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Intonation Question

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by jnprather, Nov 7, 2005.

  1. Hi guys, I have a general question about intonation that i've been beating my head over for a few days. It's one of those things that must have a very simple answer and i'm sure I will go "oh jeez, duh" when I find it... Also, I hope this is the correct subforum.

    Anyway, this is what I understand of intonation. You adjust the saddle until the pitch at the 12th fret (or the harmonic) are exactly an octave above the 0 fret. I always figured this was a necessity to adjust for slight scale changes from neck bend, etc.

    I've noticed that in general, the B string saddle is slightly behind the other strings. Great, then I read this on the Sadowsky FAQ:

    Alright, now that just about confused the hell out of me :). What am I missing? To me, it seems that if a string of X gauge is tightened to X tension to create X pitch, that the subsequent proper intonation should be identical. The only possible explanation I can think of is that a tapered core would have a different tension and bend the neck a different amount, but im positive i'm missing something very basic.

    So, someone slap me upside the head and tell me *** i'm missing :)

  2. fretlessrock

    fretlessrock Supporting Member

    Aug 8, 2002
    Some B strings have the windings either taper or completely go away where the string rides over the saddle. That lowers the center of the string and puts it closer to the saddle than the center of the E string. That means that it probably won't need as much compensation.

    Think of it this way: if all the strings were the same diameter you wouldn't have to do much compensation, if any.
  3. Rene


    Mar 8, 2004
    If you want to know more about intonation, visit this site:


    Click: Article of interest
    Click: "Intonation" by Mike Doolin

    There is an article of 8 pages of information
  4. Jascal


    Oct 18, 2005
    Simply adjust them to the point where the open and 12th are both in tune. Where it falls in relation to the other strings isnt as important as making them both in tune.

    Some wise sage correct me if I led him astray.
  5. Thanks for the responses guys. I understand the basic theory of intonation and the practical applications, and Rene that article is a great reference even if I didn't find anything about my original problem.

    Anyway, fretlessrock hit the nail on the head with the tapered string that tapers before the saddle. I should have understood this since I own a bass (Warwick Thumb 5) that has a tapered B string. Unfortunately, I was thinking of the taper on the top of the string (that happens on the other side of the nut) and forgot that it tapers *before* the saddle on the other end. Thanks.