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Intonation question.

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by hhenry, Jan 5, 2012.

  1. hhenry


    Feb 17, 2011
    NFLD, Canada
    Most guides to setting intonation (at least the ones I have come across) refer to comparing the 12th fret harmonic to the 12th fretted note. Why? Why not compare the open string note to the 12th fretted?
  2. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member

    Jan 29, 2008
    either will work
  3. JTE

    JTE Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2008
    Central Illinois, USA
    Because the harmonic IS an exact octave of the open string, either will be accurate. Using the harmonic has the advantage of being a higher frequency so electronic tuners can read it more accurately, and it's easier to compare two pitches in the same octave by ear, than an octave apart.

  4. JohnMCA72


    Feb 4, 2009
    Check both.
  5. 96tbird

    96tbird PLEASE STAND BY

    Another advantage is because your finger is at the twelfth fret already! But both work and I do both, always have.
  6. The advantage of fretting the 12th fret is that you can hear/compare the exact pitch of the 12th fretted note against the 12th fret harmonic. For example, when you fret a note you are stretching the string, I know its only about 0.2mm or less but its enough bring the pitch up, sharpen it slightly that is.
    Since you'll always be stretching the string everytime you fret a note, setting the intonation by fretting the 12th fret brings you the closest you can get to perfect intonation.
  7. Another thing, setting intonation is really trying to "divide" the string ever so perfectly the best you can at the 12th fret by moving the bridge saddle forward or back. Now why do you want to do this? The reason you're dividing the string at the 12th fret is the very reason your using the 12th fret harmonics when setting the intonation, BTW back Bach era I think this was called "Well Tempering". 12th fret harmonics are NOT produced by the 12th fret, they're produced because they're dead center of the length of the string from the nut to the bridge saddles, frettless basses can produce a 12th fret harmonic.
  8. Jaco who?

    Jaco who?

    May 20, 2008
    Because if the saddle is in the wrong place and the intonation is incorrect, the 12th fretted note will be incorrect, too. :smug:
  9. byronkowalski


    Nov 26, 2010
    ive been told that its a better idea to intonate by the 5th and 17th fret notes, not an open string to compenste the slight sharpening caused by fretting the string. this is how i do my intonation now.
  10. Skitch it!

    Skitch it!

    Sep 6, 2010
    Ears are more efficient and attuned to pitch at higher frequencies, if I tune to a guitarist I ask for the open G string (or better still, the harmonic) rather than open E because of that.

    When I intone my basses, I'll use a few frets along the strings for reference not just one or two, fretting machines are not perfect.
  11. tjh


    Mar 22, 2006
    ... whatever method chosen, if you are picky, something like my 40+ year old Peterson 420 strobe tuner can be your best friend ... :)

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