New Squier Jaguar tuning issue

For all things relating to guitars, basses, amps, pedals & accessories.

Moderator: Moderators

New Squier Jaguar tuning issue

Post by The Coastal Path »

So after a bottle of red I clicked on a link to buy a new Squier Jaguar from a box shifter store. The way you do.

It was immediately obvious it had tuning issues. The bridge design is new to me - the bridge can easily be rocked back and forth on the mounting pins. I assume this is by design, but it seems odd. I've adjusted the intonation so the twelfth fretted note is in tune with the harmonic - or as close as I can get as the bridge saddles won't quite go back far enough...

However if - say - an open A is in tune, the fretted C plays noticeably sharp & this continues up the fretboard until falling back into tune around the 12th fret.

So - have I failed to intonate the guitar correctly? Is it possible a modern CNC made guitar can have inaccurately spaced frets? (this would be a first for me).

Thoughts from the floor?

Stephen
The Coastal Path
Regular
Posts: 70 Joined: Fri Sep 23, 2011 12:00 am
The Coastal Path

Re: New Squier Jaguar tuning issue

Post by zenguitar »

Other things to check would be...

the action at the 1st fret (nut slots are generally left too shallow for most users when the guitar leaves the factory)

and look for excess relief on the truss rod

Andy :beamup:
User avatar
zenguitar
Moderator
Posts: 12473 Joined: Thu Dec 05, 2002 12:00 am Location: Devon
Is it about a bicycle?

Re: New Squier Jaguar tuning issue

Post by Wonks »

Had you fitted new strings? Sometimes a poor string can mess up the intonation.

As Zen says, high nut slots can affect intonation, as can an overly high action.

Don’t assume that a guitar is CNC made, especially if it’s from China. A surprising number of guitars made there are still made using hand routers, jigs and templates that can get worn over time before replacement. Chinese trying to achieve full employment tend to use CNC and full automation only where necessary. Not saying this is true of your Squier, just a general remark.
User avatar
Wonks
Jedi Poster
Posts: 16764 Joined: Thu May 29, 2003 12:00 am Location: Reading, UK
Reliably fallible.

Re: New Squier Jaguar tuning issue

Post by Wonks »

The Jag is of course at 24”, a short-scale guitar, so any slight deviation from the correct fret position has a much larger effect on pitch than on a longer scale guitar.

You could always use the StewMac fret position calculator to try measuring the fret positions as a check. https://www.stewmac.com/fret-calculator/

It will be hard to measure with any precision unless you use a digital vernier gauge, and the cheap ones tend to only measure up to 150mm. Measure from the nut to the crown of each fret for the first few frets, then from the last fret you could measure to, to the next bunch of frets etc.

You can always double check with a metal rule. You probably won’t get better than 0.1-0.2mm accuracy for most of the frets, but at least it will show up any frets that are wildly out (though I doubt it).

Always a small chance that the nut itself is slightly out.
User avatar
Wonks
Jedi Poster
Posts: 16764 Joined: Thu May 29, 2003 12:00 am Location: Reading, UK
Reliably fallible.

Re: New Squier Jaguar tuning issue

Post by The Coastal Path »

Many thanks for the suggestions - I haven’t fitted new strings so that’s probably a sensible first step - not sure what gauge they are but they feel a little light.

…am surprised the scale length is 24 - the neck actually feels longer (and wider) than most of my other guitars.

Buying guitars blind on line is always a bit of a dice roll - I’ve had several good ones so a problem instrument was probably due 🤓
The Coastal Path
Regular
Posts: 70 Joined: Fri Sep 23, 2011 12:00 am
The Coastal Path

Re: New Squier Jaguar tuning issue

Post by Wonks »

The rocking bridge is part of the design. Probably the idea being that the strings stay in position on the bridge when the trem is used and the bridge moves back and forth. I expect it ended up being a mixture of both.

Of course the original bridge design probably depended on the thinnest standard string sets at the time being 11s to keep the strings sitting in their slots, even with the lower string tension from the shorter scale length.

I believe some people use plastic tubing to minimise any wobble.

The offset design does push the neck further out to the side compared to say a Strat.
User avatar
Wonks
Jedi Poster
Posts: 16764 Joined: Thu May 29, 2003 12:00 am Location: Reading, UK
Reliably fallible.

Re: New Squier Jaguar tuning issue

Post by The Coastal Path »

It’s an odd design! I might try the plastic tubing idea as to get the guitar intonated it needs to be kept rocked back toward the trem. Not sure what gauge the current strings are by the feel very light - I bought the guitar as I fancied something that would be good for hard strumming so have ordered some 11s - I may even try heavier depending how they feel. I believe Tom Verlaine used 13s and I quite like how those force you to play - at least for this style of guitar.
The Coastal Path
Regular
Posts: 70 Joined: Fri Sep 23, 2011 12:00 am
The Coastal Path

Re: New Squier Jaguar tuning issue

Post by Wonks »

13s are fine as long as the action is low so you don’t have to press down too far, otherwise it becomes very hard work. String bending is best forgotten and trem use encouraged instead.
User avatar
Wonks
Jedi Poster
Posts: 16764 Joined: Thu May 29, 2003 12:00 am Location: Reading, UK
Reliably fallible.

