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  #16  
Old 12-02-2017, 10:44 AM
Carbonius Carbonius is offline
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Here's the article I read years ago, wasn't hard to find. http://setitupbetter.com/Compensating-The-Nut.php

He's since added to the website. The option to buy an uncut shelved nut is great. Then you shave it back until you get to the right point. Having to cut all the slots requires an investment in tools. Also some trial and error. Additionally he talks about many compensation versions that are out there in detail.
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  #17  
Old 12-02-2017, 11:15 AM
charles Tauber charles Tauber is offline
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Originally Posted by Carbonius View Post
What drives me crazy is when a new guitar can't even handle octaves past the 5th fret.


I've found most new steel string guitars play well up to and past the 12th fret.

My experience is that very, very few factory-made guitars - steel string or nylon - are adequately intonated to my satisfaction. (Taylor steel strings are a notable exception.)

It's now clear that the issue you are talking about is beyond intonation. I've written about this many times, and I don't know how much of this you already know, so I'll keep this brief.

There are three components to having an instrument "play in tune". The first is the choice of temperament: temperament determines what are the desired pitches. The second in intonation: intonation is the ability of an instrument to accurately achieve the desired pitches. The third is the method used to "tune" the instrument.

Guitars are almost universally designed to equal temperament. As Brian pointed out, the human ear doesn't want to hear equal temperament: it hears specific notes in equal temperament to be out of tune.

Guitars can be setup to very closely achieve the notes of equal temperament. Except for those with exceptional hearing, this can be done acceptably with a good setup that includes compensation at the saddle. For most people, in most circumstances, in my opinion, compensation at the nut doesn't add much, particularly with nylon string guitars. If you think a compensated nut will help, give it a try.

Even with an equal temperament guitar, with good intonation, the method of tuning the guitar is critical to having it "play in tune". Equal temperament is a compromise that allows one to play equally in tune and equally out of tune in all keys. That is why it is used. The best that one can get with a well setup, well-intonated guitar is that it accurately plays in equal temperament. That will sound somewhat out of tune, in known, predictable ways.

What people often do is to "tweak" the tuning away from equal temperament to make is sound more in tune for a specific key(s) in which one is playing. (If the intonation isn't good, this will be an exercise in chasing one's tail.) Doing so compromises, further, the tuning in other keys. There is no "free ride" - tweaking the tuning to sound better in some circumstances makes it sound worse in other circumstances.

In short, equal temperament is a given, the intonation needs to be setup well, and rarely is on factory-made guitars, steel or nylon string, and one needs to use a method of tuning that is consistent with the compromises used in equal temperament.

As a final note, on steel string guitars, it is the B string that is usually out and needs greater compensation. On nylon string guitars it is usually the G string.
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  #18  
Old 12-02-2017, 10:20 PM
ceciltguitar ceciltguitar is offline
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Mike Ruhe has a patented fret system which he claims provides better intonation for nylon string guitars. He explains it - in German - in this article below.

https://www.ruhe-gitarren.de/en/patented-fretboard/

https://www.youtube.com/user/mdadoc

Greg Byers, a famous luthier, wrote an article about classical guitar intonation back in the 1990s:

https://www.proguitar.com/academy/gu...yers-classical

Here is a discussion on the Delcamp forum that mentions and comments on both of the above, as well as other comments:

http://www.classicalguitardelcamp.co...ic.php?t=52446

And then there is Earvana:

http://www.earvana.com

Best wishes!
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  #19  
Old 12-02-2017, 11:01 PM
charles Tauber charles Tauber is offline
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Originally Posted by ceciltguitar View Post
Mike Ruhe has a patented fret system which he claims provides better intonation for nylon string guitars. He explains it - in German - in this article below.

https://www.ruhe-gitarren.de/en/patented-fretboard/

https://www.youtube.com/user/mdadoc
I watched/listened to the video. His guitar sounded quite out of tune to me. It wasn't bad half-way up the neck, but was significantly out, to my ear, around the first position. Listening to the recording from the link in the discussion, below, I found that that guitar was not more in tune than a standard, well-setup guitar, and worse than some: not an obvious improvement over current state of the art practices.

This discussion provides a translation of the link you provided and some additional recordings of a guitar with his fretting system: http://www.foroflamenco.com/tm.asp?m...ode=&s=#276898.

