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Precision Bass Dead Notes...deal breaker?

Discussion in 'Ask Justin Meldal-Johnsen' started by meursault42, May 1, 2010.

  1. meursault42


    Jun 21, 2006
    Hi Justin,

    This may fall outside of your purview here, so my apologies if that's the case. However, I figured that perhaps some of your vintage instrument expertise might be germain to the topic. I started a thread elsewhere on here (http://www.talkbass.com/forum/showthread.php?t=652945) about my P-bass ('58 relic) that has a somewhat noticeable dead spot on Db and D on the G-string. I just thought maybe you might want to weigh in on your experience with this 'problem', since you've probably played/owned many instruments that have this tendency. Any thoughts?

    Thanks a bunch!
  2. jmjbassplayer

    jmjbassplayer Justin Meldal-Johnsen Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 25, 2005
    The problem sucks! My Ricky 4003 totally has that, but in an even worse spot: The Ab, A, Bb and B on the E string!!

    What about those fat finger things that you slap on the headstock - does anyone ever use those to good effect?

    In other words, I don't got s*&t to tell you except it f*#%ing SUCKS.

    Good luck.

  3. rosstanium


    Jan 5, 2008
    Endorsing Artist: D'Addario

    I've never played one without a dead spot. The only thing that's varied is the location and the depth of "deadness."

    I deal with it. I love old basses.

  4. Yup. Very, very common. Most of my basses have this issue. And no, you can't fix it. Fat fingers and such don't work at all, save your money.
  5. nic salsus

    nic salsus

    Mar 16, 2010
    If you notice it enough to be posting this then it's probably bad enough that you should pass on this one. As has been said they all have dead spots of some sort but some are worse than others. My rule of thumb is that if an instrument doesn't grab you enough to want to slave for it it ain't the right one....sounds like this one isn't that to you.
  6. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    justin, fat fingers just move the dead spot to somewhere else on the neck. they work but their success is mitigated by having to choose which dead spot is more important to get rid of.

    i'm with nic...if it sucks so bad you can't deal, don't get it. personally i'm not too bothered by them. most of them are around the C# on the G string and i can deal. plus i'm not a big sustain kind of guy. having dead spots on the low notes on the E string does suck, though. i don't know if i could hang with that.
  7. jk3


    Jul 25, 2007
    my experience with the Fat Finger is that it didnt correct the dead spot and it didnt even move it.

    it just added more more weight to my highway one J with the typical dead spots on G string.
  8. I noticed that different strings seems to have some effect on dead spots and can even cause them to move around a bit. Has anyone else had the same experience, or am I crazy?
  9. Marginal Tom

    Marginal Tom

    Apr 28, 2010
    O'Fallon, IL
    My 1980 P has a dead spot on the C on the G string. I've learned to pluck harder whenever I go there. If I need more sustain on that particular note, I play that C on the D string.

    And yeah, a dead spot on the E string would be much more of a problem.
  10. St Drogo

    St Drogo

    Oct 9, 2009
    A thousand apologies for burdening this thread with the following shameless outburst of obtuse flaming ignorance, but what exactly is a deadspot?

    The name implies something very METAL, yet I gather it is something to avoid. This confuses me.

    Is it a place where the strings rattle when fretted or something like that? Because surely that can be helped with a good set-up and maybe a fretjob? What does it sound like relative to the "normal" notes?
  11. jmjbassplayer

    jmjbassplayer Justin Meldal-Johnsen Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 25, 2005

  12. I always noticed this .......

    An Ibanez Musician i owned only tolerated low tension strings, like Dogal Carbonsteel .... otherwise it had an unbearable dead spot in the 3rd fret of the E string ........ ! ......

    PS: the absolutely champion of strangeness as far as dead spots i have seen:
    i owned a post-Gibson Steinberger Q5 which was dead in the open G string, and also at the 5th fret of D string ......
  13. St Drogo

    St Drogo

    Oct 9, 2009
    Awesome. I made the famous person laugh. We'll be hanging out in no time :D

    It was kinda a serious question, though :p
  14. Lo-E


    Dec 19, 2009
    Brooklyn, NY
    I'm not famous, but I'll answer your question, St Drogo:

    A dead spot is a spot or area on the fingerboard where the notes sound weaker or sustain less than they do on the rest of the instrument.

