Author Topic: Can't intonate B String - saddle maxed  (Read 858 times)

jwright9

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Re: Can't intonate B String - saddle maxed
« Reply #15 on: February 10, 2018, 03:59:36 PM »
My recommendation is to take it to a professional and get a second opinion. Not to suggest that you are doing anything wrong or don't know what you are doing. Just take a step away and let someone else have a look.
Perhaps there is something simple being overlooked.

Or, as already mentioned, send it to Alembic for a spa treatment.




tomhug

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Re: Can't intonate B String - saddle maxed
« Reply #16 on: February 10, 2018, 04:40:49 PM »
My recommendation is to take it to a professional and get a second opinion. Not to suggest that you are doing anything wrong or don't know what you are doing. Just take a step away and let someone else have a look.
Perhaps there is something simple being overlooked.

Or, as already mentioned, send it to Alembic for a spa treatment.


This is eminently reasonable advice.

I would be thrilled if this out to be a PEBCAK error ("Problem Exists Between Chair and Keyboard" - as they say in my industry) - that's an easier problem to fix.

I will say, that I do my own setups on all 8 of my basses. I've built two of these myself. I've had professional luthiers complement me on my setups. I'm not infallible, but I've stood at the workbench of some pretty experienced dudes while they set up my instruments, and they did the same things, and followed the same procedures, that I do.

But you're right, a 2nd set of (experienced) eyes is a worth-while investment before jumping to any wild conclusions or courses of action.

mica

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Re: Can't intonate B String - saddle maxed
« Reply #17 on: February 10, 2018, 06:05:53 PM »
Send your bridgeblock to us and we'll be happy to drill an extra set of mounting holes to the south of the original ones - would only take a day or two to turn around. This would get you playing better for sure.

tomhug

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Re: Can't intonate B String - saddle maxed
« Reply #18 on: February 11, 2018, 09:08:55 PM »
Send your bridgeblock to us and we'll be happy to drill an extra set of mounting holes to the south of the original ones - would only take a day or two to turn around. This would get you playing better for sure.

Thanks Mica,

I am going to have this bass looked at by a luthier in my area, just to make sure that I am not reading the strobe-tuner wrong, or making some other kind of foolish mistake. If he concurs with my assessment, I will send the bridge-block your way.

And if he doesn't concur with my assessment, I'll get to report whatever it was I was doing wrong in a (semi)public forum, which I will call a good "character-building" exercise  :-[

tomhug

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Re: Can't intonate B String - saddle maxed
« Reply #19 on: February 21, 2018, 02:47:03 PM »
There's good news and bad news:

The good news is that I did know what I was doing, at least insofar as the setup was concerned. For those keeping score at home, the "2nd opinion" was from Carl Pedigo. Carl was principal luthier at Lakland and I was first referred to him for a different instrument by non other than Roger Sadowksy. So those are pretty good bona fides. Carl's independent now (since Lakland was bought out). He's at www.chicagobassdoctor.com. A total gentleman and affable guy. If you're near Chicago's north side and need luthery, I can recommend Carl wholeheartedly.

The bad news is that now I need to fix the issue. I am debating whether trying a lighter (something like .040 .060 .080 .100 .120) set of strings might be the first thing to try, before drilling holes in the bridge-plate.

tomhug

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Re: Can't intonate B String - saddle maxed
« Reply #20 on: February 21, 2018, 07:38:32 PM »
Tom,

Have you tried a lighter gauge string?  I use 115 for B on my two five string basses.  The saddles are pretty far back, but don't touch the end of the bridge and both basses intonate well. And, the 115 B sounds pretty good!

Rob

If you please Rob, Where do you get a .115 B? I usually buy from BassStringsOnline, and I didn't see any singles lighter than .120 - at least not in the brands I commonly use.

rv_bass

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Re: Can't intonate B String - saddle maxed
« Reply #21 on: February 22, 2018, 04:08:15 AM »
Tom,

I use flat wounds and ordered individual 115 B strings direct from Pyramid.  If you use flats I have an extra one I could send you if you want to try it out.  If you use round wounds, I think Dunlop makes 115 B strings:

https://www.amazon.com/DUNLOP-DBN115-Nickel-Stainless-Guitar/dp/B00GYTWWIO/ref=sr_1_16?ie=UTF8&qid=1519300900&sr=8-16&keywords=bass+strings+115

Rob

edwardofhuncote

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Re: Can't intonate B String - saddle maxed
« Reply #22 on: February 22, 2018, 05:04:17 AM »
I'm pretty sure T-I includes a .118 B string on their Jazz Rounds set. I probably have a decent take-off set for a 34" scale 3+2 if you'd like to try them. (they were on a Tobias 5-string...)

