How picky are you about tuning/intonation?

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by P-Boy69, Sep 11, 2021.

  1. P-Boy69


    Mar 7, 2019
    As the title says, how picky are you about tuning/intonation? How much does it matter? Do you just check the open string or open and 12th fret…and additionally 5th fret? How about the first fret, because from what I have seen, it shows neck issues real good ?
    Also where do you draw the line and how do you check? Clip on tuner good enough, pedal, quantum light diffracting particle accelerator? On a clip on tuner that has the green/red lines to show you how much you are off, what is acceptable and what would be perceived in a normal humanoid ear?
    cpeterso and JRA like this.
  2. JKos


    Oct 26, 2010
    Surprise, AZ
    I'm really picky about intonation setup. Not just open and 12th fret but also 3rd/15th, 5th/17th, 17th and next higher pitch open string, 19th and next lower pitch open string.
    chaak, Vinny_G and Swipter like this.
  3. Swipter


    Sep 7, 2009
    What he said. Intonation is very important. If it won't Intonate try different strings brand.
    legalbass and MynameisMe like this.
  4. AboutSweetSue

    AboutSweetSue Guest

    Sep 29, 2018
    Open and 12th. It’s good enough.
    aus_bass, legalbass, Marko 1 and 5 others like this.
  5. NoiseNinja

    NoiseNinja Experimental-psychedelic-ambient-noise-drone Inactive

    Feb 23, 2011
    I just check respectively the 12th fret harmonic and fretted note (though I am careful to hit that right spot on).

    But beyond that unless the intonation on lower and higher frets are so off that I can hear it that's perfectly fine with me.

    A question though to those who are extraordinarily picky with the intonation on their basses, I assume you stay away from ever playing acoustic stringed fretted instruments, such as acoustic basses and guitars, then (or Violin/Beatles basses with their wood block bridges and Telecaster guitars with traditional 3 saddle Tele bridges for that matter), otherwise I imagine that would be a hell for you?
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2021
    rockinrayduke, ctmullins and BritFunk like this.
  6. P-Boy69


    Mar 7, 2019
    But how do you “measure” it and at what point do you feel it needs adjusting?
  7. Dan Knowlton

    Dan Knowlton Sometimes you're the dog, sometimes the tree Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 3, 2000
    Palm Coast, FL
    Very picky - and I sometimes play a fretless Roscoe 5.

    SteveC likes this.
  8. onestone


    Jan 18, 2013
    Very picky, it's essential.
  9. Datsgor

    Datsgor Supporting Member

    Jul 29, 2000
    Not too picky, open and 12th fret with a strobe tuner.
    legalbass and PockySteve like this.
  10. Zooberwerx

    Zooberwerx Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2002
    Virginia Beach, VA
    A little too picky but I'm getting better. Unwavering bars on my Peterson vs "close enough for jazz".

  11. OldSchoolFlats


    May 29, 2021
    I have tended to stay below the 12th fret, but if you play much on the upper frets, intonation will be more of an issue.

    My intonation is OK by ear (12th fret and harmonic), but I am starting to get into chords high on the neck, so I figure I will need to intonate a bit more before long.
  12. SteveC

    SteveC Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 12, 2004
    NE ND
    I’m petty particular. I just check the 12th fret harmonic and fretted and make adjustments. That’s usually “good enough” as my basses are pretty nice.
    Zooberwerx likes this.
  13. KohanMike

    KohanMike Gold Supporting Member

    I've been replacing the limited adjustment wood bridge and piezo saddle on my Hadean solid body bass ukes with an piezo all metal fully adjustable bridge so that I can get better intonation. (The Jazz pickups are fake.)

    Yellow Jazz bass 900.jpg
    Rondo Jazz with bridge 900.jpg
    Qlanq likes this.
  14. Geri O

    Geri O Endorsing Artist, Mike Lull Guitars and Basses Gold Supporting Member

    Sep 6, 2013
    Florence, MS
    I'm picky about intonation, but I have't had a bass where it was a problem, except for a particular Stingray that I bought used. All the first-fret fretted notes were just a little sharp, but my most excellent local guitar and bass guy diagnosed the issue as the fret slots not being cut deep enough. He cut them to the proper depth and the first fret intonation issue was remedied.

    (I don't actually understand how that works, but it did)
  15. friend33

    friend33 Supporting Member

    Jul 2, 2020
    If the nut slot is too high, you will be “stretching” the string too much when fretting it, pulling it sharp. If cut lower/correctly, the string will not overstretch when fretted.
    One Way likes this.
  16. Geri O

    Geri O Endorsing Artist, Mike Lull Guitars and Basses Gold Supporting Member

    Sep 6, 2013
    Florence, MS
    Ahh, makes perfect sense.
    friend33 likes this.
  17. SteveC

    SteveC Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 12, 2004
    NE ND
    The intonation being off is usually a sign for me that I need to change strings. Fresh strings helps pitch, and I find it helps with G.A.S. as well.
    legalbass, friend33 and Geri O like this.
  18. Arie X

    Arie X

    Oct 19, 2015
    about as picky as my strobe tuner. literally none of my instruments measure up to that thing but some variation is acceptable.

    i try to stabilize the "measurement" between attack and decay.
    legalbass likes this.
  19. bigtone23


    Dec 10, 2014
    Denver, CO
    I'm pretty much in this camp.
    I try my best to set intonation to my usual fretting force of playing live.
    Unlike guitar, small variations are not as noticeable on the lower pitches and darker tones of the bass. Plus, since I'm usually playing single notes vs chords, the relativity of individual strings/frets in regards to intonation is also not as perceivable.
    Geri O likes this.
  20. OldSchoolFlats


    May 29, 2021
    It is amazing how the pitch varies with time. I first noticed this with a mechanical strobe tuner in the '70s, but even a small Korg tuner generally starts sharp, shifts flat, then settles-in after a few seconds. Of course, I generally don't hold notes for a few seconds...