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using hand instead of foam for the Motown "dead" tone

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by bongomania, Mar 20, 2006.

  1. bongomania

    bongomania Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 17, 2005
    PDX, OR
    owner, OVNIFX and OVNILabs
    I've seen a few threads where it is recommended to stick a piece of foam under the strings by the bridge as a way of getting more of a dead thump a'la Motown or bebop URB. I guess I'd rather learn a hand muting technique for this, so I can also play using normal sustain and tone without monkeying with the foam bit.

    I have read a bunch of the muting threads here in technique, but unless I missed it none of them specifically described their methods as a replacement for the foam trick. Could you tell me which muting technique is best for this purpose, and maybe point me to any good threads on the subject?
  2. I'm not sure you CAN achieve the same effect without the foam, because it mutes consistently, all strings, all the time.
  3. flatwoundfender


    Feb 24, 2005
    Plus a major part of that sound is old big flatwounds, which you don't really have to mute as it is.
  4. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    Yes - I've done this as welll and it fits very well with a sort of floating thumb technique and makes for a much more flexible approach - so you can mute notes in one part of a song/tune and then move easily into normal fingerstyle for other parts.

    Generally called palm muting and I've seen people do it quite a lot - it works well in Jazz. So - you might want to start accompanying a sax solo quietly, with a muted bass line, then build it up and really push the music forward with a gradually more energetic line to add excitement to the solo.

    So you start out palm muting maybe playing two notes to a bar, then switch to a busier, fingerstyle approach ...etc etc.
  5. bongomania

    bongomania Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 17, 2005
    PDX, OR
    owner, OVNIFX and OVNILabs
    Thanks for the tips guys! I am having a fretless neck custom made for my P bass, and it will be strung with LaBella Jamerson flats, so it looks like I'm on the right path. Now I have to start practicing the palm muting and work that thump!
  6. ras1983


    Dec 28, 2004
    Sydney, Australia
    Bruce and smash, you guys read my mind!!!(i guess great minds really DO think alike;) ).

    Palm muting is a commonly used technique, from Anthony Jackson to Marcus Miller. As bruce said, it is common in jazz and actually provides a very thumpy and dense sound. almost, almost like an upright once you get it right.

    Smash's description is the most detailed i have seen, just rest your palm right infront of the bridge (or even on the string saddles) and use your thumb to pluck the strings. My teacher also uses his index and middle fingers for the d and g strings, but thats just personal preference i guess.
  7. AGCurry

    AGCurry Supporting Member

    Jun 29, 2005
    St. Louis
    One element of Jamerson's technique that has not been noted here is that he played just to the neck side of the pickup cover. With palm muting you are pretty much limited to playing by the bridge.

    I would also disagree that big flatwounds do not need muting. They will not ring as long, but they do ring enough to need muting...

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