Help. I’ve just built my 4th 3 string CBG, and this one is the best from a design and structural standpoint, but the low G (top string) won’t play right and I can’t figure out why. It tunes to G without a problem, but the frets don’t give the right notes. The other two strings do fine. When I play the second fret, which should be an A, it’s sharp. In fact, the first fret plays a lot closer to an A, and this holds true all the way up the neck, but only for the top string. I can’t understand this and need help.
About the guitar- it’s a standard cigar box with an oak fretboard laminated to a poplar neck and jumbo nickel fret wire on a 23” scale measured from a template, a factory hardtail bridge with individually adjustable controls set the same for all 3 strings, bone nut, factory tuners and a LMM wound phosphor string set, all from CB Gitty.
I suspect the problem is with the bridge since that’s the only way to control an individual string other than the tuner, but I can’t find a problem with it. I would sure appreciate any help.
Wes, you say your bridge is set the same for all strings, I take that to be both height and length, generally the scale will get marginally longer going from top [thinnest] to lower, I,d suggest tuning and adjusting the bridge until you get the low string hitting a g at both open and at the 12th fret, which will probably mean setting the individual bridge section back 2 or 3 mm, when you've done that it might be worthwhile to do the same with the d string, as in my experience they are never exactly the same scale length as the others.
Totally agree with Darryl. If you have a tuner you can us it to set your bridge intonation. Set each string. Worst case you may have to move the bridge if your that far off.
There are lots of great how to vids on youtube for setting up a bridge.
Gitty has a setup guide here
what needs to be the same is the harmonic at the 12th fret and the string fretted at the 12th fret. then if the frets are correct and the action not too high then it should be in tune all up and down the fretboard.
Most likely it's your string height at the nut. If you're not playing slide, then you want it to be about the thickness of a business card between the fret and the string.
Hi, I would not discount a bad string, I've had that a few times, swap it to test. Also check that the nut is parallel to the first fret.
Thanks you all for your advice. I’ve adjusted the bridge height and it’s ALMOST right, so I think that’s been my main problem. I also think my nut height is too high. A business card, huh? Mine’s more like a stack on business cards, but I’ve developed some killer calluses playing with such high action. I plan to file the nut down today to reduce that action.
I had not considered a bad string. If I can’t get a good result with the nut height I’ll give that a try.
Again, thank you all for your help.
You could probably get away with about the thickness of a hard pick. I remember Glenn Watt having a video where he said three playing cards. So a business card might be too thin. If you like a high action, file down the nut, or nut slot until it doesn't got too sharp when you fret.