I'd just take Mica up on the offer to redrill the sustain block... quick turnaround, permanent fix, plus you can use whatever strings you prefer.
« Last Edit: February 22, 2018, 05:54:12 AM by edwardofhuncote »

tomhug

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Re: Can't intonate B String - saddle maxed
« Reply #23 on: February 23, 2018, 09:28:21 AM »
You remember a few posts up, when I said:

... I'll get to report whatever it was I was doing wrong in a (semi)public forum, which I will call a good "character-building" exercise  :-[

It turns out that my setup procedures were fine, but my string installation procedures were missing the important step of setting witness points.

I had reached out to Jason at BassStringsOnline, who said:
Quote
Press down on the strings in front of the saddles to create a proper witness point.  You will need to do this after every movement of the saddle when setting intonation as well.  Since this is a heavier gauge string it needs a little help for a proper witness point to be made.  Also check the same thing at the nut and nut height.
Jason
BassStringsOnline.com

That turned out to be exactly it. Witness Points. In 38 years of bass playing, I had never given them much thought. But they are definitely a thing.

They are described and depicted here and here and here (and, it turns out, mentioned several time in this forum)

I went back and set the saddles to where they were in the first pic (to serve as a starting point). With witness points set and reset after each saddle move, the bass intonates just fine.

One of the things that held me back from immediately sending the bridge plate back, is that I have another Essence 5, a fretless, that has the exact same measurements as the one pictured in this thread. What are the odds that Alembic made two Essences that needed the bridge to be shifted? Those odds are certainly astronomically lower than the probability of my ignorance, er, opportunity to learn8)

So the happy ending is now this Essence is wearing the DR Sunbeams I wanted to switch to, in the gauge I prefer. And now I know to include setting witness points in my string replacement and setup routines.

Thank you Edward and Rob for the offer of strings to test, and everyone for replying.

lbpesq

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Re: Can't intonate B String - saddle maxed
« Reply #24 on: February 23, 2018, 10:37:56 AM »
I've never heard this called "witness point" before, but it does describe the issue that I have previously encountered when setting intonation.  I avoid this by always loosening the string completely before adjusting the saddle, making sure the string isn't binding in the saddle, and then tightening to pitch.  If the intonation needs still more adjustment, I again completely loosen the string, adjust the saddle, and retune.  Nobody ever told me to do this.  It just seemed logical that adjusting the saddle while the string had tension might cause the string to hang up where is sits in the saddle resulting in the saddle adjustment correspondingly stretching or compressing the string.  And, of course, the intonation should always be tested with the instrument in the playing position, not lying on its back.

Bill, tgo

tomhug

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Re: Can't intonate B String - saddle maxed
« Reply #25 on: February 23, 2018, 11:28:44 AM »
I've never heard this called "witness point" before, but it does describe the issue that I have previously encountered when setting intonation.  I avoid this by always loosening the string completely before adjusting the saddle, making sure the string isn't binding in the saddle, and then tightening to pitch.  If the intonation needs still more adjustment, I again completely loosen the string, adjust the saddle, and retune.  Nobody ever told me to do this.  It just seemed logical that adjusting the saddle while the string had tension might cause the string to hang up where is sits in the saddle resulting in the saddle adjustment correspondingly stretching or compressing the string.  And, of course, the intonation should always be tested with the instrument in the playing position, not lying on its back.

Bill, tgo

As I've learned more about this, I think that what you are describing is actually a separate, but related issue:
  • The first issue that you describe is unevenly stored tension from moving the saddle while the string is up to pitch
  • The second issue, having to do with witness points, is how much flexing the core of the string has to do when fretted. For a stringed instrument to intonate as close to properly as physically possible, you want the minimum additional stretching when fretted. Setting witness points basically makes the contact points between the nut and the saddle as straight as possible, which minimizes this stretching phenomenon.
So I agree that it's important to not have additional stored tension and agree that loosening as you described is important. It's also much more likely that with guitar strings you would never encounter witness points because the thinner string naturally works out to be straight when brought up to pitch. Once you get to thick strings with multiple wraps and different core shapes and stiffnesses, then witness points really become a seperate physical attribute that must be addressed, as evidenced by my recent conundrum.