I did an internet search for a patent in his name but did not find anything. The translation suggests that he has "distributed" the required amount of saddle compensation proportionately across the frets by changing the position of the frets. In other words, no longer equal temperament, 12th root of 2.

He states that for existing guitars brought to him for intonation issues, he uses the system that was patented in the U.S. by Buzz Feiten.


People have been trying to tackle the issue of being in tune since at least the 1600's, and have tried a LOT of different methods. Lute makers and players tried all manner or schemes including bridge and nut compensation and various positioning of the tied, moveable frets. The best all-around compromise that has emerged still seems to be equal temperament. I'm open to improvement, but this doesn't seem to me to be an improvement.
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  #20  
Old 12-03-2017, 08:31 AM
Carbonius Carbonius is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by charles Tauber View Post
My experience is that very, very few factory-made guitars - steel string or nylon - are adequately intonated to my satisfaction. (Taylor steel strings are a notable exception.)

It's now clear that the issue you are talking about is beyond intonation. I've written about this many times, and I don't know how much of this you already know, so I'll keep this brief.

There are three components to having an instrument "play in tune". The first is the choice of temperament: temperament determines what are the desired pitches. The second in intonation: intonation is the ability of an instrument to accurately achieve the desired pitches. The third is the method used to "tune" the instrument...
Hey there Charles, thanks for that. It reminded me of some things and I wrote a reply yesterday, but for some reason it's not here. I guess my phone glitched.

I was instantly reminded of when I had the Feiten system installed on an acoustic guitar of mine. The tuning was the critical component that made it work. I wasn't about to go buy a really expensive tuner with the programmed offsets and the luthier said I didn't have to. He said just tuned everything to E. So that meant High E string 1st, 5th fret on B string, 9th fret on G string, 14th fret on D string (which is ridiculous so I used the 2nd fret), 9th fret on the A string and finally the 5th fret harmonic on the low E. I was pretty happy with the Feiten system, although I was hoping for more. Years later I realized that it is one of the most "in tune" guitars I've played.

I agree what you said about Taylor. They have been one of my favorite guitars pretty well for that reason. I get pretty decent tuning all over the fretboard. That's a big thing for me as I like to use open strings to drone and do chord structures well past the 12th fret. I also like complex low register chord structures. So I need good temperament, or perhaps decent temperament is a better word. What Taylor did works. I've heard that Bob Taylor use the basic math for nut placement and then use trial and error to find a good compromise. Like Feiten it's just been moved forward a bit. Just as a note I've never sought to verify this information officially.

This brings me back Feiten. I started trying this tuning method on many guitars and it actually helped a lot when playing in E standard tuning. The only caveat was that I would go back when I was done and tune the B a hair flat. On some guitars I would even tune the low E a hair flat. Of course, if the guitar is poorly intonated at the 12th fret then this really doesn't work very well.

So just the other day when I was playing the nylon string guitar I have I remembered this. I took out my tuner and tuned everything to E. It was pretty good. Then instead of the B string I tuned the G string 5 to 7 cents flat. This gave me pretty good results. I believe tuning the G string that 5 to 7 cents flat has the same effect as moving the nut closer on just that G string. Of course, adjusting the nut would allow the open G to be more in tune than it currently is.

My goal now is to find a guitar that has great tone and playability with reasonable intonation & temperament from the start. Then it would make sense to invest time and money into it to get it more suited for me. The cheap Almansa I have has wonderful intonation. It is sincerely the best I've played in the $2000 CDN under price range. However it's tone is just okay and the string balance is quite lacking and I can't do anything about that. Playability isn't great, I could alter that a little bit. However I got somewhat ruined when I played that Cordoba c10sp that had such amazing tone and playability. I could instantly play twice as fast and sound twice as clean. Then I realize that this is not even a high-end guitar so I'm looking at my wallet!
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  #21  
Old 12-06-2017, 03:43 PM
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Todd Tipton Todd Tipton is offline
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If one has a good ear but little experience with a classical guitar, it can be a humbling experience. There are great responses already, so I'm not sure what else I can contribute.

