Fretless 4001: intonation/setup issue, need help

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Fretless 4001: intonation/setup issue, need help

Postby (Nel Nobody) » Wed Mar 15, 2017 6:22 pm

I've been trying for the first time to properly setup and intonate my 4001 FL using instructions from the internet (mostly Joey's Bass Notes, but others too as required).

I've restarted several times, but every time I end up stuck at the same issue: when it comes to adjust the saddles for a proper intonation, I have to screw them abnormally far back! In the case of the E string, it's so bad that I had to actual remove the saddle from the mount and screw it onto the outside to come even close to getting a proper intonation:

Bridge_01.jpeg

I'm mainly a hobbyist and self-taught, so maybe there's something really simple that I'm overlooking.
Yet as far as I can tell, everything else seems normal. I've reset and readjusted the truss rods several times, following the guide from Joey's, but I always come back to the starting point. I try to heed the general consensus that the neck is supposed to perfectly straight*, and it is as far as I can tell.

Neck_03.png

Some of the needed extension for the E string might be due to me playing in drop D, but it shouldn't be that much, should it? Either way I can't help but feel that I'm doing something wrong elsewhere with my guitar's setup and that it might damage it in the long course. I'd much appreciate if anyone could either reassure me that it's just a quirk, or tell me what it is that I'm not doing right. Feel free to ask for more info or pictures if necessary. Thanks ahead!


*Unless the neck is supposed to be parallel to the body, but from what I know that shouldn't be the case.
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Re: Fretless 4001: intonation/setup issue, need help

Postby (aceonbass) » Wed Mar 15, 2017 6:54 pm

Given that you're probably intonating using the dots on the side of the neck, I'll bet they're off. I've had to mod saddles for rearward travel, but not THAT much. If you have a fretted 4001 or 4003, take a measurement to the 12th fret and transfer it to your fretless with masking tape.
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Re: Fretless 4001: intonation/setup issue, need help

Postby (jps) » Wed Mar 15, 2017 7:45 pm

What is your reference points on the fingerboard for adjusting the intonation? And what part of your fingertips are you using as your reference points, too?

Different typs and gauges of strings make a big difference, too. Have you tried different kinds of strings, or just the tape wounds on the bass, currently?
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Re: Fretless 4001: intonation/setup issue, need help

Postby (antipodean) » Thu Mar 16, 2017 1:14 am

The big lump of foam in the mute cavity wouldn't be messing things up by any chance, would it?
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Re: Fretless 4001: intonation/setup issue, need help

Postby (Nel Nobody) » Thu Mar 16, 2017 10:18 am

Thanks, everyone! To answer in order...
aceonbass wrote:Given that you're probably intonating using the dots on the side of the neck, I'll bet they're off. I've had to mod saddles for rearward travel, but not THAT much. If you have a fretted 4001 or 4003, take a measurement to the 12th fret and transfer it to your fretless with masking tape.


I actually have fretmarks on the fretboard itself, which I used to intonate it:

Fretboard_01.jpeg

But they might indeed be wrong. I unfortunately don't have another Ric bass to use as reference. If anyone wants to compare on theirs, or knows the theoretically ideal length, that would help a lot though!
On my 4001 FL, the 12th fret is at 42,2 cm, starting from the front edge of the nut. Its center is at 40,8 cm.
The current actual scale length, from the nut to the grooves of the saddles (for the A, D and G strings) is 85,2 cm.
The saddle mount starts at 83,7cm, so if the calculations given here for a theoretical scale length are also correct in the case of a Rickenbacker, the 12th fret shouldn't be off, I think. If I correctly understand the calculation, the theoretical scale length for my bass should either land pretty much square in the middle of the saddle mount (42,2*2 = 84,4 cm) or even even ahead, roughly at the mute(40,8 * 2 = 81,6 cm). Unless it's different for a fretless? I'm a bit confused.

jps wrote:What is your reference points on the fingerboard for adjusting the intonation? And what part of your fingertips are you using as your reference points, too?

