Weird intonation problem

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by Philbiker, Dec 27, 2007.

  1. Philbiker

    Philbiker Pat's the best!

    Dec 28, 2000
    Northern Virginia, USA
    This is on my Peavey Axcelerator 6.

    On my "A" string - I got the intonation set up almost perfect between the open, harmonic, and 12th fret "A" note. But when I fret the "D" at the 5th fret it is way out of tune. This happens on some other notes as well on some other strings, and on some of the other strings at the 5th fret (but not all of them).

    Maybe I need new strings. I bought the bass used and I have a feeling that the strings are original. But I absolutely adore the feel and sound of them!
  2. The strings could be bunk....or the fret job....lets hope the strings. Try boiling them if you don't want to get rid of them entirely. But, otherwise, let's hope new strings will solve it.
  3. Philbiker

    Philbiker Pat's the best!

    Dec 28, 2000
    Northern Virginia, USA
    Ug. Strings it is. Frankly strings was my first thought.

    I bought an expensive set of LaBella nylon tapewounds when I got the bass but I'm finding that I love the bass with the rounds on it so it will have to be a new set of roundwound strings.

    Or it's possible I'm becoming an intonation jerk. You know the kind of moron who complains that perfect intonation is impossible across scales of our modern tuning, even on a piano. On a fretted stringed instrument the problems are worse. Never thought I'd notice the difference.
  4. Are you using a high quality strobe tuner to do your intonation? If you are just using a 'standard' tuner, there is a significant amount of variance in them regarding the note being exactly in tune. It's amazing how just a slight amount of inaccuracy at the 12th fret can translate to significant 'out of tune' problems up and down the neck IME.

    Even with a good strobe tuner, a slightly inaccurate fretting at the 12th fret when you hold the string down (i.e., slightly bending the string, etc.) can result in some funny stuff up and down the neck.
  5. Also check the possibility that the pickup(s) are too near the strings - this can cause weird effects too.
  6. Philbiker

    Philbiker Pat's the best!

    Dec 28, 2000
    Northern Virginia, USA
    I don't have a strobe tuner.
  7. That would explain it right there. Just slight variance at the 12th fret would be multiplied up and down the neck. Setting intonation with a standard tuner usually does more harm than good.
  8. +1... However, using a standard tuner as if it was a strobe (i.e., assuming the intonation was set right when either the little light stopped blinking or the 'needel' pointed to 'in tune') is less than optimal and IMO and IME might end up putting you more out of tune than when you started.

    You are correct, though, in that if you take the time and check across different areas of the neck, re-adjusting and averaging, then you would be OK. My guess is most do not do this:cool:
  9. Vanceman


    Feb 14, 2007
    So. Cal.
    I have found intonation is also part of the balancing act of neck relief and saddle height. A flat neck and high saddles can result in fretted notes being flat below the 12th and sharp above the 12th compared to the 12th. Conversely, too much neck relief and low saddles can yield sharp notes fretted below the 12th and flat notes above the 12th.

    So that averaging thing might be the way to go.
  10. Johnny StingRay

    Johnny StingRay

    Nov 24, 2006
    I use a Korg tuner, you know the little gray one, and was able to set the intonation on my StingRay 5 without any difficulty. If you go to Fender's website they have a great article on how to set up a bass. It is interesting to note, well to me at least, that Carol Kaye says that setting intonation is NOT important. That you should pull back the saddles to get the tension on the strings that feels good to you. As much as I admire Carol, I think that is wrong. If my E string is not playing an E at the 12th fret, then it's wrong. I play TI flats, which I have been told are more "floppy" than others, but after setting my intonation, I can't feel any difference between them and the D'Addario Chromes.
    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year,
  11. Philbiker

    Philbiker Pat's the best!

    Dec 28, 2000
    Northern Virginia, USA
    I was playing a song with my brother this weekend and one song had a nice bass line that progressively went up and up. I noticed that the G# on my G string sounded a little out of wack, but when I went up to the A then B both sounded great. The C# on my C string sounded true also. Strange.

    You know what it may be? There may be some subtle harmonics going on that are different than what I'm used to, this is my only 35" scale bass.
  12. BassyBill

    BassyBill Still here Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2005
    West Midlands UK
    I've actually never used any sort of tuner for setting intonation - I've done it the old fashioned way by comparing fretted notes with harmonics at various places up and down the neck and listening for beats. This has always worked well for me.

    A couple of my basses are due for a bit of a setup at the next string change and I was toying with the idea of using my Korg tuner to check intonation and see whether this is easier or better than my old fashioned way. This thread has made me more interested in the comparison now.
  13. Philbiker

    Philbiker Pat's the best!

    Dec 28, 2000
    Northern Virginia, USA

    I changed the strings on the bass and set the intonation.

    Two things.

    (1) The more I work with the ABM bridge the less I like it. It is an absolute P-I-T-A to work with. It looks great and of course it does hold the strings solidly and allow for lots of different setup options.

    (2) I'm fairly sure that the problem with this bass is that the bridge is incorrectly placed. I had to turn three of the bridge pieces backwards in order to get intonation close. I can not get perfect intonation without either moving the bridge or replacing it. Ironically, the lock mechanism on the ABM is easier to work with when the saddle holders are reversed! I don't know if you can tell from this pic.

    Bottom line is I got it pretty close. However, in order to really perfect the setup I will need to adjust the neck tilt. The "B" string saddle on the ABM bridge does not go low enough to allow for a non-tapered "B" string on this bass with the neck tilt set at factory spec.

    In other news I love everything else about this bass. Sound, feel, look, it's a keeper.

    Attached Files:

  14. Hi, Philbiker.

    Did You take a look at the nut-slots when You were changing the strings?

    I've seen quite a lot badly carved or worn out nuts that make the intonation setting a PITA. That's the reason the nut is the first thing I inspect or replace when setting up an instrument.

    I don't buy that "stobe is the only way to go" talk at all. Your ears (one in my case) should be accurate enough to get the job done as it's not the actual pitch, but the relation between two notes that gives the indication what to do. IMHO of course.

    BTW one should also be able to tune their instrument when given one reference pitch, without the use of an tuner. Again IMHO.

    Just my 0.02€