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Fretless String Height

This is a discussion on Fretless String Height within the Music Man Basses forums, part of the Gear Talk category; I see that there is a factory spec of 3/32" height specification for the G and E string above 12th ...

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    J Romano's Avatar
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    Fretless String Height

    I see that there is a factory spec of 3/32" height specification for the G and E string above 12th fret for a fretted board. No mention is made for fretless. Is the string height the same at the 12th fret off the plain board to the G and E strings for fretless
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    While we are asking fretless set up questions, is intonation set up with your finger on the string centered at the dot, or just behind the dot? Or can it go either way? Hope this wasn't a thread highjack.

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    String height on a fretless is more a matter of taste IMHO.... Depends on how much "mwah" you want. The lower you go, the more you get. Too low and it dampens the note entirely. I go as low as I can.
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    i like it low as well!
    board as close to straight as possible.

    and remember to use roundwounds

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    just put flats on the bongo!!
    just put roundwounds on your fretless!!

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    I agree with AD, and MrM's comment about straight board. I set my neck and saddles just low enough that the bass doesn't buzz.

    I fret the notes centrally on the spots - don't know if this is correct but it seems to work.

    Group 3 flats on mine but I agree roundwounds add to the mwah factor a little more - we've had this discussion before so I know it won't get universal approval but for me the downside is they're less fretboard friendly in terms of wear (I'm not talking a little wear here - mine is quite badly damaged by previous use - still plays OK but a re-shoot will cost me 70 - how many re-shoots before you need a new board? Who knows but my fretless has a stunning figured maple neck and really nice looking board so the thought of ever having to replace them is not something I want to have to think about).
    Last edited by drTStingray; 05-15-2011 at 08:17 AM.
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    I try to intonate the fretless slightly below the 12th-fret dot (away from the bridge). As you go toward the headstock, you have to finger the note slightly higher the closer you get to the headstock.

    For example, if you intonate on the 12th-fret dot, you'll have to finger the note at the 7th fret a tiny bit above the dot. The effect increases at lower positions: at the 3rd fret, your finger will have to be slightly above the dot.

    By setting the 12th position a tad below the dot, most of the neck works pretty much at the dots.

    As for string height, a very low string tends to choke out the fretless "mwah" sound. A high string doesn't have much at all. Somewhere in the middle you'll find a height that gives you the fretless tone you like. Start at the factory height and adjust 1/32 at a time till you get what you like.
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    My understanding of the fretboard is that the position of the dots (here I am assuming you are referencing side dots) are different for lined and unlined boards. My board is lined, the side dots correspond to the center dots on the board. I have read the side dot position is different on lined and unlined boards. Intonation on a lined board is as done on a fretted board, at the line????
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    Rick Auricchio's Avatar
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    You're right. On a lined board, you would intonate the 12th fret a tiny bit below the line (away from the bridge.)

    My original advice was for an unlined board, where the dot is at the fret position.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rick Auricchio View Post
    I try to intonate the fretless slightly below the 12th-fret dot (away from the bridge). As you go toward the headstock, you have to finger the note slightly higher the closer you get to the headstock.

    For example, if you intonate on the 12th-fret dot, you'll have to finger the note at the 7th fret a tiny bit above the dot. The effect increases at lower positions: at the 3rd fret, your finger will have to be slightly above the dot.

    By setting the 12th position a tad below the dot, most of the neck works pretty much at the dots.
    This is interesting - do you intonate the harmonic and note at the 17th fret as well in this way? The couple of times I've adjusted intonation on my unlined fretless, I've used the centre point between the two dots at 12th fret and the 17th fret dot.

    I've always had difficulty playing in tune above about 15th fret (occassional solos or double stops) but I'd put that down to my fat fingers and also being inaccurate in finger placement - I even made a point in practicing a couple of times, when I appeared to play out of tune, to hold my finger in place and look vertically down to see where I was actually fretting - and yes, I was miles off the dot

    The question really is why wouldn't the bass intonate or thereabouts directly on the spots (presuming a flat board or thereabouts?).
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    J Romano's Avatar
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    Thanks to all for insight on this thread. Why I love this forum
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    Rick Auricchio's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by drTStingray View Post
    This is interesting - do you intonate the harmonic and note at the 17th fret as well in this way? The couple of times I've adjusted intonation on my unlined fretless, I've used the centre point between the two dots at 12th fret and the 17th fret dot.
    I never bother intoning at other positions like the 17th on either the fretted or fretless ones.

    I agree with the very high positions being difficult to play. A difference of 1/16" in finger position will be audible. My hands are large too, and I rarely play up there. The usual thing I'll do up there is a two-note E7 or A7 chord on the D & G strings at the start or end of a song. (The E7 is 14th on the D, and 13th on the G; the A7 is 19th on the D, 18th on the G. (I think that's right; I'm typing this from memory.)

    As for the different position at lower frets, I got that from here: http://garywillis.com/pages/bass/bas...tonation4.html
    Last edited by Rick Auricchio; 05-16-2011 at 10:22 AM.
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