Problem with 5-string hipshot bass bridge saddle adjustment

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Problem with 5-string hipshot bass bridge saddle adjustment

Postby thesleeve » Wed Oct 29, 2014 8:02 am

[EDIT: UPDATE - The problem has been solved. See here for details: http://carvinbbs.com/viewtopic.php?p=542982#542982]

Hi everybody!

I just got my new V59K yesterday (NBD Thread Here), and right out of the box, the intonation was really bad, unfortunately. So, I got out my screwdriver and started adjusting the saddles.

I started from the high G string, and it was very easy to fix. I also was able to adjust the intonation on the D and A strings. However, I ran into problems when I got to the low E and B strings. They were very sharp when fretted at the 12th fret, so I needed to lengthen those strings. However, when I tried to tighten the screws to adjust the saddle positions, they wouldn't budge! Apparently, they are tightened as far as they will go. It looks like there is quite a bit of space left for the saddles to move, but I can't get them to budge.

As a test to see if the screws were simply stuck, I tried loosening them. Success! I am able to loosen those screws, shortening the strings, but I seem to be unable to tighten them any more past a certain point, meaning that unfortunately, I'm not able to set the string length / intonation properly.

Attached is a (low res) photo. Check the E string - 2nd from the bottom. That's as far as the saddle will go. I can't get it to move any more to the right. It's almost like the bridge was mounted too close to the nut, meaning that all of the strings are a little too short.

Image

As such, the intonation is off. Even at the maximum string length I'm able to achieve, the bottom two strings are several cents sharp at the 12th fret. I have really good pitch recognition, and if I can't get the intonation on these strings properly adjusted, it will drive me crazy, and I might end up having to return the bass to Carvin.

Any help would be appreciated. Does it look like the saddle is as far as it will go? Is this a limitation of the hipshot bridges? Is my bridge broken? Am I out of luck, or is there something I'm just missing?

Thanks!
Last edited by thesleeve on Sun Nov 02, 2014 12:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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re: Problem with 5-string hipshot bass bridge saddle adjustm

Postby 86general » Wed Oct 29, 2014 8:17 am

Well the first thing to do is check everything else, meaning make sure all the other parameters are ok with the bass that could possibly be causing an intonation issue. No issues with the nut, not bad strings or twisted low strings, weird neck relief situation, etc.

If everything looks good, I'm thinking maybe it's a bad intonation screw. You could try backing the screw all the way out and then inspecting it, maybe it's bad. Maybe there is a bad thread or something that is preventing the screw from turning any further.

Maybe the spring is compressed all the way, such that you can't move the saddle anymore, but there is still some thread room to move it more. In that case, you could shorten the spring by cutting a little off of it.

I would seriously doubt that the bridge was mounted in the wrong location. Everything is computer CNC controlled there and I'm not sure how it could be done incorrectly, but I guess anything is possible.

But something is not right here. I've bought seven Carvin instruments and have never had one show up where the intonation was off. Maybe a teeny bit, where you don't even adjust it because you know it could just be a temporary humidity issue.

If the screws themselves are ok, I would take a quick smartphone video of the situation and send the video to customer service along with an email explanation. Assuming you are correct about the intonation issue, they need to know that someone sent an instrument out that was not set up properly and that can't be rectified.
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re: Problem with 5-string hipshot bass bridge saddle adjustm

Postby 86general » Wed Oct 29, 2014 8:18 am

Please give us follow up on how this situation plays out.
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re: Problem with 5-string hipshot bass bridge saddle adjustm

Postby thesleeve » Wed Oct 29, 2014 8:38 am

Thanks, 86general!

I'll investigate all of those things you suggested and let you know what I find.

I noticed that when I took the tension off of the strings in question and manually tried to push the saddles inward, I was able to get them to move with no problems - this confirms that the springs are not being limited by their maximum compression. As you suggested, the screws are likely at fault. Even when manually compressing the springs by pushing the saddles, I wasn't able to tighten the screws any further.

This is my 4th Carvin, and so far it's the only one that arrived with setup problems. All of my previous Carvin guitars arrived in tune and set up perfectly! So, I know that they normally get an A+ in this regard!

I'm wondering if the bass was set up properly in the factory but then experienced some kind of stress or damage while it was in transit that threw off the intonation. Anyway, hopefully this issue is something that can be easily fixed.
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re: Problem with 5-string hipshot bass bridge saddle adjustm

Postby Toptube » Wed Oct 29, 2014 2:25 pm

hold on a sec: were you trying to adjust intonation with the bass fully tuned?

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Re: re: Problem with 5-string hipshot bass bridge saddle adj

Postby thesleeve » Wed Oct 29, 2014 6:43 pm

Toptube wrote:hold on a sec: were you trying to adjust intonation with the bass fully tuned?


Hi Toptube,

No, I was releasing the tension on the other strings and releasing the tension on each individual string as well while I worked on the corresponding saddle.

I have an update, by the way!

