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Intonation Problems on one string of an upright bass

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by Colin Kyger, Jan 12, 2020.


  1. Colin Kyger

    Colin Kyger

    Jan 12, 2020
    Recently started renting an upright bass from a local music shop, I noticed that the G string is a bit off compared to the other three strings. This might be a bit tricky to explain so bear with me, when all the open strings are in tune using a tuner and I'm using the proper right hand technique on my upright the E, A, and D string are fine but when I'm using the proper hand technique on the G string and I'll go to play a C or anything passed it I have to move my right hand a 16th to an 8th of an inch down to keep it in tune because if I don't then I'll be sharp.

    In other words my G string is not in tune with the rest of my bass despite all the open strings being tuned almost perfectly to a tuner and my question is what is causing the problem and how can I fix it?
     
  2. statsc

    statsc Supporting Member

    Apr 23, 2010
    Burlington, VT
    Sounds like the bridge is crooked, with the G string side either too far in the end pin direction or too far towards the nut (depending on what you mean by “down”). How about posting some pictures of the position of your bridge so that we can see its position?
     
    RSBBass and unbrokenchain like this.
  3. Wasnex

    Wasnex

    Dec 25, 2011
    Are all 4 strings the same type? The type and gauge of the string has an impact on intonation.

    In doing a Google search, it appears that the dominant idea is the bridge is not compensated on double bass. I am a bit surprised as most people I have discussed this with angle the bridge slightly so the vibrating length of the E string is a bit longer than the G string. Right or wrong, this is how I setup my basses, and I feel it helps make intonation across the strings more consistent. :bag:
     
  4. Wasnex

    Wasnex

    Dec 25, 2011
    It's also possible the G string is bad.

    Or, it could be the height of the strings above the neck is not set properly. I.E. if the G string is too high or too low the intonation will suffer. This could be something as simple as the bridge was bumped so the strings are no longer centered properly over the fingerboard.

    The radius of the fingerboard and bridge should be pretty much the same, but I would expect the strings to get progressively higher as you move from G to E. However, the difference in height is subtle.
     
  5. JeffKissell

    JeffKissell Supporting Member

    Nov 21, 2004
    Soquel, CA
    Get thee to a teacher for a lesson with this bass!
    There are plenty of technique issues that could account for the discrepancy and a teacher can spot immediately whether it's your form or the bass.
     
    Wasnex likes this.
  6. AGCurry

    AGCurry Supporting Member

    Jun 29, 2005
    St. Louis
    Perhaps the nut groove is too high ... although that would make all stopped notes a little sharp.
     
    Fredrik E. Nilsen likes this.
  7. Colin Kyger

    Colin Kyger

    Jan 12, 2020
    20200112_140657.jpg 20200112_140652.jpg 20200112_140702.jpg
     
    Wasnex likes this.
  8. Wasnex

    Wasnex

    Dec 25, 2011
    GypsyBilly likes this.
  9. statsc

    statsc Supporting Member

    Apr 23, 2010
    Burlington, VT
    Yup; as I suspected! The E string side of the bridge should be moved a bit towards the nut and the G string side of the bridge moved a bit towards the end pin. An imaginary line drawn connecting the inside f-hole notch on the E string side to the inside f-hole notch on the G string side should pretty much pass through the middle of each bridge foot. Also, the end pin side of the bridge should be approximately perpendicular to the top of the bass.

    I think a trip to a real bass luthier for a professional set-up would be in order, since it appears that the music store you rented this from doesn’t really know how to set up an upright bass if this was the condition you got it in.
     
  10. statsc

    statsc Supporting Member

    Apr 23, 2010
    Burlington, VT
    I have never heard of angling the bridge as you describe from any luthier or bass player.
     
    GypsyBilly, the_Ryan, BobKay and 2 others like this.
  11. salcott

    salcott Supporting Member

    Aug 22, 2007
    NYC, Inwood.
    Looks like it was set up by a bass guitar repair person. Bad idea.
     
  12. Who set up that bridge, Picasso?
     
  13. Wasnex

    Wasnex

    Dec 25, 2011
    As I mentioned, having the bridge straight comes as a surprise to me, thus why I put :bag: with my comment. From what I have seen, there tends to be regional differences in technique and setup among UB players. I.E. a master in an area may have an influence on the players in an orchestra for example. I believe this is something I was taught in my hometown from the principal bassist of the local symphony, and an adjustment that I do as necessary on the basses I play. However, if the intonation is fine without the compensation, I leave the bridge alone.

    I think the angle of the OP's bridge looks extreme, and it is likely the source of the problem. I could also be an attempt to correct the problem :facepalm:; so maybe there are other issues with the bass.
     
    GypsyBilly and AGCurry like this.
  14. JeffKissell

    JeffKissell Supporting Member

    Nov 21, 2004
    Soquel, CA
    Also looks like the bridge is backwards based on the flat side vs the beveled side and the string slots... definitely have a luthier look at this sooner rather than later. It will be much easier to play and intonate when it's set up properly.
     
  15. unbrokenchain

    unbrokenchain Supporting Member

    Jun 8, 2011
    Black Mountain, NC
    x1,000...

    How about a shot of the nut on this bass? There's a chance it could have been setup properly at some point and then had the bridge knocked over and set back reversed and crooked, possibly even by another renter? But also could have just never been setup right in the first place..
     
    GypsyBilly likes this.
  16. Don Kasper

    Don Kasper Supporting Member

    unbrokenchain and jsf729 like this.
  17. Colin Kyger

    Colin Kyger

    Jan 12, 2020
    20200112_164021.jpg
     
  18. Colin Kyger

    Colin Kyger

    Jan 12, 2020
    20200112_164007.jpg
     
    unbrokenchain likes this.
  19. 9Thumbs

    9Thumbs

    Jul 3, 2013
    Near Boston
    The slots in the bridge don't look right. Notice that the G string notch is the same size as the E string notch. Also, the notches in the bridge are square, they should be round and approximately the same width as the string they hold. Somebody messed with the bridge, take it back to where you rented it and have them fix it, or let them send it out to be made right
     
    GypsyBilly and gnypp45 like this.
  20. nogbert

    nogbert

    Jul 18, 2010
    Denver, CO
    yeah... bridge is on backwards, not aligned correctly, nut looks like amateur hour to me. the shop you got the bass from doesn't know anything about the instrument... i'd return it and rent from someone else who deals with basses and at the very least violin family instruments.
     
  21. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

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    Feb 27, 2021

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