Just recently, I finished building a guitar from a kit I had bought. It seemd pretty straight forward, and everything turned out fine, just with one issue. When I play an open string, the tuning is correct, but one I play any fretted notes between the first and 8th frets, all of the notes are too high a pitch.

I at first thought that this was an intonation issue, but I realized that when I play the 12 fret on any string, it goes back to being in pitch.

It's sorta like the opposite of what you would expect to see, the lower frets are too high a pitch, but the higher frets (and open strings) are fine.

Is there any way I can fix this without taking it to the shop?

  • Please provide a LOT more info: electric or acoustic? Did you set the bridge length (particularly for electric) so the first harmonic matches the fret location? – Carl Witthoft May 9 '15 at 12:51
  • Sounds like a nut issue, either too high or misplaced. How high are the strings over, say, the 3rd fret? – leftaroundabout May 9 '15 at 13:52
  • @Carl Witthoft It is an electric with the common telecaster bridge and body. I did make sure sure the first harmonic matches the 12th fret (if that answers your second question.) The string is just less then a quarter inch above the fretboard at the third fret – Rex302 May 9 '15 at 15:41

Not sure how you measured your action, but, according to your comment, a quarter inch is a lot. So I guess your action is much too high, which means that when you press down the string on the first several frets you actually stretch the string and raise its pitch.

I can think of two causes for this: the neck could be too concave, which can be fixed by adjusting the truss rod (turn it clockwise). The other problem could be that the nut is too high. Either it is positioned wrongly or the slots are cut too high. Check this setup guide for more information on string action and on how to adjust the truss rod.

  • Ok, I'll check it out and get back to you. Thanks for the help! – Rex302 May 9 '15 at 16:39
  • Ok, I adjusted the trust rod, which seemed to help. The strings are around 1/8th of an inch above the fretboard now, but it still hasn't seemed to completely fix the problem. I think I will bring it in for service because I am not 100% sure on what I'm doing. Thanks for the help though – Rex302 May 9 '15 at 18:09
  • @Rex302: You could check if the nut is too high or if the nut slots are not deep enough, but if you don't have a lot of experience it's probably a good idea to have a luthier have a look at it. Good luck! – Matt L. May 9 '15 at 18:18
  • Remember, no more than a 1/4 turn of the truss rod in 24 hours, – Jay Skyler May 10 '15 at 7:55

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