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What's going on here? (HELP!)

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by mlbarlow, Jul 8, 2005.


  1. mlbarlow

    mlbarlow

    Apr 26, 2005
    Plattsburgh, NY
    Okay ... I've got a recent problem with a very nice bass that I've had for a number of years. I've been noticing that even when I've just tuned, fretting a fourth, for example, on my D and G strings, is always out of tune. It gets worse as I go up the neck.

    I tried tuning various different notes up the neck after tuning the open strings. The G is consistent, if not slightly flat on a couple of notes. The D string, though, gets progressively more sharp as I move up the fretboard, to the extent that once I play a high "A" (19th fret), it's almost 50 cents sharp!

    I've never had this trouble before, and I'm hoping it's a setup issue.

    Peace.
     
  2. BurningSkies

    BurningSkies CRAZY BALDHEAD

    Feb 20, 2005
    Seweracuse, NY
    Your intonation is off. Check the stickies at the top of the setup forum, and they'll guide you through the proper kinds of adjustments to make.
     
  3. eldave777

    eldave777

    May 24, 2005
    Burning Skies is right as always. Intonate that bad boy!!!
     
  4. mlbarlow

    mlbarlow

    Apr 26, 2005
    Plattsburgh, NY
    Thanks for the advice. I've checked out the two pages that explain intonation and have attempted Gary Willis' technique of tuning the open string and the 12th fret. This works on a couple of the strings, but the other three still seem to be sharp even if I've drawn back the saddle as far as it can go.

    Now what?
     
  5. BurningSkies

    BurningSkies CRAZY BALDHEAD

    Feb 20, 2005
    Seweracuse, NY
    Take it to a pro for a full set up. I can't imagine what's going on that you'd have any of the saddles maxed out in either direction unless you put on a neck that's not the right scale length or have a new bridge that's not in the right place. Is your relief set properly?


    Intonation is something that 'drifts' overtime and needs tweaking, but I don't know of a case when things have gone all out wonky like this.
     
  6. mlbarlow

    mlbarlow

    Apr 26, 2005
    Plattsburgh, NY
    Original neck, original bridge, well-constructed bass ('96 Hamer 2Tek 5) ...

    The relief is cool.

    Maybe I've worn out the nut? In any event. I'll take it to the local guitar shop. I don't know the reputation of anyone around here (plattsburgh, ny) as I moved from Syracuse just a year ago. Perhaps, Burning Skyes, you could recommend someone in Syracuse? (I'm assuming that Seweracuse and Syracuse and one in the same.)

    Thanks.
     
  7. jeffhigh

    jeffhigh

    May 16, 2005
    Something is very wrong with your setup.
    What I suggest is you do this
    Get a tape measure,measure from the face of the nut(fingerboard side ) to the 12th fret.
    Double that figure.This is your scale length.
    Then measure from the nut face to the contact point of the G string saddle. Set this to scale length plus 1/8"
    Do similarly for the other strings gradually increasing the length to scale lenght plus 1/4" for the E string.
    This gives you a basic approximate saddle position.
    Now tune the strings accurately and check how flat or sharp the fretted note is at the 12th fret.
    report the results here.
    Jeff
     
  8. If you are tuning by measurement, you may never get perfection anywhere other than open string and twelth fret. Look at the physics of what you have. If the frets are exact for the G string, and you move the saddle of the E string over 1/4 of an inch further away, the frets on the E string cannot be in the right place. At this point, fanatics will go to fanned frets, but the rest of us just live with it.
    Set your intonation so that it is in tune for the parts of the fretboard you spend most time on.
     
  9. Intonation is something that anyone can do...read the stickies in this forum.
     
  10. BurningSkies

    BurningSkies CRAZY BALDHEAD

    Feb 20, 2005
    Seweracuse, NY
    I used to take my stuff to Greg Pasica, but had a bit of a falling out over him using a pre-cut nut on one of my guitars...Nowadays, there's not much in town (Terry @ Beat St. in Manlius is good, but I don't jibe with him well), but there are options in Utica and Ithaca. Ithaca gets you Rumbleseat, and Guitarworks which are both good. I have the name of a really good guy in Utica, and that's where all my band members go for work...PM me if you want it.

