Bass Player|September 2020
Intonation basics explored and explained by ace luthier Rob Elrick. Let’s get toned!
Rob Elrick

Welcome back to the Woodshed! In my last article, we discussed the subjective nature of ‘optimal’ setup and how it can be entirely different for every player. Understanding how to adjust your bass to achieve the best setup for your personal technique is incredibly valuable—and while there is no one ideal setup for every player, there is a component that has to be the same for everyone, which is intonation. Let’s continue down the path to attaining your best personal setup by exploring the simple, but often confounding, task of adjusting your bass’s intonation.

Unlike making the adjustments necessary for your ideal physical setup, intonation is something that is not subjective at all, and is particularly important when playing in an ensemble. Bass players are often responsible for the lowest note played in an ensemble at virtually every moment. A bass instrument that is out of tune leads to the entire band sounding out of tune, which means that the maintenance of your instrument’s intonation is critical.


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September 2020