Intonation Difference on Ibanez Guitars - Jemsite
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post #1 of 20 (permalink) Old 06-04-2009, 10:58 AM Thread Starter
 
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Intonation Difference on Ibanez Guitars

I've owned 4 and still own 3, 7VWH, SZ320 and an acoustic/electric 12 string, EW2012ASENT.

The one I sold (but shouldn't have) was that first Explorer copy they made WAY back when. I sold it because while you could set the intonation, certain chords sound bad out of tune.

I notice the same thing in my SZ320...fresh strings, set the action, set the intonation...some chords just sound like crap.

This is not the case with my 7VWH, it sounds in tune everywhere on the neck, perfect.

So I'm wondering, does Ibanez take more care with it's high end guitars, and the lower end guitars don't get the same construction accuracy?
I use the SZ320 for slide only now because it was so annoying.
It's almost like the nut is in the wrong location, or the frets are in the wrong location, by just a hair, enough to make you go, "What in theeee hell is wrong with this thing?"
I checked the string height at the first fret, and it's pretty decent, not great, but I doubt that it's the problem.

Anyone else notice this with the less expensive Ibanez' guitars?
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post #2 of 20 (permalink) Old 06-04-2009, 11:45 AM
 
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Re: Intonation Difference on Ibanez Guitars

I presume that you've tried adjusting the intonation correctly?
If so what you're describing is a problem with guitars in general and indeed all musical instruments...
If you set everything up so one chord or scale is perfect then other chords or scales sound bad. People have tried to fix this with products like Earvana nuts, Buzz Feiten tuning and even True Temperament bendy frets...
Guitars are usually set so the errors are reasonably well spread amongst the notes (not completely though) nothing sounds too bad, but, nothing is perfect either!
I can't explain why you notice it more on one guitar than another, perhaps a difference in action or resonance of the guitar accentuates or reduces the problem...
Jim
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post #3 of 20 (permalink) Old 06-04-2009, 12:21 PM
 
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Re: Intonation Difference on Ibanez Guitars

Could be the scale length too, as the SZ's are like 25.1" or something. I don't have intonation problems with my MII Xiphos.
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post #4 of 20 (permalink) Old 06-04-2009, 12:34 PM
 
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Smile Re: Intonation Difference on Ibanez Guitars

Quote:
Originally Posted by Vim Fuego View Post
I presume that you've tried adjusting the intonation correctly?
If so what you're describing is a problem with guitars in general and indeed all musical instruments...
If you set everything up so one chord or scale is perfect then other chords or scales sound bad. People have tried to fix this with products like Earvana nuts, Buzz Feiten tuning and even True Temperament bendy frets...
Guitars are usually set so the errors are reasonably well spread amongst the notes (not completely though) nothing sounds too bad, but, nothing is perfect either!
I can't explain why you notice it more on one guitar than another, perhaps a difference in action or resonance of the guitar accentuates or reduces the problem...
Jim
Can you tell me about a solution for that problem? What do you think is best?
I thought the True Tempered neck work it out very well.

As I read your post, I realize you think the True Tempered neck does not work it out.
Do you know something that could fix that?

Thank you!
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post #5 of 20 (permalink) Old 06-04-2009, 02:53 PM
 
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Re: Intonation Difference on Ibanez Guitars

I've not tried any of the systems, but I can tell you a bit about them.
The Earvana and Buzz Feiten systems aim to improve the sound of the guitars by moving the strings at the nut. The Earvana uses an intonated nut with the position of each string changed to improve the sound. The Buzz Feiten moves the whole nut a bit and then has a slightly different scheme for tuning the guitar. That is what I understand of the systems anyway. Both claim to help when chords or notes are played near the nut, which is where most people claim the worst problem is.
The True Temperament changes the positioin of each of the frets for each of the notes, so should give you the best result for the most expense (you need a new neck).
True Temperament would admit that their system isn't perfect as part of the problem is in the imperfection of the guitar and part is in the imperfection of the way you build up musical scales and harmony. Essentially If you had a perfect "C" chord C E G C the note frequencies are in the ratio 4:5:6:8 and the problem is that for example that sequence starting at F wouldn't give the right value for the fifth C, so your C chord is ok but your F sounds duff.
Jim
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post #6 of 20 (permalink) Old 06-04-2009, 03:03 PM
 