Re: New Squier Jaguar tuning issue

Post by Martin Walker »

The Coastal Path wrote: Sun Feb 05, 2023 8:53 pm Many thanks for the suggestions - I haven’t fitted new strings so that’s probably a sensible first step - not sure what gauge they are but they feel a little light.

As mentioned by Wonks above, a digital vernier gauge (or digital caliper, typically around £10) is a quick way to check your string diameters.

Image
User avatar
Martin Walker
Moderator
Posts: 20560 Joined: Wed Jan 13, 2010 8:44 am Location: Cornwall, UK

Re: New Squier Jaguar tuning issue

Post by BigRedX »

One of the problems with the Jaguar style vibrato mechanism is that from the factory the break angle over the bridge is very shallow which means that the strings are more compliant (feel less stiff) than on other guitars with the same sting gauges. This is fine if you want to do MBV impersonations but it doesn't help with the tuning for more conventional uses.

What a lot of players do is to raise the bridge by several millimetres and then shim the neck to get the action suitably low again. The increased break angle over the saddles reduces the compliance of the strings and everything starts to feel more like your other guitars.
User avatar
BigRedX
Frequent Poster (Level2)
Posts: 2218 Joined: Fri Sep 03, 2004 12:00 am
RockinRollin' VampireMan

Re: New Squier Jaguar tuning issue

Post by The Coastal Path »

Martin - thanks for the suggestion of the gauge. Another toy to buy...

BigRedX - this makes sense. The whole instrument is a very different feel to most of my other guitars, and the strings do indeed feel very loose compared with the feel of my other instruments.

I've just fitted 11 gauge strings and they still feel pretty loose - I think shimming the neck sounds like the way to go. The good thing about (relatively) cheap guitars is I never feel too precious about attacking them with my minimal luthier skills... this guitar may well become my next victim.
The Coastal Path
Regular
Posts: 70 Joined: Fri Sep 23, 2011 12:00 am
The Coastal Path

Re: New Squier Jaguar tuning issue

Post by Wonks »

BigRedX wrote: Tue Feb 07, 2023 10:14 am One of the problems with the Jaguar style vibrato mechanism is that from the factory the break angle over the bridge is very shallow which means that the strings are more compliant (feel less stiff) than on other guitars with the same sting gauges. This is fine if you want to do MBV impersonations but it doesn't help with the tuning for more conventional uses.

Hmmm. The shallow break angle on most Jags and Jazzmasters (but not all as some of the modified versions have a better overall trem arrangement) certainly reduces the downward force of the strings on the saddle and with lighter strings, you can easily get the classic string jumping out of its correct 'slot' in the threaded rod 'barrel' saddle and moving sideways when bending strings, and maybe even trem use. Those ridges in the saddles have far too fine a pitch to keep the string in place securely. I really don't know why they haven't simply changed them to ones with a wider pitch/deeper slots, it's not rocket science.

Certainly adding a neck shim and increasing the string break angle can often cure the problems of a Jag bridge if you don't fit Mustang style saddles or use heavy strings.

But strings feeling 'less stiff' causing tuning issues? I've never heard that before or come across any problems on my guitars with shallow bridge break angles. And ones with a stiffer compliance can have just as many tuning issues as ones with a much lower compliance.

Fitting Mustang saddles to a Jag or Jazzmaster is one standard fix for the strings, basically because their single deep slot stops the string from moving sideways. But that doesn't alter the string break angle at all and it's probably no worse than the break angle on a top-loading Tele bridge.

As long as you aren't getting any string buzz from the saddle, then there's enough downward force on the saddle for things to work.

Increasing that downward force by increasing the string break angle can certainly alter the tone a bit. Compare the slightly lighter and janglier sound of a top-loaded Tele to the same guitar with rear body stringing.

The main dynamic force applied to a bridge saddle is the back-and-forth movement from the small change in string tension, which occurs at twice the string vibration frequency.

A steep string break angle pushes the saddle down and forwards, creating more friction between the saddle and its baseplate or bridge support, and so resisting the tendency for the saddle to move back and forth in sympathy with the tension changes. With a smaller break angle, there is less overall downwards force and certainly less force keeping the saddle pushed forwards, so the saddle will move just that little bit more as the string vibrates.

What I don't know is quite how that affects the sound, but a lower break angle somehow encourages a brighter sound, either due to less dampening of the higher harmonics or encouraging those upper harmonics over the fundamental. Sometimes you want that brighter sound, sometimes you don't.
User avatar
Wonks
Jedi Poster
Posts: 16764 Joined: Thu May 29, 2003 12:00 am Location: Reading, UK
Reliably fallible.
Post Reply