My Musicman ALWAYS sounds (kind of) out of tune

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by novo, Dec 19, 2014.

  1. novo


    Feb 20, 2007
    Hi there

    I've got a 94' musicman stingray 5 and I kind of hear the bass is kind of always out of tune! :(... I checked my tuning regularly and also the intonation of the bass, but something always sound kind of a few cents out of tune when I play with other people.

    I don't know if my ears are failing me or could be a problem from my amp (i got an Ampeg SVT2 and 6x10 cab)

    any help?

  2. Apolicious


    Jan 16, 2014
    Livingston, MT
    If you can tell you're one or two cents off; congrats, you have fantastic ears.

    Unfortunately, guitars of any stripe are never entirely in tune with each other. There are many compensated tuning methods available, but really, your best bet is to take it to a skilled luthier and let them give it a once-over. It could be something as complex as an improperly-placed bridge, or you may just need a better set of strings. Hell, you may just be playing too hard. There are lots of possibilities.
  3. And your band mates might be out of tune!!
  4. When I tune my guitars by ear, I'm consistently about 40-50 cents sharp. Then when I check it with a tuner and correct the tuning, it sounds flat to me for a bit until I get used to it. Occasionally I've wondered why I seem to hear everything as about a half-step flat; does that mean what I think people's voices sound like is flatter than what they actually are? Strange.
  5. 2cooltoolz

    2cooltoolz Supporting Member

    Nov 12, 2009
    Lake Conroe, TX
    Probably not related to your problem at all, but I had been having a problem with my P bass sounding out of tune (sharp) on the lower frets of the E and A strings. The 12th fret intonation was dead on. Turns out the nut slots needed to be filed down a bit to prevent pulling the first couple frets going sharp (plus I tend to fret too hard). Filing it down a bit, being careful to set the witness point correctly, made a world of difference. By the way, I bought sized nut files for the job.

    Last edited: Dec 19, 2014
    lz4005, Linnin, SirMjac28 and 2 others like this.
  6. 9M2E


    Dec 6, 2011
    Middleport, NY
    Stingrays bring out a lot of sympathetic harmonics and over tones too that I don't hear from most other basses...could be what's gnawing at your ear.
  7. +1. Exactly my thought. Every time I had to record a Stingray it was a little bit wierd because so much odd harmonics for me. The only stingray that I enjoyed recording was a Stingray fretless with a Pau Ferro fingerboard.
  8. PluckyThump


    Jan 4, 2008
    The Hammer
    You could try lowering the pickup. Different strings might help too; Ernie Ball Slinkys will sound good on that bass, all other things being proper.
    Doc Mojo likes this.
  9. Are your strings very close to the pickup? I had a stingray with this issue, that was the cause.
    Linnin likes this.
  10. How long have you been playing? When I started on electric my poor technique caused me to play out of tune.
  11. Chef

    Chef In Memoriam

    May 23, 2004
    Columbia MO
    Staff Reviewer; Bass Gear Magazine
    nut too high forcing you to pull strings out of tune could be one thing, but I doubt EBMM would let one leave the factory like that. if the nut has been replaced? could happen.
    pickup to high can do that. yup.

    new strings and a complete setup up to include checking those would be where I'd start.
  12. Real Soon

    Real Soon

    Aug 15, 2013
    Atlanta, GA
    Improper setup could cause your open strings to be perfectly in tune, and most of what you fret to be out of tune.

    We'll need details, though. Have you had it set up? Has it sounded like this forever, or just after a string change? Does it seem any worse higher up the fretboard? Do you play with high action?
  13. jim nolte

    jim nolte

    Oct 26, 2006
    Too weird, I've been playing for over forty years and with many different basses during that time. The only time anybody told me I sounded out of tune was when I was jamming with a guitarist and drummer since I've known since high school and the guitarist looked at me and said I sounded out of tune. The bass was a 94 SR5. Probably just a coincidence , but it wasn't the first 5 string I played and not the first active bass I played. When I saw the title of the thread it brought back that memory. And no, I'm not dissing Ernie Ball basses, I actually like them, just a weird coincidence. Jim
    novo likes this.
  14. Doug Parent

    Doug Parent Supporting Member

    May 31, 2004
    San Diego, Ca.
    Dealer Nordstrand Pickups.
    That was my thought too, I can't see EBMM sending out a bass with a crappy nut job.
    Geri O likes this.
  15. Ric5

    Ric5 Inactive

    Jan 29, 2008
    I like 5, 8, 10, and 12 string basses
    The pickup too close to the strings can cause false harmonics ... although that is probably not the problem here.
  16. elgecko


    Apr 30, 2007
    Anasleim, CA
    Everyone's tuning to the same standard (e.g. A-440), right?
    friendlybass and audreycashin like this.
  17. Wow! That's a huge bass!
  18. Bass_Thumper


    Oct 20, 2009
    Madison, MS
    +1 - Not all tuners are created equal either. Try using the same tuner as everyone else and see if it still sounds out of tune. I used a Fender stompbox tuner for a while and it was never quite in tune with the other tuners in the band. If you've got a keyboard in the band, I would suggest tuning to them and see how that goes.
  19. ronlitz


    Apr 20, 2008
    Northern Virginia
    You should get a fEARful.
    dannster and TrevorOfDoom like this.
  20. birminghambass

    birminghambass Supporting Member

    Sep 18, 2002
    Birmingham, AL
    I'd had this happen. I've also somehow pushed the tiny recessed button on my tuner causing it to tune a few cents sharp. Playing half a show with my head cocked, that "who farted" look on my face until I discovered the problem.
    Garagiste likes this.