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Intonation Shuffle

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by bigsnaketex, Feb 8, 2013.

  1. bigsnaketex


    Dec 29, 2011
    Down South
    So tell me, how do YOU intonate your bass?
  2. Slowgypsy

    Slowgypsy 4 Fretless Strings

    Dec 12, 2006
    NY & MA
    One string at a time... unless I'm feeling frisky :D
  3. Scott in Dallas

    Scott in Dallas Commercial User

    Aug 16, 2005
    Dallas, north Texas
    Builder and Owner: DJ Ash Guitars
    With a screwdriver and the inTuna app on my iPhone.
  4. Bassist4Eris

    Bassist4Eris Frat-Pack Sympathizer

    Aug 11, 2012
    Upstate NY, USA
    Using a Peterson Strobo-Stomp, with the simple (and admittedly imperfect) method of comparing the 12th fret note to the harmonic.
  5. Zooberwerx

    Zooberwerx Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2002
    Virginia Beach, VA
    Same here. I also check the 5th fret once intonated. Tip: make sure all parameters are within spec before attempting to intonate: nut slot depth & shape, relief, witness points set properly, string height (should be close, anyway).

  6. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Supporting Member

    ^^This...open string, 12th fret, harmonic. That's all. It's plenty close enough for my playing.
  7. Stilettoprefer


    Nov 26, 2010
  8. Hobobob

    Hobobob Don't feed the troll, folks.

    Jan 25, 2011
    Camarillo, CA
    I get drunk and throw screwdrivers at my bass. That's usually when I pass out. Works every time :)
  9. Nashrakh


    Aug 16, 2008
    Hamburg, Germany
    As mentioned, open, 12th fret, harmonic.

    A bit trickier on a fretless mind you :bag:
  10. walterw

    walterw Supportive Fender Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 20, 2009
    Sort of.

    Open or harmonic, 12th fret.

    Open is preferable, since you don't spend all night playing bass by chiming 12th-fret harmonics.
  11. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Supporting Member

    99% of the time I settle for open string and 12th fret.
  12. mongo2


    Feb 17, 2008
    Da Shaw
    This, and then I check it the 19th fret as well.
  13. megafiddle


    May 25, 2011
    By ear, against a major chord from a properly tuned keyboard or guitar.
    Keeping the open string also tuned against the chord.
  14. JoeWPgh


    Dec 21, 2012
    I do mine by ear. 5th fret harmonic to the 12th fret and it's harmonic on the next lower string. For the G, I use the 10th fret on the A string to the G's 12th fret & harmonic
  15. geddeeee


    Jun 30, 2006
    I would never use the harmonic on the 12th fret. Too many overtones give a false reading on your tuner. You'll be there far longer 'chasing' the intonation!!!

    Stick with the tried and tested fretted 12th and open string. Checking on the fretted 19th is also a great way to make sure that the intonation is spot on.
  16. JTE


    Mar 12, 2008
    Central Illinois, USA
    If your strings are in good shape, the 12th fret harmonic is the exact octave of the open string. You are simply eliminating the lowest fundamental. There are no more overtones with the harmonic than the open string.

    An advantage of the harmonic is that it's a higher frequency than the open string. Almost every tuner works by counting vibrations and comparing them to a quartz. Usi g a higher frequency for your reference in effect gives the tuner a higher sampling rate. That will give better accuracy than sampling 55 Hz for the reference and 110 for the fretted test note.

  17. geddeeee


    Jun 30, 2006
    Thanks for the theory lesson.. LOL!!

    I've been playing 32 years and I did start off with the harmonic method. As I got better equipment and a strobe tuner, I found that I spent three times as long trying to get the intonation right. Even after I nailed it, the intonation seemed slightly 'off' when playing.
    I switched to the 'fretted' method, and I seem to have better intonation.

    I only ever intonate with brand new strings and when I have changed gauges.
    If I am fitting the same gauge, there is no need to bother with the intonation. It's usually spot on.

    If the harmonic method works for you, then great... Each to their own.

  18. bigsnaketex


    Dec 29, 2011
    Down South
    I was just wondering. I find getting my basses intonated correctly a bit trickier than my guitars. I start with open strings and 12th harmonic - then I check the fretted 12th. Then I move to the 3rd and 15th. Then the 5th and 17th and it seems I always end up "splitting the difference". I've only had one bass in my entire life that was spot on up and down the fretboard.
  19. BritFunk


    Jan 8, 2009

    Maybe I'm just uptight (or delusional) but on my 24-fret basses I check the 12th fret harmonic against the 12th fret note to get things close, then check the 12th fret harmonic against the 24th fretted note. I have found that many times a little more tweaking is in order to be certain the notes are all in tune.

    It might be overkill and/or might not make any difference in the real world, but I play chords pretty often and the bass just seems to play in better tune all the way up the neck using this technique.


    ~ Kurt
  20. Hobobob

    Hobobob Don't feed the troll, folks.

    Jan 25, 2011
    Camarillo, CA
    This is why the Buzz Feiten system was invented.