Different typs and gauges of strings make a big difference, too. Have you tried different kinds of strings, or just the tape wounds on the bass, currently?


I use the fretmarks on the neck as reference for the intonation. As it currently is, I get the correct note on the 12th fret by placing my finger parallel to the fretmark, with the bridge-most part of my finger placed so as to touch or at most barely overlap with the fretmark. EDIT: Maybe I need to pay attention and place my fingers so that the string "separates" from the fretboard at the fretmark? I'll check next time whether my technique actually puts the contact point for the E string past the 12th fret.

Fretting_01.png

The strings could maybe be a cause, as you say. The tapewounds in the pictures are brand new (Pyramid Black Nylon Tape Wounds, No.648/1, long scale), but before that I had flatwounds (I don't know the brand anymore, sorry). The intonation didn't change between the two, though. Would you recommend that I purchase some other sets and see if there's a difference?

antipodean wrote:The big lump of foam in the mute cavity wouldn't be messing things up by any chance, would it?


I wondered about that too before opening the thread, so I screwed the mute down until it didn't the touch the strings anymore and played it, but the intonation didn't change one bit. The foam is actually really light, and barely changes the tone even screwed all the way up.
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Re: Fretless 4001: intonation/setup issue, need help

Postby (jps) » Thu Mar 16, 2017 10:36 am

Okay, what you have is a bass that has been defretted and the fret slots filled in with something. When "fretting" such a bass you have to place your fingers pretty much on the line but but slightly biased towards the nut. From the photo you show of your fingering position that is in between the fret lines, just as most players do on a fretted bass; this is incorrect for getting proper intonation. That is part of the problem, as I see it.
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Re: Fretless 4001: intonation/setup issue, need help

Postby (aceonbass) » Thu Mar 16, 2017 11:04 am

If you're putting your finger between the frets to intonate and play, then besides being wrong, you're moving the intonation point forward, not backward.
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Re: Fretless 4001: intonation/setup issue, need help

Postby (Nel Nobody) » Fri Mar 17, 2017 8:20 am

All right, thank you very much! If incorrect technique turns out to be the main culprit here, that's going to be much less worrisome.
So I would have to place my finger more or less like this to play the note properly, yes? (maybe slightly more towards the right)
Fretting_02.png
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Re: Fretless 4001: intonation/setup issue, need help

Postby (Nel Nobody) » Fri Mar 17, 2017 6:35 pm

NOTE

I forgot to mention this: although this bass is right-handed, I play it left-handed.
So, in the pictures above showing how I "fret" notes, the nut is towards the right, and the bridge towards the left side.
Just in case.
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Re: Fretless 4001: intonation/setup issue, need help

Postby (antipodean) » Fri Mar 17, 2017 9:17 pm

If you place your finger directly over the fret line, the string will actually be in contact with the fingerboard a little further down the fingerboard towards the bridge, making the note slightly sharp. You need to move your finger a little towards the nut - the exact spot will differ from person to person due to differences in finger size and shape. If you have thick fingers (like me) you need to finger the note further towards the nut than someone with slender fingers.
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Re: Fretless 4001: intonation/setup issue, need help

Postby (jps) » Fri Mar 17, 2017 11:32 pm

Nel Nobody wrote:NOTE

I forgot to mention this: although this bass is right-handed, I play it left-handed....

One of those Jimmy Haslip types, eh? :mrgreen:
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Re: Fretless 4001: intonation/setup issue, need help

Postby (Nel Nobody) » Sat Mar 18, 2017 3:33 pm

antipodean wrote:If you place your finger directly over the fret line, the string will actually be in contact with the fingerboard a little further down the fingerboard towards the bridge, making the note slightly sharp. You need to move your finger a little towards the nut - the exact spot will differ from person to person due to differences in finger size and shape. If you have thick fingers (like me) you need to finger the note further towards the nut than someone with slender fingers.


So, the correct position would be somewhere between these two positions, adjusting it to how thick and stiff the string is; making sure that the "point of separation" between the string and the fretboard lies on the fretline?
Fretting_01.png
Fretting_02.png


jps wrote:
Nel Nobody wrote:NOTE

I forgot to mention this: although this bass is right-handed, I play it left-handed....