First off, if someone doesn't already know it, the classical guitar will quickly show a player that God played a very cruel joke on us: the twelve notes are not equally spaced out in nature. This is why tuning via harmonics at the 5th and 7th frets yield treble strings that are flat. This tuning method makes the false assumption that those notes are equally spaced out. The harmonic tuning method is evidence that they aren't. Headaches.

And if that isn't enough, there is the third string. It is spawned from Satan himself...lol. I discover a funny thing when I began exploring old tablatures for the barogue guitar: especially the ones with scordatura (alternate tunings). At the beginning of most pieces were written octave tunings for each of the strings. I suppose there is nothing new under the sun.

To this day, the best method I find for tuning is simply the octaves of A, B, D, and E. And if I can manage to make the 3rd string sound kind of okay when I play and open C major chord AND and open E major chord, then I am doubly blessed. I can make EITHER chord sound great, but then the other sounds lousy.

I had played other types of music for YEARS before I ever THOUGHT about a classical guitar. How I accidentally stumbled on the classical guitar is a worthy story, but is off topic. The point is, I never experienced those type of tuning problems prior to playing classical.

For me, I think part of it wasn't just the INSTRUMENT I played, but the style of music. Most of the time I was playing scales or power chords. At other times I was playing full chords or other such things. Everything sounded fine. I mean why wouldn't it, I already knew how to tune, right? ...lol

Even with the simplest of repertoire, I think there is something different going on. There is far more attention to how notes work together and with each other. There is more harmony either real or implied. Take that and couple it with a finicky nylon string. You suddenly have very real problems you thought you already solved. I was once working with a flautist who was having some difficulty with a particular passage as she had to bend a note in order to be in tune. I don't know a thing about the flute, but I joked and said, "you guys do that, too?"

And even if you get all of that settled, there is the issue of the third string. Especially around the fist and second frets and how it works with the nut. The first string can be a real devil too as is there is far less margin of error. The thickness of the string has to be uniform throughout or the string will not be capable of playing in tune.

There have been times where I've placed a brand new first string on a guitar, only to have the 12th fret play flat compared to the 12th fret harmonic. I have the bad habit of not changing my strings as often as I should. Sure, I am the "expert" in knowing it is almost always the 4th string to break first...lol But I'm also the "expert" in noticing all too often: great sounding trebles far beyond the life of my basses if...there is that if...IF they still had good intonation. You think WE have it bad. I used to play historical period instruments. It took me less than a week to figure out why the first course (pair of strings) was the only course not doubled. Thank God for Nylon...lol

So, I'm not sure anything I wrote is helpful. In summary, I'd say this: It took me a long time to figure out what I just wrote. Tune in octaves. Then check the C and E chord. Check those trebles at the 12th fret to make sure the strings are good. You have to bend notes sometimes. Sometimes a section of music sounds really bad. If there isn't a spot where you are free to quickly adjust tuning in flight, then you have to compromise by tuning a string slightly off so that everything sounds reasonable. Tuning in flight is something you learn to do. And finally, it isn't as monumental as it sounds once you start doing it. :-)
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  #22  
Old 12-06-2017, 09:07 PM
Carbonius Carbonius is offline
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Hello Dr. Todd Tipton and thank you for the reply. Sometimes sharing something additional or not isn't the point. Having another knowledgeable person weigh in with a detailed opinion certainly adds to the conversation and the validity of what is being discussed.

In the past I found this to be a very controversial topic. By "past" I mean the steel sting guitar crowd. I'm actually finding the classical guitar crowd is much more aware of these strange anomalies. It would seem that the majority of steel string players don't even know that there are anomalies! That makes perfect sense if all one does is strum a handful of chords and sing. I'm certainly not speaking negatively about that. It is a very enjoyable aspect of music. However when one endeavors to play complicated pieces where the only thing being heard is the one instrument they are being played on, anomalies stand out much more so. I've noticed many steel string fingerstyle guitar players use alternate tunings that deal with a lot of these anomalies nicely.

I do plan to do some experimentation with nut and saddle compensation for the G string. From what I have read, applying compensation to the low E string at the nut can also help. This makes sense as I sometimes find myself tuning the low E flat for certain passages. I always have the option of bending a string to make it go sharp. However if the note I'm playing is already sharp, there is nothing I can do except try to sharp every other note!