    The OP mentions the Dd and D on the G string, which is a very common place for dead spots on Fenders and Fender-style basses.

    As JMJ mentioned, they really suck. I don't really mind them so much on a fretted bass, but they drive me crazy on certain fretlesses. I've got a fretless J and a fretless Stingray where it's particularly bad and I have to make a concerted effort to play around it.

    Funny someone mentioned the Ibanez Musician as an offender. I've owned a bunch of those and found them to be pretty trouble-free in terms of dead spots. I've also found that necks with carbon/graphite stringers in them are less prone to the problem. Just my experience...
  15. jmjbassplayer

    jmjbassplayer Justin Meldal-Johnsen Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 25, 2005
    Yeah, it's all over my bass collection like an uncontrollable blight. The instruments I know off the top that don't have dead spots that I've ever really felt or noticed are:

    Yamaha BB1200 (c. 1980 or so)
    Yamaha BB (new one)
    Wal Mark I
    Wal Pro IIe
    One of my T-birds
    '66 P Bass, kind of...
    Steinberger XL2

    That leaves something like forty other basses with dead spots of some variety. Ultimately, it's not a big deal. I think most of us find that our hands and minds know how to adjust for this. My Rick 4003 happens to be the worst offender.

  16. St Drogo

    St Drogo

    Oct 9, 2009
    Damn. I have like one bass, the cheapest Yamaha rbx there is, and I bought it second hand to boot. Never experienced anything like that. The gods must favor the poor. Or just the incredibly sexy :D

    Actually, I do have an old Hagstrom superswede too, but the head came off and was reattached in a weird way (srsly, with a metal splint and two huge bolts. Looks like Frankenstein's bass). That one doesn't count.

    But this thing occurs on fretlessesesses too? Weird. What causes these deadspot then? Or is that as of yet unknown?

    Also: seriously Justin? fortyseven-ish basses? Those are, like, Nigel Tufnel numbers.

    I really hope you have some with the tag still one, that have never been played and can't even be looked at. Heh.
    Not judging here though, if I had more to spend than some bellybuttonfluff and change I'd be drowning in basses too.
  17. Lo-E


    Dec 19, 2009
    Brooklyn, NY
    Damn, JM... I thought I was a glutton at around a dozen. Then again, you make a living at it so you have a good excuse.

    I think (and I'm guessing here) they're caused by variations in the density of the wood in different spots on the neck. Wood's a natural thing and it's inconsistent. I've also noticed it's prevalent on basses with shallow necks (thin front - to - back) and not as noticeable on basses with big, chunky necks. Maybe 'cause the chunky necks have enough overall mass to compensate for inconsistent wood? That's my theory, anyway, and I'm stickin' with it!
  18. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 29, 2008
    I grow organic carrots and they are not for sale
    The resonance of the Fender jazz or p-bass body and neck usually means that you get a dead spot around the 5th fret on the G string.

    I build Fenderbirds and one has a dead spot on the D string and the 7th fret.

    Different strings, a good setup, and a different bridge can help but it won't go away completely.

    So Leo Fender designed some good basses but they aren't without flaws.
  19. rokkitt


    Jun 7, 2007
    bronx, nyc
    Hey JMJ,

    This is big al, aka rokkittbass in NYC.....just to share something, even though you might already know..

    I have an 88 ric 4003. The bridge has a space underneath, between the bridge and the actual wood of the instrument.

    On the Ric boards, they have 2 solutions.

    one, put coins, a metal or wood shim, under the bridge. this makes contact with the instrument wood body, and the underside of the bridge itself.

    two, where the bridge adjustable saddles are.....the allen screws to adjust the height of the bridge saddles, the allen screws "rest" on the bridge.
    now, some of the guys have drilled out holes so the allen adjusters acutally rest on the wood body, under the bridge.

    here is the thread on this stuff....from the ric forum.. hope it helps.
    --washer or coin trick thread--mentions the drilling as well

    I have done the coin thing, but not the drilling yet. I did notice a little bit better sustain, but that could be in my head~!!!

  20. A slight tweak of the truss rod can sometimes shift a deadspot somewhere less noticeable.

    All my P-Basses have them to some degree, with the exception of a MIJ '62 RI - must have got lucky with that one!

    I've also found that a nice set of played-in flats can make a deadspot less obvious. A bit of compression can help too.

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