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Thread: Bass Intonation Issue

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    Bass Intonation Issue

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    Can anyone explain why the higher 3 strings on the bass are perfectly intonated, but the E string isn't? It is sharp, so I moved the saddle to fix it, but it's not fixing it. I read on another forum that it means the string is bad, but that seems unlikely to me the string looks fine. What does it mean if the tuner jumps around? when I hit that string the tuner can't seem to make up its mind it jumps very sharp then sometimes it is right on the E pitch. It's weird.

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    Did you get it sorted out? When setting intonation on a bass, the witness points are critical. Those are the points where the string touches the nut and saddle. Those big heavy strings will crimp a bit around the witness points after a while, and then don't like to move. Try loosening your string and lifting it up from the saddle a little while you adjust the saddle position. You may need to reset the witness point afterwards by pressing down on the string on either side of the saddle for a moment.

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    Hi, Nola. Sometimes standard tuners can't cope with bass guitars. The note is too low. If you're intonating the E string then I suggest you tune using the harmonic at the 12th fret and the fretted note. You do know how to play a harmonic, yes?

    Also, it's really difficult to intonate old strings.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bubba po View Post
    Hi, Nola. Sometimes standard tuners can't cope with bass guitars. The note is too low. If you're intonating the E string then I suggest you tune using the harmonic at the 12th fret and the fretted note. You do know how to play a harmonic, yes?

    Also, it's really difficult to intonate old strings.
    This ^^^

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bubba po View Post
    Hi, Nola. Sometimes standard tuners can't cope with bass guitars. The note is too low. If you're intonating the E string then I suggest you tune using the harmonic at the 12th fret and the fretted note. You do know how to play a harmonic, yes?

    Also, it's really difficult to intonate old strings.
    Thanks Bubbo I will try that tonight. What is weird is that on my old guitar tuner it shows as properly intonated, but on my computer tuner it jumps around and says the open E string is 5 cents flat and at the 12th fret it reads ~ 6 cents sharp (but sometimes jumps even higher, just randomly). Is it reading an overtone or something when it jumps up? I know how to play a harmonic. So just play the harmonic at the 12th fret and compare it to the fretted note at the 12th fret? I will try that.

    Thanks Robus I thought I sorted it out, but I didn't. I will try the witness point thing. It looks like the screws under the E saddle are slightly tilted toward the bridge, so I wonder if when i lengthened the string it did that and if lifting it like you said will fix that. I will try in a bit.

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    So on the tuner inside the computer, I got the E string to -2 cents to 0 cents (it jumps a little and varies for some reason) on the open E. And then 0 to +2 cents on the fretted E.

    Would this be within acceptable range and unnoticeable? It's just a swing of 4 cents and not sure it's worth messing with more to fix that. The other 3 strings are more perfectly intonated. This E is being weird.

    Robus, I loosened the string and did what you said, then since it was sharp still I lengthened the string. It seemed to get much closer this time.

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    Personally, I would not worry about a variation that small. It's been a few months since I intonated either of my basses, and I've adjusted the truss rods on both so I'm sure they're off by more than that. I can't hear it. You're giving the string a second or two to settle into a stable vibration before you count the tuner reading, right?

    The only other advice I'd give is to check everything in the playing position, not with the bass lying on its back. That goes for neck relief as well as intonation.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Robus View Post
    Personally, I would not worry about a variation that small. It's been a few months since I intonated either of my basses, and I've adjusted the truss rods on both so I'm sure they're off by more than that. I can't hear it. You're giving the string a second or two to settle into a stable vibration before you count the tuner reading, right?

    The only other advice I'd give is to check everything in the playing position, not with the bass lying on its back. That goes for neck relief as well as intonation.
    i agree robus i am going to forget about it and get to recording now.
    i hate this part about instruments...intonation and maintenance. it really bugs me i don't enjoy it at all.

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    Ah crap, you're using a sim tuner? Stop that and use a real tuner. You could have the most perfectly intonated and tuned instrument on earth and those computer tuners will dance all over the place.

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    Two or three cents is nothing to worry about, anyway!
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