Adjusting intonation on fretless bass

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by Johannes, Jun 6, 2001.

  1. Hi !
    Can anybody tell me how to adjust the intonation of the strings on my (unlined) Cort curbow fretless??
    I don't know how I should push the 12th "fret" exactly to compare it to the harmonic 2th at the same position.
    And by the way, I don't really know where to push the octave, because there are two dots (typical fretmarker design) => the left one, the right one or in between? My ears tell me that It has to be the left one, but how can I tell without knowing whether my intonation is set-up right !?!?!?!

    Thank you
  2. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    what is the scale length of the instrument? divide that number by 2 and measure that distance _from the nut_ along the string (don't measure from nut to bridge saddle, because the octave spot will be different for every string based on how the saddles are set up.)

    once you take this measurement, make a very light mark on the fretboard where the 12th fret is and use this to set your intonation properly.
  3. What I do to fine-tune the string length on my fretless is roughly position/tune the "12th fret" harmonic, then fine tune at the strong sub-dominant and dominant harmonics (second and third dots on my bass). By lightly rolling my finger back and forth on the string I can feel the "dead" point of the harmonic; I adjust the string length to reposition that point.

    Gotta run to practice. Techrocks thing is tomorrow -
  4. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    you're not going to get an accurate intonation only using harmonics - you have to fret a note as well as play the harmonic to get a perspective on how the intonation needs to be modified.
  5. Very true; the bend in the string at a fretted position affects the positioning. I don't only use the harmonics, but I do find that lining up the dead-points across all strings helps position the intonation. It's a very iterative process.

    Ultimately, it's a fretless; why bother? You should be using your ears anyway, not the fret markings. ;)
  6. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    he's talking about setting the intonation of each of the strings at the bridge saddle, not getting proper intonation when playing. i can see the potential for confusion there.

    as ears over fretlines, i agree, that's why i prefer unlined fretless - for me lines are a distraction. :D
  7. Yup, I'd assumed the discussion was about saddle adjustments. I find that positioning using the harmonic dead-points helps ensure that the relative intonation between strings is accurate.

    I must admit, I'm not really picky about where the octave is positioned, as long as it's the same location across all strings - makes playing double-stops in tune a little easier. :)

    Aside: Our band won our night of the Techrocks thing, so now we're on to the finals! :D