If you haven't heard about it then you haven't heard! The Buzz Feiten tuning system is by far the greatest intonation advance to date and I don't believe anyone will get it any better than Buzz. All instruments fitted with the system must bear the Buzz Feiten decal. So if it's not there, then it ain't right.
What is the Buzz Feiten Tuning System?
The Buzz Feiten Tuning System is a mathematical equation taking in consideration the type of string, being nylon or steel, string gauge and scale length. Upon the collection of info you do some math on the replacement of the original nut placement in comparison to the first fret. Once the nut is moved to its new correct location the strings must be tuned a few cents sharp or flat depending on the rule to follow. Then we must also intonate at the 12th fret a few cents sharp or flat according to rule to follow. In prior years tuner accuracy has never been accurate enough to accomplish this task or to measure fine enough to visually see the error. Now a days many tuner companies have jumped leaps and bounds with the evolution of computers. Tuners that can measure this fine have been in the over $500. range and is out of the reach of the average musician. But wait! Korg has introduced the Korg DT-7, designed directly to Buzz Feiten specs and available to the average guy for around $75. All calibrations and offsets for cents sharp or flat are pre-programmed so you don't have to. Just hit the button for the type of string you have and the string gauge and tune like always. From what I have been told this tuner is at an accuracy level of + or - .5 of a cent. Yes the expensive models can get to a closer + or - .1 cent but who wants to blow $500 to $1,000 on a new tuner that you use once in a while. This way the factory can setup the guitar to perfect specs and you can do minor tweaks with your new Korg DT-7 and keep your guitar in proper intonation.
So what was the original problem?
The original scale length formula was derived many years ago and has worked just ok for years. The problem was that the math was arranged as if the string was always in a straight position. We all know that once you fret out a note that the string is no longer straight and has actually increased in length by pressing it down and actually stretching it. Its not much but its enough to make a difference. Many may say "but my old Strat or Les Paul sounds great and still kicks ass to this day". Yeah I'm sure they do and will always be a reference point for the sound an instrument creates. Listen to a few basic open string or 1st position chords, say a G chord then change to a D chord, C, E, etc... Make sure you are either playing unplugged or through a clean unaffected sound. You will notice small tuning inconsistencies in changing chords where the chord isn't quite in tune as compared to the previous chord played. We have all experienced this and thought of it as nature of the beast.
Who is Buzz Feiten?
Buzz is an amazing player who was toured and recorded with many top notch recording artists. With Bette Midler, Buzz was playing many times with Bette's voice, grand piano and himself on guitar. Under these circumstances there is no hiding in tuning accuracy. Any off note can cause tuning instabilities between performers. Over a period of 6 years Buzz documented experiments in nut placement and intonation placement. After sometime he saw a certain formula of numbers re-accruing being consistent to the type of gauge or string being used. Piano tuners have known for decades that a piano cannot be tuned to perfect pitch, notes collide and create unwanted tension and waves when compared to other notes. They have always borrowed a cent or two from one note to compliment another, in a sense a happy medium was achieved.
Does the manufacturer of string make a difference?
No! After extensive research by many string companies and Buzz, he was amazed to find out how well strings are made and the consistency from string to string and manufacture to manufacture. If one string is misbehaving then yes you have a bad string but never has an entire pack been found to be bad.
Can I correct the intonation on my existing guitar?
Sure can! Any existing guitar can be retro fitted to accept the Buzz system. Your nut may become a tad wider yet hardly noticeable. A nut can be cut to make reverse installation possible as well, in case you have a 54 Strat or 59 Les Paul that needs to stay in original vintage shape for re-sale purpose.
How much of a difference does it really make?
While employed at the Fender Custom Shop, Fender had all Master Builders and other key people evaluate the system. If someone came in and just noodles around, solos, power chords, whatever you might not notice the difference but for the guy who likes big chords or even plays acoustic with a lot of open positions the sound is night and day. Chords sound well balanced and makes the overall guitar sound sweeter and evenly tuned anywhere on the fretboard. Unfortunately Fender didn't feel the improvement was that dramatic and does require the player to keep his guitar in proper playing order for the system to be perfect. Although with the system in place and not properly setup your guitar still sounds better than if it was stock without the system. Many players never take their instrument in for normal maintenance or like their bridge saddles set to a visual appeal whether or not their in an intonation correct location. If your a player you'll notice it and if minor intonations don't bother you than so what, don't maintain your setup and your guitar will still sound better, plus we don't charge extra because of the system. We know it works and all Baker Guitars will come stock with the system in place.
How does guitar maintenance effect the system?Depending on how anal your ear is will determine if you hear a change. Most cases once the guitar is setup properly all that needs to be done is adjust your truss rod to keep your neck in the same place. Usually you will feel your strings height change depending on which way your neck moves and this will indicate that your neck needs adjustment. Hopefully you don't have a bridge that likes to let its screws move around and become loose. So yes! Keep your guitar properly maintained and learn how to make these adjustments yourself or come pay guys like myself to keep them in proper working order. If your a player with a good ear you will hear the difference! Guaranteed!
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