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Smile Re: Intonation Difference on Ibanez Guitars

Quote:
Originally Posted by Vim Fuego View Post
I've not tried any of the systems, but I can tell you a bit about them.
The Earvana and Buzz Feiten systems aim to improve the sound of the guitars by moving the strings at the nut. The Earvana uses an intonated nut with the position of each string changed to improve the sound. The Buzz Feiten moves the whole nut a bit and then has a slightly different scheme for tuning the guitar. That is what I understand of the systems anyway. Both claim to help when chords or notes are played near the nut, which is where most people claim the worst problem is.
The True Temperament changes the positioin of each of the frets for each of the notes, so should give you the best result for the most expense (you need a new neck).
True Temperament would admit that their system isn't perfect as part of the problem is in the imperfection of the guitar and part is in the imperfection of the way you build up musical scales and harmony. Essentially If you had a perfect "C" chord C E G C the note frequencies are in the ratio 4:5:6:8 and the problem is that for example that sequence starting at F wouldn't give the right value for the fifth C, so your C chord is ok but your F sounds duff.
Jim
Ok I understand there is no real solution for this problem yet.

As far as I can see you know a lot about it. Did you ever think how could you build a guitar to work out all the tuning problems?

Thank you very much. I appreciate your answers.
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post #7 of 20 (permalink) Old 06-04-2009, 03:36 PM Thread Starter
 
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Re: Intonation Difference on Ibanez Guitars

A guitar is an imperfect instrument.

Years ago I read an article on a luthier website regarding tuning, intonation, etc...
It described a tuning method that I use to this day.
One thing I can tell you is to not tune open strings, tune fretted strings,
it makes a HUGE, appreciable difference.
The article encouraged you to embrace these imperfections, and relax and enjoy the guitar.
Except for my SZ320, a fresh set of strings and an intonation check are all that's required to make all of the notes and chords acceptable to my ear.
Builder John Suhr has discontinued the use of the Buzz Feiten system. I applaud this move. That system and the others mentioned are gimmicks, fads...

A fresh set of strings and a properly intonated guitar are all you need.
Stop sweating the anal retentive stuff and play.






..unless you have my SZ320...then just raise the bridge, put on some heavy strings and use it for your slide guitar.
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post #8 of 20 (permalink) Old 06-04-2009, 05:00 PM
 
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Smile Re: Intonation Difference on Ibanez Guitars

Quote:
Originally Posted by Arnie Guitar View Post
A guitar is an imperfect instrument.

Years ago I read an article on a luthier website regarding tuning, intonation, etc...
It described a tuning method that I use to this day.
One thing I can tell you is to not tune open strings, tune fretted strings,
it makes a HUGE, appreciable difference.
The article encouraged you to embrace these imperfections, and relax and enjoy the guitar.
Except for my SZ320, a fresh set of strings and an intonation check are all that's required to make all of the notes and chords acceptable to my ear.
Builder John Suhr has discontinued the use of the Buzz Feiten system. I applaud this move. That system and the others mentioned are gimmicks, fads...

A fresh set of strings and a properly intonated guitar are all you need.
Stop sweating the anal retentive stuff and play.






..unless you have my SZ320...then just raise the bridge, put on some heavy strings and use it for your slide guitar.
This was a real good answer and a very good idea.
Thank you very much!
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post #9 of 20 (permalink) Old 06-05-2009, 04:45 AM
 
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Re: Intonation Difference on Ibanez Guitars

Quote:
Originally Posted by Orochimaru View Post
Ok I understand there is no real solution for this problem yet.

