Aparently I dont understand how to get correct intonation from the guitar I just built. I tuned it to GDG and then checked the harmonic of the thickest  string  against the open string and the fretted note at the 12th.  The harmonic and open string are close to each other.  The fretted note is sharp.

All my frets are level with each other. I've destroyed two nuts and have refretted the guitar and resanded the fretboard perfectly flat. 

What am I missing? 

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The string length for each string will not be the exact same in a given scale. You need to compensate at the bridge. The distance from the fretboard side of the nut to the center of the 12th fret should be half the scale distance for each string. The bridge placement should be at the right scale length and then slightly angled 3mm towards the rear of the guitar on the low string side and 3mm towards the nut on the high string side. This should get you good intonation all the way up the fretboard or may need a slight tweak.

If your strings are more than 3/16" higher than the frets, the fretted note will be sharp or off by a note.

Hi, this issue has been covered lots of times on here, so you are not alone. But simply put..............

First, the open string sound and the harmonic should be exactly the same note, only an octave apart.

The harmonic should also sound the same as the string fretted at the 12 fret. 

If you are getting a sharp note at the 12th then move the bridge/saddle back until you get the notes in unison. Do the same with all the strings if you want pitch perfect. Well as near to perfect as one can get with an Equal Tempered Scale.

The higher the action the more moving of the saddles {compensation}  you will have to do. As the strings are not all the same dimensions [mass] they stretch differently so need different lengths to all play in tune.


I found a similar thing myself, I now tend to make bridges that can be adjusted back and forth, even on three string things. Weirdly, another manifestation I was not expecting is, after fitting whatever strings, like my normal guitars, I let them stretch a day or so before actually tuning them. On some of my 'cigar box' things, after tuning to say 'G', after a day, or even just a night, the strings/neck/general looseness slacken off to the equivalent in 'F',    i.e. F, C,F,. After that, the strings tend to stay almost permanently in tune at 'F'. I now perform whenever in the key of F mainly as a direct result of this.....

A swift tweak either forward or backward on one end of the bridge usually rectifies most aberrations in string tuning....

String height is 3mm above the 1st fret. I used a 3 string bridge with adjustable saddles, I did not angle it at all when I positioned. Take a look and see if you can find the problem.

Mmm, nice build..... However, without hearing it in a 'live' situation, it is difficult to see what the problem could be. May I suggest acquiring longer screws for the bridge, maybe just for the thinnest string at least, then see what happens with intonation. Judging by appearance, I would at least try that first. It doesn't matter if they are weird to look at at first, just try it, then do the cosmetic thing later..... the action height is fairly irrelevant to be fair in this case, more string length is the important thing.... good luck at let us know outcomes...!!!!

No, that is correct the  bridge goes on square and it is the saddles that you adjust, move back and forth until the open note is the same as the fretted note at the 12th. You would be referencing off of the centre of those roller saddles if/when doing any measuring.

If you are still getting intonation woes, check the Hight of the strings over the first fret, seems very high for a finger/chord player.

Nice clean build by the way, looks great.


Well I lowered the action at the nut, there is now about 2 sheets of paper  thickness in between the 1st fret and the strings. When I push down over the 3rd fret. 

This guitar is kind of like a Italian sports car, beautifu,l but pointless if it dosent go fast. 


If anyone wants to try to fix it for me I would be glad to pay the shipping both ways. 

Possibly there is another member near me who is willing to meet?

This is my first instrument and I would really appreciate knowing what my mistakes are before building another. 

Well it only took the whole night, but its not to bad now. still off by about 0.5hz on each string. Much better than half a note sharp like it used to be.

I had to file the nut back at an angle, ended up filing a groove in the finger board :( . I also had to remove the springs on the saddles to get them to go far enough back so I could get it in tune.

Glad you got some joy, don't give up now though. You said this is the first one, so you need the experience gained by sorting things out yourself to carry you through #2 and #3.

Check out the thread of the main forum called "Bridge" there's some helpful info there.


I wasn't able to find that thread. do you have a link

Ahh, Flat style bridge with adjustable saddles. Assuming that you're using the A/D/G strings, those saddle positions aren't far off. Glad you got it close after a few hours. As Taff said, it's your first build and it takes a while to get things right on the first build. Everybody makes mistakes on their first build.

What's the string height at the last fret?

Can you have a bridge and adjustable string lengths? I'm using a long tail piece (gate hinge with string adjustment screws) to span 5 1/2". I want to use a bridge because of the long scale length 28.5 -32".


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