Do I have to re-intonate the guitar when I change the tuning?

  • 2
    There's a simple way to find out... – Tetsujin Jan 13 '17 at 17:14
  • @Tetsujin Asking StackExchange? – Kolob Canyon Jan 13 '17 at 17:57
  • Well, preliminary test would be drop one string by a tone & see what happens ;-) tbh, it probably depends on whether you have a floating [whammy bar] or fixed bridge. Floating is going to need intonation or spring tension changing, fixed will likely be fine. – Tetsujin Jan 13 '17 at 18:06

Only changing tuning, probably not. Changing strings to cope with different tuning, probably yes. I think the intonation is far more dependent on the guage of the string than how loose or tight it is. However, if the tension change is notable, looser strings mean more rattle propensity, so higher saddle, maybe needing intonation changes. If the tension is higher, and the action is high, even with no change, you may find yourself playing sharp due to the increased tension of fretting. Just another by-product.

  • Actually, the guage of a string does not affect the intonation on the frets, assuming that the string is pressed down by the same amount, whereas the pitch of the string does affect the intonation: the lower the pitch, the higher the intonation, and vice versa. In practice, however, we tend to finger with constant pressure, not constant position, so we might well press further down on lighter guage strings. In any case, higher action will make correct intonation harder to achieve. – Scott Wallace Jan 13 '17 at 19:21
  • @ScottWallace - what is meant by 'the higher the intonation'? – Tim Jan 15 '17 at 13:42
  • @Tim- I guess that wasn't as clear as it could have been. What I meant was this: when you press a string down to a fret, then it goes up in pitch, not just because the sounding length is shorter, but because pressing it down puts more tension on it and thus raises the pitch. I'm sure you know this. The amount a string goes up in pitch for a given distance pressed depends on the pitch of the open string, on the material of the string (more or less elastic) but it does not depend on how thin or thick the string is. As I said, though, one might well press a thinner string down further. – Scott Wallace Jan 15 '17 at 20:49

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