Cheap acoustic, shockingly bad intonation

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In the mid nineties, my Dad walked with me to Gig sound and I bought my first guitar a £49 Brunswick acoustic for my birthday. For years I played it until I realised how rubbish it was! I replaced the tuners, had a bone nut installed, had the neck levelled, Ablone fret markers put in (To replace the shockingly bad plastic ones that were proud of the neck, refretted it, had a bone saddle installed and replaced the bridge pins for tusq. I have a lowden and a d28 but everyday I play this guitar, I've probably spent over 8 times what the guitars worth doing it up. I know it will always be a cheapo ply thingy but it sounds pretty alright. My dads not around any more and it means even more to me now. It's the one thing I'd run into the house to save if it was on fire.

The intonation is shocking, open/harmonic it is so sharp and its like that all over the neck, no 2 same notes intonate the same. Suggestions guys? I'd be happy to go down the whole new bridge route.

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  • Phil_aka_PipPhil_aka_Pip Frets: 9176
    I have a cheapo acoustic that received a split saddle bone bridge (with appropriate intonation adjustment) by the expedient of cutting a rectangular block out of the existing bridge piece such that the old plastic bridge was removed with it, then inserting the same shape rectangular block of new wood with the slots for the bone saddles being cut into it. Neat job, didn't cost much as it was done by a student on an instrument-making course as part of his coursework.

    It can be done, good luck with yours :)
    "Working" software has only unobserved bugs. (Parroty Error: Pieces of Nine! Pieces of Nine!)
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  • It's just struck me the radius of the saddle might not match the radius of the neck.
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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 33359
    How high is the nut? That can make a surprising difference.

    If it’s OK the chances are you may need the bridge saddle moving, or the slot widening and a compensated one fitting.

    I would check it using a tuner with a cent scale first and see how bad it is.
    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone."
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  • earwighoneyearwighoney Frets: 1655
    ICBM said:
    How high is the nut? That can make a surprising difference.

    If it’s OK the chances are you may need the bridge saddle moving, or the slot widening and a compensated one fitting.

    I would check it using a tuner with a cent scale first and see how bad it is.
    The Nut does make a difference from my experience, I had some gripes with intonation for one of my guitar's until I sorted out the intonation. 

    Have you measured the scale and the bridge position?  If the bridge is in the wrong place, then that could be an issue.  

    Before replacing the entire bridge, I'm not sure to the exact repairs but either the saddle slot could be widened for extra compensation or you could maybe use an overhang saddle?  Chris Alsop sells them at his website.
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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 33359
    I forgot to say, to check whether the nut is the problem - capo at the first fret, accurately tune the guitar to F, and check the intonation at the 13th fret.
    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone."
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  • Thanks Guys, great info, I'll check it all and put it to good use.
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