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Help, I dont get it...

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by bassist 4 life, Jan 6, 2006.

  1. Hey, how do I set the intonation?? This is what is says ont he fender website:

    "Intonation (Roughing it out)

    You can pre-set the basic intonation of your bass by taking your tape measure and measuring from the inside of the nut to the center of the 12th fret (the wire, not the fingerboard). Double that measurement to find the scale length of your bass. Adjust the 1st string bridge saddle to this scale length, measuring from the inside of the nut to the center of the bridge saddle. Now, adjust the distance of the 2nd saddle back from the 1st saddle, using the gauge of the 2nd string as a measurement (Example: If the 2nd string is .060" (1.5 mm) you would move the 2nd string back .060" (1.5 mm) from the 1st saddle). Move the 3rd back from the 2nd saddle, using the gauge of the 3rd string as a measurement. The 4th in the same method (and 5th if you have a 5-string bass). Note: If you are using taperwound 4th string (and 5th if you have a 5-string bass) use the actual gauge of the string for your measurement-not the dimension of the tapered portion of the string."

    I still dont get it, could someone explain it to me? Please.

    Thank You
  2. Are you sure the intonation off?

    If it is, and you have the strings at the height your want, tune your open string and tune it with a good tuner. Play the harmonic on the same string at the 12th fret. What does your tuner say? If it's sharp move the saddle on the bridge away from the fretboard, if it's flat move it closer. Retune the open string and rinse repeat.
  3. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Bettendorf, IA USA
    A fretted instrument is an imperfect thing. It will not play every note on the neck in tune. Setting the intonation will get it as close as possible. That said:

    Ignore everything that the Fender site says. You can set it right in about a tenth of the time you can "rough" it out.

    First of all, do this after the bass is set up as you like it. Changes in relief and action can goof the intonation.


    Get a decent tuner, a $10 Korg works just fine, and whatever tool it takes to move the individual saddles. Typically it is a phillips screwdriver that turns the screw in the back of the bridge.

    1. Carefully tune each open string to correct pitch.
    2. Fret the string at the 12th fret and play the note. If it is also correct to pitch, you are fine. But, it will likely be sharp or flat.
    3. If sharp, tighten the screw with the phillips. This will move the saddle back toward the back of the bass. Retune the open string first to correct pitch. Check the 12th again. Keep moving it back until the open and 12th play play at correct pitch.
    4. If the note at the 12th is flat, loosen the screw as to move the saddle forward. This can be a little trickier. Sometimes the screw will back out rather than move the saddle. If so, just push the saddle forward with your finger.

    The trick is to make sure the open string is in tune before checking the fretted pitch.

    It's easy. After a few times, you can do it in 3 minutes.
  4. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Bettendorf, IA USA

    Sorry. This is wrong. The harmonic will ALWAYS play the same pitch as the open string. No matter where the saddles are. It is the physical nature of harmonics.

    Even my fretless has harmonics. :)

    No offense. It is a common confusion. When I was younger, electronic tuners were expensive and mostly unavailable. We used to set intonation by ear by equalizing the 12 fret fretted note with the octave harmonic. I think this is where the confusion comes from.
  5. ddnidd1

    ddnidd1 Supporting Member

    Read the FAQ for this forum.
  6. Hey Chasarm, on the Gary Willis setup page it says to use the 12 fret harmonics, im confused :/
  7. He's right - the first harmonic (12th fret) will ALWAYS be exactly twice the pitch of the open string, whatever it is. This is because the distance from the nut to the harmonic point is exactly the same as the harmonic to the bridge.

    The trick is to make the FRETTED note the exact same pitch as the harmonic - depending on where your bridge saddle is sitting, the distance from the nut to the 12th fret may be not the same as from the 12th to the bridge. This is what they are getting at when they talk about roughing out the intonation with a tape measure.

    He's also right in that if you want to use the harmonic, you should make the 12th fret fretted note the same as the 12th fret harmonic - that's a really fast way to check if your guitar has the right intonation.
  8. +1. Play the harmonic; then play the fretted note, (with a tuner each time), and then compare the pitches. Go from there. I'll bet you'll be off some cents! Adjust as per Chasarms's instructions. ;)
  9. Aight thnaks guys ;)... Yup did it, its beter now :D
  10. You are correct sir. I stand corrected - thanks.