My bass just won't Intonate

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by Fapos, Oct 8, 2019.


  1. Fapos

    Fapos

    Jun 11, 2019
    Ok, I'm at a loss here, so I figured I'd ask around these parts.

    A week ago I got a new bass to replace the one beat up Ibanez I used for my first year of practice and, as expected, the strings on it weren't the best ones.

    I got new strings and today changed them as I would normally do, and when I got the action and all that to a point I felt comfortable I decided to go for intonation.

    Got everything in tune and tried the tune in the 12th fret, the fretted note was pretty flat next to both the open string and 12th fret harmonics, and as every resource I found online told me I tried moving the saddles more towards the nut.

    No matter what I tried the fretted 12th fret is still flat. I de-tuned every string before adjusting the saddles and tuned again afterwards, but no matter how much I the saddles The 12th fret is still flat, I got to the point where if I turned the screw one more time the barrel would fall off the screw and still flat.

    My options here are, either I did something wrong, there is something wrong with the bass or I managed to get bad strings.

    Please help me here, any questions you have please ask, I need to get to the bottom of this.

    Technical info:
    Bass: Yamaha TRBX174EW (34 inch scale)
    Strings: Ernie Ball Hybrid Slinky (105, 85, 65, 45)
    Tuner: Ibanez PU3 Clip-on Chromatic (This could be the problem but the results are so consistently bad that I do not think so) I know some really nice tuner pedal or something similar would be the best here, but I can't really afford one.
     
  2. lowplaces

    lowplaces Got Punch ?

    Dec 20, 2015
    Louisville Kentucky
    Did the intonation improve until you finally ran out of adjustment ?
     
    BlueP likes this.
  3. Fapos

    Fapos

    Jun 11, 2019
    Barely, Not really a significant difference
     
  4. lowplaces

    lowplaces Got Punch ?

    Dec 20, 2015
    Louisville Kentucky
    Can you post a photo of the bridge that shows the break angle over the saddles ?
     
  5. Leo Thunder

    Leo Thunder

    Sep 27, 2018
    They never do. You have to turn the screws yourself. Lazy things…
     
  6. lowplaces

    lowplaces Got Punch ?

    Dec 20, 2015
    Louisville Kentucky
    Reason I ask, is that you don't want the saddles angled downward. (Too low)
     
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2019
  7. Fapos

    Fapos

    Jun 11, 2019
    Yeah sorry, had to go get the pics. Also attached a pic of the nut/string retainer for good measure.

    Nut.jpg Bridge.jpg
     
  8. dxb

    dxb

    Dec 25, 2016
    Is it in tune at the first fret? If the nut is too tall it can throw everything off. The open strings will be in tune but none of the fretted notes will.
     
  9. Fapos

    Fapos

    Jun 11, 2019
    Yes it is, the nut is at a nice height I'd say.
     
  10. dxb

    dxb

    Dec 25, 2016
    I reread your original post and noticed you're moving the bridge saddles toward the nut. If the fretted notes are flat the saddles should be adjusted further away from the nut.

    (edit: never mind, its the other way)
     
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2019
  11. Fapos

    Fapos

    Jun 11, 2019
    Well, according to fender and anyone else I read online

    "First, if the tuner indicates that the fretted 12th-fret note is sharper than the 12th-fret harmonic, the string must be slightly lengthened until both pitches read as in tune. That is, the bridge saddle must be moved farther from the nut until both pitches are correct.

    Second, if the fretted 12th-fret note is flatter than the 12th-fret harmonic, the string must be slightly shortened until both pitches ring in tune. That is, the bridge saddle must be moved toward the nut until both tunings read correctly. Actually, slightly raising the saddle will sometimes adequately shorten string length."
     
  12. dxb

    dxb

    Dec 25, 2016
    No, that's right. I had it backwards. My basses are always sharp so I got turned around.
     
  13. Fapos

    Fapos

    Jun 11, 2019
    No problem, my man. Happens to the best of us.
     
  14. lowplaces

    lowplaces Got Punch ?

    Dec 20, 2015
    Louisville Kentucky
    Well, the saddles and break angle look ok.

    Hard to tell from the photos but did you set the witness points at the nut ? (Press down on the strings on the fret side of the nut, close to the nut)
     
    Pilgrim likes this.
  15. Leo Thunder

    Leo Thunder

    Sep 27, 2018
    Do your ears confirm what the tuner says? If they don't, you're being lied to.
     
    jamro217 likes this.
  16. Fapos

    Fapos

    Jun 11, 2019
    Yep, did the same at the bridge. Do you think this could be a bad set of strings since all of them are off by a similar amount?
     
  17. Fapos

    Fapos

    Jun 11, 2019
    I don't have the best ear for pitch, but it does sound somewhat off
     
  18. lowplaces

    lowplaces Got Punch ?

    Dec 20, 2015
    Louisville Kentucky
    Well, I'm not sure about the strings.

    Clip on tuners can be finicky on a bass. Especially if batteries are weak.

    Wish I could be of more help but at this point I don't know what else to recommend other than borrow another tuner or put a fresh battery in yours.

    I've had bad strings before but not the whole set.

    If you live near a guitar shop take your bass and tuner to the shop and ask them if you can compare your tuner with one of theirs.
     
  19. dxb

    dxb

    Dec 25, 2016
    Do you have a smartphone? There are several free tuner apps. I haven't tried any but they're probably worth a shot.
     
    lowplaces likes this.
  20. Leo Thunder

    Leo Thunder

    Sep 27, 2018
    Was intonation good with the old strings? Is the top saddle really 34" away from the nut?
     
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2019
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    Primary TB Assistant

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