One of those Jimmy Haslip types, eh? :mrgreen:


I'm not familiar with Jimmy Haslip, but from what little my search engine tells me, I guess so, yes. My first guitar was a right-handed hand-me-down, and the habit stuck. At least until now.
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Re: Fretless 4001: intonation/setup issue, need help

Postby (antipodean) » Sun Mar 19, 2017 4:19 am

Nel Nobody wrote:So, the correct position would be somewhere between these two positions, adjusting it to how thick and stiff the string is; making sure that the "point of separation" between the string and the fretboard lies on the fretline?

That's pretty much it. There may be a tiny allowance for fingers damping the string a little beyond the "point of separation", but you'd need a very good ear to catch such a discrepancy.
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Re: Fretless 4001: intonation/setup issue, need help

Postby (Nel Nobody) » Sun Mar 19, 2017 12:39 pm

antipodean wrote:
Nel Nobody wrote:So, the correct position would be somewhere between these two positions, adjusting it to how thick and stiff the string is; making sure that the "point of separation" between the string and the fretboard lies on the fretline?

That's pretty much it. There may be a tiny allowance for fingers damping the string a little beyond the "point of separation", but you'd need a very good ear to catch such a discrepancy.


Allright, thank you very much! That already solves part of the problem.
However, it seems that finding the exact "point of separation" is somewhat difficult even with my tapewound strings. I've tried shining a flashlight beneath them to try and find that point, but they aren't flat enough; so there's a thin sliver of light passing under throughout, even beneath the part of the string that is directly under my finger.

Also, I think we still haven't entirely fixed the original saddle/intonation problem. But since my fretting technique might be responsible, I thought it might be a good idea to "reverse-engineer" the problem. I've placed the saddle for the E string back in the mount, but screwed as tailward as possible:
E_Saddle_01.png
(The neck is towards the right)

I also tuned the bass back to standard tuning, and taken pictures of which positions on the fretboard give me the correct pitch for several notes. Here they are:
(Remember, the nut is towards the right, the bridge towards the left.)

12th fret:
Fretting_03.png

7th fret:
Fretting_04.png

5th fret:
Fretting_05.png

3rd fret:
Fretting_06.png


From what you describe, that isn't right, especially the latter ones. But what's your opinion? Does this seem correct?
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Re: Fretless 4001: intonation/setup issue, need help

Postby (jps) » Sun Mar 19, 2017 3:35 pm

Nel Nobody wrote:
antipodean wrote:
Nel Nobody wrote:So, the correct position would be somewhere between these two positions, adjusting it to how thick and stiff the string is; making sure that the "point of separation" between the string and the fretboard lies on the fretline?

That's pretty much it. There may be a tiny allowance for fingers damping the string a little beyond the "point of separation", but you'd need a very good ear to catch such a discrepancy.


Allright, thank you very much! That already solves part of the problem.
However, it seems that finding the exact "point of separation" is somewhat difficult even with my tapewound strings. I've tried shining a flashlight beneath them to try and find that point, but they aren't flat enough; so there's a thin sliver of light passing under throughout, even beneath the part of the string that is directly under my finger.

Also, I think we still haven't entirely fixed the original saddle/intonation problem. But since my fretting technique might be responsible, I thought it might be a good idea to "reverse-engineer" the problem. I've placed the saddle for the E string back in the mount, but screwed as tailward as possible:
E_Saddle_01.png
(The neck is towards the right)

I also tuned the bass back to standard tuning, and taken pictures of which positions on the fretboard give me the correct pitch for several notes. Here they are:
(Remember, the nut is towards the right, the bridge towards the left.)

12th fret:
Fretting_03.png

7th fret:
Fretting_04.png

5th fret:
Fretting_05.png

3rd fret:
Fretting_06.png


From what you describe, that isn't right, especially the latter ones. But what's your opinion? Does this seem correct?
Um, use your ears! :wink:
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