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Intonation: does it HAVE to be exact?

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by MovingPitchers, Jan 19, 2014.

  1. Disassembled by P bass and reassembled it to fix pickup foam issue.

    Restrung it and everything and began on the dreadful intonation setup (GAH).

    Normally, it is bang-on with my jazz bass but my precision bass seems to be having problems with the fretted octave being always sharp, whether it may be by a whole lot or just a little.

    Does the intonated note HAVE to be on the dot or can it be off by a little bit either way?
  2. walterw

    walterw Supportive Fender Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 20, 2009
    how can it always be sharp if you adjust the saddles back? at some point they'll be flat.

    adjust so they're in tune, same as anything else.
  3. FunkHead

    FunkHead Supporting Member

    Mar 10, 2007
    Phillipsburg, NJ
    If you're maxing out the adjustment then start by trying different strings. Also, If you can't get it perfect at least get it right in the area of the neck you play the most. Lowering the action can help too. Too high and you're bending the string sharp just to reach the frets with the strings. Plus, a top notch tuner gos a long way to make it easier. if you're tuner is on the crappy side, it can give you trouble setting intonation.
  4. walterw

    walterw Supportive Fender Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 20, 2009
    +1 to both points;

    if the string won't behave no matter where you put the saddle then you have a bad string, and if you can adjust the 12th fret to be in tune but then other positions are off, you probably have too-high action, which causes "string-stretch" by the time you get the string down to the fret. a high nut is a common cause.
  5. pfox14


    Dec 22, 2013
    Are you loosening the strings before you adjust the saddle pieces? Saddles may not be moving if haven't.
  6. GretschBassist


    Nov 11, 2012
    I'd say give it to a guitar shop, it shouldn't cost more than $20-30 to set it up properly. I do a little pit stop (Checking frets, intonation and truss rod) with mine every year, it's really worth it.
  7. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013
    It's not like you're going to get arrested. Plenty of people play horrible sounding, out of tune basses.
  8. Saddles move fine when there's string tension. Its always how I've been setting my basses up. Yet my precision bass is giving me problems
  9. Slowgypsy

    Slowgypsy 4 Fretless Strings

    Dec 12, 2006
    NY & MA
    How old are your strings?
    What kind of tuner are you using?
  10. New Ernie ball slinkies 45-105. Just replaced them two weeks ago. And I'm using those black korg tuners. Nothing special or expensive.
  11. pfox14


    Dec 22, 2013
    Do not mean to be a jerk, but I sincerely doubt the saddle pieces are moving with rounds under tension. They tend to get hung up on the saddles, especially round wounds.
  12. MonetBass

    MonetBass ♪ Just listen ♫ Supporting Member

    Sep 15, 2006
    Tulsa, OK
    I've adjusted my basses' intonation wearing rounds under tension many times, and the saddles move just fine. If they don't move, then there's a problem with the the saddle that needs to be fixed.
  13. bswag

    bswag Guest

    Dec 21, 2013
    Assuming your action isn't just too d*&^ high (as several others have mentioned), then I'd ask: Will your saddles move freely with the strings loosened drastically? Is there anything on the bridge plate hanging up the saddle support screws?
    If the saddles move freely w/out any hangups (not counting the psychological kind, if bridge saddles get those), then can you set the saddles on either side of proper intonation (i.e., where the fretted note is sharp or flat)?
    If not, then I'm stumped... unless you have your pickup so high it's plotzing the strings, but that seems unlikely, yes? Um, how much relief do you have on that neck?
    But if, as your query implies, your bridge saddles are all the way back and the fretted note is still sharp, well, geez... Does your own ear agree with your tuner? If not, go with your ear!
    Will bad intonation matter? It will to some people, others won't notice. But it's worth fixing for sure, if only for your own sake.
  14. tjh

    tjh Supporting Member

    Mar 22, 2006
    .. make sure you set your 'witness points' before you start and continually as you adjust ... also, make sure you do not have twisted strings .. if it has just gotten worse since the string change, either and/or may be an issue ...
  15. Zooberwerx

    Zooberwerx Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2002
    Virginia Beach, VA
    Oh, yeah! Replacing strings is an installation process...skip critical steps and the results will be unsatisfactory.