Tom

tbaago
(Tom, the bass and also guitar one)  :D
« Last Edit: February 23, 2018, 11:38:14 AM by tomhug »

JimmyJ

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Re: Can't intonate B String - saddle maxed
« Reply #26 on: February 23, 2018, 02:14:59 PM »
I've never heard the term "witness point" either in reference to a stringed instrument but I kinda like it. 

I've changes a LOT of strings over the years and my habit is to first put the new set on one at a time pulling them up to pitch as I go.  Once they're all on I then grab each string with my hand and yank it back and forth hard a couple times.  Then I use both thumbs on either side of the bridge saddles to press down towards the body to make that "turn" a sharp corner (for witness protection as I now understand it).  Then a similar few presses between the nut and the tuner. 

I've always done this to avoid any further stretching or seating once the bass is back up to pitch.  I never even thought about the effect of having a soft corner over the bridge on intonation, that's interesting.  I would think this situation would only happen with a brand new set of strings.  Once you've play the instrument enough that the strings stop going flat, that means the witness has come forward and done the right thing.  :D


I also am not afraid to shift a bridge saddles with the string at pitch.  Probably just too impatient to do otherwise.  But if I move a saddle (rare for me now) I will do the double thumb press again to help the string know where to bend.

Jimmy J

tomhug

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Re: Can't intonate B String - saddle maxed
« Reply #27 on: February 23, 2018, 02:34:26 PM »
I've never heard the term "witness point" either in reference to a stringed instrument but I kinda like it. 

I've changes a LOT of strings over the years and my habit is to first put the new set on one at a time pulling them up to pitch as I go.  Once they're all on I then grab each string with my hand and yank it back and forth hard a couple times.  Then I use both thumbs on either side of the bridge saddles to press down towards the body to make that "turn" a sharp corner (for witness protection as I now understand it).  Then a similar few presses between the nut and the tuner. 

I've always done this to avoid any further stretching or seating once the bass is back up to pitch.  I never even thought about the effect of having a soft corner over the bridge on intonation, that's interesting.  I would think this situation would only happen with a brand new set of strings.  Once you've play the instrument enough that the strings stop going flat, that means the witness has come forward and done the right thing.  :D


I also am not afraid to shift a bridge saddles with the string at pitch.  Probably just too impatient to do otherwise.  But if I move a saddle (rare for me now) I will do the double thumb press again to help the string know where to bend.

Jimmy J

Rick Turner is cited a few places online as a source for the concept of witness points, so apparently this esoteric luthier knowledge exists in some rarified circles.

Regarding shifting the saddles at pitch, an old trick that was shown to me is plain old pencil lead in the grooves on both saddles and nuts. It used to drive my guitarist crazy because my instruments always has a bit of gray pencil on the white nut (for non Alembic instruments.) The graphite is just slippery enough to allow free travel. I still pull up on the strings a bit to make sure any binding or stored tension is eliminated.

Jimmy, that pressing down on either side of the bridge saddle is the motion that eliminates the undesirable arc, so you were intuitively fixing witness points. Over the years I have done my own setups and changed plenty of strings, and informally pressed things into place, but I was not rigorous about it. This was the first time the undesirable side-effects of an arc in a heavy B-string was so noticeable. It will now be a checklist item for me, just like checking neck relief. And in fact I plan to swap out my flat-wounds on the fretless for Alembic compression wounds in roughly the same gauge soon, so I'll get a chance to practice what I (now) preach, as a new "church of the Witness Point" convert.

keith_h

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Re: Can't intonate B String - saddle maxed
« Reply #28 on: February 23, 2018, 03:25:29 PM »
When I do a setup I do a bit of both Bill's and Jimmy's procedures. It just seemed logical to me to be able to move the saddle without tension and to seat the string when disturbed. Guess I got lucky unlike the first time I tried to set the truss rod in my JB and popped it.   :'(

StephenR

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Re: Can't intonate B String - saddle maxed
« Reply #29 on: February 23, 2018, 08:13:26 PM »
If the saddle will not move easily under tension I loosen the string to move it then retune. Otherwise I move the saddle under tension.

Stephen, who had also never heard the term witness points...