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Having a heck of time with intonation

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by oldrocker, Jan 13, 2018.

  1. oldrocker


    Feb 13, 2005
    Long Island, NY
    Not sure if its the wide temperature swings here in the northeast recently but I'm have a heck of time getting the intonation right today.

    I have a show tonight so usually make sure the 2 basses I bring are cleaned, tuned and intonated. I'm a bit anal about intonation so I usually check open tuning to 12th fret, 17th fret and some of the middle frets. I can usually get this spot on but today with 2 different basses, 2 different tuners if I get the open and 12th set, the 17th fret is flat and the mid frets are sharp on both A and E strings. G and D strings are fine.

    Strings are pretty new on both, flats on one and rounds on the other. I have not had to tweak the truss rod.

    Any ideas?
  2. sissy kathy

    sissy kathy Back to Bass-ics Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2014
    Arbutus, MD
    Don't check open to 12th; check 12th to 12th harmonic. That's all I got.
    Zooberwerx and bholder like this.
  3. I don't think you'll ever get where every note on every fret is intonated.

    I just intonate at the 12th ( by lightly plucking the fretted 12th.) and compare it to the open. I can usually get where those two match dead on.

    Always sounds quite good overall when I'm finished.

    I used to go the "matching the 12th harmonic" routine. Pain in the butt and results often were skewed.
    oldrocker likes this.
  4. bholder

    bholder Affable Sociopath Supporting Member

    Sep 2, 2001
    central NY state
    Received a gift from Sire* (see sig)
    I sometimes double check the 19th fret harmonic against the 19th fretted too, higher pitch sometimes makes differences easier to spot.
  5. 96tbird

    96tbird PLEASE STAND BY

    Witness points.
  6. Gilmourisgod


    Jun 23, 2014
    Cape Cod MA
    Yeah, don’t agonize too much over it. Unless you play a lot of chords high on the fingerboard, a tiny bit out is inaudible. My son has a Hofner clone with a floating bridge, we spent hours getting it “close enough”, which Is all you can do with a floating bridge, still sounds great! Heh, I never even heard of witness points till I joined TB.
  7. JTE

    JTE Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2008
    Central Illinois, USA
    Open string or 12th fret harmonic as reference are the same. If the harmonic isn't an exact octave the string is bad and setting intonation won't matter. Advantage of the harmonic is that it is the same octave as the fretted 12th fret note. Easier to match by ear, and the higher pitch may be easier for electronic tuners to read accurately- +/- 0.1% of 110 Hz is better than +/- 0.1% of 55 Hz.

    Hold the bass in playing position, use consistent attack and fretting hand pressure all through and make sure witness points are set.
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2018
    Das Jugghead likes this.
  8. megafiddle


    May 25, 2011
    Did you happen to adjust the action height?

    Seasonal changes in the neck are mainly due to a humidity variation, not temperature. And humidity changes typically affect relief.

    If the relief changes, then the relative intonation along the neck will also change. So if you corrected a movement of the neck by only adjusting the string height, or making no adjustments at all, then the intonation at frets other than the 12th are going to be different.

    Killed_by_Death likes this.
  9. oldrocker


    Feb 13, 2005
    Long Island, NY
    Nope, have not adjusted string height.
  10. megafiddle


    May 25, 2011
    An increase in relief was one possibility, but then you surely would have noticed that.

    How sharp and flat are they?
    And how close were they before?
    What kind of tuner display?


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