Intonation question

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by Depth_Charge, Jun 26, 2008.

  1. Last rehearsal I was playing in Drop D and when I played an A on the D string, I was waaay out of tune. The gui**** had a look and had me play an open D then a harmonic D and they were the same. 12th fret was sharp though. gui**** says "adjust your intonation".

    So I did some searching and found some info on setting intonation and the intonation is out on both DADG and EADG, so I tuned to EADG (my main tuning) and attempted to resolve the problem. I'm having an issue I don't understand:

    Both websites I referred to said if it's sharp (which it is), make the string longer by moving the saddles AWAY from the pickups/fretboard (and if flat, move towards). I move it away and can physically see it has, and it gets sharper. Not flatter. Oh, I am using a Korg CA-30 chromatic tuner.

    So I went the other way to humour myself, and was able to resolve the 12th fret tuning, but the open E was flat. Tuned that back up and I have the exact same problem with the 12th being out, except the saddle is in a new position LOL.

    Short of getting a pro to look at it (gig in 2 days LOL), what else can I check to resolve this issue? Can I physically see if the frets need work or is that an experience thing?

    Any advice welcome!

  2. JehuJava

    JehuJava Bass Frequency Technician

    Oct 15, 2002
    Yorktown, VA
    I like to do the harmonic on the 12th fret followed by the fretted 12th. I find my tuner "likes" this better than open note followed by 12th fret. Plus my ear hears the differences better.

  3. might be a dead string. sometimes they get irreversably out of whack from age, heat, etc. beyond that, use a straight edge, lay it against the frets, and check to see if any are higher or shorter than the others. If so, you may need to see your friendly local luthier for a fret level. best of luck.
  4. Ezbass


    Apr 3, 2008
    +1 This is how all the istruction guides tell you how to do it and how I've been doing basses and guitars for years. The age of your strings is definitely also an issue as will be action height, if it's way high you're really stretching the string to get it to fret (by moving the saddle away from the neck you are raising the action too). You can also check notes above the 12th fret (A at the 17th for instance) for super accurate intonation, but you should really make sure that your bass is in tune and correctly intonated for the positions where you do most of you playing. Restring your bass, stretch them in, set the action and then intonate it (resetting the action afterwards). Always remember however that unless you have a compensated nut or a Buzz Feiten system bass (Washburn basses for instance) that intonation on any kind of guitar is a compromise, get your guitar player to play an open E, G and then D chord, I guarantee that if he has a standard guitar one of these chords will sound "wrong". Good luck.
  5. This correct. As you make the string longer you are also raising the action slightly and increasing the tension on the string, so if you now pluck it, it will sound sharp.
    After each movement of the saddle you need to now retune to correct pitch and then test the harmonic. Keep moving the saddle and retuning until the harmonic is correct.
  6. Thanks alot guys. I think I sorted it out..I just needed to be less panicky and more patient with the number of turns to move the saddles. :)

    The strings are less than 6 weeks old, but that said I do rehearse 3 and a half hours a week plus an average of 8-10 hours a week at home as well. Plus this month I had a 4 hour gig, and i rarely wipe the strings down afterwards, so while I hope they're not dead I'm quite open to the possibility.

    I ran a tape measure along the board and the frets all *look* level to me eyes. After this gig I might drop it in for a setup though, to be sure to be sure.



  7. +1 - Exactly

    Tune the bass with a tuner - then check the 12th fret note with the 12th fret harmonic. If the fretted note is sharp of the harmonic - move the saddle back. If the fretted note is flat of the harmonic - move the saddle forward.
  8. +1

    My thoughts exactly. You have to retune the string to pitch *after* the intonation adjustment and *before* checking the octave.