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Position Dots a la Edgar Meyer

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by tplyons, Apr 28, 2005.


  1. tplyons

    tplyons

    Apr 6, 2003
    Madison, NJ
    I'm leaning towards synth bass for jamming with some people, and I was flipping through the November 2002 Bass Player, and ended up reading the article about Edgar Meyer. I was intrigued by the pictures, and the fact that he had boxwood position dots fitted into the fingerboard on his 1769 Gabrielli.

    As a slab player, I find this midification rather... almost necessary if you will. I get lost without any sorth of guides, why not add face dots? Question is, where are they placed? Is it basically the equivalent position of 3, 5, 7, 9 and 12 frets? etc? or what? I find it to be quite interesting.

    [​IMG]
     
  2. M_A_T_T

    M_A_T_T

    Mar 4, 2004
    Canada
    It's not that hard to play by ear. I've owned an upright for almost two months. I don't take lessons at all. I just fiddle around with it in my room, and can easily play the E major & C major scales (could play others if I wanted to) just by ear. Hell, I don't even really look at the FB when I 'play', I mostly use my ears.
     
  3. tplyons

    tplyons

    Apr 6, 2003
    Madison, NJ
    I'm not saying I can't do it by ear in lower positions, however, upper positions are easy to get lost.
     
  4. Tbeers

    Tbeers

    Mar 27, 2005
    Chicago, IL
    My objection to markers of that sort is.. what do you do if one string goes out of tune? The relationship between a point on the fingerboard and a note on the string is shaky at best. I have the same objection to players saying, "Oh, my bass has a D neck." First of all, that's a shortcut and a crutch. Second of all, it doesn't work unless your instrument is in perfect tune.

    Obviously Edgar Meyer is a first-rate player and he does have markings on his fingerboard. But he's the exception, not the rule. Those who came before him (Gary Karr, for example) played almost infallibly in tune without anything to rely on except solid technique and good ears.
     
  5. tplyons

    tplyons

    Apr 6, 2003
    Madison, NJ
    While I'm not arguing the need for these, I could definately get by without, however, I feel they would come in handy for me in the long run. I could stumble through without them, but why? Without years of practice, how would I immediately find a high D# on the G string without any reference? That's my pickle.
     
  6. Tbeers

    Tbeers

    Mar 27, 2005
    Chicago, IL
    I think they make little adhesive dots that stick onto the board. One or two of those strategically placed might actually be helpful in some circumstances. I am mainly surprised that anyone would have wooden inlaid position dots. That seems overboard.

    About the high positions, though.... They are even more vulnerable to intonation changes than notes lower on the board. You obviously know from slab experience that the half-steps get closer and closer together. So a small change in the pitch of the string will have a large effect way up there, right? You might shoot for your D# dot and get something quite unpleasant.
     
  7. tplyons

    tplyons

    Apr 6, 2003
    Madison, NJ
    True. Does anyone know how to get ahold of Dan Hachez? I'd love to get his opinion.
     
  8. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    Of course the dots are going to 'move' with string height/weather/etc. No biggie -- just compensate. I've been playing without them for 23 years or so and I'd love to have them on my bass.
     
  9. Jeremy Allen

    Jeremy Allen Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Mar 18, 2002
    Bloomington, IN
    Violinists, violists, cellists, the vast majority of double bassists including all of the major soloists EXCEPT Edgar, play without dots and do it just fine--I think the better question would be, why did he do it? It's not like he really needs them (I mean, if you gave me dots, I couldn't then automatically play like Edgar, and if you took his dots away, he wouldn't stop playing great--besides, who looks at their fingerboard all the time when they're playing anyway? my eyes are usually either elsewhere or closed).

    I've always thought that dots are MORE necessary on something like slab than on double bass, because even though the distances are shorter there are fewer physical cues--no heel of the neck at the D or Eb, no shoulders when you get up around thumb position. (I'm talking about playing slab and not looking at the neck, as in when you're reading charts or something.)

    Still, some dots on my double bass where the high D, A, E, and B are on the G, D, A, and E strings in thumb position, and maybe at the fundamental octave above that, would be nice...
     
  10. Why does anyone need an opinion ? There are alot of Fretless electric basses w. dots and alot of people feel they help in some manner.Use your own discretion.
    I think a fellow from Florida even used lines on his fretless{Cheater] and they prolly moved a bit,But I think he had purty good Intonation....The Upright ain't too much different.
     
  11. tplyons

    tplyons

    Apr 6, 2003
    Madison, NJ
    He didn't put them there, he just didn't avoid them ;)

    I'm still pondering the possibility of dots on my Engelhardt, will probably get some stares from purists, but I'll at least be hitting the right notes.
     
  12. Tbeers

    Tbeers

    Mar 27, 2005
    Chicago, IL
    I dunno... I sort of think that having harmonics at those pitches is sufficient.

    edit: Dots probably wouldn't make anyone stare. Crappy intonation, on the other hand, probably would. At the end of the day, regardless of any "purist" ideals, the most important thing is the sound coming from the instrument.
     

  13. Oh, but he Did put them there! he made his own Bass,as he says.Ripped those ol' frets right otta there!!
     
  14. tplyons

    tplyons

    Apr 6, 2003
    Madison, NJ
    He did, but not on purpose I think. Was just wood filler, he didn't think enough about it to avoid em.
     
  15. I think he was a little too smart for you or I and realized real quick that those filled in lines could help in certain situations .He did look at his left hand alot. Your guess is as good as mine...
     
  16. tplyons

    tplyons

    Apr 6, 2003
    Madison, NJ
    I'm in the same boat as he was though. Jumped onto a fretless from a fretted.

    I use the lines to find my place, then I use my ear to get it in tune. Usually pretty quick.
     
  17. I think the point here is if they are on an instrument-they can be used.But when they are used only the Shadow knows....
     
  18. Jeremy Allen

    Jeremy Allen Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Mar 18, 2002
    Bloomington, IN
    Yeah, me too. But sometimes, because I kind of suck, I'm playing something and after fingering all of these notes I hit the D or A harmonic and it's waaay out of tune--or rather, everything I was playing until that point is now revealed as having been out of tune. Dots would be helpful; but what would be even MORE helpful is getting one's s**t together so that one plays in tune--but that's the argument that you can't make about dots when speaking of Edgar Meyer, because he actually knows his stuff. Like Pablo Casals said, "Good intonation is a matter of conscience."

    RE: fret lines on a fretless--now, Jaco notwithstanding, that just screws me up because on a fretted bass you put your fingers in-between the frets but on a fretless you need to put your fingers where the frets/lines would be to get the same note; my brain functions better without the lines making me think I should put my fingers in between them, and I actually find the lines to be a hindrance rather than a help...
     
  19. tplyons

    tplyons

    Apr 6, 2003
    Madison, NJ
    I do have my s**t together, but if I didn't I don't think fret dots would help. It's a matter of jumping to the right place, I'm completely lost in thumb positions, and frankly jumping around is easy to get lost. My intonation, I think is pretty darn good, I just feel an extra guide to hit the D instead of the E that's only a couple inches away would he handy, then tune by ear.
    Ideally, you want to put your fingers right behind the frets on a fretted to get the purest tone. I have my fretless intonated so that the right note is in exactly the same spot, and not ON the fretline. The lines are only used as a guide, not exact placement.
     
  20. Whether you have the lines or not you still have to hit the same spot consistantly.Focal Points..[Not sure on the spelling,it's late] So in theory if you have your open strings in tune ,then you nail the spots,everytime. Seems so simple,Right? I wish it was...