What fret do you tune to?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by tpaul, May 10, 2021.

  1. tpaul

    tpaul Supporting Member

    Mar 19, 2011
    OK, that's a strange question I know, but here's what I mean:

    I was noticing the other day that it's impossible to get a bass to play perfectly in tune up and down the neck. No surprise there, it's an imperfect system whereby strings get stretched while fretting, etc. That's why people use things like the Buzz Feiten system (please don't derail this thread to express your praise or disdain for Buzz Feiten's system or other similar fixes, about which I have no opinion - that's not the point of this thread).

    So, given that you're inevitably going to be closer to perfectly in tune in some area of the neck and farther from it in another area, it seems to me that it would make sense to tune so that the area you play in the most, is closest to being perfectly in tune. For example, if you're mostly playing in the first position area, you might want to tune so that your third fret notes are spot-on, while if you are playing a lot up around frets 5-7, which I do, it would make sense to tune so that those areas are spot on - even though that means your open strings may be a little off. In other words, if you're not playing open strings much, why tune to the open strings?

    My question is, does anyone do this in practice?

    And yes, I recognized that the whole concept of intonation and tuning is considered by some to be a bit too picayune for bassists to get concerned about, something that is better left to more effete stringed instruments. :bassist:
  2. bholder

    bholder Affable Sociopath Supporting Member

    Sep 2, 2001
    Vestal, NY
    Received a gift from Sire* (see sig)
    Interesting idea, but no, I don't do that, I try to keep the intonation good enough that it doesn't matter.
    gebass6, MonetBass and abarson like this.
  3. JKos

    JKos Supporting Member

    Oct 26, 2010
    Torrance, CA
    Um, no. I adjust my intonation so I'm good all over the neck including open strings.
    Last edited: May 10, 2021
    ajkula66, MonetBass and bholder like this.
  4. abarson


    Nov 6, 2003
    Santa Cruz
    It seems to me that if you tune to a fretted position, other fretted positions would likely be out of tune. Not only that, but fretting is often imprecise or not consistently reproducible, which would also influence your results.
    Of course, I could be wildly incorrect in this assumption.
  5. Abner


    Jan 2, 2011
    I tune the open strings. But then again, I mostly play fretless. :)
  6. shoulderpet


    Sep 24, 2015
    No, I tune with my strings open (unfretted), intonate at the 12th fret and live with however out it may be in the other parts of the neck
  7. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Supporting Member

    open strings and harmonics always did it for me. i don't have frets anyway, so there's that, but even if i did = open strings and harmonics.
    gebass6, MonetBass and bholder like this.
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