It would be ideal if there was someone in my community that was already skilled and doing nut compensation but there is not. I will not be shipping a delicate classical guitar hundreds of miles to someone else to give it a try. So that leaves me. I've learned that moderation goes a long way. As such I will just seek to alter the temperament a bit. It gives me a good excuse to acquire a few more tools! I will keep the stock nut and saddle as they are and make new ones to take their place. That way I can compare what I've done to the original. There's also a lot of great data available online from people who have been doing this for decades now. So I'm not having to completely start from scratch.

All in all, I'm just very happy to be able to play guitar again. Playing without having my ears hurt is a God send. The added benefit of hardly any pain on my fingertips and hardly any strain on my wrist is just icing on the cake!
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  #23  
Old 12-06-2017, 11:42 PM
charles Tauber charles Tauber is offline
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...I will just seek to alter the temperament a bit.
You aren't changing the temperament unless you are refretting the guitar with a different fret placement scheme: the frets on almost all guitars are placed in accordance with equal temperament (12th root of 2).

You are adjusting the intonation so that it better achieves the pitches found in equal temperament.

If you were to measure the deviation in pitch from equal temperament at each fret, you'd get a graph with a more or less straight line. Compensation at the saddle alters the slope of that line - how much the notes get progressively sharper at each fret. Compensation at the nut alters the abscissa, the offset from zero that each note has. Ideally, you'd like the line to be horizontal and lie along a zero deviation from the target pitches. Reality is that you can get close.
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  #24  
Old 12-07-2017, 09:35 AM
Carbonius Carbonius is offline
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Originally Posted by charles Tauber View Post
You aren't changing the temperament unless you are refretting the guitar with a different fret placement scheme: the frets on almost all guitars are placed in accordance with equal temperament (12th root of 2).

You are adjusting the intonation so that it better achieves the pitches found in equal temperament.

If you were to measure the deviation in pitch from equal temperament at each fret, you'd get a graph with a more or less straight line. Compensation at the saddle alters the slope of that line - how much the notes get progressively sharper at each fret. Compensation at the nut alters the abscissa, the offset from zero that each note has. Ideally, you'd like the line to be horizontal and lie along a zero deviation from the target pitches. Reality is that you can get close.
My lack of knowledge in this area is quite apparent! I certainly will not be removing frets. Your explanation helps though. Thank you Charles.

I once thought that the "True Temparment" fellows had found the answer. For some reason your post reminded me of them. Then I found there were 4 formulas to choose from. So much for perfection. It probably does makes things better, although I'm not sure what the sacrifices would be. They even make a version for nylon string guitars. However finding anyone to service these frets would be near impossible!

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Old 12-07-2017, 10:06 AM
charles Tauber charles Tauber is offline
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So much for perfection.
It's all a series of compromises: you chose which one's you prefer.
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  #26  
Old 12-07-2017, 10:59 AM
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Todd Tipton Todd Tipton is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Carbonius View Post

In the past I found this to be a very controversial topic. By "past" I mean the steel sting guitar crowd. I'm actually finding the classical guitar crowd is much more aware of these strange anomalies. It would seem that the majority of steel string players don't even know that there are anomalies!
I think it is one of those "necessity is the mother of invention" sort of things. As I said earlier, I had played for YEARS before discovering a classical guitar. After that, it took YEARS for me figure out what I wrote above.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Carbonius View Post
I always have the option of bending a string to make it go sharp. However if the note I'm playing is already sharp, there is nothing I can do except try to sharp every other note!
When I said, "bend the note," that wasn't exactly what I meant. A nylon string has far less tension than a steel string. As a result, it is far easier to bend a note via a classical style vibrato. The finger that bends the note doesn't move vertically like in popular styled vibrato. Rather in moves horizontally producing a true vibrato both sharpening and flattening the pitch.

There are times when I need to bend a note making it a little sharp or a little flat. However, I must confess that is something that doesn't happen as often as it might seem by my writing about it. And as a matter of both practicality and noticeability (is that even a word?), it almost always happens when I'm holding a long slow note.

As to the rest of your post, you are talking to a guy that can't even change the oil in his car! ...lol You talk about things like "delicate classical guitar," and "nut," "saddle," and "EXPERIMENTATION." I'm getting nervous just reading it...LOL
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