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String gauge/intonation question.

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by Happynoj, Mar 19, 2014.

  1. Happynoj


    Dec 5, 2006
    I like turtles.
    This is a potentially stupid question, but does string gauge affect intonation?

    I have a .140 B string on my Warwicks, and I can't intonate that string. The saddle won't move far enough away from the nut. I've removed the spring to give me some extra movement but the saddles are hard up against the bridge and can't go any further, and it's still not right. Do I need to play with the truss rod or something? I have no complaints about the action.
  2. chadds


    Mar 18, 2000
    Take it to a tech. It shouldn't have to be that extreme of an adjustment. Get a good setup. A good setup includes a balance of intonation, neck relief, & your preference of action height.

    If you aren't trained its better to leave truss rod adjustments to someone who is. I'm sure someone will say they do it all the time. Many techs say they have job security because of home truss rod adjustments.:)

    Are you detuning? That is quite a large B. Is that a choice for feel or tone? I've been surprised how lively and ultimately musically perfect a .125 was when coming from a .130. Bigger isn't always better. Eq can have more to work with when the string is vibrating freely. YMMV.
  3. Happynoj


    Dec 5, 2006
    I like turtles.
    More for feel. 125s just feel really flimsy to me.

    I may be telling a lie. It might be a .135 rather than .140. Either way it is heavier than normal.
  4. smperry

    smperry Administrator Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 3, 2003
    Bay Area, CA
    Endorsing Artist: Martin Keith Guitars
    moved to hardware, setup & repair
  5. Mystic Michael

    Mystic Michael Hip No Ties

    Apr 1, 2004
    New York, NY
    The short answer is, "yes". String gauge can affect intonation. Specifically, the heavier gauge the string, the more likely the possibility of intonation problems.

    No, it's not a truss rod issue. It's a "bridge saddle position relative to string gauge" issue. (FWIW, I've been adjusting my own truss rods for some 35 years - never had a problem. Intonation, however, is a little trickier, and may justify consulting a professional guitar tech - at least until you learn how to adjust it for yourself.)

    FWIW, I also am quite comfortable with a .125 gauge "B" string - and even a .120 gauge "B" string on a couple of my instruments. They resonate very nicely, with lots of musical overtones - and they require only a very light touch: No "wrestling with a bridge cable" syndrome.

  6. Aceonbass

    Aceonbass Supporting Member

    Apr 10, 2004
    It may be necessary for you to remove the bridge, move it back, and screw it back down to get the saddle where you want it.
  7. Joedog


    Jan 28, 2010
    Pensacola FL
    It's happened to me on 2 basses. Kind of a PIA, but when backed up all the way (away from the nut) it was pretty close. I started tuning the B string to an E note (5th fret) and it seemed to split the difference to where (even though it showed up on the tuner) my ear couldn't pick it up. The open B was just a teensy tad flat, but it wasn't far out up the neck either. NOBODY ever noticed, including some great musicians. I like big strings...what can I say? Is yours so bad you can hear it?
  8. Happynoj


    Dec 5, 2006
    I like turtles.
    The bridge is set in a routed hole, so that is not happening!

    No, it's not an audible issue, I was just curious as to why I couldn't get it to intonate properly. It seemed like a bit of a design flaw unless it was to do with the string gauge.
  9. 96tbird

    96tbird PLEASE STAND BY Supporting Member

    Push down on the string in front of the saddle so it doesn't arc over the saddle but shoots straight off it to the nut. Now it will be flat. Adjust saddle forward a couple of turns, push, tune, check repeat, rinse, repeat. All strings.

    Edit: it's called setting witness point.
  10. Happynoj


    Dec 5, 2006
    I like turtles.
    I'm afraid that I don't really understand these instructions. When you say 'in front' do you mean the nut side of the bridge? And surely if I'm pressing on the string on that side of the bridge I'm going to struggle to tune because I'll be muting the strings?

    It's a Rotosound 66. It's very slightly tapered (the wrap gets slightly narrower at the ball end) but officially it is a full wrap.
  11. 96tbird

    96tbird PLEASE STAND BY Supporting Member

    You want to bend the string so it doesn't curve over the saddle,
  12. I just had the same problem with an Amc. Std. P5 I bought. The B sounded hollow, tinny, and low volume compared to the other strings. I did a set up, moved the pup closer to the B, and the hollowness and volume issue was solved. I couldn't get the intonation right, the saddle is all the way back, and it's still a little out. Shows up on the tuner, but I can't hear any difference, so I'll put it down to BPD (bass personality disorder) and learn to live with it.
  13. Zooberwerx

    Zooberwerx Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2002
    Virginia Beach, VA
    Thank you.

  14. JLS


    Sep 12, 2008
    Emeryville, Ca
    I setup & repair guitars & basses
    ^^^^^ Always the primary culprit, esp. w/B & E strings.
  15. Zephrant


    Dec 10, 2013
    Spokane, WA
    I've got to say thanks- was having a hard time with my B too. Snark had a hard time tuning it. Pressed it down, and it is back to normal now.

    Am surprised it made such a difference.
  16. Zooberwerx

    Zooberwerx Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2002
    Virginia Beach, VA
    Glad to hear you're back in business! The larger the gauge string, the more resistant it is to bending which is required to establish a clearly-delineated vibrating string path. Left alone, they have the tendency to form a lazy-loop as they pass over the nut and bridge saddle. Very commonly overlooked when installing strings....do a search for "witness" on this forum and you'll see what I mean.

  17. Thanks for the tip (and your support LOL). Worked like a charm, was able to really loosen it up. Have to lower the pup now, but no matter. Can I get a witness? Yessss!!