Would lighter gauge strings improve intonation above 12th fret?

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by chilliwilli, Jan 31, 2014.

  1. chilliwilli


    Aug 17, 2005
    Had my bass professionally setup after relocating to a place that has a very cold winter. Intonation is a little wonky up there which is to be expected on E string, but g/d are a little more off than I'm used to as you get closer to end of fret board. Not enough to notice I don't think and everything below 12th is good, but it made me wonder if light strings intonate better throughout fretboard especially on lower strings? I currently use a 107-80-60-45 D'addario XL set and was wondering.
  2. uOpt


    Jul 21, 2008
    Boston, MA, USA
    I would try strings with a taper at the bridge, e.g. the Dean Markley SR2000s.

    Might also want to try lighter strings or round cores (less tension).
  3. john m

    john m Supporting Member

    Jan 15, 2006
    Remove frets
  4. 96tbird

    96tbird PLEASE STAND BY Supporting Member

    ^ lol, I had that thought too.

    One thing a setup on your bass done by someone else that usually changes is neck relief. It may now be more than you are used to and to fret higher on the neck you stretch the strings a little further and they are a tad sharp.

    Lighter strings will lessen relief and change it all again and may require a new setup. Just learn how to do setups yourself to get it to work for you.
  5. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013
    Sounds to me like the person who did your setup didn't do it right.

    Is there more room to move the D and G bridge saddles?
  6. Flexible strings intonate better.
  7. uOpt


    Jul 21, 2008
    Boston, MA, USA
    Also, did you really go all the way up and down the neck and verify that frets 1-12 are actually OK and 13-20 are not?

    Because a too high nut can lead to throwing off a lot of fret's intonation. A too high nut correctly intonated for 12th will be pretty bad on e.g. the 1st fret.
  8. Mystic Michael

    Mystic Michael Hip No Ties

    Apr 1, 2004
    New York, NY
    In my experience, yes they do.

  9. chilliwilli


    Aug 17, 2005
    On the high strings its only 18 to 21 thats a little sharp, but you don't notice unless you use a chromatic tuner. I have a bad fret at 19 which buzzes noticeably. Could that effect general area? It is a 25+ year old bass.

    E is a little sharp past 12th. The nut shouldn't be to high because it was holding a 120 string before this set and nut was modified to accommodate that. I was told putting a lighter string in that same nut shouldn't cause problems as long as bass has been setup right.

    I'm not that concerned because bass feels better than it's ever felt in my hands and it doesn't sound off.

    I'm curious what putting on a lighter set and raising the action (it would buzz if action was kept the same and lighter strings were put on) would do for intonation.
  10. JLS


    Sep 12, 2008
    Emeryville, Ca
    I setup & repair guitars & basses
    So, what's the problem?
  11. FunkHead

    FunkHead Supporting Member

    Mar 10, 2007
    Stewartsville, NJ
    If 1-12 are good and 13 & Up are not, Strings really wont help. The frets themselves are slightly wonky. Sometimes you just gotta set the intonation for where you play the most. Or get the bass Plecked. If it's really minimal then just split the difference. It's gotta be pretty far off to be heard by ear. Especially by people who can't even learn a song by ear.
  12. VeganThump


    Jun 29, 2012
    South Jersey
    I don't think strings are the problem, I use .158-.49 Circle K strings and my intonation in dead nuts. I use the 5th and 17th fret to intonate, not the harmonic and 12th fret, so all the more reason that I think it's something other than your strings being too thick.
  13. bswag

    bswag Guest

    Dec 21, 2013
    Yeah, with anything other than purloined piano strings, your intonation should be good with whatever strings if the bass is setup properly. Basic setup is easy to learn and vital to know if you change type/gauge of strings.
  14. pfox14


    Dec 22, 2013
    The strings are not the problem. Your setup guy did a lousy job if the intonation is off. Coupled with the fact that you have fret buzz, which he should have pointed out and corrected.
  15. uOpt


    Jul 21, 2008
    Boston, MA, USA
    I don't think so.

    Sure, the setup might contribute but it is pretty unlikely that the frets are in the wrong position.

    Most certainly changing to strings with different tension dynamics will wiggle it. I would first try switching from hex to round cores, or vice versa if it's currently round.
  16. chilliwilli


    Aug 17, 2005
    Lol you guys need to relax. I'm wondering if light gauge strings have more consistent intonation throughout fretboard. My one bad fret that buzzes is not setup guys fault. It's been there. It is also common for E strings to have intonation that is a little off on higher frets. No one is going to hear any of the above mentioned minor problems.

    A few posts tried to answer my original question about lighter guage strings while some of you are busy speculating about all kinds of nonsense. Relax.
  17. the more flexable the string, more oscilation after plucking, more "out of tune" until the string return to the original pitch. A stiffer string is more "in tune" because there is less movement..
  18. Turnaround

    Turnaround Commercial User

    May 6, 2004
    Toronto Canada
    Independent Instrument Technician, and Contractor to Club Bass and Guitar - Toronto
    On the other hand, the stiffer the string the more you will drive it sharp as you press it to the fret. And that's what intonation is all about - setting the saddle in the right position to compensate for the stiffness of the string. It's all a compromise.
  19. walterw

    walterw Supportive Fender Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 20, 2009
    yeah, the stiffer the string the more out of tune it is inherently; the vibrations end up not actually starting right at the contact points, but instead develop a little ways in; that's what saddle compensation is actually correcting.

    (you could have stupid-low, breathe and it buzzes action, and the thicker strings still need more compensation.)

    kinda like this:

    the "perfect" string would have weight but no stiffness at all, like a length of chain or something.
  20. chilliwilli


    Aug 17, 2005
    Interesting, so flexibility is something to look for if you are concerned about that. Thanks.