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Thread: Intonation problems

  1. #1

    Unhappy Intonation problems

    I recently brought a new mandolin and I love the timbre but the intonation is awful. When the open strings are in tune the fingered notes are a bit sharp which I can live with but notes on the g string are especially sharp and sound awful. Moving the bridge closer to the tailpiece does not help. Is there anything I can do to fix this?

  2. #2
    Registered User Roger Moss's Avatar
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    Default Re: Intonation problems

    How high is your action, that is the height of the strings off the fretboard? Note this at both the first fret and the twelfth fret. If it is too high, no adjustments of the bridge will totally help. When you fret a string that is too high, you will stretch the string too much, pulling it sharp. So it will be in tune open, but any fretted notes will be sharp.
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  4. #3

    Default Re: Intonation problems

    Moving the bridge rearward is the correct way to adjust intonation that is too sharp.

    It sounds like your mandolin may need additional setup work. AS Roger Mentions, let us know the string height. It is rare for fret placement to be off far enough to come into play. Just about all new mandolins have correct fret spacing (even the low costs versions), fo it would be either action or bridge placement. Even with high action, moving the bridge rearward would make a noticeable difference in intonation.
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  5. #4
    Registered User DavidKOS's Avatar
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    Default Re: Intonation problems

    Quote Originally Posted by Roger Moss View Post
    How high is your action, that is the height of the strings off the fretboard? Note this at both the first fret and the twelfth fret. If it is too high, no adjustments of the bridge will totally help. When you fret a string that is too high, you will stretch the string too much, pulling it sharp. So it will be in tune open, but any fretted notes will be sharp.
    This is very good advice.

    Make sure you check the nut height.

    If the slots are too high, then you get sharp pitches on the fingered notes due to the strings being stretched too far to reach the frets.

    If the nut slots are not correct, moving the bridge alone will not intonate the instrument.

  6. #5
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    Default Re: Intonation problems

    I have a mandola that is the same way, and it has a very slight bow in the neck. Would that cause this problem?

  7. #6

    Default Re: Intonation problems

    Bridge position is the most likely cause and would make the largest contribution to poor intonation. Once you are sure that is correct, then look at nut height and bridge height.

    If the notes are sharp up the neck, move the bridge towards the tailpiece. If they are flat, move the bridge toward the nut. Slacken off the strings before you move it, keep it parallel with the nut, and well-seated on the body.

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  9. #7
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    Default Re: Intonation problems

    Depending on your setup you may need to angle the bridge slightly, with one side a bit farther from the nut then the other.
    If you're handy, you can check and correct the setup yourself. Contact Rob Meldrum for a copy of his free setup e-book.
    https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/s...=1#post1196418
    Otherwise, a trip to your local mandolin tech is in order.

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  11. #8
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    Default Re: Intonation problems

    Classic issues, easily fixed. Please email me at rob.meldrum@gmail.com and put Mandolin Setup in the subject line.

    Rob

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    Default Re: Intonation problems

    Quote Originally Posted by trabb View Post
    I have a mandola that is the same way, and it has a very slight bow in the neck. Would that cause this problem?
    Could be sole cause, but there may be other issues. The bow shortens the distance from nut to bridge (assuming the bridge is in the original correct position) and raises the string height exponentially. (That's probably not technically an exponential relationship, right?)

  13. #10
    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
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    Default Re: Intonation problems

    Basically, Accurately measured; 0 ~ 12th fret should be = to 12th fret to the bridge..

    if that is not wrong, other things than moving the bridge...

    I have a friend in my town who cured it with a whole new fingerboard .

    slot cutting not quite spot on, maybe the friday clocking out thinking.. weekend,,
    made them distracted , way back then?



    ..
    Last edited by mandroid; Jun-27-2018 at 12:30pm.
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  14. #11
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    Default Re: Intonation problems

    If the nut slots are not angled down away from the fretboard they can cause intonation issues. Strings too high at 12th fret exacerbates intonation issues. After the bridge is adjusted properly, remaining issues can be resolved by filing the bridge for individual strings. Not too common, but sometimes it happens.

  15. #12

    Default Re: Intonation problems

    The mandolin seems to have problems with both bridge placement and string height. I'm in Mexico at the moment and my host family has a friend who is a mariachi and he is going to take it to get set up for me. He said it only costs 50 pesos so it looks like everything will have a happy ending.

    Thank you everyone. I've learned a lot about mandolins from this thread.

  16. #13
    Registered User Roger Moss's Avatar
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    Default Re: Intonation problems

    Quote Originally Posted by gabby View Post
    The mandolin seems to have problems with both bridge placement and string height. I'm in Mexico at the moment and my host family has a friend who is a mariachi and he is going to take it to get set up for me. He said it only costs 50 pesos so it looks like everything will have a happy ending.

    Thank you everyone. I've learned a lot about mandolins from this thread.
    50 pesos is a stunningly low price for this tix. If it requires nut work, it would be a bargain at 10 that up here. If it works out, you will have scored magnificently.
    When the sun beats down and I lie on the bench, I can always hear them talk.
    Me, I'm just a lawnmower - you can tell me by the way I walk.

  17. #14

    Default Re: Intonation problems

    The mandolin is back and all the strings are in tune except for the g string, which is slightly sharp. Now I can actually stand to play it. I might try to bring improve the intonation more after I return to the states but for now I'm content.

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