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Intonation

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by MikeyFingers, Jan 19, 2006.


  1. My Schecter kicks ass. In the 4 years I've owned it, it never gave me any trouble and I never even had to get it set up. It always played perfect.
    But I noticed that since I put on this new set of strings about 3 weeks ago, the intonation is out. It's just in the higher end of the neck. Like a 24th fret D doesn't match up with a 19th fret D on the G string. The low end is all good, but when the low end is in tune, the high end is not.
    Can someone give me as simple an explanation as possible on how to fix it? I think I just have to adjust the saddle height, but I'm not sure.
     
  2. fretlessrock

    fretlessrock Supporting Member

    Aug 8, 2002
    Corrupticut
    An easy way to check it is to plug in to a tuner and play the 12th fret harmonic. Watch the tuning indicator. Now play the fretted 12th fret note. If they aren't the same then you can adjust the saddle distance to compensate. If the fretted note is flat, the saddle needs to be closer to the nut. If it is sharp, the saddle gets moved further from the nut.

    If you are changing saddle height, or nut slot depth, or truss rod relief... then do all of that before you adjust the intonation.
     
  3. I'm not looking to mess with the truss rod or nut or anything like that.
    I just want to fix the intonation, and of course, I don't have an electric tuner. I have one of those round harmonica things. It works fine, just not for this.
    I'll borrow a friend's tuner, or just buy one (they're cheap, right?)
     
  4. fretlessrock

    fretlessrock Supporting Member

    Aug 8, 2002
    Corrupticut
  5. Swweeeet. Thanks man, I'll be picking one of these up soon, maybe later today. Then I'll have to come back here and use your first post as a guide. Perfect intonation, HERE I COME!
     
  6. Many tuners (even the one's with the 'needle's) don't provide the precision to use for setting intonation. However, it it's really out due to changing string size or brand, I guess a 'cheap' tuner will get you close.

    Peterson makes a wonderful, accurate 'virtual strobe' tuner (the Strobostomp) that works great. However, it's still relatively expensize (I think about $160 new, discounted).

    If you plan on using the same brand of strings for quite a while, I'd consider paying the $20-$40 or so and having it professionally done. A professional neck tweek and intonation can really make a big difference.
     
  7. fretlessrock

    fretlessrock Supporting Member

    Aug 8, 2002
    Corrupticut
    I use a Strobostomp and it is about the best tuner I have used that is also a stompbox. They are fantastic tuners, and I ditched my VS-1 after using the Strobostomp for a few weeks. That said, 'd have a hard time telling someone who didn't own any kind of tuner to drop $180 on a Peterson.

    I stand by my recommendation for someone who doesn't own any kind of electronic tuner. You definitely can set intonation with one, though it won't be as precise. It will be wayy better than a pitchpipe. I went through a few other kinds of cheap tuners, the kind that I can throw in a gigbag or my setup kit and not worry if someone walks off with it. The little Korg units won me over for accuracy, size, and cost.
     
  8. keyboardguy

    keyboardguy Supporting Member

    May 11, 2005
  9. ollybarclay

    ollybarclay

    Dec 14, 2005
    what if tuning the intonation as mentioned here doesn't work??

    i spent 2 crushing hours last night NOT being able to sort the intonation. even with moving the saddle distance. EVERY time, the fretted note was still sharp of the harmonic.

    something to do with strings (brand new 105-45's, just put on the guitar)? nut (warwick just-a-nut 2)? trussrod (never been touched)?

    don't WANT to put it into the shop, i should be able to do this myself, right?
     
  10. fretlessrock

    fretlessrock Supporting Member

    Aug 8, 2002
    Corrupticut
    I'd start with the highest string, which should need the least adjustment. What you are doing is compensating for the bend you are putting in the string to fret it, and the string diameter because the core of the string is sitting above the saddle by 1/2 the diameter and the core is the reference point.

    Keep moving the saddle back until the harmonic and the fretted note match. The other saddles should roughly be set back from that by the difference in the string diameter.

    Make the adjustments in playing position, not with the bass laying on its back. And use the same technique to measure the tuning in each position. Meaning: if you are watching the tuning of the harmonic settle down after 5 seconds, do the same for the fretted note.

    Yes, a poorly cut nut could cause problems, or excessively high action, or poor design. What kind of bass is it?
     
  11. Well, I just fixed the problem in about 45 minutes. And I did it withouth a tuner!! That was easy....almost too easy:ninja:

    Thanks FretlessRock!


    BTW--While we're on the subject....what does the saddle height do?
     
  12. Kronos

    Kronos

    Dec 28, 2005
    Philadelphia, PA

    It adjusts your action.
     
  13. 18Phil81

    18Phil81

    Jan 23, 2006
    I recently defretted my bass, but evey time i fix the intonation it is good for about 30 seconds then it is off again....?
     
  14. Kronos

    Kronos

    Dec 28, 2005
    Philadelphia, PA
    How long ago did you defret your bass? Also, did you adjust the relief? If so, it takes at least 24 hours for the neck to adjust to the truss rod adjustment. Not only that, if you have new strings, you should stretch them while tuning them.
     
  15. 18Phil81

    18Phil81

    Jan 23, 2006
    i dont know how to adjust the relief? i did it like 2 weeks ago and i streched the strings before i tuned them
     
  16. Kronos

    Kronos

    Dec 28, 2005
    Philadelphia, PA
    No offense, but are you sure it's your intonation, and not your playing? Fretless basses are played differently than fretted, even with fretlines. The higher up the register you go, the more between frets you have to go instead of up on top of the fretlines. This is something that comes with time.

    Also, when you're playing fretless, it's essential to get the action as low as possible, and get your neck as straight as possible. I'd take the bass to a luthier or your local music store that will do a setup for you, and you'll see what I mean.
     
  17. 18Phil81

    18Phil81

    Jan 23, 2006
    when i fret the e on the a string and play the open e (both strings in tune) i have to be right on the fret line between the eighth and ninth fret for the e to match the open string
     
  18. ollybarclay

    ollybarclay

    Dec 14, 2005

    it's a warwick corvette 4 string. the action's pretty standard, not excessively high or low. i had to adjust the nut slightly recently due to minor fret-buzz (my own fault i guess, i play in drop-c) but until i put these new strings on there was ABSOLUTELY no problem with intonation. :confused:

    the bass has been sitting in a case over christmas, but not in a garage or anything, it's been in my room (which never gets THAT cold)...the wood wouldn't have warped or anything crazy would it?
     
  19. Kronos

    Kronos

    Dec 28, 2005
    Philadelphia, PA
    Go here. It explains intonation better than I could.


    http://www.garywillis.com/pages/bass/bassmanual/intonation.html