Most Forgiving Strings for Dead Spots?

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by jallenbass, Jul 9, 2017.

  1. jallenbass

    jallenbass Commercial User

    May 17, 2005
    Bend, Oregon
    Anyone come across a particular make and model of string that seems to be more forgiving of dead spots? Just curious.
  2. I have no real-life experience on this...
    But my non-expert theory is any old, dead strings would make dead spots less obvious, wouldn't they?
  3. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013
    It doesn't work that way.

    A dead spot is a mechanical issue with an individual instrument. The next seemingly identical bass out of the same factory could have a dead spot in a different place, one that is more or less severe, or none at all.

    The role strings have is that if you have a bass with a dead spot you can try a different gauge of strings to see if the dead spot moves. It sometimes will, since having a different amount of tension on the neck can change the frequency at which it resonates.

    Just the opposite. Dead strings have less sustain which can turn an inconvenient dead spot into something unusable.
  4. My non-expert theory = BUSTED! :roflmao:
  5. Bodeanly


    Mar 20, 2015
    Have you tried purse strings? Find a sugar mama and have her buy you a bass without dead spots.

    Sorry for not having better advice.
  6. There is a device called the fat finger or fat head, can't remember exactly but it clamps on the headstock to move the dead spot to a different frequency. A little c clamp will do the same thing but looks a little goofy. Disregard if you knew this. I don't think strings will make much of a difference
    HolmeBass likes this.
  7. So, are you saying one possible way to combat dead spots is to use strings that sustain well by vibrating more freely - such as round-core rounds as opposed to hex-core flats?
    ThePresident777 likes this.
  8. In a couple months I will have been playing bass for 40 years.... in that time I have never heard a recording, or a live band, and said to myself... the bass player just played a note on the dead spot.
    I feel that all the concern over dead spots is way over blown, and shouldn't really be a concern at all, as I guarantee you, no one will hear it live or recorded... and no one will care.
  9. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013
    That wasn't what I was saying, but I guess it isn't totally off base. Strings that sustain longer in general will make the dead note sustain longer, though still less than all the other notes.

    Really, it's a product of both the flexibility of the neck and the mass on the headstock. You can sometimes move it by adding or removing mass from the head. Fat fingers, C-clamps or lighter tuners. Or by changing the stiffness. Small truss rod adjustments, tightening neck bolts if they're loose, major surgery to add reinforcing rods, etc.
    michael_t likes this.
  10. I've been curious about this myself.

    Regarding the OP's question, it doesn't look like experimenting with different strings would be the most effective way of dealing with dead spots.
  11. Honch

    Honch Guest

    Sep 7, 2006
    Chop the headstock off!

    Now I know that when using FLATS only in the 60s the DS wasn't as pronounced, and since the muffler at the ashtray holder on any jazz bass mimed a dampened upright bass sound, it was dead as a doornail anyway.
  12. I've used flats and rounds that exasperate dead spots and others that make them less evident, though none will ever fully move or cancel one out. One overlooked thing that effects the severity is how much total mass you're adding to the headstock with a given set of strings. Some sets will have more or less mass at the windings, people will cut their strings in a way that adds or subtracts from that mass and this I believe is an equally contributing factor to what the end result will be. In reality, you're affecting the total mass of the neck with a given set of strings, in turn affecting the resonant frequency of the dead spot. It's not so much the string type as it is the amount of mass the whole set is adding to the equation. Strings that are less tense and vibrate more freely can actually produce overtones that would be less desirable than the dull thwack a stiffer set would provide. It's all a game of compromise and is a real factor of consideration when I choose what strings to use. I have settled on sets that give me a good middle ground.
    michael_t likes this.
  13. jallenbass

    jallenbass Commercial User

    May 17, 2005
    Bend, Oregon
    Which ones do you like?
  14. Freez


    Nov 8, 2008

    Depends what your tonal goals are. The dead spot issue is only a problem when you're looking for lots of sustain. If you play flats with a mute or heavy palm muting, dead spots are a non issue. The dead notes don't become "more dead"; rather the ringy sustained notes are brought down to closer match the dead tone.
  15. What works for my bass might not necessarily work for someone else, but my P's dead spot is on the classic 7th fret D on G string and I've had good results with DR Sunbeam 45-105's and GHS Precision Flats 45-95. You may try turning your truss rod a quarter turn or less in either direction, as that can also play into the severity. I've noticed on my bass it gets better when my truss rod is tighter, which is good because I enjoy low relief anyway.
    jallenbass likes this.
  16. ricknote


    Aug 3, 2006
    In my experience, the Basses i own with carbon fiber necks tend to have the least dead spots, followed by multi lam necks and ones with carbon fiber or steel reinforcing rods on either side of the truss rod. I thinks this lends credibility to the theory that neck stiffness plays a role. I've also heard that machine screw inserts instead of wood screws on bolt neck helps with dead spots although i don't own anything with these to comment. Hope this helps.
  17. Manticore

    Manticore Supporting Member

    Feb 27, 2016
    SoCal and PNW
    I believe it depends on the individual instrument. A dead spot is a problem particular to any given instrument, a problem I doubt can be worked around by changing strings. I've found dead spots on many Fender basses. When I find a dead spot on a bass I'm playing, I tend to play around the dead notes so they aren't obvious...then I get rid of the instrument. I've favored neck thru instruments for many years as my personal experience has been dead spots are less prevalent on instruments built this way. I'm sure they can occur on a neck-thru; I've just never encountered them. I still have one J and one P bass, neither of which have dead spots; I don't play either instrument unless the person paying me insists I use a Fender. Otherwise, I play either an Alembic or a Ric. (I acquired a Sting Ray Classic about six months ago, which has a bolt-on neck. I've never actually played that bass yet; I prefer a wider string spacing, so that one isn't likely to get much play time any time soon.) None of my Alembic basses have a dead spot, nor does my Ric.
  18. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013
    In theory, stiffer necks will still have a dead frequency, but it will be much higher than on a wood neck and farther away from the frets where most bass playing is done. In some cases higher than the number of frets on the neck.

    Screw inserts don't make a difference. A tight screw is a tight screw, in terms of coupling with the body. As long as there's no movement the result is the same. They do have other benefits, though.
  19. danosix


    May 30, 2012
    Lz is right (as s/he often is on these things)
    The only way I can see strings having an effect on a dead spot is if a particular set had just the right tension to stop whatever was rattling in the exact bass in question and the likelihood of that seem pretty slim and no one could possibly tell you except the previous owner if they'd somehow lucked into finding them.
  20. danosix


    May 30, 2012
    No, the dead spot by resonating at a particular frequency tends to dampen whatever the string's doing at that frequency - if the string resonates more freely the deadspot will too - cancelling out the gains.