Hi all.

I have a Cort Special Series SP-3 electric guitar,

which is basically a copy of a Stratocaster.

I have an issue with tuning. I have a very good Korg electronic/digital

tuner, and when I tune the guitar, string by string, it looks

great (tunes well), but when I play the chords, it does not sound

like it is tuned properly. I use this tuner for my Martin DXM acoustic

guitar the same way, and the guitar sounds perfectly in tune when

I play chords. So, why wouldn't this be the case when I use it for

my electric guitar? Is it because the intonation is off? Or is it

basically because I have a cheap electric guitar? A local guitar shop

charges $50 for a full set-up on electric guitars. Is it worth it to get

a $50 set-up on a $100 guitar? Thanks in advance for answering all

my questions!


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It probably just needs intonated. If you have a phillips screw driver you can do it yourself with the tuner.

There are several ways to do it. Check the open string against the natural harmonic at the 12th fret, or check the open string against string fretted on the 12th.

If the natural harmonic or fretted string at the 12th is flat, the saddle needs to move up towards the nut (making the string length shorter). If it's sharp, move the saddle back (away from the nut)... making the string length longer. The open string and the fretted note should match each others' pitch when using the tuner.
Retune the open string after you move the saddle in either direction. It might take a little while, but you should be able to get it with no problem.
Ideally the intonation should be checked with the fretted note at the 12th fret because that's how you play, fretting the note. It's taught all over the place to check it using natural harmonics, but you don't really play a lot of natural harmonics regularly. Right or wrong, it just makes more sense to check it using the fretted note.

Save yourself the money and do it yourself. I used to be afraid to mess with intonation, but once you do it.

I'm sure there are a ton of YouTube videos on it.
You almost got that right, Craig. The 12th fret harmonic is always going to be an exact octave above the open note (assuming a good string). It's the fretted note at 12 that has to be compared with the open string pitch to set the intonation. Use your tuner, and move the saddle toward the neck if the fretted note is flat to the open string, and away if it is sharp.
It can also be a poorly set up nut (string slots too high).
I dont recommend you try to fix this aspect yourself without the correct tools and knowledge.
LISTEN TO GREG AND JEFF, they are on the money here . The nut and bridge are both critical Len
Quote: "LISTEN TO GREG AND JEFF, they are on the money here". Yup, I'll concur with that. File the nut till the strings barely clear the first fret when you fret them at the third fret, increasing the clearance slightly as you work your way from e to E. Work slowly, and check the clearance often, it's easy to file the slot a bit too far down, ruining the nut (don't ask me how I know that)
When the nut is finished, set the intonation like Greg said, and you're good to go.

Hi Mike, What's with the "pandora charms" and "pandora jewelry" links in your post?

One thing I would add to your post is that every once in a while, it is helpful to tune to pitch using a pitch pipe, tuner or piano. Most of us tend to tune up rather than down with the net result that our guitars tend to get tuned higher over time.

Personally, I prefer to tune the A string to a source then tune the rest as you explained ( play a lot of drop D so I tune it as needed ). It allows me to tweek everything just a bit so the B string sounds OK to me. I struggle with the B string.
OH yeah, I think you meant to use and E instead of an A in that last line so it would read "...back up to the 5 fret on the B string to give ourselves an E...." .

+1 on what Jeff H said. Without seeing the instrument, I bet the nut slots need adjusted (as they do on most new instruments regardless of price).

You will need a set of specialized & gauged nut files to do this correctly and it's almost 99.9% guaranteed that on your first try you'll do it wrong, just as all of us have done in the beginning (and still do sometimes). The files will run you WAY more than the setup price you quoted.

The price of a full setup on almost any guitar is definitely worth the expense. Actually, the less expensive the guitar; the more it will benefit.

