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Dead notes on a neck :(

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by karrot-x, Aug 23, 2005.

  1. karrot-x

    karrot-x Banned

    Feb 21, 2004
    Omicron Persei 8
    How does one fix dead notes on a neck? I have a SX SJB-62MG which I heavily moded.

    J-Retro Pre
    Badass Bridge II (filed myself, might not be the best of work)
    Dr Low Beams
    Dimarzio Ultra Jazz pups

    I have a dead note on the D string at the 9th fret. I don't know how to get rid of it. I tried adjusting the neck for different reliefes. I tried making sure it was propperly innotated, and to my knowledge it is. I just spent the last 30 minutes going through the Garry Willis setup instructions on here, everything else seems to be wonderful. Is it a fret dressing problem? How does one go about finding the problem?


    -- Steve
  2. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Fenders and Fender style basses have dead spots. That's the way it is. Usually it's one fret lower than what's on yours but they're common. I don't own a Fender that doesn't have one, and mine are both Americans. SX is a good bass for those on a budget but there's no way you're not going to have a dead spot. There's a metal plate called a Fathead you can put on the back of your headstock that claims to remove dead spots, but all it really does is move the dead spot elsewhere.

    My advice is to live with it. I don't really get why people make a big deal out of dead spots. The only person who can tell you have a dead spot is you. There's tons of great recordings made with basses that have dead spots, and I can never hear them.
  3. bassbully43


    Jul 1, 2005
    Hate to be dumb but what exactly is a deadspot? Is it a fret when played the note sounds flat or buzzy?
  4. karrot-x

    karrot-x Banned

    Feb 21, 2004
    Omicron Persei 8
    No, it's where a notes sustain dies much faster then all the other notes around it.
  5. bassbully43


    Jul 1, 2005
    Thank you! I hate to ask dumb questions and will check my bass tonight.
  6. WillBuckingham


    Mar 30, 2005
    I don't know if what I have is a deadspot, and I know its not a really big deal, but I'm wondering if anyone else has experienced anything like this.

    The 6th fret on my G string will sustain for a little while, but then the note changes to an octave and a fourth up, it could be two octaves + a fourth, and I'll check if anyone thinks this is important. The funny thing is this happens elswhere on the neck at the same Db, on the 11th fret on the D string, and on the A string and E string. It doesn't happen in other octaves, like at the 4th fret on the A string.

    This is on a fretted Pedulla MVP-5.
  7. Nedmundo

    Nedmundo Supporting Member

    Jan 7, 2005
    My guess, and believe me this is barely more than a guess, is that some aspect of the bass (part, joint, etc.) resonates in sympathy with that frequency, and the sympathetic vibration somehow generates the other frequencies in the string.

    This hypothesis comes from an experience with my semi-hollow bass, which has a trapeze tailpiece. About a year after I bought the bass, it developed an irritating vibration whenever I played the low B on a four string, whether at th 7th fret on the E string or 2d on the A string. Fortunately, it usually didn't come through the amp, but it was annoying. Eventually I traced it to the tailpiece, which just happened to resonate in sympathy with that frequency, and vibrate against the body. I placed some felt under there, problem solved.

    So I'd try tightening all screws and bolts a little, and see what happens. If it's sympathetic vibration in the neck itself, maybe one of those fat fingers used to cure dead spots would help.

    Good luck!
  8. http://www.acoustics.org/press/137th/fleischer.html

    Here's a bit of info on the subject.

    Basically, these deadspots happen when the neck resonates or vibrates at the same frequency as the note you are playing. When that happens, it tends to cancel out the note. If you find one of these deadspots, you'll usually notice that anywhere you play the same note, you'll find the same deadspot. I haven't ever found the problem at an octave, because that's a completely different frequency.

    The FATFINGER device mentioned clamps to the headstock and adds MASS to the headstock, which is supposed to change the resonating frequency. You can move the fatfinger around, sometimes completely eliminating the problem. Sure, it does change the resonating frequency (moves it someplace else), but it might move it completely off your fretboard too. I have not tried the fatfinger, but I have a nasty spot on my bass that bugs me to no end. The Fatfinger is kinda pricey for what it is, and some say it helps and others say it doesn't. It's sometimes referred to as a "sustain enhancer".

    Hope this helps a bit..


  9. The Magneto speaks the truth. Can't add too much except that just about anything can be used to change the mass at the headstock. And, while I don't know it to be fact, I would guess that lessening the mass of the headstock would do the same thing. My reasoning is that going heavier moves the deadspot so going lighter should too. Where is anybody's guess. A couple of years ago one of the guys here tried a heavy brass washer as part of his tuner setup and that worked well. Others have routed cavities behind the headstock and filled them with lead (small amounts) and then veneered them over.

