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Intonation fine, but notes out of tune.

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by skiltrip, Sep 6, 2008.

  1. skiltrip


    Jun 12, 2008
    my mexican fender squire bass is driving me crazy.

    i set up the intonation fine. The open E and 12th fret E are perfectly to pitch. But... the notes in between get progressively sharper as you go down from the 12th fret..


    11th fret is darn close
    10th fret is a little off
    by the time you get to the 5th fret, 3rd, and 1st fret, it's way way sharp.

    Is it just a matter of the bass being a POS that's built horribly? i'm wondering if there's anything i can do about it.. perhaps move the bridge forward or backward or something.

    What do you think it is?
  2. really high nut and/or too much relief?
    BritFunk and RSBBass like this.
  3. ehque


    Jan 8, 2006
    Or wrongly positioned nut, or badly cut nut.
    RSBBass likes this.
  4. skiltrip


    Jun 12, 2008
    the nut is cut pretty well, and not too high. it's not the stock nut that came with the bass, that one cracked in half years ago, this is one i had my local guitar shop install. i swear the bass was never THIS bad. It was always a LITTLE pitchy. But nothing that jumped out at you.

    I recently put flatwounds on it, and changed the pickups, but nothing moved physically that i can think of that make it this bad.

    I mean.. with the open E at 0.0cents, the fretted F is +15.0 cents. and i'm not fretting too hard. I've an experienced player who's been playing guitar for about 20 years, bass for at least 15 of them.
  5. XylemBassGuitar

    XylemBassGuitar Supporting Member Commercial User

    Aug 14, 2008
    Durango, CO
    Owner and Operator, Xylem Handmade Basses and Guitars
    When did it start to get this bad? Right after the string change?
  6. xshawnxearthx


    Aug 23, 2004
    new jersey
    make the pups are too high?
    Bob_Ross likes this.
  7. Lorenzini


    Dec 31, 2004
    Los Angeles
    It's probably not the pickups if the notes are getting sharper as he goes toward the nut. If he were going towards the pickups, that would make sense.. But not this way
  8. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    If it's just on the E string, my guess is you've got a bad string.
  9. Are you sure you're intonated correctly? the 12th fret and e string could match but if the 12fret HARMONIC is out of tune with the 12th fret den deres yur prob'em.
    Zooberwerx likes this.
  10. First off, the pups have absolutly nothing to do with this problem, unless they interfer with the strings when the notes are fretted.
    With the change to flatwounds, they may have a higher tension than what you had, causing the neck to bow more. The new nut may be higher than you think, causing a higher action.
    remember that when you press a string down to the fret, you are stretching the string slightly, changing the pitch. If the action is too high, the strings will stretch more going slightly more out of tune.
    If you have intonated at the 12th fret with high action on the strings, the problem will be made worse.
    some players like the high action, because they like to dig in as they call it.
    if your action is low, then I dont know......
    Whose strings did you put on, possible bad strings, or they need to settle in for a while.
    How many credit cards can you put between the 9th fret and A string ??
  11. Depends how much you pay for strings...

    Ho ho ho.
  12. Two things worth checking:

    1. Are the saddles stable, i.e. do they move around as you play? Might have to replace them if they do.

    2. Were the nut and grooves cut with the flatwound guage in mind? You might need a new nut.

    Don't know if these will work. Just basing this on what I did to a guitar (don't stone me!) that was in a similar situation as yours. The abovementioned items solved the problem.
  13. debassr


    Jan 23, 2008
    Flats are sometimes a little thicker than rounds in my experience. I would re-wind the string on the tuner post in case it's reverse twisted and get some graphite under the string on the nut. Re-tune and check intonation again. If that doesn't do it, I'd re-string it with strings that you know that held proper intonation in the past. These steps will give you a better picture of what's going on.
  14. Matthijs


    Jul 3, 2006
    All clues point in the direction of the nut. I'ts either too high or just a little too close tot the first fret.
    BritFunk likes this.
  15. lug


    Feb 11, 2005
    League City, Tx
    Did you install a new bridge?
  16. Matthijs


    Jul 3, 2006
    The bridge does not matter. The jump in intonation is between the first fret and the nut. Therefore the proble is also inbetween those two.
  17. OK, there are two possible situations if you are getting problems between the open strings and the first fret when you are tuning:

    1 - the nut is in the wrong place - if it is too far forward or back, you will get tuning issues. The test for this is to tune your bass to the first fret note (F), and play up the neck. If all of the notes are now in tune, but the open string is off, your nut is too far back or forward.

    2 - The nut is too high - This sounds like what you are describing. If the tuning is changing gradually as you move closer to the nut, getting more and more sharp until you hit the first fret, and then it is at correct pitch for the open string, that would be the exact description of what happens if your nut is too high. Usually this is only noticeable at the first few frets, but if you have a good tuner or a very good ear, this could possibly be an issue up to the 12th fret.
    BritFunk and RSBBass like this.
  18. Craig_S

    Craig_S Banned

    Oct 15, 2008
    Metro Detroit
    I believe you need to set it up again. It sounds to me like the string tension has pulled more relief (bow) into the neck and the added stretch needed to get the string to fret is pulling it sharp. Also could be the intonation. If you swapped to flatwound strings after the last setup, your intonation might need to be set again. Different strings - different intonation.
  19. Igotsoul4u


    Nov 3, 2011
    Bump. I am currently experiencing some isolated sharp notes most noticeable on the D and G string. Is it possible a bad fret job caused some low/high spots? 7th fret D is driving me nuts being a few cents sharp. 6th fret seems fine. I bought my bass used and it seems the guy tinkered around with it. It’s making me crazy.
  20. JLS


    Sep 12, 2008
    Emeryville, Ca
    I setup & repair guitars & basses
    Can you HEAR this when you're playing? If not, you're obsessing over your tuner's readout.
    96tbird likes this.

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