Upon completely removing the screw/spring/saddle assembly, I found out that the screws were basically "bottoming out" in the saddles. They were screwed in to the limit. However, I still can't quite get them to where they need to be, so I'm guessing that the answer to the problem is to either cut the screws shorter or to buy shorter screws.

These are simple pan head machine screws so it shouldn't be too hard to order replacements. Still, I'll contact Carvin support just to make sure I'm not screwing something up.
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re: Problem with 5-string hipshot bass bridge saddle adjustm

Postby thesleeve » Wed Oct 29, 2014 6:54 pm

Just some photos for those who are curious...

Here is the disassembled screw/spring/saddle assembly.
Image

Here is what it looks like when the screw has "bottomed out" in the saddle. That is to say, it's fully screwed into the saddle and won't go in any further.
Image

And here, I've mounted it back into the bridge under the low B string. This is as far back as it will go, with the screw fully screwed into the saddle. Since the string is still too short (in other words, it's sharp when fretted at the octave), I'm thinking I need shorter screws.
Image
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Re: re: Problem with 5-string hipshot bass bridge saddle adj

Postby Coda » Thu Oct 30, 2014 4:29 am

thesleeve wrote:And here, I've mounted it back into the bridge under the low B string. This is as far back as it will go, with the screw fully screwed into the saddle. Since the string is still too short (in other words, it's sharp when fretted at the octave), I'm thinking I need shorter screws.
Image


I hope it's just the screw length, and that maybe someone grabbed a handful of the wrong screws from the parts bin that day. Thanks for posting this - it's really interesting.

So what's up with the B string having narrower windings where it sits on the saddle? It looks like enough of a diameter difference to affect string height, or like it might get buzzy if your saddle falls on the transition. Did anyone else notice this? is that the norm?
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Re: re: Problem with 5-string hipshot bass bridge saddle adj

Postby thesleeve » Thu Oct 30, 2014 6:19 am

86general wrote:Well the first thing to do is check everything else, meaning make sure all the other parameters are ok with the bass that could possibly be causing an intonation issue. No issues with the nut, not bad strings or twisted low strings, weird neck relief situation, etc.


Just wanted to let you know I checked these things and everything looks OK. The neck is close to straight, with just a very slight relief - very hard to see visually. So, I think everything's alright here.

Coda wrote:So what's up with the B string having narrower windings where it sits on the saddle? It looks like enough of a diameter difference to affect string height, or like it might get buzzy if your saddle falls on the transition. Did anyone else notice this? is that the norm?


Hi Coda. Yeah, I noticed that as well. I'm not sure how that will factor in. I'll call Carvin tonight.
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Re: re: Problem with 5-string hipshot bass bridge saddle adj

Postby 86general » Thu Oct 30, 2014 12:26 pm

thesleeve wrote:
86general wrote:Well the first thing to do is check everything else, meaning make sure all the other parameters are ok with the bass that could possibly be causing an intonation issue. No issues with the nut, not bad strings or twisted low strings, weird neck relief situation, etc.


Just wanted to let you know I checked these things and everything looks OK. The neck is close to straight, with just a very slight relief - very hard to see visually. So, I think everything's alright here.

Coda wrote:So what's up with the B string having narrower windings where it sits on the saddle? It looks like enough of a diameter difference to affect string height, or like it might get buzzy if your saddle falls on the transition. Did anyone else notice this? is that the norm?


Hi Coda. Yeah, I noticed that as well. I'm not sure how that will factor in. I'll call Carvin tonight.


Some strings are made with a taper near the end like that. Some people think it's an advantage, that it allows the string to vibrate differently and give different tone.

At first I couldn't understand why you can't back the saddle up anymore. There's plenty of thread still there....but I think I get it now.

I guess because the intonation screw is hitting the hex set screw on that side that sets string height?

I guess that makes sense. Should be easy to simply get a shorter screw, just like you say. One would think that they would have caught this before shipping the bass....maybe an inexperienced person set the bass up....
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re: Problem with 5-string hipshot bass bridge saddle adjustm

Postby thesleeve » Thu Oct 30, 2014 3:26 pm

Update: I talked to Albert (head guitar tech) at Carvin and he says the included screws come standard with the Hipshot bridges - in other words, there's only one size. So my options are to either to cut the screw myself with bolt cutters or to buy a shorter screw. In any case, it's more of a question for Hipshot rather than for Carvin.

So, here's my plan. I'll measure the screw very precisely using calipers and then order a replacement with the same diameter, threading and pan head, but a shorter length (I'm guessing I'll find what I need at McMaster-Carr or another hardware supplier). If the new screw doesn't fit, I'll cut the existing ones short using bolt cutters. If that for some reason still doesn't work, I'll call Hipshot and see what they suggest.

Still, it seems like a lot of work just to get the bass set up properly. Hopefully I can get this figured out soon.