    Since you're up north, you might try Dr. Guitar in Watertown. I haven't gotten any service from them, but I did buy an instrument there, and they seemed to shoot straight. Not only that, but the Bass I bought from them was beautifully set up, after being in their shop for over 4 years. They carry a nice bunch of gear, so I'd think they'd have someone qualified.
     
  11. mlbarlow

    mlbarlow

    Apr 26, 2005
    Plattsburgh, NY
    Say, are the early 2Tek bridges adjustable? Could mine have just slid up and that's why everything is sharp? I'll try taking it apart and toying with it.
     
  12. mlbarlow

    mlbarlow

    Apr 26, 2005
    Plattsburgh, NY
    Thanks for your response, Joshua. The strings are almost brand new - but I tried flatwounds for the first time on the bass. They sound great in the jazz group I'm working with now, but could they be my problem. I don't recall having a problem with rounds, but I never took the time to sit down with a tuner.

    Also, just to make myself clear, when I talked about the bridge being adjustable, I was wondering if I move the entire block for each string (not just the saddle) back. But I've thought since that posting that this would make my scale longer than 34", which might screw things up more.

    Peace.
     
  13. jeffhigh

    jeffhigh

    May 16, 2005
    Just measure the existing length, that will tell you if you are in the right ballpark.
    Jeff
     
  14. mlbarlow

    mlbarlow

    Apr 26, 2005
    Plattsburgh, NY
    My apologies for not addressing your earlier recommendation sooner. Here's the deal:

    G is in tune at right around 34". If I set the other saddles to be reasonable distances as one would on any other bass, they are all quick sharp; especially the D on which I played a high A and it was almost halfway between A and Bb. If I set all of the saddles back, almost all the way to the end of the bridge, they are a bit better. A is in tune. E is maybe 4 cents sharp. D is 6 or 7 cents sharp. B is almost 20 cents sharp!

    Anybody?
     
  15. jeffhigh

    jeffhigh

    May 16, 2005
    Have a good look at the nut especially on the D string. The string slot should slope back slightly towards the tuners so that the string breaks from the front edge of the nut.
    With the D string check the open note is in tune and then check the 12th fret rather than the 19th. If you suspect a nut problem then compare 1st fret and 13th fret.
    Is your tuner working properly?try another
    Jeff
     
  16. I have a 2-TEK Cruise 4 string and I had a similar, though nowhere near as bad, problem. I removed the springs from the saddles on the stubborn strings (E & A) and that gave me enough room to properly intonate them. Did you change to heavier strings?
     
  17. mlbarlow

    mlbarlow

    Apr 26, 2005
    Plattsburgh, NY
    lonote - not necessarily heavier strings, but I did switch to flatwounds. I considered removing the string saddle springs as well, but I guess I'm trying to get at the deeper problem, if one does exist. I'm actually visiting family in Philly right now, and have found someone very knowledgeable in setup and repair to check out the situation. I'll be sure to post what conclusion he comes to. His initial reaction talking on the phone was that flatwounds are difficult to intonate, but they're Rotosounds, so they really shouldn't be all that difficult. Thanks, Matt
     
  18. I have D'Addario Chromes (flats) on mine but I first encountered the problem right after I bought the bass. It had a set of light gauge roundwounds on it and I changed to a set of stout Fender 9050 flats. There simply wasn't enough room to properly intonate it until I removed the springs. After that, it has been smooth sailing. I don't think there's anything structurally wrong with your bass; you may want to try a set of lighter gauge strings.
     
  19. mlbarlow

    mlbarlow

    Apr 26, 2005
    Plattsburgh, NY
    Thanks lonote,

    I took my bass to a tech who I think highly of this past week and he marginally fixed the situation, but I'm still not satisfied. He essentially made the already low relief low enough to make a bunch of notes buzz. Anyway, he thought the flats might be my problem, but it's interesting for me to hear that you have had issues from the beginning ... perhaps I've done the same and just not noticed.

    I'll try the lighter guage strings - I put rotosounds on my bass, so I would expect them to intonate, but no such luck.

    Peace.