Intonating a fretless

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by pjmuck, Jan 3, 2009.

  1. pjmuck


    Feb 8, 2006
    New Joisey
    How do you guys do it? I've done my own setups for years on my fretted basses, but I'm relatively new to fretless and wondering if there are unique setup suggestions. I'm used to doing the typical open string/fretted 12 fret method using my Strobostomp, but obviously trying to fret at the 12th "fret" on a fretless would only be an approximation.
  2. Rick Auricchio

    Rick Auricchio Registered Bass Offender

    I'll usually put a capo there to "fret" the string precisely.
  3. That assumes the side markers or fret markers are accurate - I've read (here) that this isn't always so.

    Most replies to this question usually end.......... 'use your ear to get it as accurate as possible, then make adjustments as necessary while playing....'
  4. Brian D

    Brian D

    Dec 2, 2004
    Dublin, Ireland
    I usually intonate mine in a similar way that I'd intonate my fretted basses. I check the notes at the 5th fret and 12th fret. So in the case of the fretless I try get the notes to line up with the side dots based on this idea. It's usually relatively close, but sure you're going to be playing by ear anyways. :D
  5. jimmy rocket

    jimmy rocket

    Jan 24, 2008
    Ayden, NC
    I use the harmonics at the 12th fret and check them against a "fretted" 12th fret. when I get them dialed in I find that the intonation is pretty solid all the way up the neck.
  6. TVBBass

    TVBBass Guest

    This is absolutely the way to do it.. do it the exact same way you would on a fretted but using harmonics instead of fretting.
  7. Brass Nut

    Brass Nut Guest

    Dec 31, 2006
    SoCo Rhode Island USA
    Side markers on a fretless can be very, very unreliable. Almost useless even.

    Wanna have some fun? Try the other board and ask how the upright guys look at it.
  8. pjmuck


    Feb 8, 2006
    New Joisey
    Well this is another reason why I posted this thread, as the side markers on my bass are offset.

    The harmonics idea is a good one.
  9. Hoover

    Hoover Inactive

    Nov 2, 2007
    New York City

    Are you saying that you simply tweak the bridge saddle until the harmonic appears where you want the stopped note to be located on the fingerboard? (...but never actually stop the string to compare?)
  10. mjolnir

    mjolnir Thor's Hammer 2.1.3beta

    Jun 15, 2006
    Houston, TX
    To be perfectly frank, I gave up trying to intonate my 'Wick. I just do my best to look away from the markers and listen my way to the right note.
  11. TVBBass

    TVBBass Guest

    Sorry, I think I confused myself a bit here. I use the harmonics to confirm the exact location of the true 12th fret position: i.e. move your fretting fingure until the harmonic matches the exact some pitch as the the fully pressed note. Then you adjust the saddle until the true 12th fret position is in the desired place.
    This can all be done with a tuner as the original post said. Ensure the open string is exactly in tune then check where the octave above is exactly in tune, then adjust the saddle until this is the desired location.

    The point is that setting up fretless is the exact same as setting up fretted, you just approach it from a different starting point.
    Fretted: The "12th fret" is the starting point and adjust saddle until it is exactly in tune
    Fretless: the location of the exact octave is the starting point and move it until it is in the desired location.

    I think this is slightly missing the point. The aim of setting fretless intonation is to get the 12th fret where "you" want it and making sure this is the exact same place for all strings.

    This guide is much more elequant than me!
  12. jimmy rocket

    jimmy rocket

    Jan 24, 2008
    Ayden, NC
    nope, I'm saying do both. Start with the harmonic, and when you get the harmonic tone to be visually above where you would stop the string (@ the 12th fret position) it should be very close when you actually stop the string. The Capo idea is a good one because it ensures positional uniformity across the strings.

    Now, should you be the type that likes to stop the string between the fret markers, or just behind where the fret would be, or if you've got a fingerboard w/o lines, this stopped position can vary. Adjust it to suit your tastes.
  13. jimmy rocket

    jimmy rocket

    Jan 24, 2008
    Ayden, NC