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Does string angle affect intonation (above the nut and below the bridge) ?

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  • Does string angle affect intonation (above the nut and below the bridge) ?

    Based on personal experience (echoed by forum threads such as this one), I hold it for true that intonation may suffer from extreme string angles (either too flat or too sharp) above the nut or below the bridge saddles.

    This issue proved somewhat controversial in another thread which I wouldn't like hijacked to respect the OP. Plus creating a propper thread devoted to this question might bring it to the attention of even more people knowledgeable on that particular subject.

    Thanks for reading this post and looking forward to your input.

    Have a great day,



  • #2

    I can't see how.  It may affect the degree in which you want a note to sound when bending but otherwise, it makes no sense to me.

    Height of the nut and saddles can affect intonation but having acoustics and electrics with varying degrees of string break angles, I have not had a problem with intonation with any of them.  One acoustic I have has virtually no string break angle at the saddle and it's fine.

    MIA Fender Strat / Gibson Les Paul Studio / Custom Telecaster / Washburn WI66 / Custom Stratocaster / Martin D15S / Guild D55 / Simon & Patrick Cedar / Martin HD16R LSH​


    • lz4005
      lz4005 commented
      Editing a comment

      Just to be clear, I wasn't trying to get personal or anything in that other thread, I just disagree that break angle alone can impact intonation based on 15+ years of doing instrument setups.

      Break angle does effect other things, including how stiff the strings feel and how easy it is for certain bridge/saddle designs to shift under hard playing. You can also run into tuning stability and string breakage issues sometimes. But not intonation, as long as the string is making good contact with the bridge and nut.

      If the break angle is so shallow that the string is popping out of the nut slot, or shifting on the bridge, or if it is so steep that the string can't bend sharply enough to make good contact (happens with bass strings sometimes), that's a different matter entirely.

  • #3
    Anything past where the string is supported doesn't affect intonation. A problem that can be misleading is a poorly cut nut slot that causes the string connection to be back from the front face of the nut. When that happens, you tune to the open string and then all of the fretted notes on that string are sharp.

    That's the same effect that you get when the nut slot is located incorrectly - the open strings are flat compared to the rest of the guitar.


    • #4

      The only factor that affects intonation is the distance between the nut and the saddle as it relates to the position/spacing of the frets.  That's it.  Once the string crosses the nut or saddle, anything that happens to it is irrevelant.... break angle, length, how many times you wrap it around the tuner posts, whether runs under a string tree...

      Now the string angle may affect things like action, tone, sustain, string elasticity, tuning stability, and so forth.  And nut height affects action and tuning (if action is too high, the string goes sharp when fretted), but intonation, no...



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      • Mr Temporary
        Mr Temporary commented
        Editing a comment

        Perhaps people are having difficulty with intonation on a high break angle is because they're not lifting the string off the saddle when adjusting it, or not reducing the tension.