Guitar intonation refers to the accuracy of the pitch where all the notes are formed in tune. It helps your guitar to avoid being flat and sharp. When the guitar is in tune, the harmony of notes creates the proper music.
In this article, I will guide you on how often you should intonate your guitar and the cost of it. It is a popular query among beginners in guitar playing. I have done deep research on this topic, and I am sure that you will have no queries left after this article.
How Often Should You Intonate Your Guitar?
If you regularly play your guitar, you should intonate your guitar once every two weeks. Else, you must intonate at least four times a year. This will help your guitar to be in-tune in all seasons or when you play.
There is no hard and fast rule about how often you should intonate your guitar. It depends on the frequency of playing your guitar. It is because the frequency affects the strings of a guitar.
If you regularly intonate your guitar, your instrument will always be in tune. This helps the strings to be perfectly balanced along the fretboard. The more your guitar strings are perfectly set with your fretboard, the less you should intonate.
Another factor is the frequency you play your guitar. If you are a regular player, your strings then get affected. This causes your strings to go out of tune. Therefore, you should intonate your guitar once every two weeks. Else, you will not get the proper tune from the guitar. Another reason is that your guitar strings get affected every season. It is because the expansion of strings changes every season.
In winter, your strings crunch more frequently. In summer, they expand the most. These seasonal effects hamper the tune of your guitar. Therefore, you should intonate your guitar at least four times a year if you are not a regular player.
How Much Does It Cost to Intonate a Guitar?
It generally costs around $30-$80. It depends on their charge and the time they invest in your guitar. That said, if you know how to intonate your guitar, it’s free!
When you do intonation to your guitar you need a few tools. These are a proper guitar tuner and a screwdriver. You have to adjust the saddle of your guitar with the screwdriver. Before you start fixing your saddle, you have to check the tune of your guitar strings through the tuner. Then, you should adjust the saddle according to the proper tune of each string.
In case you have Floyd Rose tremolo, you should require extra Allen wrenches. It will help to fix your Floyd Rose Tremolo to the best tune.
When you start intonating your guitar, make sure there is less pressure on the guitar neck. If there is much pressure, your strings will tear apart from the guitar.
How Do You Know if Your Guitar Needs Intonation?
You can check if your guitar needs intonation through some simple steps. You must follow these steps properly to know if your guitar needs any intonation or not. The steps are following:
- Tune your guitar
- Choose any of the six strings.
- Pluck the chosen string as open
- Check against your tuner to make sure its tuned
- Pluck the chosen string on the 12th-fret
- Check against your tuner – the 12th fret should be the same as open
- Finally, redo these steps for every single string.
Watch below video to see how it’s done (beginning 12:45)
Do Strings Affect Intonation?
Guitar strings do affect intonation. Strings play the most vital role in intonation. The diameter of the strings matters because of the pressure it makes. In addition, heavier strings create more pressure than thinner ones.
If your strings are thicker, it creates more pressure on the bridge and neck. This affects the intonation of your guitar.
You must change your strings as per the flatness or sharpness of the intonation. If your guitar is sharply intonated, use thinner gauge strings. If it is flat, then, use thicker strings to get the best tune.
Is It Possible to Perfectly Intonate a Guitar?
Technically speaking, it is not possible to perfectly intonate a guitar. Many factors define the intonation of a guitar that are known as:
These factors help to set your intonation on the guitar. You have to balance between these things to point out the imperfection. Once you get it, you can set the intonation. However, you have to rely on your ear all the time. It is important, and this coordination cannot be picture-perfect.
A guitar is a fretted musical instrument. This is the main reason why you cannot perfectly intonate a guitar. It is impossible to properly intonate every point of the fretboard. The only possible way to keep your instrument in tune is to harmonize all strings at each point of the fretboard.
Secondly, the strings are expansive. It also affects intonation. It is quite impossible to balance all the parts of the strings in all frets. In addition, these strings have continuous friction with other parts of the guitar. That means perfect intonation is not possible all the time.
If you set the bridge and the saddle, they could move from the balance after a few strumming’s. It will not affect the tune. However, it will not be picture-perfect after a while.
The fretboard is made of wood. Mostly, the guitars are handmade, which is not cent percent perfect. There are human errors. It is also a reason for not being perfectly intonated.
The neck is also affected by strings and friction. It reflects on the picture-perfect intonation. Therefore, it is not possible to perfectly intonate the guitar.
Lastly, all the tunings and intonation depend on your ear. Humans are not perfectly balanced, and they can make errors. All these reasons are responsible for declining the possibility of perfectly intonating a guitar.
Q: Does String Tension Affect Intonation?
Yes, string tension affects intonation. The string tension creates a lot of friction on the saddle and the bridge. It imbalances the tune of the guitar. Therefore, it affects intonation.
Q: Do Old Guitar Strings Lose Intonation?
Yes, old guitar strings lose intonation. The old strings lose the coat on them. It affects the intonation. The old guitar strings are often worn out. That means the coat is missing. It results in the mute sound of the strings, causes less sustain in each strumming, and lacks the tendency to be in tune. These make them lose intonation.
Q: Do You Have to Loosen Strings to Adjust Intonation?
You have to loosen strings to adjust intonation in case of extra sharp intonation. If your guitar poses extra sharp intonation due to the higher pressure in strings, you have to loosen your strings. When you loosen your strings in the bridge portion by adjusting the saddle, you could get the proper intonation.