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TL;DR: Can I adjust the left / right angle of my electric guitar's neck? Not the vertical angle that most of the related questions seem to ask about.

I've recently inherited an old Squier Bullet that I'd like to put in reasonable working condition. After tuning and playing it a bit I discovered the intonation badly off: in standard tuning the low E octave was ~168 Hz instead of ~165. Other strings needed similar adjustment on the octave.

Guitar maintenance is pretty new to me, but with some Googling I discovered how I can adjust the saddle screws on my bridge. This let me fix the intonation on all strings except the outer two, the low E and the high e.

The low E is still out of intonation (the octave is now at ~166-167 Hz) since I've run out of screw: the saddle for that string is now all the way up against the bridge (sans a small spring that I suspect I probably should not remove.) The high e has a similar problem; it is so flat that to get the saddle out far enough I'd need a longer screw.

After tuning my saddle positions the best I can it seems my saddles in fact form a line, with the low E at the closest position to the bridge and the high e closest to the neck, with the others spread evenly between the two.

It's almost as if my entire guitar neck is leaning too far to the left (towards my face as I hold it.)

Most of the discussion I see about adjusting neck angle has to do with the truss rod and how high or low the headstock is relative to the body when the guitar is laying flat. I don't think this applies to my problem.

Is there a way to adjust the left / right angle of my neck? Or something else I could do to fix this old guitar's intonation?

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The quick answer to this question is ... No, There is nothing built into the guitar that can adjust the angles to the left or right.

Now the long answer is... it sounds like your neck is slightly warped but you'll have to confirm this yourself.

Now there are are few consideration to take note of when checking for a warped neck.

  • is it a fanned fretboard? I'll that answer that question and tell you no it isn't.
  • Is the warp significant? in my experience a slightly warped neck generally does not effect the intonation significantly.

Now assuming that the warp is significant most or at least myself and a quite a few other guitar players usually replace the neck instead of paying someone else to reset the neck or attempting a DIY solution which by the way is something you shouldn't do mainly do the amount of time and the high percent chance you are going mess up.

As for your intonation issue the few things that do standout to me when I am checking are:

  • health/gauge of the string.
  • quality of the hardware and what type of hardware is installed on the guitar.
  • How much relief/tension there is on the neck. a and c are interrelated to be clear.
  • the age of the guitar in question. Age is not necessarily a factor but it does change expectations.

There is a lot more to this issue such as the placement of the bridge and so forth but the above are at least controllable... except time of coarse.

Also, take note that the average human being is not going to be able to tell the difference between 166-167 vs 164-165 where the 164-65 range is the ideal. In other words don't waste a large amount of time in getting the hertz "perfect". Also a fyi, even the most expensive well crafted guitar have intonation problems. Never played a guitar with perfect intonation and this list of played guitar does include a suhr.

  • Thanks. It's true, I couldn't tell the difference personally; the guitar is plugged into a video game that noticed. Particularly, 168 Hz is closer to the 13th fret than the 12th. – phs Dec 27 '14 at 5:04
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First thing I'd do is put some decent strings on it. Maybe you've already done this.Different gauge strings will need different saddle positioning. You say the saddles are in a sort of diagonal line - sounds about right, except B is usually a little closer to the string end.

Assuming the action is good, I'd take off the spring on low E, or put a shorter one in. The top E can use a longer screw, maybe with a longer spring (or use two), to give it the adjustment needed. Also check the intonation on fret 19 against the harmonic.

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I'm not 100% sure if you are talking about wanting to adjust the rotation of the neck relative to the body or the angle at which the neck sits in the pocket, thus changing the angle at which the strings project from the bridge toward the headstock. With a bolt-on neck, either one is possible, within a small range.

If you are talking about changing the rotation of the neck along the length of the neck (in effect, rotating the fretboard, relative to the body), you could add a shim to the neck pocket to do this. That's not a common reason to add a shim, but there's no reason you couldn't do it. You would just have to make sure that the shim was made such that it raised one side of the neck more than the other.

If you are talking about changing the angle at which the neck connects with the body, there is usually enough play in the bolt holes in a bolt-on neck to make a little bit of an adjustment. You would want to loosen the bolts (after first loosening the string tension), then using light hand pressure to move the neck in which you want it to move. Don't push too hard or you may end up breaking something. Then re-tighten the bolts and re-tension the strings. You don't have to tune the strings perfectly to pitch to see if you are in the ballpark with the adjustment. Usually a very slight adjustment will do the trick.

If, as Asterisk suggested, your neck is warped, then none of this will help much, and you are better off replacing the neck. Good replacement bolt-on necks can be bought for very affordable prices.

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