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Fretless Intonation

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by matdras, Jan 11, 2012.


  1. matdras

    matdras Supporting Member

    Dec 18, 2011
    Fort Collins, Colorado
    I play a MIM Fender Jazz that I recently got defretted. It sounds great but I have noticed that when I play the E and A strings above the twelfth fret, the sound of the notes becomes wobbly and many undesirable overtones are present. I have work extensively on making sure the bass is intonated correctly. Could anyone identify my problem? It has the stock bridge and is strung with D'addario medium gauge flatwounds. Thanks for the help!
     
  2. Chef

    Chef Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    May 23, 2004
    Columbia MO
    Staff Reviewer; Bass Gear Magazine
    try lowering the pickups...
     
  3. Slowgypsy

    Slowgypsy 4 Fretless Strings

    Dec 12, 2006
    NY & MA
    +1.

    The strings now get closer to the pups as they go to the fretboard and not the frets. Try lowering the pups about the distance of the height of frets.
     
  4. Chef is right: I got a much better sound out of my MIM Jazz Fretless after adjusting the pickups and raising the action a bit. The action was at the lowest possible height, so no biggie.

    You could also try a different amplifier to make sure the problem is not coming from there.
     
  5. I think Chef may have nailed it out of the gate - for my own curiosity's sake, is the fingerboard rosewood and is there a finish on it?
     
  6. BassChuck

    BassChuck Supporting Member

    Nov 15, 2005
    Cincinnati
    Chef is definately correct. I just got my parts bass back from the luthier and found the same problem, so much so that from the 14th fret up on the E string it sounded like 2 or 3 notes all at once. I lowered the neck pups (its a J bass) and the problem is solved.

    Something else that you might look into that is not a part of the problem you stated. The total sound and action of the bass might be improved by lowering the nut. If its the same as when the bass had frets the strings are going to be a little high.

    Good luck with it. Enjoy the fretless sound and feel. Its a great world.
     
  7. matdras

    matdras Supporting Member

    Dec 18, 2011
    Fort Collins, Colorado
    The fretboard is rosewood without any finish. Im going to try lowering the pups as soon as I get off work. I installed the Dimarzio Ultra Jazz pickups in it which are higher output than the stock pups so I'm sure the difference in height will help a lot. I am considering putting a epoxy coating on the fingerboard, as I have heard it will bring out more brightness in the tone. What are your opinions on that?
     
  8. Chef

    Chef Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    May 23, 2004
    Columbia MO
    Staff Reviewer; Bass Gear Magazine
    Someone write this down.
    Red Letter Day for me;)

     
  9. Chef

    Chef Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    May 23, 2004
    Columbia MO
    Staff Reviewer; Bass Gear Magazine
    Epoxy will brighten the tone a bit.
    So will fresh rounds;)

    I've also heard of some users/luthiers treating the fingerboard with water weight super glue.

    I've never done either, myself, though I did have one rosewood board epoxied; this was for weaer prevention on my end, not tone.

    I have two G&L fretless basses I have for decades; they're both epoxy, and neither have worn enough I've had to address it.
     
  10. Moe Monsarrat

    Moe Monsarrat Supporting Member

    Jul 30, 2006
    Austin, Tx.
    Endorsing artist:Regenerate Guitar Works Carvin, Micheal Kelly Guitars
    Chef is correct (of course). The magnets on the pups actually pull the string out of tune.
     
  11. matdras

    matdras Supporting Member

    Dec 18, 2011
    Fort Collins, Colorado
    I might give that a try. Are there any specific brands of epoxy you would recommend?
     
  12. Chef

    Chef Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    May 23, 2004
    Columbia MO
    Staff Reviewer; Bass Gear Magazine
    You need to ask the epoxy question over in the luthier forum; you'll get better answers....
     
  13. matdras

    matdras Supporting Member

    Dec 18, 2011
    Fort Collins, Colorado
    Will do. Thank you for all your help.
     

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