Unnatural Intonation Problem

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by The Golden Boy, Sep 14, 2004.

  1. This past weekend I decided it was time to get my 1965 Jazz Bass out and get it ready for the recording gig this week. I don't often bring it to gigs, just ones where I know I can keep a close eye on it for the evening. Since I'm recording, I'd best change strings and check the intonation- G- fine, D- fine, A- fine, E- WHOA!! A Full HALF STEP OFF! It was a full half step off even at the 5th fret and the string is slapping against the frets. It's also really hard to get a 12th fret harmonic- and it first registers at A then switches to D#.

    So I'm looking at the bridge, but it looks fine. I check the neck, a slight bow, but just the way I like it. Switch tuners- Boss TU-2 to a TU-12 still the problem is there. I can't figure out what's going on. I adjust the bridge saddle, but EVERYWHERE I MOVE THE SADDLE IT STAYS THE SAME!! By this point it's 9 or 10 on Sunday night, and figuring I must just be tired or something...

    Yesterday afternoon I'm on my way to the studio and I called a guy that's done a bunch of work for me in the past- he has no idea. And I putz with it for an hour or so while they're setting up the drums, try the Korg rackmounted tuner in my rig. Still, a no-go. I remembered a friend of mine worked at a music store down the street. When I called, I could tell the guy who answered the phone thought I was dumber than an open box of hair- but he told me to bring it in. At the store they check everything I did, but as they moved the saddle the entire travel of the screw it still wouldn't intonate. They then took a couple of nut blanks and made a "bridge" for the string to rest on. Where it "intonated" at was a spot almost directly between the end of the bridge and the bridge pickup. Nutty? You Betcha!

    After most everything had been done to clear this up, we all figured it must be the string. It had to be the string. Guess what? It was the string. After putting on a used string (I keep a used set in all cases at all times!) it intonated fine in the original positon.

    What was the problem? The string had been wound over again starting around the 6th fret to the ball. In other words, it was normal sized (.105) from the nut to around the 6th fret, then it went to something like .110 from there up to the bridge. Cray-zee. I've used D'Addarios for 20 years or so and have never had a problem like this before. All's well, I had an extra unused .105 and it sounds as sweet as that bass always does.
  2. As I was reading the story and about 2/3 of the way through, I was thinking "string" only I was aiming at the broken core syndrome.

    That IS a real teaser! I would've been just as stumped as you. The fact that you had guys that gave half a krap about your prob and went that far to figger it out is great. Wish there were more like them.

    Great story!
  3. I would have thought broken core if the tuning kept slipping- I just figured it was an operator/headspace-timing issue! :D

    Has anyone else seen a string problem like that before?

  4. Never........hey thanks for the great story though. Ill make sure to remember this for the future!

    65 Jazz bass, can you post a picture for us? I'm a Jazz freak!

  5. RAM


    May 10, 2000
    Chicago, IL
    Yeah...I had a set of DR Highbeams. I'd been using this brand for about 8 years or so on my Spector, so it didn't seem a weird expectation to have no significant issues when it was time to replace them with a fresh set...or so you'd think!

    A fresh set of strings yielded a horribly intonated E string. In fact, I couldn't intonate it to save my life. I was beginning to think it was a problem with the electronics or the setup or something, but never thought the string was the culprit.

    I bought a fresh set of strings a few weeks later, and the problem went away. Still using DR Highbeams, though...

    The bottom line is, it happens, but not too often. This was the first time I'd experienced this problem in my 21 years of playing! :eek:
  6. The only other occurance I've heard of this was with a set of DRs. :eyebrow:
  7. I had a problem similar to this back when I used to used D'Addarios. My problem was also with the E String, however, mine was missing a wind from the 5/6th fret back. While I was trying to intonate the new strings, my guitarist happened to point out that the E string looked "odd." I called up D'Addario and told them about the string, and they sent me a brand new set, no questions asked.

    Haven't had any problems since I switched to Ernie Balls.:D