As far as I can see you know a lot about it. Did you ever think how could you build a guitar to work out all the tuning problems?

Thank you very much. I appreciate your answers.
Actually there is no solution... ever.
I'll try and explain more clearly.
Yes, there are a number of things you can do to make a guitar (or any instrument for that matter) better, but there is a fundamental problem with the way music works...
Pleasing intervals between notes correspond to simple rations of frequencies e.g.
Octave 2:1 (i.e. a note an octave above has twice the frequency of the original)
Fifth 3:2
Fourth 4:3
Maj 3rd 5:4
Min 3rd 6:5
etc.
Now it turns out that three Maj 3rds equals an octave (Augmented chord) i.e. C E G# back to C.
if you apply the ratios:
5:4 x 5:4 x 5:4 gives 125:64 which is not quite 2! (should be 128:64)
(or 1.25 x 1.25 x 1.25 = 1.953125)
If you use the normal technique, you make a semitone ratio the 12th root of 2.
This means a Maj 3rd is 4 semitones i.e. cube root of 2 (trust me on this if you're not sure!) or 1.25992.
That means 3 Maj 3rds is exactly 2 or a perfect octave.
(1.25992 x 1.25992 x 1.25992 = 2)
In the first case your 3rds are correct, but your octave is flat in the second the thirds are sharp but the octave is great!
This is a problem for all music, any solution will be a compromise and won't work for everything, but, you can come up with a solution that works for some scales or chords better than others, this is what the guys at true temperament have done, but they still need different versions for different temperament solutions.
Jim

Last edited by Vim Fuego; 06-05-2009 at 04:54 AM. Reason: clarification and typos
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post #10 of 20 (permalink) Old 06-05-2009, 08:17 AM
 
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Smile Re: Intonation Difference on Ibanez Guitars

Quote:
Originally Posted by Vim Fuego View Post
Actually there is no solution... ever.
I'll try and explain more clearly.
Yes, there are a number of things you can do to make a guitar (or any instrument for that matter) better, but there is a fundamental problem with the way music works...
Pleasing intervals between notes correspond to simple rations of frequencies e.g.
Octave 2:1 (i.e. a note an octave above has twice the frequency of the original)
Fifth 3:2
Fourth 4:3
Maj 3rd 5:4
Min 3rd 6:5
etc.
Now it turns out that three Maj 3rds equals an octave (Augmented chord) i.e. C E G# back to C.
if you apply the ratios:
5:4 x 5:4 x 5:4 gives 125:64 which is not quite 2! (should be 128:64)
(or 1.25 x 1.25 x 1.25 = 1.953125)
If you use the normal technique, you make a semitone ratio the 12th root of 2.
This means a Maj 3rd is 4 semitones i.e. cube root of 2 (trust me on this if you're not sure!) or 1.25992.
That means 3 Maj 3rds is exactly 2 or a perfect octave.
(1.25992 x 1.25992 x 1.25992 = 2)
In the first case your 3rds are correct, but your octave is flat in the second the thirds are sharp but the octave is great!
This is a problem for all music, any solution will be a compromise and won't work for everything, but, you can come up with a solution that works for some scales or chords better than others, this is what the guys at true temperament have done, but they still need different versions for different temperament solutions.
Jim
WOW! That was just great. It took me some time to understand that.

I think I will stay with the standard guitar.
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post #11 of 20 (permalink) Old 06-05-2009, 09:33 AM
 
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Re: Intonation Difference on Ibanez Guitars

All of this becomes even more of a challenge when you take intonation into account.

