Hello all, first time poster here. My recently acquired first bass (Squier Affinity Precision) sometimes has off-intervals between strings even when freshly tuned. For example, the A-string might sound higher than the E-string by only a major third instead of a fourth when played on the same fret in the middle of the fret board. This happens even though the open strings are perfectly tuned. When this happens I try to find where the two strings diverged and it’s usually pretty near the neck bridge. For example, the A-string, going up fret by fret from open string sounds A, A-sharpish, A-sharp, B, C, C-sharp, etc.
Despite a quick and cheap set-up having been done, I kept the original strings on. The only thing I can think of is the core string is slipping within the wrapping wire. (Otherwise it’s the wormhole centered at my A-string that’s just enjoying messing with me.) Has anyone ever encountered this? Should I simply change the strings for a start?
The only thing is it can come and go. Like in the example I gave it got better after I stretched the string, detuned and retuned it, pressed on the string next to the nut, and did whatever. At one point the string became playable again, I have no idea what did it.
The laws of physics - at least as pertaining to metal strings - should be rock solid
Joke aside: as the other gentlemen said, intonation setup seems a likely culprit. However, as you surmise, a mechanical issue with the A string is also possible. Do you know whether you have round core or hex core strings? I assume you did not put on those strings yourself? Do you otherwise like the strings? Do you feel they are “worth saving”, perhaps because they are/look rather new??
What I am getting at is: I would probably start from scratch with a new set of strings (preferably strings you like/prefer) and then follow the procedures described in the videos.
I learned a long time ago to replace the strings right away when getting a new instrument. Most manufacturers do not put quality strings on when the ship new instruments. I personally prefer 10 gauge strings and it seems a lot of manufacturers opt for 12s. Strings are cheap enough and you can teach yourself to change the strings and check the setup yourself in the process. There are quite a few threads on the forum about this. Actually Josh has a trial video he put out on setups to get feedback from the members here on what they want in the final product. Looks like string changing will be a separate video down the road but there are lots of quality videos on YouTube for you to explore.
There is also the matter of pre-stretching strings to help them settle in. Some people swear by it, some people swear at it. May be worth a try. Mark Carruthers at Elixir strings shows how to do it
I agree with the above opinions that it’s probably an intonation issue. If you have an electronic tuner, check the tone on each open string and at the 12th fret. There should be exactly an octave between them. If there isn’t, intonation ia your gremlin.
Without checking that specific interval, I know that it would not sound an octave when the string is acting up. The only thing that makes me think it might not be a setup issue is that it can come and go. Wouldn’t a setup issue be pretty constant?
In any case, as a brand-new bassist (first got my bass shipped from Sam Ash three months ago and am learning using Josh’s course and a couple of collections), I don’t know anything, but saw a video on changing strings that advised bending the string right at the end where you cut it before putting it into the tuning peg, so as to avoid the slippage I mentioned above. I don’t have any attachment to these strings, and the way the bass was badly set up out of the box makes me doubt the string quality.
Hopefully a new set of strings may fix things, otherwise I’ll have to try to figure out what intonation set-up is and how to do it.
Is it just the A string?
If so it could be Fender’s good old design flaw. Make sure that string is wrapped low on the tuning peg so there is enough break angle on the nut. You need quite a few turns of string on the A to keep the string from creeping up on the peg over time.
This is a known design flaw.
Other possibilities could be a bum string, crappy nut or the string isn’t sitting in the bridge properly or is twisted too much.
If these are the strings it came with I’d replace them, and make sure you have many turns on that A peg. These things would make intonation come and go.
Could you look at the tuning peg and see if there’s a separation of the outer wrap from the inner wire?
I’ve had this happen exactly once with a set of labella flatwound, but when it happened it was almost exactly as you’ve described.
Honestly, in the end you’re maybe going to need a set of strings.
Update here if you can, please. As a bass nerd im really intrigued by how this will come out.
It could be a combination of the intonation, string not on properly, and the pickup too close to the string. These things would cause all the problems you seem to have. I would change strings paying particular attention to wind down low on the post and also check that the pickups are not close to the string which can choke the string and sometimes cause it to sound like an ugly sounding chorus or sharp.
IMHO One of the problems that experienced musicians have when trying to explain things is we do so many things automatically that we forget that what we take for granted does not help new comers.
You mentioned bending the strings at the nut. I have not seen this mentioned for quite some time but always do it automatically on a string change. I also do the same thing where strings break over the bridge saddles. Another thing is to add graphite to the nut slots.
I agree with others that feel that this is probably an intonation problem but just be thankful that you are dealing with a Bass and not an acoustic guitar for sorting out intonation issues.
This came to mind. If it is only the A string, you do have a Fender designed bass. As John says there’s a flaw in the design. Easy to test, press down on the A string about an inch behind the nut, hold it down and pluck with your other hand. It should sound steady
It means the note should be consistent with no wavering or chorusing effect. If it holds steady, you have the flaw and it can be remedied by winding new strings as low on the tuner post as you can get to help the angle of the strings.
This is interesting, can you post a short video? I know that if the core wire is broken then it would sound dead. Similar things happened to me a few times but they are from different problem. One was from an improperly cut nut.