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Steinberger XT-2 intonation


Peter Wright
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I recently bought an XT-2 4 string bass (from new), and in most respects I love it - the sound, the feel of the neck, the weight. But, I'm having trouble with the intonation. If I set the intonation by getting it in tune at the 24th fret as recommended in the manual, then it plays flat at the lower frets. If I set the intonation at the 12th fret then the first octave is good, but from about the 16th or 17th fret upwards it gets progressively more sharp. One of the first things I did when I got it was to set it up, as from the factory the action was too high for my liking, so I didn't notice whether the intonation issues were there before I set it up.

Anyone know if this is normal for this bass? My other basses have much more solid intonation, although admittedly they are more expensive basses. This is an inexpensive bass, but is this normal?

Thanks in advance for any replies.

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Peter,

I think it's a weird way to set intonation, the manual is unclear or confusing there. After setting the action (string height) I always (on guitars and basses) set the intonation by comparing the 12th fret harmonic to the 12th fret fretted note. By setting this correctly I get the results I want. I never tune or intonate to fretted notes on 12 or 24th fret.

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Be.eM said:

Peter,

I think it's a weird way to set intonation, the manual is unclear or confusing there. After setting the action (string height) I always (on guitars and basses) set the intonation by comparing the 12th fret harmonic to the 12th fret fretted note. By setting this correctly I get the results I want. I never tune or intonate to fretted notes on 12 or 24th fret.

Hi, thanks for your reply. Perhaps I wasn't clear - I did exactly what you're saying, compared the fretted note to the harmonic (or used a tuner). I didn't compare to a fretted note. If I set the intonation so that the 12th fret fretted note is in tune with the 12th fret harmonic, then the 24th fret fretted note is very sharp compared to the 24th fret fretted note. If I set it so that the 24th fret fretted note is in tune with the 24th fret harmonic, then the bass plays flat lower down.

Edited by Peter Wright
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Well, that's not how it should be. There are only two explanations I could think of, which is either still a high (too high) action or frets not being where they belong. Well, sometimes also the strings themselves could make a difference, so maybe replacing the strings with a new set of double ball end strings (e.g. LaBella) might help, too.

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40 minutes ago, Be.eM said:

Well, that's not how it should be. There are only two explanations I could think of, which is either still a high (too high) action or frets not being where they belong. Well, sometimes also the strings themselves could make a difference, so maybe replacing the strings with a new set of double ball end strings (e.g. LaBella) might help, too.

Yeah, the action is definitely not still high, so really does seem like the frets are not in the right place. I could also try replacing the strings. All 4 strings are sharp at the last fret through (although to varying degrees), so doesn't it seem weird that all 4 strings in a set would be bad?

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33 minutes ago, Be.eM said:

Did you check the neck relief? Maybe the truss rod needs some adjustment.

Yes, that was all part of the setup I did when I first got it. I did truss rod, action height, intonation and pickup height.

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Well, then it looks like returning the bass might be justified. I cannot imagine how frets can get misplaced in an automated process, but there is no other explanation I'd have for that. You should probably be able to measure that, there are tables on the internet listing the correct fret positions.

However, I'd really check a different brand of strings first. I don't know what comes with Spirits originally, but I'm pretty sure it's some cheaper "home grown" kind of strings.

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6 minutes ago, Be.eM said:

Well, then it looks like returning the bass might be justified. I cannot imagine how frets can get misplaced in an automated process, but there is no other explanation I'd have for that. You should probably be able to measure that, there are tables on the internet listing the correct fret positions.

However, I'd really check a different brand of strings first. I don't know what comes with Spirits originally, but I'm pretty sure it's some cheaper "home grown" kind of strings.

Thanks - yes, I will try some new strings I think. I don't know exactly what they are, but yeah the ones that come with are bound to be super cheap ones. I spoke to a guitar tech earlier and he said the first thing to try was new strings. Hadn't thought about looking up fret positions though, that's a good point. Thanks for your help.

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Having used double ball strings since the 80’s I have had intonation problems that were solved by changing string brands and by reversing the ball ends from bridge to nut. So if you want to give it another try I would try switching ends and if that does not do it try another brand and gauge of string. Good luck!

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On 7/1/2022 at 2:57 PM, r2bflash said:

Having used double ball strings since the 80’s I have had intonation problems that were solved by changing string brands and by reversing the ball ends from bridge to nut. So if you want to give it another try I would try switching ends and if that does not do it try another brand and gauge of string. Good luck!

Ok, so I ordered a new set of LaBella strings, they arrived today, and I fitted them... exactly the same problem. I've also looked up fret positions, and as far as I can tell with a tape measure, they are in the right positions. I also compared to another 24-fret bass I have (which plays nicely in tune), and the fret distances seem to be the same. I tried lowering the pickups as far as they would go, just to make sure that they weren't causing an issue, and it made no difference. Unfortunately with these strings, you can't fit them the other way round, the eyelets are different sizes and the larger one doesn't fit at the 'nut' end. This is bizarre, this bass seems to be defying the laws of physics. I'm torn between taking it to a tech or contacting the retailer.

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