does intonation matter?

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by Matthew Bryson, Aug 12, 2001.

  1. Matthew Bryson

    Matthew Bryson Guest

    Jul 30, 2001
    well, I'm sure intonation matters - but here is what I'm sayin' I got to messing around with my bridge to adjust my action to my liking (without any actual knowledge about setting up a bass) and I have learned from the TB forums that there is something called intonation. So the question is: if I don't have any complaints about how my bass plays and sounds should I worry about trying to intone my bass? I had never made any adjustments before this and really am not qualified to. Since I have been messing with the bridge should I try to intone, and run to the local pro if I can't do it? - or can I operate under the assumption that as a beginner if I am happy and can still practice, then things must be OK - or should i look into this more right away? What do you think.
  2. Yep, it does matter.
    If your string is in tune, but the intonation isn't, your bass might appear to sound ok, but it's slightly out of tune. the open E is an E indeed.. but your 5-th fret is probably not an A, but probably an A# or something in between. if your intonation is correct, the 5-th string will be an A, and the sound will be better. small adjustment, small difference, big importance :)

    it's really simple.. just grab a small allen-wrench ( or Imbus, depends on how you call it ;D ) and a tuner.

    Fret the E-string on the 12th fret ( double-dot ) and strike the string.
    it should be an E too, but one octave higher than the open E.
    repeat the step for the A,D,G and perhaps even the B string.

    very simple :)
  3. Nino Valenti

    Nino Valenti Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 2, 2001
    Staten Island NYC
    Builder: Valenti Basses
    If it's not broken, then don't fix it. ;)
  4. There are a couple schools of thought on this.

    One says, if you can't hear it (yet), it doesn't matter. This has a certain elegant simplicity.

    Another says, even if you can't hear good intonation yet, you should have your bass well intonated so that your ears will eventually *learn* to hear what it sounds like. Also remember that other people are listening to you, and the more in tune you are, the better you sound.

    I go with the second.
  5. pkr2

    pkr2 Guest

    Apr 28, 2000
    coastal N.C.

    I think most of us would agree that it's very important always play in tune. There is a learning curve with proper tuning that is at least as important as learning what notes to play. If the intonation is not right, the only notes that can be played in tune are the open strings.

    Play a double stop and you should hear the harmony between the notes. Even a beginner will hear the "outness" (hey, I just coined a new word :) ) If the intonation is off.

    On the off chance that you aren't familiar with what a double stop is, that's your homework for tonite. There will be a test on it in the morning. :)
  6. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Saint Louis, MO USA
    If you are a beginner, you probably won't notice it that much but you should still have it set correctly. You are in the primary stages of training your ears right now.

    Also, while you can't hear it while practicing, as soon as you play with another player in even the simplest of settings, it will sound aweful.

    If you have a electronic tuner, it isn't that hard to set.

  7. lo-end

    lo-end Guest

    Jun 15, 2001
    I call them power chords :D

    actually, I dont play guiitar but I read my brother's guitar magazines :oops:
  8. intonation is very important, but it is the last step in a setup. You need to have the neck were you want it first, then string hight, then check the neck again. If you adjust the intonation first, then set string hight , your intonation will be off.
    Setting it is very easy to do as posted above, but you must keep retuning the string to pitch everytime you adjust the bridge.
    I think , and www. all have articles on setups. check them out. your bass will feel much better in your hands after the proper set up.
  9. john turner

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

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    me too.

    do you have a good tuner? if so, i've posted a "how to" on setting one's intonation - it's not hard, and it's something that EVERY bass player needs to be able to do from the start, almost as soon as they learn how to tune their bass, imo.

    here is a thread on it...