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View Full Version : Out of tune with capo, intonation? What do I do?


joannan
04-09-2011, 05:14 AM
HI, my martin goes out of tune with the capo, especially on the top E (low E) and B strings. I have a shubb capo and have tried it on its lightest pressure setting and it is better but is still going out of tune. Does this mean there is a problem with intonation and if so can I get it fixed? retuning is not really an option as I lead worship so need to flow between songs.
:)
thanks!

stonebridgian
04-09-2011, 05:20 AM
Tommy Emmanuel has a fantastic tip for this:

put the capo on your guitar once it's in tune and give the offending strings a really good tug. It stretches the strings and hey presto, you'll be in tune and still in tune when you release the capo. I have tried this and it really works. A great tip from the master!

Goood luck

Ian

murrmac123
04-09-2011, 06:12 AM
Tommy Emmanuel has a fantastic tip for this:

put the capo on your guitar once it's in tune and give the offending strings a really good tug. It stretches the strings and hey presto, you'll be in tune and still in tune when you release the capo. I have tried this and it really works. A great tip from the master!

Goood luck

Ian

I yield to nobody in my admiration for Tommy Emmanuel, but let's not get the idea that he is the originator of this tip. To my knowledge, guitarists have been doing this since the mid-sixties, and possibly for long before that ...

stonebridgian
04-09-2011, 06:53 AM
I yield to nobody in my admiration for Tommy Emmanuel, but let's not get the idea that he is the originator of this tip. To my knowledge, guitarists have been doing this since the mid-sixties, and possibly for long before that ...


Oh. I didn't know that. First time I saw it was on a TE workshop video. Anyway..... great tip.... if you need a capo.

epaul
04-09-2011, 07:07 AM
Does the low E go sharp when capoed?

Does the low E go sharp when fretted at three or five?

If both are the case, it is related to the guitar.

If it only goes sharp when capoed, it is related to the capo.

If both happen, is your action high? High action will go out whack when fretted. Low action won't.

There is more to say and consider. But, first, determine if it is a matter of sharpness and if it only happens when you capo or if fretting will do the same thing.

blue
04-09-2011, 12:58 PM
What kind of capo? Does it have adjustable tension?

ljguitar
04-09-2011, 01:57 PM
HI, my martin goes out of tune with the capo, especially on the top E (low E) and B strings. I have a shubb capo and have tried it on its lightest pressure setting and it is better but is still going out of tune. Does this mean there is a problem with intonation and if so can I get it fixed? retuning is not really an option as I lead worship so need to flow between songs.
:)
thanks!
Hi joannan…
To follow up on blue's post:
Where are you capoing in the fret?

If it's mid fret you will bend things out of tune. The following pic is where you should be capoed...

http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5283/5246863027_b12ceb3338.jpg

mchalebk
04-11-2011, 09:14 AM
Larry J makes a good point about where to place the capo. It's worth adding that you then only need enough tension to pull the strings taut over the fret, not all the way to the fretboard.

However, there is another problem that a lot of people run into when using a capo: their guitar isn't really "in tune" to begin with and using a capo just makes it worse. Tuning a guitar is a series of compromises. Unfortunately, most electronic tuners don't make the proper compromises, resulting in a guitar that is not really very close to being in tune.

Many years ago, I read an interview in Guitar Player magazine with a guitar tech (I think he was touring with Eric Clapton at the time). He mentioned that he used an electronic tuner to get close, then fine tuned by ear. I sat down with my guitar and figured out some tweaks that made a big difference. I found that if I tuned as follows, my guitar played a lot more in tune:

E: Dead on
B: Slightly flat
G: Dead on
D: Dead on
A: Slightly flat
E: A bit more flat

I now use a Peterson virtual strobe tuner, which has a sweetened (tempered for guitar) mode and find I don't have to tweak it at all after using the tuner. And I can then capo without having to retune (I capo a lot, as high as the 7th fret).

My recommendation would be to make sure you're getting your guitar as well tuned as possible first, then place the capo right next to the fret using the minimum tension possible to get clear, ringing tones.

martyl
04-11-2011, 09:29 AM
My Goodall has perfect intonation and the low E goes out of tune everytime I use my G7 capo and the tuner confirms it along with my ear. The problem with guitar as others have said is that they are technically never in tune, hence the equal temperment tuning approach. Just playing them make them go out of tune much less putting all that pressure of a capo on it. This is why Segovial complained that some days his guitar was impossible and he just put it away albeit the problem is worse with classicals. Just my experience.

mc1
04-11-2011, 10:00 AM
i'll add that the radius of the capo should match the radius of the fingerboard.

B Chas
04-11-2011, 10:42 AM
Larry, it's a nice touch the way you post pics to make your point. Nice guitar too.

Hi joannan…
To follow up on blue's post:
Where are you capoing in the fret?

If it's mid fret you will bend things out of tune. The following pic is where you should be capoed...

http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5283/5246863027_b12ceb3338.jpg

joannan
04-14-2011, 01:43 PM
Does the low E go sharp when capoed?

Does the low E go sharp when fretted at three or five?

If both are the case, it is related to the guitar.

If it only goes sharp when capoed, it is related to the capo.

If both happen, is your action high? High action will go out whack when fretted. Low action won't.