    So here's an idea that just occured to me and it involves my love for threaded neck inserts. Since these really improve the sonic coupling between the body and neck, I wonder if they would improve a deadspot? Wouldn't bolting the neck to a body with such force be the equivalent of adding mass to the neck? Maybe not at the headstock but certainly attached to the neck somewhere. I've never done the insert thing to a bass with a noticeable deadspot so I don't know if it improves or not but I would be willing to try.
  10. fenderx55


    Jan 15, 2005
    yeah, i've come to notice that the 6th fret on my g string goes funny then decays rapidly, i have an american j and i thought i should get it checked out. glad i'm not the only one. I am a heavy proponent of hambone's threaded insert method, did it on my modded mim fretless j, came out great! (never got to thank you for that one btw THANKS) eventually i'll do the same bit of surgery on my MIA.
  11. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    I guess I'm the only one in the world who doesn't care about dead spots. They don't matter in the least to me. I never notice them in other people's music, and though I notice them when I play the bass, they never seem to affect the music I'm playing in a negative way.
    Gaolee likes this.
  12. basspunk2005

    basspunk2005 Guest

    Jan 31, 2005
    I agree, I havnt noticed any dead spots in any of my basses or anybody elses. I hear what everyone is saying, they want their bass to be in 100% working order i think everyone that plays an instrument would want to have it working to its max potential. To me unless it gets to the point where it affects my playing or changes the sound of my bass(although I dont have any dead spots) thats when I would sort something out
  13. Nedmundo

    Nedmundo Supporting Member

    Jan 7, 2005
    I felt this way until last year, when I tried my '99 Am. Dlx. Precision in a tune with a bass solo introduction that includes a few whole notes. This revealed a nasty, harsh dead spot at the 10th fret on the G string, exactly where some of the whole notes fell. And it didn't sound right moving up a few positions. I simply couldn't play that song with that bass, which I later sold to buy a traditional passive P-bass. (Wish I had just gutted it and made it a passive monster though.)

    So even though I don't carp much about dead spots -- I love Fenders and they come with the territory -- sometimes they matter. No worries for me, because I also have a killer semi-hollow DiPinto. :D
  14. Not all basses will have them, but many do. It's not so much needing things perfect, but this is something that can't be corrected by technique, new strings, setup, etc..

    My trouble spot is a B note, 2nd string, 9th fret, on a ESP LTD F204 bolt-on. Every fret before or after that rings true, but that one note just dies. It also does it on the 1st string, 4th fret (same note of course). On that fret, it's so bad that it will make my A string begin to vibrate on its own..

    Hambone: You made some excellent points. Changing the way the neck contacts the body could very well change that nasty resonant frequency. I haven't installed the inserts on my bass yet, but am thinking about it.
    I was going to experiment with a padded C-clamp, clamped to various areas of the headstock to see if I can notice any change. Might help decide if a fatfinger-type of device would be worth it. I could probably make my own if I could get the weight right..

  15. yeh my new fab bass has the B on the D string kinda dead...Usually they are on the G string,,.......It's fine, it just doesn't sustain as long as it should..I just play around it..keep em short.
    JimmyM likes this.
  16. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    BTW, I still feel this way 12 years later, although I do have a couple Fenders with very minimal dead spots now :D
  17. yes that 2005 date made me snort.
    JimmyM likes this.
  18. Bass V

    Bass V

    Dec 11, 2008
    Honolulu, Hawaii
    does the spot the ff is connected on the headstock matter?
    would 2 be twice as good?
    my main question is an old luthier's tale of placing a very slim plate of brass between the neck and body pocket (shim-lyke), anybody heard of this method to increase sustain and harmonics, and kill dead spots?
  19. Turnaround

    Turnaround Commercial User

    May 6, 2004
    Toronto Canada
    Independent Instrument Technician, and Contractor to Club Bass and Guitar - Toronto
    As they say, one leg is both the same.

    Perhaps you would like to reframe the question?
  20. Zooberwerx

    Zooberwerx Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2002
    Virginia Beach, VA
    I asked a similar question and somebody much wiser than I pointed out the added mass would have more of an affect if mounted on the headstock much like a "loaded" marimba bar. OTOH, I have seen where folks have installed threaded inserts in the neck heel and replaced the wood screws with bolts as it increases coupling between the neck and body.

    Bass V likes this.