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Intonation Problem

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by basschips, Oct 19, 2004.

  1. I apologize for posting this again but I didn't get any responses and I really could use some suggestions, thoughts or opinions. Thanks.

    When I intonate my bass, I notice that above the 14th. fret the notes tend to go sharp and even sharper the higher I go up the fretboard all the way to the 24th. fret. I intonate with a Peterson Strobostomp and the 12th. fret it is in tune. This is particularly true of my B and E strings. Is this normal or am I doing something wrong? Is some variation in the pitch normal? I believe this variation is considerable, though.


  2. wulf


    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    You could try setting the intonation at a higher fret and see if it's still accurate enough lower down. With a strobe tuner, I imagine that you're able to get your 12th fret intonation very precise and that might be revealing the compromises caused by the position of other frets.

    Another possibility is the strings - the intonation on my electro-acoustic (non-adjustable bridge) became noticeably bad but the cure turned out to be wacking some new strings on. The particular symptom was almost random intonation difficulties - as I recall, I charted the percentage deviation of each fretted note and, rather than being a smooth curve of getting more out of tune in higher positions, the pattern was up and down and varied from string to string as well as fret to fret.

  3. dlloyd

    dlloyd zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    Apr 21, 2004
    What's happening on the lower frets?
  4. Bass Kahuna

    Bass Kahuna

    Dec 3, 2002
    West Lafayette, Indiana
    Luthier, Custom Builder
    This was a fairly common problems with 70's les paul guitars.... on those the fret slots above the 12th were not cut into the fingerboard in the correct locations...

    Anyway, one thing that can be done is to check the fret crown. If the top of the frets are flat, you could have them re-crowned, and as part of that you can have them re-crowned with the crown of the fret off center on the fret to try and correct the intonation problem. I've done this in the past and while not difficult it is time consuming.

    You could also try having smaller, narrower fretwire installed on the higher frets for better intonation accuracy over wide frets (I believe the Yamaha Attitude basses come this way from the factory.... at least Billy's personal ones are setup this way...).

  5. You've described perfectly what happens with a very high action. Pressing down on the frets above the 12th really begins to stretch the string (sharp). The further up you go, the higher the string is from the fretboard. The sharpness probably only shows up at the 14th fret because the relative increase in pitch from fretting between the 12th and 14th frets is too small to be of consequence.

    Try lowering your action and re-intonating. If the problem decreases, you've got your answer.
  6. Yes, I would say that my intonation is wacked out. I have a set of Dean Markley's SR2000 tapered strings. I will try those on and see if it actually makes a difference. I think this is a good place to start. I will post with results.


  7. Interesting question...below the 12th. all the notes are flat. :meh: Hmm...I gonna change the strings, first.
  8. I know what your saying. It makes sense, however, my action is really low already.


  9. dlloyd

    dlloyd zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    Apr 21, 2004
    That's a good idea whenever you set up IMHO

    Just a guess here... If the problem's still there, it could be that there's a systematic error in fret placement relative to the nut... If all frets were at the correct distance from the first fret, but the first fret was too close to the nut, you'd expect a string that was correctly intonated at the 12th to be flat below the 12th (and getting worse the lower you get) and sharp above it (and getting worse the higher you get)
  10. In zealousness over my new tuner. I wanted to see how this baby intonated. Well, I forgot to change the strings. (i know better, at least, I should know better) I have changed the strings to Dean Markley SR2000 with tapered ends. Everything is lining up a whole lot better. My only problem now is since I have used tapered strings, my B and E bridge saddles could use longer screws because right now it is intonating slightly flat and there is no more threads left! Even with that situation, it is a lot better. FWIW, these Peterson Strobostomps are very cool and extremely accurate and built like a tank (almost). Anyway, thanks for your help and all the ideas, it did help!