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The definitive Willis Ramp guide

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Lackey, May 11, 2005.


  1. Lackey

    Lackey

    May 10, 2002
    Los Angeles
    Well - I might start off by saying I'm hardly qualified to talk about this subject being that I only recently put a ramp on my 6'er, but I noticed there doesn't seem to be a thread entirely dedicated to ramps (PICS!), materials, techniques, famous users and etc...

    So - I'll start off with an icebreaker: How far from the strings do most other rampers (or rampees) set their ramps? I can slide a credit card between the top of my ramp and the strings, although I'm thinking I might need to shave off a bit more for the B and E strings due to occasional vibrations.

    Do most of you use a ramp primarily for an "uncoventional" technique such as Willis, DiPiazza or Garrison, or are there some straight 2 finger funkers as well? Any trouble adjusting your technique after adding the ramp? I've found that my touch was light enough to transition fairly smoothly, although speed is not quite back to normal as of yet, and grabbing higher strings often results in my fingertips bouncing off the wood.

    I noticed Hobbywoods.com and Rockler.com have some good looking and proper sized woods for ramps, and I intend to purchase a nice piece of rosewood for a proper ramp when I finalize the prototype(s). I'm currently using one made of balsa wood - sacrilege, I know. Where'd you get your supplies?

    So that's been my experience so far, and I have no current plans to put a ramp on my rock/metal bass for obvious reasons. :bassist:

    Please, share your personal experiences or questions, I know there are quite a few TB'ers that are full of wisdom regarding this subject.

    P.S. Pics of ramps would be great, pics of ramps being PLAYED would be even better!

    (Mods - please move this if it's in the wrong forum, didn't really know where to put it)
     
  2. bassjamn

    bassjamn

    Jan 4, 2002
    San Francisco
    bump :)
     
  3. tucker

    tucker Guest

    Jan 21, 2001
    North Carolina
    After falling in love with the technique Matthew Garrison uses. I decided that buying one to go on my bass wasnt such a great idea. i didnt want to spend the money. so i jsut thought and came up with measuring a piece of wood and spray painting it black then applying duct tape to touch it up. with double sided tape i put two pieces along the inside of my pick-ups and voila!

    Well i can now playing much better because i play really soft and floating thumb before adding "the ramp" on and since i have a five string it really allows me to use my whole right hand to play but with better feel. i feel like i have so much more control over my bass rythymically as well as dynamically.

    i like the idea of having it there because i can bust out tuplets up to 7. using your thumb as a pick over 180 bpm plus but never really use it in a musical setting. its very hard to incorporate especially when you just pick it up. Its cool to practice and its improve both left and right hand technique 10 fold. left hand is still lagging behind but its getting there.
    the idea is to make things musical IMO, but if a fellow bassist walks in and slaps as fast as he can and stops after a few short minutes to show me up. i would just bust out those tuplets effortlessly because as Vic and Matt and other bassist say. its all about economy of motion. when i can get some clips and pics i will post them up.
     
  4. Tash

    Tash

    Feb 13, 2005
    Bel Air Maryland
    What exactly does the ramp do? I've heard people talking about this but don't know what its for. Is there a "newbie's guide to ramps" thread hiding somewhere?
     
  5. bassjamn

    bassjamn

    Jan 4, 2002
    San Francisco
    Gary willis website has some good articles. It basically allows you to play with a lighter touch so you cant dig in as much.
    It should speed up your finger style playing as well since your fingers dont travel as much hitting when you pluck through a string.

    Lackey: any luck on finding some wood :p ?
    I was about to give Hobbywoods.com a email about finding the right size ebony piece.
    Please let me know of your findings!!
     
  6. Both of my basses now have ramps:

    http://www.munkio.com/music/basses%20&%20ting/webready/flrampknobs.jpg


    http://www.munkio.com/music/basses%20&%20ting/war_ramp.jpg

    They work great - if you have adopted a lighter touch style of playing then I think they will greatly enhance your picking whether it's with 2 or 3 fingers or with thumb and fingers - it just helps maintain consistency etc. If you're more of a traditional player and like to dig in to the strings more, which is totally cool, then you might now find it that helpsful. One bit of enecdotal evidence in favour of the ramp idea is that when people have tried my Warwick out they have all commented that they really liked the feeling of the ramp under their fingers - I really love mine and you can play a load faster and cleaner with one - in my opinion.

    Cheers

    Mike
     
  7. Bryan R. Tyler

    Bryan R. Tyler TalkBass: Usurping My Practice Time Since 2002 Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    May 3, 2002
    Connecticut
    Lackey, I put ramps on my basses just a couple weeks ago as well. They're pretty neat- I'm trying to intergrate my thumb (and possibly my ring finger) into my normal plucking style, and it's helped a lot with that. Even with standard two-finger plucking, it's been helping my thumb float, as it keeps my thumb from going too deep and getting slowed down. I have a pretty light technique, so the change hasn't been hard- the one thing I'm trying to get used to is that after plucking, my strokes usually ended with the lower pad of my finger laying against the lower string, and now the upper pad, which I used to pluck with, is the part that rests on the lower string.

    Rob Elrick built mine- one's made of wenge and the other is pink ivorywood. They're attached with double stick tape so I can remove them without any harm to the basses. They're about a credit card's width below the strings, with the exception of the B and E strings, which I keep a slightly higher action on to avoid buzzing.

