Frets and tapping

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by Daniel Baskin, Jul 25, 2005.

  1. The last time that I went to guitar center to let off some steam after work (with tasteful, reserved musicality mind you) I noticed that I could get a clear note out of tapping anywhere on all of their new middle-low to middle-high calibre basses. On the bass I have right now, I can't get a good note from tapping. The sound is abrasive and "bzzztwangy" and exeplifies what I classify as "anti-harmonicism," or rather, the notes get higher as they approach the 12th fret (rather than get higher as they move away from it in classical string instruments, hence the name) when I tap them. I then looked at the frets on the intruments and noticed that they looked a bit different than the frets on my bass. And just so you know, my bass is a '91 custom made (Tim Landers) by through Peavey Telecaster 6 string, and its not what you would call a junker. My hypothesi as to why I cannot tap on my bass are that my frets pre-date a newer, more tapping friendly model, and that the nickel round-wound that I used to use and my stainless rounds that I use now are too abrasive.

    Can anyone point me in the right direction? Should I get my fretboard re-fretted or re-furbished in some way? For the record, when the strings are in tune, every note on the fretboard is in tune, so I don't believe the positioning of the frets is the problem, but it may be, I just don't know.
  2. Alvaro Martín Gómez A.

    Alvaro Martín Gómez A. TalkBass' resident Bongo + cowbell player

    Maybe this won't help since you said that haven't had problems with other basses, but something to think of, at least:

    When you tap a note in your bass' high register (actually anywhere, just that here's more noticeable) without any kind of string muting (more on this below), you'll hear two notes ringing simultaneously with your bass unamplified: The actual one plus another that goes down in pitch when you go higher up the neck. For an specific example: Tap an A on the G string, 14th fret (again, no string muting, no amplification). You'll hear the A plus an F# a minor third lower (like the one on the G string, 11th fret). If you go up by semitones, the real pitches will change as expected, but this second note will go down, so when you tap a semitone higher (Bb, 15th fret) you'll hear along with it an F (like the one on the G string, 10th fret) and so forth.

    The cure for this: Make sure that when you tap a note with your right hand, your left hand is always resting on the strings. You'll notice a BIG difference in sound with your bass unamplified. That's why many tapping pros like Victor Wooten and others not so good at it (like me) always have a hair scrunchie ready for that muting task. Of course, you can't use it if the piece you're playing involves open strings, but it's good to have one "installed" in your bass if you do a lot of tapping.

    Again, maybe not your problem, but I wanted to mention this because that "anti-harmonicism" isn't big news for me.
  3. Alvaro Martín Gómez A.

    Alvaro Martín Gómez A. TalkBass' resident Bongo + cowbell player

    Just wanted to say that I've just been messing with that stuff in my bass and noticed that the second note's pitch doesn't decrease exactly by semitone intervals. It starts like that in the area I put as an example, but on fret 16 it is a bit less than a semitone. When I tap a D on the 19th fret, I get an octave lower out-of-tune D along with it. It should be a C# according with my previous post's statement.
  4. In response to that last question, that's because they are complex harmonics. The more off of the root you get from the open string in harmonics, the more out of key its gets. The order is root, 5th, 4th, 3rd, 6th, dom 7th...and so on. (Forgot the order after the dom. 7th). Anyway, I think that answers my question. I was thinking of forking out $300 to get my bass refretted all for nothing. I just didn't know enough about bass tapping. It's still weird how easily that Bongo tapped though....(Yea yea, I know, its because its a Bongo).
  5. bannedwit


    May 9, 2005
    Buffalo, NY
    It doesn't help that Guitar Center has about 40 basses from years ago that they NEVER sold or will EVER sell that have been played, abused, tested and screwed around with and probably haven't been in tune until YOU do it yourself and that they haven't had a good setup since they left the factory or a new set of strings...

    A lot of the basses i try there play like crap even the $3400 Warwicks and Pedullas!

    Someone needs to go around and setup those things properly...

    I would suggest getting those cheaper basses to become tapworthy will require some truss rod or saddle lowering to make those strings nice and close to the fretboard...
    Worked on my Ibanez SR-406 that was one of the last ones made when they started getting all lazy with making them and skimped out on a ton of stuff... Notice they dont make them anymore