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Action & Intonation


Edendude

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I've just restrung my Jazz Bass with 105/85/65/45s, to replace the original 110 taperwound/85/65/45s.

 

I now have the action set up just a tad higher, because I prefer the way it feels and sounds.

 

I've set the intonation by comparing the 12th fret harmonic with the fretted 12th fret, and adjusting the bridge saddles back and forth until both tones were perfectly in sync on my tuner.

 

My question is thus...

 

If my action is relatively high, wouldn't fretting a note at the 12th fret cause the string to be sharper on that note, than fretting a note down in the first position (frets 1,2, or 3 for example)?

 

In other words...

 

With relatively high action, would perfectly set 12th fret intonation mean less than perfect intonation near the nut, where the action is lower, and string tension less when fretting?

 

Would it be wise to purposely leave a margin of a few cents of sharpness error at the 12th fret? Or should I have set the intonation dead on at the 12th fret, as I did?

 

I hope I have explained this clearly enough so that the question makes sense, at least.

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Sorry for the confusion Steve, but you're saying you set your intonation dead on at the 12th fret, despite having relatively high action?

 

It's seems to pitch well everywhere to my ear, the way I set it up, but I was just curious if there was a general theory that might be different with high-ish action.

 

Thanks.

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Originally posted by jeremy c:

By the way, I have discovered that there is a slight difference in the results when I adjust the intontation with the bass in playing position rather than flat on a table.

Must be due to gravity bringing the strings closer to the pickup magnets, which would further damp the string movement and thus change the resonant frequency.

 

Alex

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Originally posted by C. Alexander Claber:

Originally posted by jeremy c:

By the way, I have discovered that there is a slight difference in the results when I adjust the intontation with the bass in playing position rather than flat on a table.

Must be due to gravity bringing the strings closer to the pickup magnets, which would further damp the string movement and thus change the resonant frequency.

 

Alex

How can you say that with a straight face, Alex?
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Originally posted by C. Alexander Claber:

Originally posted by jeremy c:

How can you say that with a straight face, Alex?

It's a tough job but someone's gotta do it.

 

Alex

So this is what the prerequisite is for being chief groove guru ;)
Hiram Bullock thinks I like the band volume too soft (but he plays guitar). Joe Sample thinks I like it way too loud (but he plays piano). -Marcus Miller
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Get perfect pitch :P

 

In the bp article commemorating james jamerson's career and honoring his memory, somebody said they saw jamerson play a bass with serious intonation problems. He reportedly played it and was able to bend the strings until they were right.

Hiram Bullock thinks I like the band volume too soft (but he plays guitar). Joe Sample thinks I like it way too loud (but he plays piano). -Marcus Miller
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Edendude,

 

I think that in principle you right-- the purpose of setting intonation is correct for the extra tension in the string due to pushing it down to the fret, and since you don't need to push as far to reach the lower frets, the intonation can be a little off. I have noticed that if I set it at the 12th fret, the lower frets can be off 3 or 4 cents.

 

Personally, I can't hear 3 or 4 cents on a low note. I figure if I can't hear it, it doesn't really matter, does it?

 

But there's no harm in trying it, to see if you like the sound better-- I rarely get up to the 12th fret anyhow, why shouldn't I have the best intonation possible on the low notes? How about you try it, write down your results, and let us know? Maybe you can get a government grant for more research or something. . . ;)

 

Bruiser

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Personally, I can't hear 3 or 4 cents on a low note. I figure if I can't hear it, it doesn't really matter, does it?
sure it does, what about your audience? :wave:

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Prepare to don Nomex!"

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"When I install my cannons, I'm totally going to blast their asses back to the 16th century; Black Beard style"

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I'm about to commit heresy here.

I prefer "less than perfect" intonation.

:eek:

Not every instrument "prefers" perfect intonation because of construction variances and the aging process. Certain vintage instruments, short scales, hollowbodies and a lot of low-end instruments seem to be afflicted this way.

 

I choose certain notes on the fretboard (like the 5th, 7th, and the 14th frets in addition to the 12th) and use those as intonation set points (fretted and harmonics). The notes I seldom anchor on are usually a couple of cents off pitch so that I can use finger or grip pressure to bring it to pitch. Yes, it takes longer this way, but I get a compromise intonation that works for me.

 

My model for the off-pitch/pressure method were the blues players who rock their hand when vibrating a note - BB, Eric, Jimi - and the concept that the human ear can be fooled into hearing true pitch, if you're quick enough, by rolling the note around to relative pitch. It's only a theory, but it seems to work for me.

:wave:

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Originally posted by Fred the bass player:

I'm about to commit heresy here.

I prefer "less than perfect" intonation.

:eek:

Oh yeah? Then I'll commit double heresy - I don't intonate at all - I just play so fast that you can't tell :cool::P

 

When I'm setting the intonation, I don't use the harmonics. I fret the 12th carefully. Not like when I play exactly (because it varies too much), but I find that by fretting it, it sounds pretty good. I've got enough parts that reach up there that I have to be careful about my intonation.

 

Tom

(double heresy - is that like double bass? does it put me in the "doghouse"?)

www.stoneflyrocks.com

Acoustic Color

 

Be practical as well as generous in your ideals. Keep your eyes on the stars and keep your feet on the ground. - Theodore Roosevelt

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Originally posted by BigKahuna855:

Personally, I can't hear 3 or 4 cents on a low note. I figure if I can't hear it, it doesn't really matter, does it?
sure it does, what about your audience? :wave:
Well, if YOU are going to be in the audience, I'll be more careful. :D But I doubt that many people could hear 3 or 4 cents out-of-tune on the low notes. Especially when I'm playing with The World's Loudest Drummer, as we affectionately call him.

 

Bruiser

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