Hipshot Kickass, Cannot Get Intonation Even Close—Please Help!

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by Riff Ranger, Apr 2, 2020.

  1. Riff Ranger

    Riff Ranger Supporting Member

    Mar 22, 2018
    Bigfoot Country
    The one thread I found on this didn’t get any further than a quick suggestion to set witness points, which I have already tried. I will tag @Turnaround because I have seen him being helpful with this kind of thing all over the place, including past posts of mine, and he has mentioned that he likes the Hipshot Kickass bridge.

    My problem is a common one: notes on the 4th and 5th strings on my Precisions (2010 Fender MIM Standard and 2013 MII Squier Vintage Modified Precision Bass V) go sharp the further I go up the neck. I thought I had gotten it close enough that I could live with it, but it was painfully off when I played back a recording yesterday.

    I tune funny (GCGCF on the 5, CGCF on the 4), but these same tunings present no intonation issues with my 5- and 4-string Ibanez ATKs.

    In addition to setting witness points as I had mentioned previously, I have tried heavier strings (.105 to .110, .130 to .135; no noticeable differences in intonation), letting additional relief into the neck, raising the bridge saddles, and moving the saddles as far as they will go toward the bridge end of the instrument (though it seems like the 4th string saddle should go further on both the 4- and 5-string, the screw just starts stripping).


    Here’s what I want to know:
    • Is this a common issue with Kickass bridges?
    • Is there more I can try with these bridges (without drilling or machining anything)? I like the feel and look of these.
    • Am I likely to have better luck if I revert to the stock bridges?
    • Should I try different (drop-in) aftermarket bridges? If so, which one(s)?
    • Thank you for any help you can provide.
  2. Zooberwerx

    Zooberwerx Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2002
    Virginia Beach, VA
    *What's your procedure for setting intonation?

    *Same question re: setting witness points at the tuner post / nut / bridge saddle.

    Once those are resolved:

    *You can always remove the springs from each saddle assembly as desired...this will buy you some extra real estate.

    *Could be a bad string set but I'm not leaning that way.

  3. Lizooki


    Feb 24, 2008
    Whats your string height?
    Have you checked your 12th fret measurment.
    I check these two things first before I ever try to do a first time intonation.

    Also, nut height, but usually I cut the nut so I know where it is.
  4. Gilmourisgod


    Jun 23, 2014
    Cape Cod MA
    Yeah, probably something simpler, but what's the scale length? Measure from the inside face of nut to the center of the 12th fret. For a 34" scale, that should be exactly 17" . Your G string saddle should be exactly twice distance from nut to 12th fret, or a tiny bit farther. All the other saddles will walk back from that line to compensate for string thickness. It's remotely possible the whole bridge is in the wrong place, was it a replacement?
    Reedt2000 likes this.
  5. Turnaround

    Turnaround Commercial User

    May 6, 2004
    Toronto Canada
    Independent Instrument Technician
    IT's not a common problem at all. I have installed a few KA bridges and did not have intonation problems with any of them.

    Check to see if any of the strings are touching the front edge of the chrome saddle carrying piece. It may just be the angle of the photo, but the G string (F in your case) looks like it is touching. Don't see how this would happen though unless the saddles themselves had been cut down.
    Reedt2000 and Gilmourisgod like this.
  6. testing1two

    testing1two Supporting Member

    Feb 25, 2009
    Southern California
    Start by making sure the string length is "in the ballpark."
    1. Get a measuring tape and measure from the crown of the 12th fret on the G string to the G-string saddle right where the string makes contact.
    2. Set the G string saddle so that distance is exactly 17 inches.
    3. Check the intonation with your tuner. You should be very close and only need minor adjustment from that point
    4. Once that is set, adjust the D string saddle so it is 17 1/8 inches and repeat the process, starting with each string 1/8" longer than the previous.
    Also, make sure your pickups aren't too close to the strings. The magnetic string pull from the pickups can wreak havoc on intonation.
    Gilmourisgod likes this.
  7. Riff Ranger

    Riff Ranger Supporting Member

    Mar 22, 2018
    Bigfoot Country
    Thank you for the suggestions so far. I am quarantined with two young kids in California, so I probably won’t get to try anything until late night for most of you. I can answer a few questions and possibly rule out a few things right now:

    • I’m a hack at this stuff, and I don’t have luthier tools, just a generic toolbox and the right hex keys to make adjustments on my hardware. I can’t measure with tremendous precision with my skills and equipment, but I can try.
    • I have always intuitively set witness points at the nut and bridge, but I probably haven’t been doing it at the ideal point in the setup process, and I will have to look into how to set a proper witness point on the capstan; I have always just given it a hard bend once I had the end of the string in place—better to wind first and bend later?
    • I had a guy at a small music store do the installations and initial setups in my preferred tunings (months ago), but he’s not a real tech, and he only said he got it as close as he could. It sounds like I need to remove all the strings and get the saddles in what is hopefully close to the right position (using the process detailed above) before restringing.
  8. Riff Ranger

    Riff Ranger Supporting Member

    Mar 22, 2018
    Bigfoot Country
    • I bought both bridges new, did not modify them in anyway, and had them installed using the existing holes. If just one instrument had issues, I might have suspected the hardware or its placement, but both are off by almost exactly the same amount, so I suspect it’s something I’m doing, or not doing.
    • I hadn’t considered whether the nuts might be the culprits. I don’t think I have good enough tools to measure them or correct any issues there myself, so hopefully looking into my process and adjusting at the bridge will solve this.
  9. Riff Ranger

