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Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by BACKLINE BOB, Aug 5, 2012.



    Aug 5, 2012
    Anyone know where to find and how to attach the foam mutes that Fender used on the basses back in the 50's to duplicate the "thunk" of an upright bass? It was put under the "ashtray" cover over the bridge, I think.
  2. FretlessMainly


    Nov 17, 2010
    Sorry I can't help on your question, but some additional info:

    1. The foam lasted well past the 50s. My '76 FL P-bass has the glue residue under the ashtray.

    2. FYI - there are two schools of thought in terms of foam muting: under-string and on top of the strings (as with the ashtray cover). One method is designed to increase brightness in the upper range and the other is designed to increase brightness in the lower range. Sorry, I'm not sure which is which, but I read it from a reputable source not too long ago (maybe here...).


    Aug 5, 2012

    Looks like Music Man uses the under method...Fender the over...just bought a MIM 50's Roadworn P-Bass and want to add the covers and thumbrest....ashtray does not have the foam attached per JOSH AT Fender....foam available is for pick-up mtg, not mutes.

    Help!!!!Trying to get that great James Jamerson tone!!!
  4. FretlessMainly


    Nov 17, 2010
    I think it ought to be as simple as just supergluing a rectangle of packing foam to the ashtray in a manner that follows the line of the intonated saddles.
  5. As did my '78 P-bass, along with some scraps of foam.
    As to the OP's question, I use a piece of self adhesive weather stripping , about 3/8 " thick, stuck to the underside of the ashtray. Dulls it down just enough, without deadening it. I also use a couple of pieces of the same stripping stuck back to back (sticky side to sticky side) making it a 3/4" thick piece which gets shoved under the strings right in front of the bridge saddles. Works good there , too.


    Aug 5, 2012
    Didn't that foam have some form of rubber in/on it?
  7. Plucky The Bassist

    Plucky The Bassist ZOMG! I'm back from the dead! Supporting Member

    Jul 30, 2010
    Houston, TX
    I had to get creative with mine since I'm operating on a college budget lol

    I had a pair of cheap sandals laying around that were made of a foam rubber type of material. I just cut the sandal up until I got a thick enough chunk to put between the top of my strings and the ashtray. Not as fancy as the ones you might find back in the olden days, but it gets the job done and I get some serious thump with my chromes. There are plenty of ways to jerry-rig a foam mute, but getting the "real deal" is way more expensive than it needs to be IMO.


    Aug 5, 2012
    Do you use foam under ashtray and under strings AT THE SAME TIME?


    Aug 5, 2012
    Did you use any special glue on your "sandal mute"?

    How about Tinactin?
  10. Plucky The Bassist

    Plucky The Bassist ZOMG! I'm back from the dead! Supporting Member

    Jul 30, 2010
    Houston, TX
    LOL! No, I just cut a thick enough piece to have squeezed between my ashtray and strings. It goes under the ashtray and over the strings. I am pretty hard on that bass and I've never had any issues with slippage, but I never remove my ashtray unless I need to adjust intonation on my bass.


    Aug 5, 2012

    To save us alot of trial and error...do you have any idea of an approx. size of the piece of foam you cut?...the thickness must depend on the density (did we spell that wright?)...surprised it does not move with a compression fit only...do you use a heavy string set?
  12. Cheap imitation sponges work fine. And you can experiment cheaply.
  13. spufman


    Feb 7, 2005
    Central CT
    Don't glue it on, just cut a good piece of dense rubbery foam you can use and remove as needed. I have an older EBMM with the adjustable mutes and I dial them in once in a while - for about 3 minutes. Nice option to have though.
  14. The old ones were perfect. Above is the only way. As you go higher on the neck, you need less damping. The strings disengage from the foam increasingly as you go up the neck, and the foam decompresses. Very little in each of these, but the combination does the trick. The FL P with the foam does an amazing double bass imitation. Two kinds of dense foam that won't break the bank are (1) foam strips that are placed on the desk as computer keyboard wrist supports, and (2) gardening kneeling pads.


    Aug 5, 2012
    Thanks for the info!!!!
    This seems like a better composition than the weatherstrip some have suggested.
    More cowbell!!!
  16. RCCollins

    RCCollins Supporting Member

    Mar 23, 2008
    San Diego, California
    the weatherstrip is perfect, it just has to be thick enough. many gear dealers sell "pickup mounting foam" that is simply cut weatherstrip - these are *usually* long enouch to make perfect ashtray mutes, and are self-adhesive as well as inexpensive.
  17. Randyt

    Randyt RAAPT Custom Wood Productions

    Jul 21, 2010
    Barrie, Canada
    on my Pbass , i use foam that you would find in a new case of pickups...works perfectly....If you are using the screw down bridge cover...just unscrew and place under and screw back down...if you dont use bridge cover...just roll up foam cut to width and place under strings(at bridge)...this along with a set of LaBella Jamerson set of flats....pure magic!!!!!
  18. Spinal Tapper

    Spinal Tapper

    Nov 15, 2007
    You can just wedge any sponge underneath the strings at the bridge. Does the same thing. Experiment with different materials to get the tone you like.
  19. THORRR

    THORRR Supporting Member

    Jun 26, 2010
    Parker, Colorado
    The old foam in the ashtrays was black rubber window
    and door insulation foam which you can buy by the roll
    at any Home Depot, cheap!

    It already has adhesive tape on one side, it's about 1/2" wide and comes in several thicknesses.

    The ole ashtray mutes were trimmed longways to nearly a point, giving more mute to the bass strings and less mute
    on the high strings.

    It was positioned right over the saddles at an angle that
    would not extend beyond the saddles by more than 3/8"
    otherwise the intonation gets affected.

    It wasn't super effective as jamming a big piece of foam
    under the strings would be, but it served to dampen
    the sustain and zing of new strings.

    If you make one, cut the foam into a long wedge shape
    (width-wise, not thickness-wise), place it in the exact position you
    want it with the tape side up (backing peeled off)
    and from overhead, gently lower the ashtry straight
    down over the tape causing it to stick in the correct spot.

    Voila! you're done!


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