What Affects Acoustic Guitar Intonation?

Intonation is the process of tuning an acoustic guitar so that every note on the fretboard sounds at its correct pitch. It’s not an exact science, but when your acoustic guitar sounds off-tune, you’ll know it’s time to tune it.

The basics

One of the most common problems with intonation is a string that is either flat or sharp, but not both. This is often caused by a worn-out string, but it can also be due to a change in the way a string contacts with a fret. If this is the case, replace your strings and see if it improves your intonation.

The bridge

The guitar’s bridge contains six’saddles’ for each string. Each saddle is attached to the bridge with a screw that can be adjusted to pull it closer to or further away from the bridge. This can make a difference in the amount of intonation correction needed to get all of the guitar’s notes to sound perfectly in tune.

If the first saddle on the string is too far back, you’ll need to move it forward to get all of the strings to play properly. This isn’t something that can be done on your own, so you’ll need to bring in a professional luthier to do it for you.

Neck relief

A high neck relief can cause a lot of intonation issues, as well as being hard to play. This happens when the neck is under too much neck rest, which causes the guitar to bow slightly in the middle of the neck, which can push strings off-tune. A luthier can adjust the truss rod to help reduce the neck relief, which will then make the intonation better.

Tuning your acoustic guitar

If you are having trouble tuning your guitar, check to see if the nut slot is a good fit for the saddle. If it isn’t, the saddle can tilt forward when you tune your strings, which can throw off your intonation and make them play too sharp or flat.

You can try lowering the action of your guitar by tightening the truss rod, which is located in the middle of the neck, or you can try a small string height adjustment with a nut tool. Tightening the nut helps pull the string more toward the bridge, and can improve intonation, while loosening the nut can make the intonation worse.

Another way to improve your intonation is by setting the scale length of your guitar. This can be done by adjusting the saddle in front of or behind a fret. This will require the help of a luthier to do, so you’ll want to bring your guitar in for this service as soon as possible.

The intonation of your guitar will be affected by the type of acoustic guitar you own, as well as the strings used on it. Generally, thicker strings will have better intonation than thinner ones.

In addition, the type of wood used for the acoustic guitar body also impacts the intonation. Some woods are harder than others, which can make it more difficult to tune the instrument.