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Weird problem with Fender Precision

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by open_space, Nov 30, 2006.

  1. I have been having problems with my American P. I am from Eastern Europe and good basses here are in short supply. Mine is a 50th Anniversary Standard P and I was very happy when I got it (for $950, isn't that crazy) but a year has passed and I am noticing weird things.

    First of all there is a dead spot on the 7 fret G string, then there is another problem fret 5 on the same string where the note has weird sustain. I don't know what you call that. But I can live with those as I don't really play that high anyway.

    The main problem is this: when I tune an open E (4th string) using a tuner, the note is perfect. But when I play a fretted G (3rd fret) or an A on the same string - they are sharp!!! I order to get them perfect I need to tune down the E string and then open E is a bit off.

    So this is what I think:
    1. Intonation problem - checked it several times, it's perfect, at least according to the tuner.
    2. Bad strings? I just got a set of EB strings and they seemed to die real quick. Maybe it's the strings? I started noticing this problem when I put them on.
    3. I have also adjusted truss rod several times when I installed new strings. It was hard to adjust it at first because it wouldn't move. Then I screwed up and untightened it all the way and I had to tighten it all the way back. Could I have screwed something up? Does it sound like a snapped trussrod?

    Please help me because I am lost.
  2. WoodyG3


    May 6, 2003
    Colorado, USA
    When you say the intonation is right on, I assume you mean at the 12th fret, because there's obviously a problem at the 3rd and 5th. This almost has to be a problem with the strings, I would think.

    Dead spot on the 7th fret? Not too unusual.

    I'm not sure from how you describe the 5th fret problem what might be going on. Is it a strange resonanating frequency? What does it sound like?
  3. jobo4


    Apr 19, 2006
    Austin, TX
    Perhaps unusually high action could cause the string to go sharp? Is the nut cut too high? Other than that, if you have your bass intonated properly at the 12th fret, I'm not sure.

    If you play octaves at the low G on the E string and higher G on the D string, are they in tune?

    Good luck.:)
  4. thanks for fast replies, guys!

    the 5th fret does resonate strange, it has a different kind of sustain sound, almost a doubling sound or something like that.

    My action is not too high, i even have slight fret buzz. When you say "nut cut to high" what does it mean? My bass is almost 10 year old I would assume, and i think I should replace the nut at some point since the strings are deep in it, if you know what I mean.

    After i tune properly, octaves seem to be in tune.
  5. But this doesn't look like a truss rod problem, does it?
  6. Nitkin


    Aug 10, 2002
    i would reccomend you this place to ask about good luthier in your hometown
  7. I would recheck your neck adjustment, set your string height, and reset your intonation at the 12th fret. If you are experiencing sharp notes when ascending the frets, it sounds as if your frets are worn to the point of their crown being flattened. Without a crown the tip of fret towards the headstock becomes the contact point for the string when fretted, and not the crown. Generally the crown is in the center of the fret and not on the edge if the fret is ground flat.
  8. To Nitkin: thanks, I already know ALL luthiers in Minsk. Plus Bassbel is not the best place to ask, trust me. But thanks anyway. I should have asked the same question on your forum as well. :)

    To Christov: yes, the fret crowns look pretty flat to me but that's the way I got the bass and it seemed fine in the beginning. But I will have someone to take a look at it.
  9. can anybody else share some wisdom here?

  10. floopy


    Mar 18, 2006
    Is the problem just with the E string - are the A, D and G strings in tune all the way up the neck?

    Also, is the problem restricted to just the 3rd and 5th frets on the E string? Are the 1st, 7th, 10th fret notes in tune?

    It would help narrow down the problem.
  11. Relic

    Relic Cow are you?

    Sep 12, 2006
    Robbinsville, NJ
    OS, it's hard to nail down exactly what the problem may be without being able to see and hear it. However - just guessing here - but it may be time for a refret.
    The "weird sustain" on the 5th fret (is it only the g string?) + the intonation being out make it sound to me that the fret height/crowns are all over the place.
    I dont think it's a truss rod issue. How is the tuning at the 12th fret?
  12. As I progress up the neck, the notes are slightly out of tune. Again, the intonation is spot on according to my tuner. Someone suggested adjusting the intonation so the actual notes on 3,5,7th fret are precise since I rarely play high up the neck on the E string.

