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I have a 1950's/60's Egmond Toledo P1 acoustic 6 string with a floating bridge. The body of the guitar was badly damaged during delivery which I fixed myself.

When tuning the guitar, each string sounds fine but a chord sounds off. I'm a beginner so learning everything as I go. I did set the bridge at the correct place as intended when made although the previous owner did have the bridge set a lot further up the guitar, not far below the sound hole. The guitar has extremely high action where the bridge is currently set. I put new light gauge strings on it after repair.

Also my strings are not centered on the fretboard due to the bridge plate not being screwed into the bottom of the guitar in the centre. This makes the high E string barely on the fretboard but ok for the few frets I'll be playing on. Not sure if I should make a new hole and centre the strings.

I know it's a very cheap made guitar although vintage now. I do really like it and just want it playable to learn on. I know the neck is adjustable but not sure about attempting this myself and is a DIY project so doing everything myself.

  • Bridge placement is difficult to get right for experienced guitarists. I recommend having a Luther place it in the correct spot, especially before drilling any holes. It is also possible to put the bridge in backwards. – amalgamate Apr 14 '15 at 13:37
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    can you post a couple of photos online? We can link them into your post. Ideally one from your eyeline when playing the guitar, one looking down on the front of the guitar, and one from behind the bridge, so we can more easily see the problem – Doktor Mayhem Apr 14 '15 at 17:45
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The chords/tuning sounding incorrect can be due to a few things.

  • If the "action" (height of strings) is very high it can cause some notes to go sharp when playing a chord, because the extra tension of pushing down the string makes the string tighter.
  • Or the bridge might be in the wrong place - I suspect this especially, because you said the bridge had beem moved in the past! As a rough guide, measure the length of the top (higest E) string from nut to bridge, and halve it - the 12th fret should be pretty close to that point. It's only an approximate measure though - the proper way is to check that the open E and its 12th fret notes are an octave apart, if you've got an ear for that sort of thing.
  • The tuning could also be out due to a problem with the nut. Is it too high? (Possible if the previous owner converted it to slide or something strange like that...)

The off-centered E string sliding off the fretboard could be "fixed" by using a needle file to cut a different slot in the bridge saddle - but this would look very ugly. I think you should not try that, try to make sure the bridge is in the right place first.

If you can't afford a proper repair, I'd suggest you try to find a local guitar buddy who knows a bit about basic setup to have a look. There could be other problems with this guitar that the more experienced player might spot. (Why on earth the previous owner moved the bridge, I can't understand!)

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If you can move the bridge freely across the top, do this:

  1. Tune the open strings.
  2. Lightly touch the first string above the 12th fret, but without pressing it all the way down to the fret, and play it (i.e. play the harmonics at the 12th fret). Memorize the pitch of that harmonics.
  3. Play the same note on the 12th fret the normal way (i.e. pressing the string to the fret). Pay attention to the pitch.
  4. Go back an forth a few times between the harmonic and the fretted note. The goal is to have exactly the same pitch when you play the note as harmonics and when you play it fretted, and to do so you may need to move the bridge slightly, as follows.
  5. If the pitch of the harmonic is higher than the pitch of the fretted note, move the bridge slightly toward the fretboard. And vice-versa, if the pitch of the harmonics is lower than the pitch of the fretted notes, slightly move the bridge away from the fretboard.
  6. Repeat the above with different strings until you find the position that minimizes the difference between harmonics and fretted notes. It may not be possible to get a perfect result, but a good compromise should be possible. Also, retune the open strings whenever you move the bridge, keeping the guitar tuned exactly as when you play it during the above operation.

Good luck :)

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