure the neck relief is right (truss rod adjustment if needed)
3. If the truss rod was adjusted, let it sit for at least several hours, and perhaps a whole day, then retune, etc.
4. THEN set the action (raising or lowering bridge saddles, or bridge end-points if you don't have individual saddles). Doing this will throw the tuning off, so re-tune after every adjustment. Make sure you are happy with the action feel, and don't have excessive fret buzz, etc.
5. THEN, check the intonation. Move the saddles backward or forward to correct, assuming that individual adjustments for each string are possible. In some cases all you can do is adjust the bridge end-points. Retune after every adjustment.

Doing things in a different order may require going back to re-do prior steps.

I didn't mention anything to do with trem height, level, range, etc., but making sure the basic height and levelness are OK should be done early on in the process, and then you can fine-tune the trem levelness (and the "range of pitch change") via adjustments to the trem claw screws at the end, since any prior changes to the bridge and/or saddles (action or intonation) may have a modest impact on the trem.

The PRS web site (in the customer support area) has decent descriptions of what to do, recommended settings/specs, etc.

One other comment on intonation is that it depends highly on how hard you tend to fret notes. So what's right for one player isn't necessarily right for everyone. And it is also highly dependent on action height, so if someone makes an action adjustment after doing the intonation, it will be off afterwards. And of course string brand and guage has a big effect on intonation, so if there's been a change in brand and/or gauge, the intonation may be off. If you tend to break high-E strings a lot, and then buy single-strings as replacements, this can throw things off a bit, after the change. I have one guitar that doesn't have individual string saddles (you can move the bridge as a unit, including angling it, but that's it), and it could be set up OK with either a set of 10's, or with a set of 9's. Since I used to break .009 E-strings a lot, I tried using a set of 9's, but with a .010 high-E string swapped in. There was no way to intonate things right, with the single-piece bridge.

10-26-2012, 09:34 PM
WOW..thank you all... Update..Took it back tonight to @@ and to the same tech(he is the only one) and he put it on his super expensive strobe and got the same results as I did(he eventually turned the strobe where I couldnt see it but I saw the reflection in a mirror). Pretty much just blew me off. If I tune the E top string open and then fret it at the fifth fret and play it and the open "A' (and that was correctly tuned also, the "A" is almost a half step flat. Plus where he does his work is in a high traffic area , he also adjusted the truss rod and I have a lot of buzz at the 12th fret and higher.. OHHH you guys are so right..Im gonna do this myself..I hope it didnt slide off the table and bang the neck (setting it upright and going out for a smoke). But this is why I ordered it from a distributor and not getting it at a store. He did the tuning tonight while working on a 10 dollar(garage sale) Washburn Knockoff. From Now on Im gonna do my own adjusting, it might be wrong but at least Ill know it didnt hit the floor. Thanks again!

10-27-2012, 12:24 AM
I've been doing my own adjusting for over 40 years. Once you do something, you'll understand much better the mechanics of a guitar. None of my guitars have ever been touched by a store tech. I do all my own adjusting and they stay in tune just fine. Simply think it out thoroughly and document where you started and each step you take, so if you need to go back, you can. I do my own tuning, string replacement, mods, pickup swaps, changing audio tapers, wiring changes for push pull pots for coil isolation and all. It just makes me know better that it is done right.

If you're going to be a guitarist, learn the guitar and maintain the guitar..... all of it.

10-27-2012, 12:15 PM
Okay..NOW Im at my wits end...Tuned the lower "E" string..Did harmonics at 12th fret, it showed way sharp.Fretted showed sharp as well backed off the string and never got it to show the green LED.Almost backed the screw all the way out..Still sharp..Please help.Is this my tuner?

10-27-2012, 12:35 PM
Try another tuner and if its still buggered send it to the PTC and have them work their magic :)

10-27-2012, 12:42 PM
Are you moving the bridge the right way?
Compare open low E string to the fretted note at the 12th fret. If the 12th fret note is sharp, lengthen the string by turning the adjusting screw clockwise which will move the bridge further away from the nut.
Repeat for the high E string and then recheck and fine tune the low E if needed.
The other 4 strings will then be intonated just fine.

If the fretted note is flat, shorten the string by adjusting the bridge.

10-27-2012, 12:46 PM
Beware: Some tuners have the ability to tune off key by a few cents. This can make it tune sharpe or flat to be sync'd with other instruments. If you did a battery change or anything suspicious, you might want to reset that turner to factory defaults. Just a thought.

10-27-2012, 01:37 PM
Lefty loosey , Righty tighty.. when I go clock wise it shortens the string and the pitch gets higher. The fretted note is sharp. The only way I can get it to tune on the 12 fret is to use the tuning nut at the head. Must be the tuner on the Vox Vt 40. Im at my wits end. Thanks Fbrand and pete.And Cobra..

