Please help with Intonation

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by Hardbassjunkie, Dec 9, 2019.

  1. Good morning everyone,

    I am fairly new to doing my own set ups and I am trying to set up my Squier Jaguar Short scale bass. I was pretty proud of my self because I straighten the neck and got my action to a good level. I intonated each string but the E string is giving me problems. The first 4 frets are sharp(backwards on the tuner) and no matter what I do it doesn't help. I screwed the bridge forward almost all the way and backwards almost all the way and no difference. I can get it to a point where the 12th fret matches the E but no luck on 1-4 and few other frets.

    Any one have any suggestions?

    I realized that I was supposed to loosen the string before adjust the intonation but I haven't been. Will there be any consequences for that?

    When i adjust one string do the others need to be adjusted as well?
  2. Samatza


    Apr 15, 2019
    If the other strings are good no need to touch them.
    Loosen off the string to make the adjustment, you should see the saddle move forward or back, generally the thicker strings require the saddle further back.
    Get it right at the 12th fret, if the first four frets are marginally out you probably won’t hear the difference.
    This can also be caused by the nut being cut to high, as you depress the string it stretches to reach the fret, if you don’t understand this get some help from a tech.
    It’s good that you’re learning to set up your own bass, be patient and make small adjustments.
    I’ve never measured the nut height but if you depress the string between 2nd and 3rd fret it should have only a little clearance at the 1st. Check this against the good strings and see if there is a marked difference.
  3. I'm not sure if its consider marginally out but its not in the green on the tuner but it's close. My friend claims he can hear the difference, I can't Haha. I will check the nut and report back
  4. bassinflorida

    bassinflorida turn that dang thing down

    Jan 27, 2014
    Tampa, FL
    Disregard the intonation for a moment. Try this. Tune the "E" string to "open E". Then slowly check the tuning as you press the first fret, then the second, then the third for the E string. If the open string is in tune, but the fretted notes begin to be out of tune in the lower register of the neck, then nut may be cut incorrectly. Intonation will not be correct if the nut is not correct.
    gln1955 and SteveCS like this.
  5. Zooberwerx

    Zooberwerx Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2002
    Virginia Beach, VA
    Prerequisite: re-check your string install and be sure to set your witness points, then proceed with the normal intonation steps.

  6. That is what is happen so is there a way to check if the nut is incorrect?
  7. Not sure what that means haha
    Zooberwerx likes this.
  8. bassinflorida

    bassinflorida turn that dang thing down

    Jan 27, 2014
    Tampa, FL
    If you have access to an 'expert or professional', I would go that route. If not, then maybe, (not maybe) you definitely will receive help and/or other opinions on this site.
    Pretty sure you can find youtube help as well. It could be as simple as "filing out the nut slots" but DO NOT DO THAT first. It is also possible the nut slots have already been incorrectly modified. Depending on what is actually wrong with the nut you could make it a lot worse. Research some more since you can identify your "exact conditions"
  9. Zooberwerx

    Zooberwerx Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2002
    Virginia Beach, VA
    That could be the problem. You need to establish clean "breaks" everywhere the string comes in contact with a supporting surface. That includes the leading aspect(s) (...fingerboard side) of the tuner post, nut slot, and bridge saddle. Simply put, you have to mash each string down firmly on the leading edge of the aforementioned components to establish a true vibrating string path. If ignored, the strings have a nasty tendency to form a "lazy loop" as it passes over each...not good. This results in wonky action, intonation, and tuning.

  10. I dont know what this means but if I tune the E slightly flat the first 5 frets are in tune.
  11. SteveCS


    Nov 19, 2014
    Hampshire, UK
    Sounds like the nut slots are too high. To check, get a feel for how much you need to press down to fret at 2 whilst holding down at fret 1. If fretting at 1 is a lot harder, i.e. you have to push down further, then the nut is too high, which will make intonation at the first few frets sharp.
  12. mdalamond likes this.
  13. gln1955

    gln1955 Supporting Member

    Aug 25, 2014
    Ohio, USA
    It's very common for Fender and especially Squier basses to have the nut cut too high at the factory. It's better for them to err on the high side because that can be easliy fixed. A nut cut too low is a bigger job to fix.
  14. Turnaround

    Turnaround Commercial User

    May 6, 2004
    Toronto Canada
    Independent Instrument Technician, and Contractor to Club Bass and Guitar - Toronto
    A simple test to see if the nut height is correct. Depress the string just past the second fret, so that the string is resting on the second fret:


    Look at the gap between the first fret and the string:


    There should be a small gap there, no more than the thickness of a piece of paper.

    But be sure that the string us not forming a hump over the nut like this:


    If it is, you need to set the witness point by pressing the string down on the playing side of the nut until it lays flat. Then measure the nut height.

    Attached Files:

  15. funkinbottom

    funkinbottom Supporting Member

    Apr 23, 2006
    Northern CA.

    Cave Puppy likes this.
  16. MonetBass

    MonetBass ♪ Just listen ♫ Supporting Member

    Sep 15, 2006
    Tulsa, OK
  17. bass12

    bass12 Blistering barnacles! Supporting Member

    Jun 8, 2008
    Montreal, Canada
    I've never loosened my strings when adjusting intonation and I've never noticed anyone else doing that when I've watched a set-up being done.
  18. Turnaround

    Turnaround Commercial User

    May 6, 2004
    Toronto Canada
    Independent Instrument Technician, and Contractor to Club Bass and Guitar - Toronto
    One might wonder if it's necessary to loosen the strings before adjusting the intonation. And the answer, like so many other things in bass setup and repair is ...... it depends.

    There are three reasons why it would be a good idea to loosen the strings. The first is that it makes it it easier to move the saddles when they aren't being under downward pressure for the strings. Sometimes it can be pretty hard to turn the screws with that much tension and there is, of course, a risk of stripping the threads or the screw head.

    The second is that if you are moving the saddles toward the nut, often the saddle doesn't move because the tension is holding it where it is and the intonation screw just backs out of the back of the bridge. You can smack it back forward, or simply loosen a string so that the spring pushes the saddle into position.

    And the third thing is that yo may put undue pressure on the string. If the break angle is severe over the saddle, as is the case in many through-body bridges, pulling the saddle back will increase the tension on the string. You may notice this if you move a saddle back and then when you check the tuning you find the string is sharp. When the break angle is severe it can really add a lot of tension to the string. So in such cases it's advisable to loosen the string first.

    Personally I don't loosen the string unless I see a severe break angle or if the screw is a bit stiff to turn.
    bass12 likes this.
  19. Cave Puppy

    Cave Puppy "Humph Bo, he's wond!" - John Lennon

    Jan 13, 2015
    The Man! I've shared these videos so many times with folks that need a setup guide. I now use .018" for nut action but the other way to determine nut action as described above by turnaround is also quite valid.
    funkinbottom likes this.
  20. Cave Puppy

    Cave Puppy "Humph Bo, he's wond!" - John Lennon

    Jan 13, 2015
    Here is that method described by Joe Glaser and Jeff Berlin:
    funkinbottom likes this.
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