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Understanding intonation

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by teej, Nov 26, 2004.


  1. teej

    teej

    Aug 19, 2004
    Sheffield, AL 35660
    I'm quite new at this luthiery stuff, so things like intonation are foreign to me. For a while, I was under the impression that as long as the nut on a 34" scale neck (or any scale, really) is 34" from the bridge saddles, the intonation would be correct. However, I accidentally read a post that says Warmoth's Custom T bass bodies are "stretched" to fit the scale. In otherwords, body length is a factor. I thought the distance from neck heel to bridge didn't matter, as long as the neck is the right scale and the nut is the correct distance from the saddles.

    You see, I found a few bolt-on hollowbody guitar bodies (without hardware, electronics, etc.) on eBay that I would like to use as bass bodies, but now I'm affraid that the bodies aren't long enough. So basically, I can't just put a bass neck on, even if I repositioned the bridge??
     
  2. seanm

    seanm I'd kill for a Nobel Peace Prize! Supporting Member

    Feb 19, 2004
    Ottawa, Canada
    You are correct.
    Guitar bodies are smaller than bass bodies. To a fit a standard neck they had to stretch the body. You could also stretch the neck (i.e. more frets) but it would be cheaper for them to stretch the body. They probably also did it to help with neck dive.
    As long as the bridge is not off the body, the intonation will be ok. You will probably end up with a very unbalanced bass though.

    Note: I am not a Luthier! I should really check the forum before posting.
     
  3. teej

    teej

    Aug 19, 2004
    Sheffield, AL 35660
    Ahh, OK. Just stretch the neck, then. I'm not too concerned with neck dive, though. I've got a bass with quite a bit of it, so I'm actually quite used to dive.
     
  4. seanm

    seanm I'd kill for a Nobel Peace Prize! Supporting Member

    Feb 19, 2004
    Ottawa, Canada
    But if you stretch it too much, it will feel different. I have a medium scale bass that has a long neck (compared to what I am used to) and I find that throws me the most when switching. Not string spacing, not scale, but neck length.
     
  5. teej

    teej

    Aug 19, 2004
    Sheffield, AL 35660
    I was thinking about making it a 36" scale 4-string.
     
  6. rubo

    rubo

    Aug 25, 2003
    What will happen if i move the bridge on a regular Jazz further out an closer toe the end of the body? Will than give me darker tone and more sustain? Or I'll have to move the saddles more closer to the neck to compensate.
     
  7. teej

    teej

    Aug 19, 2004
    Sheffield, AL 35660
    You would have a more bassy tone, yes, but since Fender Jazz's have a 34" scale, if you move the bridge down, you would increase the scale ON THE STRINGS, and not the neck. It would totally throw off the frets. I don't want to sound commanding, but I seriously advise against moving the bridge, unless you get a neck with a scale to match.
     
  8. rubo

    rubo

    Aug 25, 2003
    That's why I asked first, before screwing up things.
     
  9. teej

    teej

    Aug 19, 2004
    Sheffield, AL 35660
    For more sustain, you could switch your current bridge with a heavier one. From experience, I recommend the BadA*s II. As for the darker tone... hmm... new pickups, maybe? I know flatwounds or nylon tapewounds (what I use now) will take away a LOT of the growl and leave you with nothing but a thumpy, almost upright sound.
     
  10. You will have an unplayable instrument.

    The bridge is positioned in relation to the neck. Moving the bridge doesn't lengthen scale - it just renders the fretboard useless for intoned playing. Remember, as the scale is lengthened so does the space between EVERY fret, by degrees. How do you know? The 12th fret, which is the middle of any length scale bass, is 17" from the nut on a 34" scale and 17½" from the nut on a 35" scale (or 16" on a 36" scale). Where does the extra length go? Well, it is divided (progressively) between each fret (and all of the imaginary frets) on the scale. That's the difference
     
  11. Not entirely true. It's splitting hairs but knowing the details just enhances understanding of the subject.

    If just having the saddles placed 34" from the nut were all that was needed, we wouldn't need adjustable saddles on our bridges. The problem is that different strings, gauges, compositions, and favorite setups all have small effects on intonation. For instance, we increase tension when we fret a note and that fact has to be worked into the adjustment for intonation to work right. All of these factors add up to there usually being a measureable difference between the mathematic scale and the actual scale when intoned.
     
  12. HamOnTheCob

    HamOnTheCob Jacob Moore Supporting Member

    Nov 21, 2004
    Cambridge, Ohio, USA
    Endorsing Artist for Warwick Basses, Mesa Engineering, Joyo Technology, Dr. J Pedals, and Levy's Leathers
    There is one instance where moving the bridge, etc would be perfectly fine, though, and that would be in the case of using an unlined fretless neck. Obviously, the intonation in this case would be up to the player's skill level, and the scale wouldn't matter one way or the other.
     
  13. teej

    teej

    Aug 19, 2004
    Sheffield, AL 35660
    It would just be a matter of getting used to the new fret (or lack there of) positions.
     
  14. HamOnTheCob

    HamOnTheCob Jacob Moore Supporting Member

    Nov 21, 2004
    Cambridge, Ohio, USA
    Endorsing Artist for Warwick Basses, Mesa Engineering, Joyo Technology, Dr. J Pedals, and Levy's Leathers
    Right. :)
     
  15. lilvampboyx

    lilvampboyx

    Sep 1, 2005
    you save me A ****UP Because i was planning to move my bridge up towards the end too....becasue most basses i see have the bridge towards the end and mines is farther up i have like 4 inches of space between the end of my body and my bridge...thanks...i was going for a growly\trebely tone and moving my brige will totally do the oppisite thanks....
     
  16. MPU

    MPU

    Sep 21, 2004
    Valkeala Finland
    TJ: You are thinking the same I'm doing at the time. I bought a semi-acoustic body from ebay, filled the extra pickup and pot holes, routed a new pu hole and neck pocket and made a 30,25" scale mahogany neck. I took all the clear coat and old stain off, now I'm about to glue the neck on it's place and starting to finish the bass. So far I like the look of the bass a lot. I'm planning to stain the back and sides to dark mahogany and paint the top gold like on gold top Gibsons. I have Allparts Gibson 3-point bridge and DiMarzio Model One pickup on P-bass position.
    Marko
     
  17. Marko, the gold on the goldtops isn't paint. It's some sort of proprietary process that uses a gold toned powder and is so special that there are only a handful of folks in the country that even know how it's done, much less able to do it. So, if you want to approximate it, you might try looking into some of the automotive metallics that have some high quantities of metalflake in them OR go over on the MIMF and search the archives where there are several discussions about trying to do that finish. Good Luck.

    BTW, I saw your conversion. That's going to be a nice instrument. I applaud your vision.
     
  18. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    US-NY-NYC
    If you go to reranch.com, products tab, scroll down to "gold top gold," they claim, "Original Gold Top powder as first used by Gibson in 1952 for the Les Paul model is actually a fine bronze powder. Bronze powder, as opposed to a mica powder, will show a slight green iridescence as do original Les Pauls they are when viewed at an angle. The supplier of our powder is also the bronze powder supplier to Gibson."
     
  19. OK, they are going to sell you the mojo, but are they going to show you how to apply it? hmmm? :eyebrow: :D
     
  20. nateo

    nateo Schubie Fan #1

    Mar 2, 2003
    Ottawa, Ontario
    The Re-Ranch seems to be chock full of answers to the "how to apply it" question, actually. Of course, being a bit of a troublemaker, I mostly just keep trying things until it works out. Apparently I'm not much good with specific instructions.

    -Nate