Next week I have to take my bass into the luthier (my “bass guy” 1: lives in reasonable walking distance, and 2: makes guitars, violas, and violins). While doing some noodling I noticed things weren’t sounding quite right as I got down the neck.
By the time I’d work my way down to 12 (an octave above the open string) it was a bit off. By the time I got to the bottom (2 octaves up) the E and A were an entire tone sharp, which is a problem.
Because we live in the future I could use my tuning app (which I got to, among other things, suss out the key when playing in a seisún; if I see a C# I know I’m in D, not G, if I see a G# I know it’s A), to see what was going on.
Open strings, dead on. 1st fret, just a couple of cents above dead on. By 12 frets I’m 2/3rds of they way to being straight up sharp, and by 24 it’s a full tone above. The E is worst, then the A, D is ok (it never gets past “sharp”) and G is pretty much good all the way down. So I stopped in to ask my “guy” what was going on. I was thinking it might, in a counterintuitive way, be old strings (I’d guess old strings to be slack, and prone to getting flat, the same way that cello strings lose their brilliance as they age).
Nope, even easier, in it’s way. An electric bass is somewhat odd, in the string family guitar, cello, violin, ukelele, banjo, bouzouki, all have a bridge; a ridge that lifts the strings off the body of the instrument. The electric bass has one bridge for each string (called a saddle). My saddles are a little out of place; so the ratio from fret to saddle is a bit off. The open string is in tune, but the stopped string isn’t.
It’s a simple, but non-trivial fix (which is to say I don’t have the tools to do it myself). So when he gets back from vacation, I’ll haul it to his shop, and he’ll set me up.