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Old 08-30-2009, 11:10 AM   #1 (permalink)
Juicious Maximus III
 
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Default Guitar Maintenance : My poor old Morgan

I have an old neglected Morgan acoustic steel string, all wood. It's gotten beat up over the years, even got a nasty crack in the bottom after a trip on a plane and so on. It hasn't been oiled and the strings haven't been changed for ages.

One of the reasons why I've neglected my poor old Morgan is because the intonation is screwed and having no experience with repairing this kind of damage, I always assumed it would cost a lot. However, I recently thought that I might be able to do this myself.

The problem : It almost seems the neck is too short. If I tune the guitar, I can f.ex play an E. If I play E one octave higher on the same string, it's out of tune. It's pitched lower so you have to pull at the string quite a lot before it sounds right.

The saddle and bone piece (or whatever you call it) on the body are fixed and I doubt there's much I can do with that on my own, but there is of course the truss rod .. Is this problem fixable by adjusting or tightening the truss rod? Is my old Morgan doomed?

Any other suggestions?
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Old 08-30-2009, 01:21 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Your specific intonation problems aren't going to go away if you adjust the truss rod.
The problem most likely lies in the string length being incorrect on the affected string(s).
Usually this is caused by damaged or leaning saddles, and is corrected by adjusting the saddle to correct the fault. Your saddle shouldn't be fixed, as it sits in a groove and should not be glued in. If you notice your saddle is leaning, worn down or otherwise not properly fixed in position, you can repair it or buy a replacement saddle.

Here's an informative resource that may help you out:
How to Check and Correct Intonation - Intonate Your Guitar
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Old 08-30-2009, 01:23 PM   #3 (permalink)
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No it's not doomed! It sounds like the neck is warped a little bit, which is fixed with an adjustment of the truss rod. If you don't have experience fixing truss rods, take it to a guitar shop if you can. They'll give the guitar a full work up and put new strings on it while they're at it, and it's usually not very expensive. An adjustment of the truss rod will help fix the action on the guitar (the distance between the strings and the neck), and it may also help the intonation. Intonation is a whole separate thing, and is usually done with tuning forks or a very good digital tuner. Again, if you take the guitar into a shop they will fix this for you if you want a full work up on the instrument.
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Old 08-30-2009, 01:52 PM   #4 (permalink)
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He's flat at the 12th fret, not sharp. Straightening the neck and lowering the action won't do anything for his problem. His problem is at the saddle.
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Old 08-30-2009, 02:20 PM   #5 (permalink)
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most acoustic saddles i've dealt with are fixed. adjusting the intonation on the saddle revolves around gradually shaving down the piece of bone in the bridge (which is exactly as painstaking as it sounds).


how bad is the crack along the bottom? could also be that when you're tuning up your guitar to pitch that it's expanding the crack and physically reshaping the body of the instrument.
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Old 08-30-2009, 02:57 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Fixed like, not able to be pulled out of its groove?
I don't see why that would even be necessary, or smart for that matter.

But yea, generally I'd leave that up to a luthier depending on the damage.. but if it's a simple matter of replacing a faulty saddle, then it's do-able without taking it to a money-maker.
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Old 08-30-2009, 04:46 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Actually, the bone does come out and I had a spare so I tried replacing it .. Same problem .. So I guess shaving it down is the solution here?

The crack is minor but I can't exclude the possibility of the body/neck being somewhat warped. It's had a rough life.
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Old 08-30-2009, 05:38 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Shaving the saddle down is only going to affect your action. That would help if your 12th fret octave is sharp, but since it's not, you need to take a closer look at the grooves in the saddle and whether it's leaning or not.
The key idea is that somehow the saddle has grooved, leaned or muscled its way into a forward position that effectively shortens the length of the string in question and, in turn, does not provide the correct compensation for an accurate notation when fretting high on the neck.

Having your saddle, and its notches, at the correct position will yield you the correct compensation required for accurate intonation along the neck.

It's really just a matter of you figuring out which situation applies.
The symptoms do not equal a diagnosis in this scenario, but the physical evidence in combination with those symptoms do.
It might help you diagnose this problem if you read up on intonation issues and study the physical state of your guitar in relation to them.
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Old 08-30-2009, 05:51 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Checking again, the saddle does indeed lean which is perhaps no wonder considering the tension of the strings over so many years, but is there anything I can do about that?

edit :

Note that it's leaning also with the saddle replacement in .. It seems the groove it sits in has widened over the years.
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Old 08-30-2009, 08:45 PM   #10 (permalink)
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It's possible that the leaning saddle has caused the groove to become wider.
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