Help with intonation

Hi guys I need your experience and expertise.

I am trying to set up the bass by myself, as I think it’s useful, but I believe I have intonation issues. I adjusted the truss rod, and I think it’s quite ok. But the bridge saddles do not look right to me. When I checked the strings for intonation, the E and the A in particular seem off and it does not matter what I do on the bridge screws, the result does not seem to change. Conversely, D and G seem alright.

Before I do something irreparable/I will surely regret, can you please take a look at the photos of the bridge and suggest possible corrections?

I can see that you’ve had the screw heads travel away from the right end of the bridge instead of allowing the saddle to travel towards the neck on some strings. My bass did that too, and what worked best for me was loosening the string tension to move the saddle then tuning back up.

I also broke a string that was rubbing against the spring so I think that’s another benefit of detensioning the string to move the saddle.

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Thank you for the reply. Is is true that the optimal layout for the saddles on a 4-string bass bridge is generally to have them in a straight line, perpendicular to the strings?

My understanding is that the lighter strings typically end up more forward and the heavier strings more backward. So you actually end up with a bit of a diagonal. And if you look at the fixed bridges/saddles on acoustics they are always slanting forwards with the lighter strings. My acoustic guitar, acoustic bass and electric basses are all like that. For the most extreme example take a look at a multi scale bass with fanned frets; the lighter strings are set up to be the shortest ones.


Got it. Thank you!

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This happens with this kind of bridge (I have one too).

You can just use a screwdriver or even your thumb and push those screws forward so they are flush.

Won’t affect anything negatively, just check your notes to make sure it’s intonated to where you need it.


Thank you, I kind of managed to do that. The octaves still sound a little flat though. .

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Ok so the next thing to do is to make the string shorter.

If it’s flat, it means the string is longer than it needs to be from nut to saddle.

(shorter string, higher pitch, longer string, lower pitch).

To fix that you need to make the saddle move closer to the neck, or away from the bridge. If you’re facing the saddle screws, you’re turning it to the left.

You may never get it perfectly in pitch at the octave but you will hear it sound better.

All of this will take a bit of trial and error as you want to make small adjustments, tune it, and then try again.

Always tune the open strings to pitch, then test everything after you make adjustments.

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Great, thank you!