Also Aurthur, I believe in other posts you've said that you're primarily an acoustic guitarist. The lighter strings on the Cort along with your naturally developed "acoustic player's" muscle memory in your left hand may be in conflict. If you're used to the strings on your Martin (which would be considered a heavy gauge on an electric), the strings on the Cort will seem ultra light, therefore requiring less left hand pressure to fret. This is a very common issue and will diminish as you become more accustomed to the electric strings.

Another thing to check is the "stretching" of the strings. If they're new or from the factory, they must have all the "stretch" or excess slack removed before they'll remain in tune. How to do this is detailed on several site on the net.

All of the Corts I've come across have been good quality utility instruments so I'd say it's a fine candidate for a pro setup. Just make sure to tell the tech to adjust the nut as this may be a small up-charge over a "minimal" setup price (it's included in the basic price in my shop).

One last generalization: All guitars "tune-up" differently. Some are spot on when they're tuned via an electronic tuner. Others require a bit of further tweaking to play in tune given their individual geometric temperament.

Hey, you diagnosed and solved the mystery ring on your Martin. I'm confident that you'll come up with a solution for your Cort as well. (:

Hope this info is enlightening and best of luck.
Thank you Paul!
Thanks again everyone for your suggestions. Just a note on the guitar, it is used. I got it used, it's at least
several years old. The strings are fairly new and have already been stretched. Anyway, I worked on fixing the intonation tonight, and got nowhere fast. I started with the top string (low E), and tuned it to E with the string open (unfretted), then fretted the string on the 12th fret, and found it was now sharp. I turned the screw as far as it would go, in the correct direction, and the fretted note was a bit closer to tune, but still significantly sharp. What now? What do I do when I can't turn the adjustment screw anymore, and it still is not in tune? I gave-up at this point.
Any ideas? Thank you!
I am seriously thinking that the guitar needs a pro set-up, and the fifty bucks may be a worthy investment.
I have little confidence in myself for getting this right. I had already tried to lower the high action the guitar
has, and managed to get it a bit lower, but not much. I tried to get it ever lower, and I got fret buzz all over
the place, so I had to raise it up a bit to avoid the fret buzz.
Also, last question for tonight, how do the Cort 'Strats' compare to the Fender Squier Strats?
I have had both, and I think the Cort is just as good. Anyone out there have a Cort 'Strat'?
The order you do these things is important

1 set the relief by adjusting the truss rod
2 check and adjust nut slots
3 set bridge saddle height
4 set innotation

Make sure you are not pressing too hard when fretting at the 12th, Just enough for a clear note. It is easy to make the note too sharp just by pressing hard
Hi Arthur.

I agree that the Cort SP-3 is the equivalent to a standard Squire Strat.

Regarding the octave intonation issue where you "ran out of screw or space": this is not really common but also not unusual on many guitars in the "Under $1000 street price" range. I've had to shift the bridge forward or backward on a few USA Strats in my day. It's not a very difficult fix, but it is time consuming for the tech.

These kinds of defects can be attribute it to human error;(either the actual factory "builder" [wood schlepper] or the person who calibrates the CNC drilling rig. When you're making 1000 guitars a day, some mistakes are going to happen. We're all just human (:

FYI: one of the most highly talked about episodes involved Martin Guitars. The builders had been using the same bridge alignment template for decades and no one noticed that, due to wear, a whole bunch of "The Worlds Finest Acoustic Guitars" left the factory with their bridges between 1/8"-1/4" too close to the soundhole. Yikes! As they were discovered (from customer complaints) Martin [naturally] fixed the issue under its lifetime warranty to the original owner.

Your Cort guitar isn't worth "giving up on". Sometime you just have to wrestle with some of 'em a bit longer in order to get your point across.

Keep on keepin' on and remember: It's the music that comes out of the guitar that's the most important of all.

Enjoy your music(:
Thank you.
There has been alot of great advice.
However, I honestly do not have the skills
to do any of it. I will need to humbly pay the $50
to have a pro do a full set-up.
Also, in regards to solving the ringing issue with my Martin,
I did not figure it out. I had to take it to a local luthier.
Again, I failed. I am not worthy for this great website.


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