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I got a guitar from my friend’s son. The high E string is weird because fret no. 12 and 13 and 14 have the same pitch: F#! Furthermore, other strings have a similar problem. On the B string, fret no. 13 and 14 have the same pitch: C#. On the G string, fret no. 13 and 14 have the same pitch G#!

Is this a special guitar or is it broken?

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    This question would be much clearer with more information - basically what sort and model of guitar is a good starter point. – Tim Jun 29 at 9:03
  • Thank you all! It looks like an acoustic guitar. Every string has a problem at fret 13, having the same pitch like fret 14. The high E string has problem at fret 12,13 and 14, having the same pitch #F. I have to agree with you that the neck must be warped although I cannot see the differences of the space between each fret and the string. And I believe it is not worth it to have it fixed. Thank you for your answer! – Gracy Jun 29 at 16:04
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It appears that the top string has a problem on fret 14. The fretwire is too high. Or - fretwires 12 and 13 are too low. Either way, the string is sounding from 14 when pressed at 12, 13 and 14. Second string has the same problem. The third string is odd, in that with the same problem, the note heard should be A!

It might be salvagable by raising the bridge, thus moving the strings higher from the fretboard - it could be as simple as that. As long as the bridge/saddle is adjustable.

It could be that the neck is warped. It could be that the frets around that area need sorting. Neither of which are jobs for the inexperienced.

It will make a difference depending on which type of guitar it is - acoustic, classical, elactric, solid or semi. Since you ask the question, it's fair to assume you are inexperienced, and this problem isn't one to gain experience sorting.Time to find a luthier!

  • A professional luthier could certainly fix the problem better than an amateur would be likely to. On the other hand, it's possible that the guitar isn't worth that much but there might be some personal satisfaction in taking something that was otherwise a piece of junk and rescuing it to make it usable. – supercat Jun 29 at 17:19
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Warped neck, hallmark of cheap guitars CNC-milled from wood of unsuitable quality. If the guitar was one of those supermarket deals for about the price of a proper string set, it's probably not fixable.

For more expensive instruments, a truss rod justification may do the trick.

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I agree with Tim, that the 14th fret is sticking out (or above) the fretboard more than the 2 frets closer to the head. In which case you need to find a "luthier" (an instrument repair expert). A test you can do yourself is press a string down at about the 15th or 16th and hold the same string down at fret 3 and look at the gap between the string and each fret from the side view while holding the string down. You should be able to see the differences in the space between the frets in question. A point that will help later as you gain experience, is this is a test I and other people who work on their own gear uses to see if the neck is bowed too much or too little. Ideally, you want just a slight gap between the string and fret at frets 5 and 6. That gap keeps the string from buzzing while playing. If not clearing right you need to have the neck adjusted.

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The problem may not be too serious. The solution could be as simple as a truss rod adjustment. Hopefully a proper set up by a trained guitar technician may be all you need.

From what you have described my best guess without looking at the guitar is that it has a back bow in the neck. If the 14th fret is where the neck joins the body, that is even more likely the case. The less likely possibility is a high 14th fret as Tim suggested.

The good news is, if your guitar has a truss rod, a back bow is not necessarily a sign of damage to the neck. If the guitar is a steel string guitar, it should have an adjustable truss rod (unless it is a really cheap guitar). The truss rod is designed to put counter tension on the neck to compensate for the tension exerted by the strings. If the truss rod is too tight for the gauge strings installed, it will overcompensate resulting in a back bow. This can be easily corrected with proper adjustment of the truss rod with the proper tool. To correct a back bow in the neck, you would loosen the truss rod. Don't try this yourself if you are not experienced as you can break the truss rod or strip the nut if you are not careful.

If your guitar has an adjustable truss rod, it will be accessed for adjustment either through the soundhole or by removing a small plate on the headstock between the tuning pegs. I say this not to suggest you try adjusting yourself, but to aid in verifying the existence of a truss rod on your guitar.

A trained or experienced guitar tech or luthier can inspect the guitar and let you know if it's worth performing a full setup. In a complete set up of an acoustic guitar, the truss rod may be adjusted, as well as the saddle height (the bar that the strings pass over at the bridge behind the soundhole). The adjustments will be made after a new set of strings are installed per recommendations of the expert and based on your preference for string type. Most guitars will allow for some flexibility in string selection without major modifications to the guitar.

Good luck.

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