As Vim says, the very nature of tempered scales is that they are out of tune. A prefectly tuned piano will be out of tune (vs just tuning) ever so slightly over its entire range. But because it has a string for each note, intonation doesn't come into play, once tuned.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Equal_t...al_temperament
Note the minor seventh is 31cts flat! (relative to just pitch)

Some info on which temperament to choose can be found here:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/A1339076

As hinted at in the above article, a guitar suffers from an additional out-of-tuniness because of intonation (string physics). The thickness of string (however thin they are) means they have some bending stiffness. This means that at the bridge, or where it's fretted/nut if open, the way it vibrates is influenced by the basic fact that it's clamped or guided. This clamping (in physics: boundary condition) pushes the fundamental up, and increases each overtone to be slightly out of tune with the fundamenal as well as each other. But it also means that guitarists can correct slightly with their fretting hand.

Using thicker strings increases the effect of the clamped boundary condition, but lessens the volume ratio of overtones to the fundamental, so some prefer that sound for being less "out-of-tune". Thicker strings are also more resistant to the effect of pushing notes sharp with the fretting finger.

Lastly as thicker strings cause the root to be more out of tune, they require more intonation adjustment, which then shifts all the frets even further away from their supposed place.


The above article also mentions Isaac Newton's mathematical dabblings in 12 step equal temperament, but fails to mention Christian Huygens' complete resolution of 31 step equal temperament:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/31_equal_temperament

It has always surprised me that Vai (who had 16 and 24 step guitars made, as well as so called True Temperament guitars) never tried 15, 19 or 31 step guitars (31 frets to the octave).
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post #12 of 20 (permalink) Old 06-05-2009, 10:25 AM
 
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Re: Intonation Difference on Ibanez Guitars

Quote:
Originally Posted by Arnie Guitar View Post
A guitar is an imperfect instrument.

Years ago I read an article on a luthier website regarding tuning, intonation, etc...
It described a tuning method that I use to this day.
One thing I can tell you is to not tune open strings, tune fretted strings,
it makes a HUGE, appreciable difference.
The article encouraged you to embrace these imperfections, and relax and enjoy the guitar.
Except for my SZ320, a fresh set of strings and an intonation check are all that's required to make all of the notes and chords acceptable to my ear.
Builder John Suhr has discontinued the use of the Buzz Feiten system. I applaud this move. That system and the others mentioned are gimmicks, fads...

A fresh set of strings and a properly intonated guitar are all you need.
Stop sweating the anal retentive stuff and play.






..unless you have my SZ320...then just raise the bridge, put on some heavy strings and use it for your slide guitar.

I'm an Authorized Buzz Feiten Retrofitter. It's the only fix in my opinion if you're looking for something to correct the problem without ruining a vintage instrument. The Nut is replaced with a special Bone Nut that is a shelf nut. It hangs over the fingerboard. You get a sticker with a serial number. It will make your guitar sound more like a Piano. Nothing will ever be perfect. Most people don't have the ears to hear intonation. It's not a fad.
To understand the issue go here http://www.buzzfeiten.com/
and let me know if this helps.

Rick
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post #13 of 20 (permalink) Old 06-06-2009, 06:06 AM
 
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Re: Intonation Difference on Ibanez Guitars

Hey Vim!

Since when were you so helpful?

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post #14 of 20 (permalink) Old 06-06-2009, 06:31 AM
 
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Re: Intonation Difference on Ibanez Guitars

Like Vim Fuego is saying, everything is a compromise.
But it is not a problem with music, it is a problem with fretted instruments.
Remove the frets and you can play perfectly in tune.

Arnie Guitar, your problem is probably that your “good” guitar is better intonated then your bad one. Had it over to a good tech guy to have it properly intonated, and they should be the same.

Worn or badly crowned frets can also be a reason for intonation problems, so have a look at that too. The frets are placed the same on high end and low end guitars, but high end can sometimes be better crowned.

/Magnus
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post #15 of 20 (permalink) Old 06-06-2009, 08:43 AM
 
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Re: Intonation Difference on Ibanez Guitars

Good point there Ibanez-Mag.
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