There is more to say and consider. But, first, determine if it is a matter of sharpness and if it only happens when you capo or if fretting will do the same thing.

Ok, thanks for all the replies. The photo and capo advice helped, it is now seeming to be fine with the capo closer to the fret and not so tight. BUT it does indeed go out of tune on the 5th Fret, low E, without capo. Quite sharp.
It is okay on the 3rd fret without capo. I didn't check this thoroughly enough when I bought it. What does this mean and what can be done about it? The action isn't as low as it could be, will that make a difference?

Thanks again:)

ljguitar
04-14-2011, 02:19 PM
Ok, thanks for all the replies. The photo and capo advice helped, it is now seeming to be fine with the capo closer to the fret and not so tight. BUT it does indeed go out of tune on the 5th Fret, low E, without capo. Quite sharp.
It is okay on the 3rd fret without capo. I didn't check this thoroughly enough when I bought it. What does this mean and what can be done about it? The action isn't as low as it could be, will that make a difference?
Hi joannan…
My most expensive guitar goes very sharp when capoed at the 5th fret, depending on which capo I use. It's only slightly sharp with the capo most closely matched to the radius of the fingerboard. The cure - retune. But when fretted, I can keep it tolerably in tune (wasn't always so).

Poor intonation on low strings - especially sharpness - is usually an issue of us overpressing, or the saddle needing a bit of compensation, or the height of the action, or a combination of all three.

The fact that all guitar's frets are built slightly out of tune (it's called equal temperament) means there will be noticeable discrepancies that we have to work around...and that means compromises.

One of the things I've done is to have my 6th string intonated during setups to D instead of E, and I've had the saddle slot filled and recut on one of my guitars because as it aged, the lift behind the bridge accentuated the sharpness.

All of these are perfectly normal, and they become a part of our acoustic guitar life if one keeps an instrument for more than 10-15 years.

I've never met a Martin, Taylor, Gibson, Guild, (keep the list going) that I was totally happy with out of the box without a decent setup. I found some more tolerable than others, but all require setups.

antojado
04-14-2011, 02:31 PM
I use a Kyser capo which is not adjustable and I make sure the very edge is right on the fret. I've checked it with a tuner and found it doesn't cause the strings to be sharp.

Jamler
04-14-2011, 02:58 PM
I've never met a Martin, Taylor, Gibson, Guild, (keep the list going) that I was totally happy with out of the box without a decent setup. I found some more tolerable than others, but all require setups.

This would be my suggestion... Bring it to a good repair shop, tell them all
about your playing style and capo uses etc... In fact a good setup tech will
likely ask you all those things. I play at church too, you absolutely NEED the
capo and if you're like me bounce between 2nd, 3rd and no capo several times.

geokie8
04-14-2011, 09:48 PM
I yield to nobody in my admiration for Tommy Emmanuel, but let's not get the idea that he is the originator of this tip. .

Regardless of who came up with it, I'd never heard of it -- so I just tried it and it pretty much works. I mostly play solo so if I'm a little sharp it's OK as long as the strings are in tune with themselves; still, I often do retune (and retune again when I take it off). It's kind of a drag. This trick saves me (almost) two complete tunings. (When I take the capo off, the bottom two strings are a tad flat, but retuning two strings sure beats 12).

Thx,

geokie8

joannan
04-15-2011, 03:55 AM
This would be my suggestion... Bring it to a good repair shop, tell them all
about your playing style and capo uses etc... In fact a good setup tech will
likely ask you all those things. I play at church too, you absolutely NEED the
capo and if you're like me bounce between 2nd, 3rd and no capo several times.

Thanks, I think i'll do that as soon as I am somewhere that has one (currently in Saudi Arabia!)

$ongWriter
04-15-2011, 09:14 AM
Take your guitar to someone who can set the intonation....cost you around a hundred bucks but is well worth it!!!!

ljguitar
04-15-2011, 09:21 AM
Thanks, I think i'll do that as soon as I am somewhere that has one (currently in Saudi Arabia!)
Hi j…

Well - that sounds like a bit of a journey to find a tech!

joannan
04-20-2011, 10:22 AM
great, am going to check it in for a good set up. thanks again

acousticologist
04-22-2011, 10:12 AM
Or try a capo with adjustable pressure...

I'm a big fan of the G7th...

Can't go with the old guns triggers anymore

brianmay
04-22-2011, 02:43 PM
Two's up on the G7, you can vary the tension very easily.

Glennwillow
04-22-2011, 02:58 PM
I yield to nobody in my admiration for Tommy Emmanuel, but let's not get the idea that he is the originator of this tip. To my knowledge, guitarists have been doing this since the mid-sixties, and possibly for long before that ...
It seems to me that as long as I have been playing a guitar and using a capo -- 47 years, I think, definitely since the mid-60's -- this problem of the low E and 2nd B string going out of tune with the capo has been an issue. And somewhere along the way, I also learned to pull on these strings a little and watch the tuning come right back into line, these days on my clamp-on tuner.

I have heard Tommy Emmanuel provide this tip to people and I thought, huh, it never occurred to me to mention this to anyone. Maybe I should have. I might be as famous now as Tommy is. ;)

Regards, Glenn

Howard Klepper
04-22-2011, 03:04 PM
If your nut slots are not as low as they can be adjusted, a capo will always throw the intonation off.