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Can lightweight tuners cause dead spots?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by nick0, Oct 7, 2013.

  1. nick0


    Feb 19, 2013
    I recently picked up a really nice used Mexican 50's pbass as a gigging instrument, and would really like to swap the tuning machines for the lightweight Gotoh ones. At this point the little bit of torque I feel in my back (for the slight neck-heaviness) isn't an issue, and I'd like to avoid rushing to the day when it will be . . .

    If adding weight sometimes fixes dead spots, does that mean remove weight sometimes causes them? Has anyone heard of this happening?

  2. bongomania

    bongomania Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 17, 2005
    PDX, OR
    owner, OVNIFX and OVNILabs
    Adding weight doesn't actually "fix" dead spots, it just moves them somewhere else on the neck. Best case scenario, the dead spot is moved to a location you never use on the fretboard.

    Removing weight does the same thing. So it is possible to have a "new" dead spot after putting lightweight tuners in. But it's not that they caused the dead spot--they just relocated it someplace noticeable.

    I wouldn't worry about it because there's no way to predict.
  3. mongo2


    Feb 17, 2008
    Da Shaw
    I've done that exact mod on quite a few basses using Hipshot Ultralight and Gotoh Res-O-Lite 350 tuners and checked specifically for any such changes and I found no difference in response.
  4. 1958Bassman


    Oct 20, 2007
    Does your bass have dead spots? If not, don't worry about it. If it dies, look into having the frets leveled, dressed and polished. You can also try using different strings- the weight/diameter/tension of the core make a difference.
  5. 2saddleslab

    2saddleslab Supporting Member

    May 30, 2003
  6. lefty007


    Jan 19, 2004
    Miami, FL
    I've put Ultralites in all my vintage Fender, and yes, sometimes it can make deadspots more noticeable or move them to different frets. For example, a bass had a deadspot in the G string, 5th fret, and after installing the Ultralites the deadspot moved to the 7th fret.

    If weight it's really an issue, it's worth trying and worth the compromise, IMHO.
  7. nick0


    Feb 19, 2013
    Thanks for the reassurance! Res-o-lites are on the way, and I'm so excited to gig a balanced instrument that's not a boat anchor!

    Off-topic: has anyone else found themselves strangely inspired to compose new material with the stock Fender round set (100-to-45)? While there's something I find a bit unpleasant in the upper-mids, and all the overtones make the fundamental harder to hear (TI Jazz flats user here), it seems like something new and unlike anything I usually come up with comes out of them? Or do you think it's probably the "new guitar high" and the particularities of that instrument?
  8. mongo2


    Feb 17, 2008
    Da Shaw
    Does it matter? Take inspiration anywhere you can find it.
  9. FretlessMainly


    Nov 17, 2010
    "Cause" and "relocate" essentially leading to the same result; but I agree with you completely. Dead spot locations depend on the resonance frequency of the instrument, which in turn is dependent upon the ratio of the mass of the headstock to the mass of the body.

    Adding or removing mass from the headstock may result in a favorable relocation of an annoying dead spot (which happened on my 4003FL when I switched from stock tuners to Hipshot ultralites), it may result in the occurrence of a dead spot in a new location that is undesirable, or it may make no noticeable difference. It depends on the current headstock to body mass ratio and how much you change it. That and which way the wind blows on Thursday.

    Best o' luck with the new tuners.
  10. mysteryclock

    mysteryclock Supporting Member

    Oct 3, 2010
    Franklin, TN
    Back in the 80s they took the opposite approach about mass and used to sell something called a Fathead that was a big brass plate you could put on the back of your headstock to increase the mass pretty significantly. As described above, this was to move around the dead spots of the day to a less-obvious location.

    Because of course, brass made everything better in the 80s....from headstock plates to nuts to heavy tone blocks.
  11. nick0


    Feb 19, 2013
    Well, the tuners made a beautiful difference in balance, even though by the numbers they're only 30% (or something like that) lighter. If the headstock was any lighter I'm not sure if it would still feel like a P-bass. Are MIM and MIA Standards based on the '70s ones, but without the U neck profile? They feel much more heavy, stiff, and solid than this MIM '50s model; this one is very light and lively.

    While it's not really a dead spot, now fretting C# on the 1st string doesn't sound as lively as most every other note I've played in this bass. I suspect that tightening the truss-rod an 1/8th of a turn will fix this, since it needs this anyway…but I'm moving to a more humid climate, so am putting this off for a month or so. It's not a huge deal, it's only one note, and you can always hit it ever so slightly harder to compensate…

    But yeah, wow, res-o-lite tuners on this P-bass took it from something special, to what I hoped it would be. Bar-none, my favourite instrument to gig!

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