Thursday, July 28, 2011

Every Bunny Gets Drunk After Easter #16: A Dissonant Note On Tuning

Michael Lombardi sent me a terrific, well-written explanation of why he believes the guitar tech trying to set up trailbreaker John Harwood's Squier guitar controller was incorrect:
I saw Every Bunny #15 and I've got to say the problem still doesn't quite make sense. Not holding tune very long is one type of problem but not being able to set the intonation of a guitar properly is another.

You said the tech indicated he believed the inability to intonate the guitar was caused by the neck and body being too hollowed out for electronics. I definitely don't buy the body issue (electric guitar bodies could be an Ikea particle board table top and still work fine) and I'm somewhat doubtful of the neck issue but without seeing what was done to this thing by Fender/Squier it's hard to say for sure. Generally a weak neck isn't going to cause an intonation problem but rather cause the guitar to be susceptible to humidity changes, forcing you to adjust the truss rod often and reset the intonation when you do so. Not a desirable trait but also not a guitar breaker either. As for the intonation - well the adjustable saddles should take care of that unless those funky pickups are REALLY pulling on the strings. Lowering them as close to the body as you can without them falling through is worth a shot. That's really my only guess at this point.

Now I'm assuming you bought this thing new so it might be worth calling Squier and explaining the situation. Guitar companies are generally VERY good to customers who bought their products new and usually reluctant to do anything for people who bought used. I don't have any experience with Squier customer service but I'm hoping they would irect you to a Fender authorized repair/service/tech in the area who could look at your guitar (Fender certainly would). Being able to say you brought it to a tech who spent hours on it and couldn't figure out the problem might get you more attention so you have that going for you too. Just because this thing is kind of considered a toy and came with a video game doesn't mean it isn't an instrument - and don't think just because Squier is Fender's budget line that they don't make playable instruments. It's too early to give up on this thing.

Also, it's worth checking out Fender's do-it-yourself setup guide:
Fender Setup Guide

Just don't touch the truss rod! It's certainly right where it needs to be since the tech just had the thing.

I think that's an interesting analysis, and certainly much more positive than "these guitars can't be set up properly", which was pretty depressing. So maybe there's hope for these guitar controllers after all.

Now, since this is a "learning guitar" series, Greg Akselson sent me a link to a Giant Bomb preview (written by a former community moderator for Rock Band) of Ubisoft's upcoming music game Rocksmith, and he actually came away impressed. So maybe there will be an additional option for gamers/guitar players this fall.

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