A question for the other Vanquish owners in the forum, or anybody who owns a bass with a Hipshot bridge, for that matter: How was the intonation on your bass when you received it? I'm just curious to see how my experience compares with everybody else.
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re: Problem with 5-string hipshot bass bridge saddle adjustm

Postby spudmunkey » Thu Oct 30, 2014 5:02 pm

I would suggest a fine-toothed saw vs a bolt cutter. Part of the way a bolt cutter works is by mashing the material. Those first exposed threads will need to be totally and perfectly intact to be able to grab onto the threads inside the saddle.

I had to cut the screws short for all my my kitchen's cabinet knobs and pulls. I cut them all using a heavy-duty wire cutter, and I ended up having to "clean up" the ends of every one of them. Then, I added one additional cabinet and used a fine-toothed metal saw, and it screwed-in first try.
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re: Problem with 5-string hipshot bass bridge saddle adjustm

Postby Catman10 » Thu Oct 30, 2014 11:21 pm

I have just over 10 Carvin basses and I've had to adjust the intonation on all of them. Even the X64 I just received could use some adjusting. Two of my basses have had a little issue with the length of the adjustment screw on one of the saddles. One was too short, the other was too long. Nothing really too major.

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re: Problem with 5-string hipshot bass bridge saddle adjustm

Postby Toptube » Fri Oct 31, 2014 1:51 am

The Icon I recently recieved needed some adjustment to get the intonation spot on. About 5 full rotations of each screw, to lengthen each string. I didn't have issues with bottoming the screws out.

However, I had big issues with the locktite on the saddle height screws. It prevented me from adjusting the height on 3 of my 5 saddles. I had to force the screws out with pliers and then scrape the locktite off with a needle. Locktite on adjustment screws should be a fix for problematic, noisy saddles. Not a factory spec.

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Re: re: Problem with 5-string hipshot bass bridge saddle adj

Postby Coda » Fri Oct 31, 2014 4:08 am

spudmunkey wrote:I would suggest a fine-toothed saw vs a bolt cutter. Part of the way a bolt cutter works is by mashing the material. Those first exposed threads will need to be totally and perfectly intact to be able to grab onto the threads inside the saddle.

I had to cut the screws short for all my my kitchen's cabinet knobs and pulls. I cut them all using a heavy-duty wire cutter, and I ended up having to "clean up" the ends of every one of them. Then, I added one additional cabinet and used a fine-toothed metal saw, and it screwed-in first try.


Thread a matching nut on any screw before you cut it. After you cut the screw, removing the nut will de-bur and re tap the thread.
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re: Problem with 5-string hipshot bass bridge saddle adjustm

Postby spudmunkey » Fri Oct 31, 2014 4:18 am

:applause: Love it!

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re: Problem with 5-string hipshot bass bridge saddle adjustm

Postby thesleeve » Fri Oct 31, 2014 8:28 am

Just wanted to post an update here in case anybody runs into this problem in the future. The screw is a pan head machine screw with a 4-40 thread, #1 drive, and 1.25 inch length (yes, unfortunately it's an imperial screw rather than metric).

I will be going to the hardware store today to buy a slightly shorter screw to test - perhaps 1.0 inch. I'll let you know how it goes.

By the way, here's an example of a good replacement screw: http://www.mcmaster.com/#90272a115/=ue2rii
On that website, however, you can only buy packs of 100... and I only need 2!
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re: Problem with 5-string hipshot bass bridge saddle adjustm

Postby spudmunkey » Fri Oct 31, 2014 10:57 am

I once found a fastener there and I only needed one. It only came in boxes of 3,000. :laughhard: They do have everything, though!

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re: Problem with 5-string hipshot bass bridge saddle adjustm

Postby thesleeve » Sun Nov 02, 2014 12:29 pm

Alright, everybody. I'm happy to report that the problem is now solved. I went to the hardware store today and bought two 4-40 1.0" screws for a total of 0.45 USD. I was able to screw them in and finally get the intonation set up perfectly. Now all 5 strings are in tune when played open, at the 12th fret, and at the 24th fret. Perfect intonation! Finally! :D

Here's a photo of the original screw versus the new screw. The original screw was 1.25" length, and the new screw is 1" length.

Image

And here is a photo of the bridge after the new screws were installed and the string heights and saddle positions were properly adjusted. I had to raise the low B string a bit higher off the bridge to compensate for the fact that the repositioned saddle is now in contact with the skinnier part of the string. You can see that the low B and E saddles had to be moved back quite a bit in order to get the intonation right.

Image

Anyway, I'm happy to say that the case is now closed. Now I can concentrate on playing my new bass!
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re: Problem with 5-string hipshot bass bridge saddle adjustm

Postby 86general » Mon Nov 03, 2014 8:18 am

I hope the guitar shop sees this. I think Albert should have the company buy some of these shorter screws. Every Vanquish they make is the same, so this issue has to exist with other models when using the same strings.

Honestly, do they knowingly ship guitars with faulty intonation, simply because hipshot does not ship their bridges with proper screws?

Anyway, if an instrument can't be set up with correct intonation, it should not be shipped to a customer.
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