    Riff Ranger Supporting Member

    Mar 22, 2018
    Bigfoot Country
    • I’m also pretty sure my pickups are, if anything, a bit low.
    • I have not had this intonation issue with the stock bridge on my Squier VM SS Jaguar, also in CGCF.
  10. GIBrat51

    GIBrat51 Innocent as the day is long Supporting Member

    Looking at the picture, with the saddles back that far - and the heavy string saddle's spring (apparently) compressed as much as it will go? Hate to say it, but IMO... You made an error when you installed the bridge. You should have filled the existing holes, and drilled new ones about, say, 1/8" or 3/16"" further back. Or, wherever the screw holes in the bridge wind up, with the lightest string's saddle cranked about 3/4 of the way forward, and then located at the bass's scale length. As it is, there simply isn't enough rearward travel available...:meh:
    Rolling Thunder and Jeff Scott like this.
  11. Riff Ranger

    Riff Ranger Supporting Member

    Mar 22, 2018
    Bigfoot Country
    That’s what led me to bring it here. These are supposed to be a drop-in replacement; I wouldn’t have purchased them otherwise. If only one instrument had significant problems, I might have suspected the original bridge placement, but both the Fender and the Squier have them equally bad. I would like to look into removing the springs as mentioned above before I start drilling, but I really hope it’s just something I’m not doing right. I think that’s far more likely than me getting two bum bridges from a reputable manufacturer.
  12. GIBrat51

    GIBrat51 Innocent as the day is long Supporting Member

    You can check the bridge for proper location pretty easily. Set the lightest string's saddle so that it's between 60-75% of the way forward. Then, carefully measure back the exact scale length from - IIRC - the front of the nut. If you wind up behind that saddle? Then, yes, the bridge is too far forward. By the amount the measurement falls behind the saddle. If I'm wrong? Well, sorry; but, I have actually been wrong before. You have a different problem; and, again, sorry; I have no idea what it is... :rollno:
    Monterey Bay-ss likes this.
  13. Riff Ranger

    Riff Ranger Supporting Member

    Mar 22, 2018
    Bigfoot Country
    I hope you’re wrong, and that I’m doing something wrong :laugh: I will add this to the measurements I need to take later tonight.
  14. Gilmourisgod


    Jun 23, 2014
    Cape Cod MA
    This should be really easy to check, go to any hardware store and get the cheapest 36" aluminum ruler or tape measure they have. Measure the distance from the inside face of nut to the center of the 12th fret. Multiply that number (17" for a 34" scale) by 2 . If the G string saddle isn't REALLY close to exactly double the distance from nut to 12th, with the G string saddle near its nutward limit of travel, then your bridge is in the wrong place. Just because its "supposed" to be drop-in doesn't mean it is. If it's at, or very near, where it should be, try dialing the G string saddle to EXACTLY twice nut to 12th. If it doesn't intonate, you have issues elsewhere, but you have to rule out the most obvious answer first.
    Monterey Bay-ss likes this.
  15. Inara

    Inara Fierce Fun Fretless Female Supporting Member

    Jun 12, 2017
    Seattle, WA USA
    Do you still have the original bridges, and were they intonated well on your basses before the swap? If so, and if you haven't changed the saddle positions on them, could you measure the distance between the mounting holes and the saddle positions and see how it compares to your new bridges? The Kick-Ass does have a thicker baseplate than the stock bridges as well ... After you set proper relief in the neck, are you able to adjust the saddle height and get
    the strings lowered to a suitable height still? I'm just grasping at straws - good luck!
    Monterey Bay-ss likes this.
  16. Riff Ranger

    Riff Ranger Supporting Member

    Mar 22, 2018
    Bigfoot Country
    I measured the vibrating length of each string as a few of you have suggested, and I suspect the “drop-in” replacement doesn’t actually drop in, i.e. the bridge is too close to the nut. The first three strings (.045, .065, .085) all intonate at 34” or a bit more, but look how far away from the nut they already are. The .110 and .135 are already screwed down as tight as they can go.

    I’m going to measure the original bridge as one of you suggested to see whether it might make sense to just revert to those. I only changed the bridge on the 4 to match the 5; string changes were difficult with the 5’s original bridge, and I seem to recall the weird windings near the ball end creeping nearly onto the saddle, but if it would solve my intonation problem, I might go that route.

    Is it common for so-called “drop-in” replacements to not drop in so easily as they suggest?
  17. vid1900


    Dec 12, 2019
    You can cut the springs in half with wirecutters

    Pretty common fix
  18. Riff Ranger

    Riff Ranger Supporting Member

    Mar 22, 2018
    Bigfoot Country
    I like the sound of that.
  19. Inara

    Inara Fierce Fun Fretless Female Supporting Member

    Jun 12, 2017
    Seattle, WA USA
    And as @Zooberwerx said in the first reply, you can also just remove the springs entirely.
    Zooberwerx likes this.
  20. bassstrangler


    Mar 2, 2015
    Never had a single problem with a KA bridge. I've probably installed at least 8 of them.

    The only thing I've done is installed the shorter included screw and spring on the E and the A. Usually the intonation is pretty close if not spot on directly out of the box.

    I've installed on MIMs and one or two Squiers.

    Occasionally with some bridges I've had screwy intonation problems. Sometimes it's a new set of strings that clears it up and sometimes leaving it alone for awhile and coming back to it works.

    I've really got no idea how to help, but maybe taking the strings off and putting them back on works. Be aware that sometimes the ball end sometimes sets crooked in the KA bridge. Make sure it's setting correctly and you can turn the intonation screw without touching the ball end when turning your screwdriver.
    Monterey Bay-ss likes this.

Share This Page