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Lights, fret dots and 'The Force'...

Discussion in 'Bass Humor & Gig Stories [BG]' started by SevenJacks, Jan 22, 2012.

  1. Gentlemen,
    Had a great show last night at a nice little pub/restaurant and for one of the first times ever, we were on a REAL stage with REAL lights :hyper:
    I've only been playing out for a year + and it's normally at small places where the band is packed into the corner of some restaurant with no dance floor. Needless to say, last night was a totally cool experience for me/us.

    Some friends showed up to support us including one who has played bass for maybe a quarter of the time I have (i've played for perhaps 4 years in my past 42 years of life). I was complaining about how I was butchering the first songs because of the lights and I couldn't see my fret dots. My buddy goes "You actually use those fret dots??? I guess I just use the force!"
    After imagining my buddy sprawled on the beer stained carpet with a bloody nose, I took a sip of beer to occupy my clenching fist and explained that playing an arpeggio is alot different than nailing Zeppelin ('what is and what never should be') which we did later that night despite 'dot blindness'.

    So how much of you depend on fret dots? What do you do to make them more visible? White out? Reflective tape? Can you guys really do something like 'Ramble On' without looking down to check where your hand is? Obviously there are guys that can but you guys know what I mean right?

    (Sorry this is technique based but I was psyched to talk about 'the limelight' experience and the 'fret dot blindness' thing too so... ) :bag:
  2. VitalSigns


    May 8, 2011
    Central NY
    Get LEDs... :bag:
  3. I only depend on fret dots a little; I like to practice at night with the lights off, and also my bass has a tribal inlay, so I only have the side markers (not a big deal, I know).
  4. BluesWalker

    BluesWalker Supporting Member

    Jun 17, 2008
    San Diego, CA
  5. my sandberg only has side dots (plain maple board) but my status has big roman numerals on the board..... and LED's on the side LOL

    i can honestly say the LEDs are there for bling factor, its rare that i need to use my eyes to know where i am. but a lot of that is instrument familiarity and muscle memory.

    like blues walker pointed out, fret fx is a c ompany that makes a silicone strip that goes along the top edge of your neck with an LED array on, a battery pack is attached to the back of the headstock to activate the LEDs. i have a one on my Jag bass and it was really easy to install (its got strong sticky backing, so you just line it up and gently press down). if you really need the dots.
  6. Thanks guys :)
    My goal is to be the guy who doesn't need fret dots at all, but in the meantime...
  7. BassChuck

    BassChuck Supporting Member

    Nov 15, 2005
    Wite works wonders. And it can be removed easily.
  8. change-jug


    Oct 11, 2008
    My old Lyle hollow body only has the dots on the face of the fret board. So I took some duct tape and cut the smallest squares I could and stuck `em on the edge of my fret board so I could see where I was on the neck. It`s a cheap fix but it works for me!

    SevenJacks,I`d like to mention that as you play more and more,over time you develop muscle memory. Once this starts to happen you don`t need to look at the fret board nearly as much.
  9. Russell L

    Russell L

    Mar 5, 2011
    Cayce, SC
    I use 'em when I need to reassure myself. But, I can play without them most of the time. It's something that's an issue only once in a blue moon. There's always enough stage lights for me to see. But, there have been times when there weren't enough due to some tiny space we were in. I think you'll find that you'll not worry much about it after awhile.
  10. David1234


    Jun 1, 2004
    Sydney, Australia
    Endorsing Artist: SWR Amplifiers
    I use the side dots only occasionally, but I do need them for big jumps from one part of the neck to another. Finding the lowest position on the neck I can do by muscle memory and moving 2 to 5 frets at a time I can do blind as well, but for larger jumps I need to be able to "check a dot".

    I have seen guys stick felt dots on the back of the neck, so as to feel where they are rather than see. You might like to try that.
  11. droo46


    Jun 16, 2011
  12. Stilettoprefer


    Nov 26, 2010
    depends on which bass i am playing. if it is my Schecter, then I dont have to look at my left hand much if at all. Playing fretless though, I am too nervous about hitting a horrifically out of tune note so I end up looking a lot just to reassure myself that I am playing it right.
  13. Dave W

    Dave W Supporting Member

    Mar 1, 2007
    White Plains
    I try not to rely on them if possible. I just started not looking down one day the ween myself off of them, and before you know it you don't need them that often.

    Why did you want to punch your friend for asking? What is different about playing an arpeggio versus playing a Zeppelin song...or anything for that matter?
  14. xikbastard


    May 7, 2007
    i got frefx on my wicks, usually i dun need them to know what i am playing but i do glance at them once in awhile to assure me i am hitting all the right notes. useful when there is insane strobe lights and all other crazy ass bright lights on stage. and i got motion sickness from all the harsh lights so i wear sunglasses on stage and the LED's just bright enuff to assure me my fingers are where they suppose to be.

  15. ha ha was thinking the same thing.
  16. Here's a low-budget solution - buy a roll of glow-in-the-dark or reflective tape and a hole punch. Take the little circles that the hole punch punches out and place them over the fret markers. That's an easy (and cheap) solution that can be undone if you ever want to restore your bass to its original state.
  17. JohnMCA72


    Feb 4, 2009
    Not at all. The strings don't move (except to vibrate in a predictable way). The frets don't move. My fingers are right there, on my hand, where they've always been my whole life. There's no need for me to watch any of that, because I know where it all is.

    There's also usually a heck of a lot more interesting stuff to look at than my own hands. Plus, people watching me seem to like it better when I look at them.
  18. RBrownBass

    RBrownBass Supporting Member

    Aug 22, 2004
    Muslce memory plays a big role, but your "friend" (no real friend ever makes disparaging remarks about your playing without offering a solution to whatever they see as the problem) is off base to suggest that you ought never look.

    Plenty of highly respected --and musically literate-- guitarists sit on piano benches with nylon-string guitars and look at their fingerboards while playing, and plenty of people sit quietly and pay attention while they do it. It's only been very recently --say, the past 50-60 years-- that some genres came into being where playing while interacting visually with the audience became more important than playing, period. Using visual aids for fretting is not "cheating". I fear the day a Pat Metheny or even a David Gilmour ever has to conduct himself on stage like EVH or Vai.
  19. Timmah


    May 19, 2011
    Playing one bass exclusively helps with muscle memory and not needing fret dots. I play my main bass (big heavy tree of a neck) 98% of the time, and my other bass is this skimpy little headless thing. I know where everything is on my main, but I need the dots on the headless.
  20. AtomicPunk

    AtomicPunk Supporting Member

    Dec 3, 2007
    Detroit Metro, MI USA
    I have white stickers made with a hole punch with vinyl tape that I stick on the neck of the bass, over the other dots. Lasts for about a year or 2 of hard playing and peel off if you don't want them anymore. Total cost, about 15 cents. Sometimes we are playing in crazy light situations and sometimes I just get lost in what I'm playing and don't have to worry about where I am on the neck. They do help.

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