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Bass Ramp question...

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Macrocosmcwh, Dec 7, 2012.

  1. Is the Bass Ramp for thumb comfort or does it add something to the sound. I must admit that I do like the look of them... I just don't understand the full purpose of them.

    Please explain oh ye bass gurus! =)
  2. BassIsFun17

    BassIsFun17 Supporting Member

    Jan 16, 2006
    well for many reasons aside from being a giant thumb rest; the ramp is there to help keep your plucking strokes more consistant and can help improve your plucking technique in general. i do not have one on any of my basses right now, but i have really been interested in trying one. i just need to sit down and try to build one.
  3. Baird6869

    Baird6869 RIP Gord Downey. A True Canadian Icon. Supporting Member


    I like the look and think it would be useful based on my style of playing.

    I have a Fodera due to arrive in Jan.... I will likely get one made for that.

    It allows you to anchor your thumb basically anywhere on or between the neck and bridge PUs. Pretty cool for different tones.
  4. bassmanbiff


    Apr 3, 2008
    Jeff Berlin is a big advocate. And I believe it's where the notion comes from. The intent is that you're forced to use controlled playing.
  5. IntrepidCellist


    Sep 10, 2009
    It forces you to use a light touch as it keeps your fingers from traveling too far down after striking the string.
  6. Just Thumpin'

    Just Thumpin' Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 7, 2008
    NE United States
    Manager and Partner, Fodera Guitars (as of 10/14/09)

  7. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    I think you have Jeff mixed up with Gary Willis who pioneered the concept and actually uses it on his bass. I've never seen Jeff with a ramp... in any case that's not where the idea came from.

    If you've ever played on a bass with pickups close to the strings it's very similar to that. It extends that feel to a larger area. I think it was a brilliant idea on Gary's part... as someone who always dug that feel, I always pondered how nice it would be to have that feel farther away from the bridge or neck pickup. Just never took it to Gary's conclusion.

    While you can use it as a thumb rest, it's really not about that. In fact most folks I've seen who use them don't rest their thumb because they use a floating thumb technique which greatly aids in right hand muting and comfort.

    IME while it initially does make most people play with a light touch because it keeps your fingers from going too far past the strings when you pluck, I found that I pluck more parallel to the body and in fact you can actually pluck very hard once you get used to it. The forcing you to play light thing is a misconception IME IMO. You can play hard too. And if placed correctly they don't have to interfere with other techniques.

    PRS has a derivative of the ramp, calling it a "manual compressor" on the Grainger basses. It's basically a ramp with scallops under each string, allowing the string to pretty much sit down in a groove in the ramp. Probably seemed like a good idea on paper but with it setup low it forces you to pluck across the top of the string because you cant get to the sides. Didn't care for that feel at all.

    I have them on several basses and most folks look at it and the low height of my strings and instantly think it must be unplayable. I encourage them to go into "shut up and play" mode and most are surprised how little difficulty there actually is to it. I just sold a bass with one a few days ago, it was the first time the bassist had played with a ramp and he was apprehensive. The day after he got it he called to tell me he wanted ramps on some of his other basses.

    It can happen that quickly.
    BMGecko likes this.
  8. henry2513

    henry2513 Supporting Member

    May 9, 2011
    Los Angeles, Ca
    It's fairly easy, I bought a radius board from Stew Mac but you can make it without one, check the vid here:

  9. henry2513

    henry2513 Supporting Member

    May 9, 2011
    Los Angeles, Ca
    Completely agree with you, I've had several people say that it's impossible to dig in with a ramp then look very surprised when I show then otherwise. It took me a while to figure it out though and yeah definitely the parallel pluck plays a big part, also the angle that my finger is relative to the string. I tend to play with the outer edge vs. straight on when I'm playing harder/digging in.
    BMGecko likes this.
  10. +1 This would be closest to my answer. I've always used the floating thumb technique in my playing & do not like thumb rests.
  11. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    Yep, it can take time to get used to it. Many folks don't want to spend the time, which is nothing new. Now I play with and without them and my techniques from using ramp's carry over to the rampless. It really aided in opening up the dynamic range in my playing. I've really worked over the years on controlling my volume predominantly with my hands with my bass' volume wide open so I could go from almost nothing to max volume just using my hands.
    BMGecko likes this.
  12. EZ9R


    Oct 28, 2008
    Jeff Berlin raises his soapbar Bartolini's real close to the strings that on his basses, it acts as the same concept as a ramp. Gary Willis was the first I've ever seen ('88) to have an actual ramp when he was playing Tobias Basses.
  13. howlin


    Nov 15, 2008
    I'm Not There
    It can also be very similar to the way a Double Bass is plucked as well.
  14. Egbert89


    Aug 30, 2012
    When you pluck over a pickup (the neck pup on my Tbird in my case haha) you get the same idea right? (as far as how hard you can pluck and to rest your thumb)
  15. sobie18


    May 5, 2002
    Shaw AFB, SC
    I played my buddy's Modulus that had a ramp installed and I just couldn't get the hang of it. I'm more of an anchor your thumb against the pick-up & body kind of guy, to include between the strings to handle the higher strings. Plus, playing over the pick-up itself can achieve a close effect of the concept. However, I need that firm anchor, to ground my thumb.

    It is a logical concept, though.
  16. Bryan R. Tyler

    Bryan R. Tyler TalkBass: Usurping My Practice Time Since 2002 Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    May 3, 2002
    A ramp should be radiused to match the fretboard radius though. Playing over a flat pickup (assuming yours is flat the way most are), there is a deeper depth below the inner strings than the outer strings.
  17. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Or we tried it once and got turned off to it ;)
  18. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    "Yep, it can take time to get used to it. Many folks don't want to spend the time, which is nothing new".

    I'm not really seeing the "or", Jimmy.

    You didn't want to spend the time to get used to it... no?
  19. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    It's definitely not something that everyone will gravitate twoards. Floating thumb isn't either and IME the two go together very well.

    It's a finesse sort of thing and I can see where some wouldn't like it, want it or need it to do what they do. OTOH I've had several friends who were surprised when they got over the idea that it was hampering them with what it actually enabled them to do. Glass half full/half empty kind of thing.
  20. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Brad, that kind of comment implies that I would end up liking it if I got used to it. I can assure you I wouldn't, and if I get turned off to something immediately, there's maybe a 1% chance at best that I'll like it down the road.