    And the G string problem: aren't 5-7 frets a well-known Fender problem area?
  13. Rodent

    Rodent A Killer Pickup Line™ Commercial User

    Dec 20, 2004
    Upper Left Corner (Seattle)
    Player-Builder-Founder: Honey Badger Pickups & Regenerate Guitar Works
    Hi O_S,

    Here's a few thoughts on this:

    * your g-string issue is a common 'feature' of a 34" scale instrument. adding steel or graphite stiffening rods during the neck build process will resolve this issue most of the time ... but there's nothing you can do to change the construction method now

    * how accurate is your tuner, and what make/model is it? a tuner that is perfect for the frequency range of a guitar may have sensativity issues with the lower frequencies of a bass

    * you mention intonation - to me this is the suspect because you note that things get sharper as you play up the neck. I intonate my basses utilizing the open string and also fretting it at the 19th fret ... when these two places are intonated together you should have 'perfect' intonation along the remainder of the string (if your frets are cut correctly, and I assume they are as this is a Fender and not some closet hack job.) Remember that the intonation adjustment is a compensation for fretting notes on the neck - you are pulling the string out of straightness and onto the fret. don't be fooled into only adjusting intonation for the harmonics along the string

    * once you have your action set where you want it, and your trussrod is set to accommodate that action - then it's time to work your intonation adjustments. You note your action is low, so it should be easily visable if you're having a major trussrod issue

    * you note that this happened when you changed strings. are the new strings the same exact gages as the previous strings? Have you swapped back to your old strings to see if you still have the same issue? you could very well have a bad string - but you may also have introduced a twist to the string as you were installing it. twists are easy to introduce when wrapping the string around the tuning key instead of utilizing the tuning key rotation to roll the string onto the tuner.

    * did you also make a pickup height adjustment, of did you adjust your strings lower with this installation? it may be that your pickups are too close to the strings. you should have the pickups no closer than 3.5mm to the strings

    That's it for now. Let me know on these, as Im sure that one or several of these combined are at the root of your issues

    all the best,

  14. Thanks, Rodent for the detailed reply.

    I haven't tried intonating at 19th fret and never heard about it. I use usual 12th fret harmonics approach.

    My tuner is a really old Seiko guitar tuner, but I have also noticed the problem when using a tuner in Guitar Rig software. Plus I can hear when the string is out of tune when playing with the band.

    My action is not that low, there is a slight bow in the neck which I left so that I can lower the strings and not have fret buzz at first frets.

    My pickup is pretty far away from the strings, I don't like it when it's close. I am using the same make/gauge strings but I made major trussrod adjustment because there was a short term relationship with D'Addario Chromes (just not my cup of tea).

    Also, does anybody know if 50th Anniversary P has graphite rods in the neck? It seems that it would have them.

    I will try putting old strings back just to see. And if not - then I will take my P to the best luthier I know.
  15. Rodent

    Rodent A Killer Pickup Line™ Commercial User

    Dec 20, 2004
    Upper Left Corner (Seattle)
    Player-Builder-Founder: Honey Badger Pickups & Regenerate Guitar Works
    before running it to the luthier, humor me a little and see what you get by intonating at the 19th fret ... I'm curious to know if this will resolve your problem.

    a trussrod adjustment may require you give your set-up a little bit of intonation adjusting, but it should not cause a problem as large as you detail here

    all the best,

  16. Rodent, I did try intonation it on the 19th fret and it worked, at least it's much better now, thank you. But I did it only on E string because it was only off on E and A strings. A string is fine on frets 5, 3, 7, etc but a bit high on the 19th and I decided to leave it as is, since I don't play up the neck that much.

    I will still show it to the luthier just go get his input on the bass. Set ups don't cost as much here as they do in the US, so it's ok. For instance, a new hand cut bone nut with installation will run me about $5-10. I am thinking of replacing the nut, refretting (probably in a few months) and maybe installing a new bridge that would allow me to string through the bridge. I am going for a more vintage style. I wonder whether this would help.

    Thanks for your help.

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