Stratocaster Intonation Tip

If you are having trouble setting up and intonating your Stratocaster type guitar then this video can help. The magnetic pull of the pickups can mess with the string vibrations and throw off the intonation……and kill a bit of sustain. As always hit me up with any questions or leave some comments!




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  • Steve

    Just a point of clarification. When you are measuring the string height from the pickup magnet top, are you measuring to the bottom of the string – undepressed? I’ve always heard to depress the string at the last fret, then measure to the bottom of the string. It may leave some viewers confused, as it did me. Thanks for all the great videos.

    Steve

    P.S. I have an American Strat (2009). I noticed that Fender recommends different string heights for their various pickups.

  • http://pennalizer.com Billy Penn

    Hi Steve- Good question. I always measure the distance un-fretted from the top of the pickup bobbin to the bottom of the string. My pickups have flat poles.

    I hope this clears any confusion up for anyone who watches.

    -Billy

  • David

    Hey Billy, great video! I have a question, how high do you set your bridge saddles? I think my sustain is being affected because they are not high enough. Does that cause intonation problems as well?

  • http://pennalizer.com Billy Penn

    David- Thanks for visiting!!! I set my bridge saddles according to how I want the action set. My Lent Strat is old style so there is no micro-tilt or overall bridge height adjustment like on modern Strats that have the two studs that you can adjust.

    What kind of guitar are you having a problem with??

    -Billy

  • http://stratoblogster.blogspot.com Stratoblogster

    Yeah, if you have vintage style staggered pole configs, you gotta get those pickups lower!

    Scatterwound pickups are the rest of the solution here, because they don’t need to be set high to be dynamic. The Slider’s I recently got are only 5.9k – bridge 5.95k, but I have ‘em low. My neck pickup is almost flush to the pickguard and it’s much louder and more defined than the original stock Fender pickup I had.

    The reason low output scatterwound pickups can be louder and more dynamic than hi-output, “hot”, non-scatterwound pickups has to do with a factor known as “coupling”. Fred Stuart explains this really well in his ToneQuest Report interview:

    http://www.virtualvintageguitars.com/TQRMay.pdf

    Then you can also go with heavier strings. Consider GHS’s Eric Johnson signature string sets. The lighter gauge set is 10-50, the regulars are 11-52. And EJ doesn’t have jumbo frets like SRV either.

    Good pickups can sit low, and heavier strings aren’t as vulnerable to magnetic fields altering their vibration pattern, but they slam field harder.

    Recommend pickups like Fralin, Lollar, Sliders and Fred Stuart’s stuff. There are actually several other good winders out there. Just stay away from the big pickup name production stuff.

  • Roger T

    Hello Bill,
    Thanks for the video. How do you know what
    height to set the pups on other guitars is there a
    basic guide line?
    Thanks Roger T

  • http://pennalizer.com Billy Penn

    Roger- I usually start about 1/8″ and go from there adjusting them by ear. See how they sound and how they feel. I tend to set them a little on the low side because I like the tone & response. Everyone is different though. Start there and experiment!!!! -Billy

  • David

    Hey Bill, it’s David again. The strat I use is a 98 American Standard Strat. It uses the Delta Tone electronics. I try to keep my bridge close to the body to increase vibration but it still feels a little “short” in the sustain. I’ve heard having the bridge close to the body increases sustain. I hope this doesn’t affect intonation.

  • http://pennalizer.com Billy Penn

    David- I do not think that having the bridge close or far from the body will affect intonation. High action or underbowed neck may affect that however. Have you compared your guitar to another Strat for comparison? (every guitar is different…)

    For more sustain maybe try a Callaham block.

    Let me know what you think!

    -Billy

  • David

    Hi Billy, just an update. I took my guitar to a luthier and he had to straighten out the neck a little and do a fret dressing and polish. When I got it back, all I could say was WOW!! The sustain is back and better than ever! I feel every vibration and every note is clear. He blocked the bridge and was surprised at the quality and weight of it.

    Now on to the next…

  • http://pennalizer.com Billy Penn

    Hi David- Sounds great..!!! Glad it all worked out. Now you can ROCK IT..!!! -Billy