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my teacher at school told me my bass needed intonation

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by a e i o u, Jun 8, 2005.

  1. Today at school in my music industry class we were recording a song on a big huge mixing board. The teacher was playing my bass and said it needed to be intonated. I dont think it does but i dont know much. This got me thinking about my bass. I noticed that the A string is noticably quieter then the rest of the strings. Is this what she was talking about? I replaced the strings last week. It seems as if only my A string died. what do i do??
  2. intonating is where the 12th fret is the same note as the open string....

    thus your in tune up and down the neck. the bridge has saddles, they move back and forth making the string shorter or longer... i can help you more later if no one jumps on this first.
  3. djcruse


    Jun 3, 2002
    Norwood, MA
    In the broadest sense, it just means your bass needs to be tuned.
  4. clanner

    clanner Token Black Guy.

    Apr 27, 2005
    ummmmm, marietta GA
    the 12th fret harmonic should be perfectly in tune with the open not of the string.

    the gary willis site is one of the best on the net. :D
  5. I think he means the open note of the string.
  6. bassmonkeee


    Sep 13, 2000
    Decatur, GA
    Um, the 12th fret harmonic will ALWAYS be in tune with the open note of the string. It's getting the 12th fret FRETTED note in tune with the harmonic and open string that is important.
  7. sotua


    Sep 20, 2004
    SF Bay Area
    But the 12th fret harmonic will always be perfectly in tune with the open string(*)! The 12th fret harmonic is the same as the open string but with half the wavelength (so it is the same note but an octave higher).

    What you need to be intonated is that the 12th fret be at exactly at the middle of the string. To check for that, the note fretted at the 12th fret must be the same as the note at the 12th fret harmonic.

    (*) Unless your intonation is so screwed up that you nail a different harmonic.
  8. The 12th fret harmonic and the fretted note at the 12th fret should be the same. I also try to get the 19th fret harmonic and the fretted note at the 19th fret to be the same. If it is not possible to get the notes at the 12th and 19th frets to be in tune with their respective harmonics, I split the difference. I learned about this from an old Bass Player article by Rick Turner and it works well. The 12th fret harmonic and the open string will always be the same note (an octave apart) because the 12th fret is exactly 1/2 of the string length (i.e. 1/2 of the distance from the bridge to the nut).
  9. ryco


    Apr 24, 2005
    bassmonkee is on the mark here. If'n your A string is quieter, as in volume, as compared to the rest of your strings - it may be higher, as in physical height, then the rest of your strings. This would place it a little farther away from the pickup than the rest of your strings. This can be corrected by saddle height adjustment in the bridge.
  10. Time Divider

    Time Divider Guest

    Apr 7, 2005
    You can also play the string at the 12th fret like you normally would (i.e., on the "pickup" side of the string), then move your left fretting finger to the 13th fret, reach over with your right hand and pluck the string on the "non-pickup" side (between your left fretting finger and the nut). These two notes should be EXACTLY the same (no octave difference like with a harmonic).
  11. There might be a few other reasons this could be happening too:

    - The silk windings are resting on the saddle
    - The string is actually "dead" - I know it's new but it happens
    - The machine oil used on the wrappings during manufacturing hasn't all been baked off, filling up the tiny voids between the windings
    - The magnet(s) of that pole in the pup is weak
    - Your ear has a dead spot :D
  12. ryco


    Apr 24, 2005

    Yeah, I thought about the pickup too but figured start with the simplest thing first. I figured if the p/u was working well before he changed strings that prob wasn't the prob. Def coulda gotten a dead string. It happens! Tanx
  13. Matthew Bryson

    Matthew Bryson Guest

    Jul 30, 2001
    If you are still confused after reading this thread and checking the links, and you can afford it - getting a professional set up done just might be money well spent. I have paid to have basses set up by a tech at the local guitar store and felt it was money well spent.

    Intonating a bass can be somewhat tedious, especially of you've never done it. (turn screw, tune, check intonation, turn screw, tune, check intonation, several times over for each string) and if you are not familiar with doing set up work, I would recommend that you *not* attempt to make truss rod / neck relief adjustments. It is advisable that your neck relief be checked every so often and your truss rod be tweaked to keep the relief just right. If you don't know how to do it, have a pro do it. I professional will also check and adjust pick up height, the nut - everything.

    What I'm trying to say is, even if you can adjust your own bridge, a pro set up can still be worth it. A professional set up job usually (IME) includes a new set of strings, so a good time to do it is the next time your strings go dead. If you find a nice tech and ask real nice, he might explain everything he does to get you instrument playing it's best and possibly even let you watch.
  14. I've never done anything like this before so I don't think im going to risk doing it on my own. I'll bring it in to the shop tommaro and have them do a set up because the neck seems like it could use a slight adjustment too. A new crisis came up today too. I had to leave my bass in my car for a while today because the teacher wouldnt let me leave class to get it. When i did get to take it out, the E string was just as dead as the A, and the G and D strings were just about dead too. Does heat effect the life of strings like this? Ive never had strings that would die out of nowhere like that..
  15. Matthew Bryson

    Matthew Bryson Guest

    Jul 30, 2001
    People claim that boiling strings will help restore some "life" to them. No, I haven't ever heard of or experienced heat making strings go dead. Does this bass of yours have an active EQ by any chance? (does it take a battery) Maybe the battery is going dead. If you do end up taking it to a tech to get all of this sorted out, make sure that you get the tech to tell you what was out of whack and causing your sound problems.
  16. doublemuff216


    Jun 14, 2004
    Astoria NY
    Strings often die because all of the oil and other nasty crap from your hands gets into the outer winding(that and they're stretched beyond belief). Boiling them can get the crap out of the winding and tighten them up a bit...barely makes a difference though...

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