10-27-2012, 01:45 PM
Tightening the bridge adjustment screw (small allen head screw behind the bridge post) will move the bridge further from the nut, lengthening the string. Move the bridge back, re-tune, and then check the open and 12th fret notes.

10-27-2012, 04:24 PM
Okay... Thanks for your patience.

10-27-2012, 04:53 PM
Beware: Some tuners have the ability to tune off key by a few cents. This can make it tune sharpe or flat to be sync'd with other instruments. If you did a battery change or anything suspicious, you might want to reset that turner to factory defaults. Just a thought.

Cobra..should I re intialize my vox? Maybe my tuner will reset too.

10-27-2012, 07:30 PM
Cobra..should I re intialize my vox? Maybe my tuner will reset too.

It is definitely worth a try to reset the tuner; it can't hurt to eliminate that variable. But even if it is offset, you should be able to get the guitar to tune Open and the 12th fret as long as the bridge point is in the right position. Remember, the nut and the frets are fixed position items. Only the bridge contact postion can vary, so that's the adjustment point.

Just a HINT: On my PRS SE Custom, there are 12.5 " from nut to 12th fret on the D and High E strings. Another 12.5 to the bridge point where the string hits it + or - just a bit for the compensation factor for the diameter of the string and whether it's wound or open. The Low E string will need to be a little longer than the A string next to it. The D string is a little shorter than the A String..( this is the one that should be equal to the Nut to 12th fret distance. Then the G string is about the same length as the Low E. Then the B string is shorter than the G string. And the high E string is shorter than the B string next to it. But the High E string is again double the distance from nut to 12th fret.

Visually, this is a good place to start.

Try measuring on the D string from the nut to the bridge point of contact. Take half of that distance and compare to the disitance from the nut to the 12th fret. They should be about equal. High E string is about the same. Then the A and Low E should each progressively get a little longer. Do the same for the High E string. Measure and make nut to 12th fret and 12 fret to bridge contact point equal distances. Then B and G progressively get a bit longer than the one next to it.

Do that and see if those measurements are about correct and start from that point.

My Strat is the same way, except the distance from nut to 12th fret is a bit longer by 1/4 " . But the principle and proportion is the same.

Measure from nut to 12th fret... that's the key distance. Then 12th to bridge should be the same.

I hope this helps. Good Luck.

10-27-2012, 07:39 PM
Here's another point of interest. If you are using the string sizes that the guitar was originally built for, then you're ahead of the game. If you changed and went from .009's to .010's, then maybe the nut might be your problem. The string is too big for the nut groove. This will definitely cause some tuning problems and make the strings go out of tune as you bend and stretch the strings. The grip on the string at the nut will not let the tension reset to its normal tension. Therefore out of tune.

Also, if you change string sizes, one should change the tension spring in the tremelo mechanism to compensate.

Just some added thoughts.

10-27-2012, 07:51 PM
I also would try a real tuner, as opposed to the tuner in your amp. For tuning, it's fine, but intonating is more exact.

10-27-2012, 08:56 PM
I agree with that. I use a Sabine RT-1600 rackmount unit. Very accurate and all sorts of tuning options and offsets, if one is desiring that. I use it basically in the default mode and it's always right on the money.

10-30-2012, 09:26 PM
as I posted..Success!!! Thanks to all !!

10-30-2012, 09:29 PM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xV8kMUB8n4c...This guy helped me immensely...Does any of you PRS Pro's know or know of this guy? he is great.

10-30-2012, 09:56 PM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xV8kMUB8n4c...This guy helped me immensely...Does any of you PRS Pro's know or know of this guy? he is great.

That first vid is ok but he's giving the impression that action is set by the truss rod with his example. It's part of the equation for sure but not as he portrays it unless you're going to extremes. He also keeps referring to quarter turns of the truss whilst only making 1/8th turns.

1/4 turn is too much IMHO.

Second vid is very good.

11-02-2012, 08:59 PM
That's Orkie, Paul's original assistant.

11-04-2012, 01:57 PM
Poffy gave me a great nugget on a feeler gauge. I have learned a great deal from this thread..This A.M. woke up, became herbally fortified(a cup of herbal tea ,heh heh) and played "Bridge of Sighs" with a side of fuzz and flanger,and raised hell, generally............thanks. thanks. thanks. I even did Trower's facial contortions and THAT is why I love guitar..And thanks to Cobra..

11-04-2012, 10:00 PM
I stole the idea from Dan Erlewine. :). His book on guitar setup and maintenance is well worth owning.