Intonation

I never thought about checking intonation on my bass guitar (Stella, my Washburn Bantam Series XB120) before after all this time. For those of you who don’t understand intonation, let’s take a look at the Wikipedia entry shall we:

Fret intonation

Instruments with straight frets such as guitars require special compensation on the saddle and nut. Every time a string is fretted, it is also stretched. As the string is stretched, every note will rise in pitch. Therefore, all fretted tones would sound sharp. However, with the right position of the saddle and precise placements of the frets, all fretted notes will sound sharp by the same amount. With the right nut compensation, the pitch of the unfretted (i.e., open) strings will rise the same amount that the fretted notes do (because of the proper saddle position). Thus, these adjustments combined with lowering the tension of the string from that required by an unfretted instrument will allow all tones to be exact.

So after all this time, I finally checked intonation on my bass guitar. I discovered that only my D string had the correct intonation which invoked me to adjust it properly. After close to an hour, I got all strings except the A string correctly. I don’t really mind the A string being not perfect since I’m not really a professional musician nor do I have the adequate tools and knowledge to fully adjust and fine-tine my instrument. As a result, I was also able to lower my action that significantly helps during hard to play parts. I suggest that anyone playing string instruments check their intonation if they haven’t done so. You don’t have to do it that often like tuning but it affects your tone which you want to be perfect every time you play.