Suspect intonation problem

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by lexxmexx, Jul 18, 2008.

  1. lexxmexx


    Apr 7, 2008
    I had twiddled with the truss rod of my bass recently and it now seems to sound 'out'. While all the 5 strings were in tune, some of the fretted notes sounded very sharp but when I checked it with a tuner, it was spot on. So I tested playing the same notes on other frets to see if it was my ears playing tricks on me, and they sounded more in tune but still spot on when counterchecked with a tuner. Playing the same notes together sounded fine with no dissonance.

    One example is the F# (9th fret on A string) being "sharper" than the same note on 4th fret on D string. Both were spot on when tuned with a tuner.

    Can anyone tell what could be the problem?
    Was it the strings, the bridge, the nut, or just me?

    Also the low B string couldn't sustain long notes as well as other strings, and some notes sounded dull. Does it mean that it's dead?
  2. You check intonation on the 12th fret. If you have a tuner you’re halfway there already. Tune the bass with the tuner -then check the 12th fret note with the 12th fret harmonic. If the fretted note is sharp of the harmonic - move the saddle back. If the fretted note is flat of the harmonic - move the saddle forward.
  3. poppamies


    Dec 15, 2002
    Maby I don't understand your problem? When you tune the bass with a tuner everything is spot on all over the bass! Is everything out of tune when you don't use the tuner?
  4. BetterBottomEnd

    BetterBottomEnd <- Not me I just like looking at her

    Jan 9, 2007
    Cable Wi
    What kind of tuner are you using? Maybe your ears are more accurate then you tuner.
  5. Joshua

    Joshua WJWJr Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Aug 23, 2000
    Perhaps when playing them together you aren't fretting them as perfectly as you might be when tuning each individually with the tuner?
  6. lexxmexx


    Apr 7, 2008
    The 12th frets were spot on too according to my tuner (Seiko chromatic tuner). While both notes are F#, D string fret 4 sounded ok but A string fret 9 sounded like a very sharp F# or very flat G. I got someone to press one of them while I fret the other and both note were plucked at the same time, sounded in tune, no dissonance. Could it be due to the sound quality of the strings where one happens to be much brighter than the other?
  7. toobalicious


    May 6, 2008
    triad, nc
    FWIW, lots of notes *should* be a little off, as your bass uses a tempered scale.

    intonation is checked at the 12th fret. if the other fretted notes are out while the 12th is in, you are fretting too hard, have a bad string, or your neck is fuxxord. hey, it happens. i had a "nice" norlin-era gibson acoustic that intonated so badly that basically anything above the 5th fret was out of tune, and there was no practical way to fix it. nice tone, but a big enough problem that it was demoted to slide for awhile, then offed for some other shmoe to deal with. i was that shmoe for longer than i would care to admit.
  8. staindbass


    Jun 9, 2008
    yeah but to check intonation, you measure the 12 fret harmonic against the 12 fret fretted note, wheras you were checking the fret #4. do theymatch on the 12th fret? (fretted and harmonic) johnny a
  9. moles


    Jan 24, 2007
    Winnipeg, MB
    Hmm - what I read in the original post was that all the notes seem to be in tune. You've verified this with a tuner, and also by playing unison notes and not experiencing any "beats" or dissonance.
    I suspect what is going on, is the different timbre of two unison notes played on different strings/areas of the neck is confusing your ear a bit. It is a common psycho-acoustic phenomenon for a loud, bassy tone to be perceived as a bit sharper than it is - so knowing this I'm guessing an E on the E string 12th fret sounds sharper than on the D string 2nd fret?
    Edit - I've also had basses that had more sustain/better tone the straighter the neck was adjusted - more bow in the neck equaled less sustain and more funky, weird dead spots. This sort of thing could be confusing the issue for you as well.
  10. When I've moved from basses I thought my MTD sounded sharp all over... but I had just gotten used the intonation challenges on my previous basses and moving to something that plays clean and true all the way up was just.. different and threw me for a loop for a while...

    If the tuner registers it in tune all the way around... idk
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