Do worn peg holes affect acoustic guitar intonation?
December 26, 2009 12:45 PM   Subscribe

Guitar filter: Will worn-out peg holes affect the intonation of a steel string acoustic guitar? If so, what should I do?

My old $250 Washburn has terrible intonation these days. The twelfth fret is almost a half-step sharper than the harmonic. I sanded a new bridge and a new nut, but there is not a noticeable difference between the old set-up and the new one. Then, I noticed that the peg holes are dramatically worn away from string tension. Then I realized that this might be bringing the breaking point of the string closer to the twelfth fret. Is this what might be affecting my intonation?

If this is the case, can I fill the holes with putty and re-drill them?
posted by davidriley to Media & Arts (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
No. The breaking point is determined by the tension of the sounding string length between the bridge and the nut. A string's intonation is a function of the string tension and the position of the frets. The ends beyond bridge and nut have no influence, unless the bridge/nut themselves are damaged and there is a sound leak of some sorts. If the pegs aren't loose, there's no trouble at all at that end.
Bad strings sometimes sound false - I'd start here with my research...
posted by Namlit at 1:02 PM on December 26, 2009

I agree with Namlit. Another thing to investigate once you make sure it's not a string issue is whether your neck has warped.
posted by invitapriore at 1:23 PM on December 26, 2009

Those holes look fine to me. I'm seconding/thirding the idea that it's probably a neck issue.

Here is a bitchen little tutorial for truss rod adjustment.
posted by snsranch at 2:26 PM on December 26, 2009

Now, if your neck checks out, with no warping or bowing, you can fine tune by shaving down or shimming up the nut or bridge by TINY increments. Sounds to me like you should shave down the bridge a little bit.

About the holes, at least in part, it's the action of the string nut pulling up that locks the peg in place. You'll know they need fixing when the pegs won't stay in while tuning.

Good luck and have fun. Lemme know if you work it out.
posted by snsranch at 3:18 PM on December 26, 2009

If all of the strings are bad, going sharp at the 12th fret sounds a bit like bad action. What's the distance from the unfretted string to the fret? If this is the problem, the truss rod adjustment is the way to go.
posted by rlk at 5:02 PM on December 26, 2009

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