Setting up fretless intonation with no markers

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by Chef, Jun 2, 2004.

  1. Chef

    Chef Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    May 23, 2004
    Columbia MO
    Staff Reviewer; Bass Gear Magazine
    My new Brice Douglass Jass5 fretless has dots on the neck, but not where the frets would be. This is making dialing in intonation somewhat problematic. I can find the 12th fret harmonic to initally tune the string, but then am unsure of exactly where to finger the 12th note on the fretboard to dial in intonation. I sort of moved my finger around on top of the string to find where the harmonic voiced itself most strongly, and then fingered directly underneath that...Is that about right?
  2. You kinda don't need to at this point, at least in my opinion. Your intonation should be in your ears.

    The position markers are only to get you in the ballpark at this point, unless you were to keep your head at a perfect 90 degree angle to the neck 100% of the time while playing, not taking visual parallax into account...

    Not trying to be a smart ass at all, really, but that's the truth.

    Why on earth would they add position markers but no lines?

    Edit: are there lines????
  3. Chef

    Chef Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    May 23, 2004
    Columbia MO
    Staff Reviewer; Bass Gear Magazine
    I agree, at least sort of...:)
    On both my fender and g&l fretless, the dots are where the frets would be, and that's enough for me. Neither have "inlays" in the neck where the frets would be, nor would I want them. The dots on the Brice are "inbetween the frets" as on a fretted bass, which, IMHO is more of a drawback than a help. I do need to know at least where 12 is to be fretted to get the string length correct for all other positions to line up, if you follow that...? It needs to be done, in my opinion, so that you don't have to adjust by ear each strings fretted position...

    Original q still stands, I think...
  4. Ah. I gotcha. So essentially, Brice "cheaped out" on a production step by not doing a position marker shift...

    In no way am I questionning your ability, as the tone might suggest in the other post, just any respect, i feel that intonation should be MUCH easier on a fretless. Find the exact half of your scale length with your saddles in mid position. get a china marker, and draw a line across your fingerboard at this spot (it rubs off cleanly). tune to pitch, check your harmonic intonation at this point, and adjust accordingly.

    Hope I'm being helpful
  5. Chef

    Chef Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    May 23, 2004
    Columbia MO
    Staff Reviewer; Bass Gear Magazine
    No "tone" taken mate:)
    Saddles all at the mid point is going to be *waaaay* off on intonation, but you're saying this defines the fretting point for 12th position?
  6. No, just on a setup level, mid-point on the saddle range will give you the most adjustability range on your bridge. As someone else said, 17" from the nut is where the 12th fret would be, but logistically, the mid-point of the saddle adjust range, and the distance from the nut to this point SHOULD be 34". From a proper design and bridge placement standpoint.
  7. Chef

    Chef Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    May 23, 2004
    Columbia MO
    Staff Reviewer; Bass Gear Magazine
    Given that it's a 34" scale, that's correct:) Didn't measure that yet, but I will tonight. I located the 12th position harmonic with the tuner. Dialed those in, then dialed the rest of the dot postions in by fretting them while watching the tuner. Then used a black Sharpie to mark out the wrong dots, and white out to mark in helper dots in the correct fretless positions. Sounds kinda tacky, I know, but it's a $199 Brice "Jazz knockoff." It played and sounded real good, and the next step will be to drill out the bad makers and plug them, and drill new marker holes where belong and fill them. Suggestions on black material for fill, and white for markers? Plastic rod?
  8. Stew MacDonald has side-dot plastic rod. thing is, it might get kinda tricky drilling on the fretboard edge. use brad-point bits, and use an awl as an initial indent point maker before you drill...

    IMO, it might be nice to take that side-dot material, and move it up on the fingerboard, as small indication markers, ala NS Design uprights...I love that look
  9. demolition

    demolition Guest

    Jul 5, 2003
    A chromatic tuner can be used to set the intonation,try this out :bassist:
    1 tune bass to desired tuning
    2 if tuning needle wobbles back and forth when string is tuned correctely you need to intonate further.
    3 if the tuner needle goes past the in tune marker on the tuner then settles in on the line ,then turn intonation screw counter clockwise(its to sharp)
    4 If the needle wobbles before the "in-tune"marker then settles in,then turn clock-wise or tighten the screw(its to flat).
    I hope this helped,it should work on all basses I use this method on all my set-ups both professionally and personally and make sure you muse a CHROMATIC tuner,they are not all this type.
    GOOD LUCK :bassist:
  10. pbassphred


    Jul 12, 2004
    i agree with all posts here. use chromatic tuner.
    I tune mine open to 440
    go to first dot on fret board(or side dot)usually 3rd fret
    find spot where guitar is in tune (g)this is the spot you will want to place your fingers while playing .go to that same (relative)spot on the 12th fret.This will be the place you want to do intonation check