    The famous users I can think of are Willis, Garrison, DiPiazza, Anthony Wellington, and Brian Emmel. I'm sure there's more out there though- Fodera seems to put a lot of them on their basses.

    Here's a couple pics. More can be seen here.
    [​IMG]
     

    Attached Files:

  8. Bass_Machine

    Bass_Machine

    Oct 29, 2004
    UK
    So how would I go about putting a ramp on my bass myself? How should I attach one? What if I don't like it and does it limit your playing at all? I think I would like to get a ramp for my main bass (Yamaha bb604) but it's in a Wine Red colour. Anyone have any tips on installing your own ramp?
     
  9. The Clap

    The Clap

    Jan 5, 2004
    Scottsdale, AZ
    I put a ramp on a recent J bass (yamaha bb404 wine red :)) very easily by mounting it right between the pickups with the original pickups screws and location:

    Buy wood that's ~.5" thick. Cut to the length of your pickups, and the exact width of the space between them. Then, if all is fitting well, push the loose ramp down on the pickups where it would normally go in order to get an indent for where the pickups screws are. Then drill holes through your ramp at the depressions, and countersink them a little so the screwtops don't stick up. Unseat half the screws on each pickup, the ones that are on the inside half of each, lay the ramp down in between the pickups, and screw those puppies back in! So basically, you're fastening in the ramp with the normal pickup screws in the usual location, just now they're also holding the ramp in place. Note: this doesn't work so well with completely square pickups, as there's nowhere to lay the ramp on.

    It requires no physical modification to the bass, is easily removable and changeable, and EASY! Depending on your pickup height, this method should leave you with a gap of 1/4" or so between the ramp and the actual body of your bass, as it's resting on the bulging screwhole parts of the pickups. I'm loving my ramp so far, and I can post pictures if there's interest in that, and I can clarify if anything was uncertain

    This was a musician's friend firesale Yamaha BB404 though. It's very functional and looks pretty nice too, but if you have a boutique bass, get a luthier to make you a ramp :)
     
  10. The Clap

    The Clap

    Jan 5, 2004
    Scottsdale, AZ
    +1 - Ramps for life! It just so nice in a variety of ways for technique and general fingerstyle composition
     
  11. Bass_Machine

    Bass_Machine

    Oct 29, 2004
    UK
    Well, I might well, put one on my bb604 (main bass), as I really like the idea of them. I might even put one on tonight! I think I follow your instructions well enough. thanks for the advice man!
     
  12. Bryan R. Tyler

    Bryan R. Tyler TalkBass: Usurping My Practice Time Since 2002 Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    May 3, 2002
    Connecticut
    If you can, raidus the top of your ramp to match the radius of your strings/fretboard. Otherwise you won't be getting nearly as much benefit from it as you could be.
     
  13. basss

    basss

    Aug 27, 2001
    NYC
    Is there a way to install a ramp so that it can be removed without altering the bass at all? No drilling holes or tape marring up the finish?
     
  14. Bryan R. Tyler

    Bryan R. Tyler TalkBass: Usurping My Practice Time Since 2002 Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    May 3, 2002
    Connecticut
    The Clap mentions an interesting way a couple posts up. Using double-sided tape doesn't mar the finish on the bass though-that's why so many people use it.
     
  15. CJK84

    CJK84

    Jan 22, 2004
    Maria Stein, OH
    Which bass makers offer ramps on their 4s as a stock accessory?
     
  16. Bryan R. Tyler

    Bryan R. Tyler TalkBass: Usurping My Practice Time Since 2002 Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    May 3, 2002
    Connecticut
    The only bass I've seen them come standard on is the Ibanez Gary Willis signature bass, which is a five-string.
     
  17. CJK84

    CJK84

    Jan 22, 2004
    Maria Stein, OH
    Bryan,

    I'm well aware of the Ibanez GWB105NTF (I think that's the right model name/#) - it's gorgeous and just what I want - almost!

    I've never played fretless and I'm a 4-string guy.
     
  18. fretbuzz85

    fretbuzz85

    Nov 1, 2004
    I love this thread.

    I have a ramp myself, but i didnt know how to make it with a radius, so its flat. The distance between the middle 2 strings is more than the outer 2 strings, so it kinda defeats the purpose a little. But it still is nice to have the ramp there. Makes u play lighter, and in contrary to what has been said about it not being suitable for metal, i think its great because it really allows the bass to be heard, with the longer decay time due to the playing technique.
    Now, i feel kinda "naked" when i play basses without ramps. I get tired easily and cant play as fast because i tend to dig in when the ramp's not there.

    Any suggestions for the radius issue? I have no idea how to go about doing it, seems complicated
     
  19. Bryan R. Tyler

    Bryan R. Tyler TalkBass: Usurping My Practice Time Since 2002 Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    May 3, 2002
    Connecticut
    If you want to do it yourself, you can buy a radiusing block (and the self adhesive abrassive paper that attaches to it) and you basically sand the wood to your radius. You can get radiusing block in varying radiuses-get one that matches your fretboard radius-and they cost around $15 from places like Stewmac or Luthiers mercantile.

    Or you can find a local woodworker or furniture maker who probably has the stuff to radius it and have them do it for you.
     
  20. basss

    basss

    Aug 27, 2001
    NYC
    I'm not really seeing how this works. From this description it sounds like you're going to have a 1/2" piece of wood sticking up above the pickups. I thought the whole idea was to have it flush with the pickups to get everything close to the strings. Am I missing something?

    I would also like to know if double sided tape leave adhesive on the finish if you remove the ramp.