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  #1  
Old 11-18-2019, 11:49 AM
Quebec Picker Quebec Picker is offline
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Default 12 string intonation question

Hello friends,

I just picked up a used sweet Art and Lutherie 12 string, one of the new funky looking ones. When I fret any fret on the G strings, the thin string is way sharp. This only happens with this one string. Happens when I fret with fingers or put on a capo, same thing.

Do I need a setup to take care of this?

Or might a change of strings remedy the problem (the strings are due for a change)?

Or is there another simple fix?

Any input is always appreciated.

Thanks!
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  #2  
Old 11-18-2019, 12:00 PM
Oldguy64 Oldguy64 is offline
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When it comes to 12’s my limited experience has seen most problems related to the octave G.
First string I broke on an acoustic in decades was the octave G on my first 12.

As a result I’ve come up with “rules” for dealing with a 12.
*I prefer a set that has a .009 or .010 ga octave G.
*Tuning up from a string change I do the EADGbbee first. Then the octave EAD ending with the octave G.
*if I’m dropping the tuning to Eb or D, octave G gets loosened first.

Thus far it’s been a bit since I broke an octave G.

Change the strings, take your time, and it Will be fine.
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Old 11-18-2019, 12:20 PM
maxtheaxe maxtheaxe is offline
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You may want to look at the nut slots on that course. If they're cut too high it would go sharp just as you're describing.
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Old 11-18-2019, 12:29 PM
Graham H Graham H is offline
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if you dont want to attempt adjusting the nut yourself, have a luthier do the intonation for you, with the g octive string a focus point to make sure the luthier understands the issue you are experiencing, and make sure he can accurately do the job !!! You would be surprised how many of them can't do a proper intonation !!!
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Old 11-18-2019, 12:49 PM
Alan Carruth Alan Carruth is offline
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The octave strings on a 12 really require much different compensation than the 'normal' ones, at both ends, to play well in tune. The G string is the worst offender, but they're all in need of help. Getting that right would require cutting something like 2.5 mm off the fretboard at the nut end, and notching the nut back the correct amount for each string. You'd also need to get a saddle that's about 3/16: wide, and file it so that it has a couple of different ridges along the length; one for the 'normal' strings in back and another for the octaves further forward. Then you notch out the one you don't need for each particular string. It's a fair amount of work. You can get every note on every string within two or three cents of 'correct' intonation this way.

The first time I did that I wondered if the customer would like it: it wasn't 'crunchy' like a normal 12. I figured, though, that it would always be possible to dial in a little 'crunch' if we wanted to by simply reducing the compensation on another nut and saddle, and still retain a lot of the ability to play up the neck without too many problems.
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Old 11-18-2019, 02:34 PM
L20A L20A is offline
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Although this will not help with the tuning problem, at times, I like to replace the octave G string with a wound second string. By this, I mean have two wound G strings.

You may have to have the nut opened a bit wider to accommodate the thicker string.
You can go back to the octave string when every you want to without and additional modifications.
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Old 11-18-2019, 02:50 PM
gfspencer gfspencer is offline
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Put the capo as close to the fret as possible.
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Old 11-18-2019, 07:16 PM
AZLiberty AZLiberty is offline
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Tune the High G at the 1st or 2nd fret. If the open string is flat, then the problem is a mis-cut nut.
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Old 11-19-2019, 06:08 PM
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Mark Hatcher Mark Hatcher is offline
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Default Don't fix it!

12 strings aren't supposed to be well intonated. That is a large part of their janglely charm!
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Old 11-19-2019, 06:31 PM
Daniel Grenier Daniel Grenier is offline
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After you have done some of he good suggestions here, and if none work, just remove that annoying string entirely. Seriously. Many people have done just that. John Butler being one of the better known ones.
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Old 11-19-2019, 06:46 PM
Misifus Misifus is offline
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The OP asked if changing strings might help. YES! We often read posts from folk who are experiencing tuning problems on one string or another. In that circumstance, I would always recommend trying a new set of strings first! Even for relatively impoverished students, the price of a set of strings is relatively cheap. It certainly costs a lot less than a setup or any major repairs. It’s a cheap, quick and easy potential solution to many common problems. If it works, it’s a great deal. If it doesn’t, you’re not out much time or money. It’s worth a try, and it’s an option I would not want to overlook.
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Old 11-19-2019, 11:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Misifus View Post
The OP asked if changing strings might help. YES! We often read posts from folk who are experiencing tuning problems on one string or another. In that circumstance, I would always recommend trying a new set of strings first! Even for relatively impoverished students, the price of a set of strings is relatively cheap. It certainly costs a lot less than a setup or any major repairs. Itís a cheap, quick and easy potential solution to many common problems. If it works, itís a great deal. If it doesnít, youíre not out much time or money. Itís worth a try, and itís an option I would not want to overlook.
Exactly! Intonation issues are what key me in to needing to change my strings. It may be the cheapest/easiest way to fix the issue before you go down the rabbit hole of nut and saddle changes.
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Old 11-20-2019, 06:39 AM
Quebec Picker Quebec Picker is offline
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Thanks for replies. I'm going to change the strings today. That was always going to be my first route. I got a set with .10 for the high G. I'm confident this will take care the of the problem. The strings are stock, and look to have not been changed in the life of the guitar (about 6 months, according to seller, so probably like a year).
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Old 11-20-2019, 08:11 AM
Rudy4 Rudy4 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark Hatcher View Post
12 strings aren't supposed to be well intonated. That is a large part of their janglely charm!
There's a lot of truth to that!

Having owned a 12 in the past I have to say they aren't for everybody, particularly if you're a heavy-handed player. Acceptable intonation on the 12 string requires (1) a good setup with the strings being set as low as possible, and (2) a light playing style to minimize the amount of force exerted on the fret board; just enough to get clear notes and no more.

That doesn't jive with the playing style of many, and a 12 string might not be the best choice if they are intonation sensitive.

As a side note to just how important that setup is, go to a dealer and try out a Taylor 12 string. They are often set up with low action for a lighter playing style and you may just find that those pesky high strings aren't really all that much of a problem.
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Old 11-20-2019, 12:24 PM
maxtheaxe maxtheaxe is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark Hatcher View Post
12 strings aren't supposed to be well intonated. That is a large part of their janglely charm!
Agreed! Apart from the old joke about how 12-stringers spend half their time tuning and the other half playing out of tune, this is where they get that natural chorusing, because they will never be perfect.
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