What do you do about dead spots?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by darwin-bass, Jul 16, 2021.

  1. Ignore them

    128 vote(s)
  2. Replace strings

    6 vote(s)
  3. Replace tuners

    1 vote(s)
  4. Replace the bridge

    1 vote(s)
  5. Replace the neck

    4 vote(s)
  6. Move on to a different bass

    39 vote(s)
  7. Other (specify)

    34 vote(s)
  8. All, as needed.

    20 vote(s)
  1. darwin-bass


    Mar 29, 2013
    Salem OR
    What are your approaches to dead spots on the neck (7th fret G string and others)? Do you ignore them? Do you change out strings to fix them? Change tuners, bridges, something else? Sell the bass?

    And have you found a reliable solution or is is really just hit or miss?
    Ellery and dbsfgyd1 like this.
  2. I first turn the truss rod a little each way, it's often set up change that will fix them but they very rarely go away completely, you can minimize them through setup though usually. I have noticed that they can get better and worse on their own so that also tells me it's setup as seasonal changes change setup. It's often voodoo for me so not being a pro luthier I just play around until they're not so objectionable. Oh, I clicked 'other' but you might want to put in 'all'.
    droo46, DaveRob, Lenny JG and 2 others like this.
  3. Liko


    Mar 30, 2007
    DFW Metro
    Dead spots are dependent on the design, materials, hardware and setup of each individual instrument, so there really is no one correct answer to your question. Dead spots tend to be caused by the sympathetic resonance of the instrument body and neck ending up out of phase with the string, which dampens sustain. Exactly where that happens depends on the instrument's sympathetic resonant frequencies, and that is dependent on the exact densities of the body and neck woods, as well as the dimensions of the neck and body. So, changing literally any of the major variables will change the behavior. The next question is, how, and how much, will a certain fix change the behavior? Again, because the issue is related to the interactions of specific pieces of wood and metal, it's difficult to say.

    The ultimate answer is that if there's something else about the instrument that you want to change anyway, like a beefier bridge for more sustain overall, it certainly can't hurt to try, and in the bargain you might lessen the severity of the dead spot, or move it away from notes you commonly play. If you like everything about how the bass feels and responds except for the dead spot, be aware that any change you make can change feel, and if you don't want any change, the options are to live with it or look for a different instrument that feels as good without the downside.
  4. andruca


    Mar 31, 2004
    Madrid (Spain)
    Fender Fat Finger did the trick for me the couple times I've had to deal with the problem (both cheap DIY kit/parts FSOs)..
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2021
  5. darwin-bass


    Mar 29, 2013
    Salem OR
    I added "all" to the pole.

    The non-poll question still stands - have you found a reliable solution to dead spots, or put another way, can you reliably address them to your own satisfaction?
    bobyoung53 likes this.
  6. Roger W

    Roger W Supporting Member

    Jul 10, 2019
    Baltimore USA
    I’m not a session player or someone who gets hired to be a touring bassist, so I play what I want and I tend toward fairly staccato, short duration notes so dead spots aren’t really an issue.
    getbent, ratdoc, Max Bogosity and 3 others like this.

  7. And what proves that it's the body (or neck or something) vibrating and deadening the note is to play the dead note while the headstock is against a wall, the dead spot will usually be gone.
    JoshS and AlexanderB like this.
  8. blowinblue

    blowinblue Kind of not blue. Supporting Member

    Nov 29, 2006
    SoCal USA
    I would recommend that once you find a dead spot...don't touch it. Touching it could lead to a finger infection or worse...like gangrene. Please be careful.

    M. M.
  9. joelns


    Mar 10, 2014
    I can't really answer. I've never had a bass with a dead spot. Maybe I got lucky? I dunno. I tend to think that it's something in the wood and/or the neck fit/joint. General consensus is that it can't really be removed. Which means if it bugs you enough, sell the bass and try another one.
    Gustopher, KaraQ and Hounddog409 like this.
  10. yodedude2

    yodedude2 Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2005
    san antonio, texas
    every bass with a prominent dead spot or spots is different, and therefore all methods to minimize such dead spots will produce varying results. having established that, i will add:

    the best 'bang-for-the-buck' dead-spot minimizing modification i have come across is using threaded inserts and neck attachment bolts.

    (if it's a set-neck or neck-through, go with lighter weight tuners.)

    i will add that moving away from a 34" scale bass seems to help as well.
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2021
  11. darwin-bass


    Mar 29, 2013
    Salem OR
    I've used Warmoth steel-bar necks for decades and have consistently had no dead spots with them. Every non- Warmoth bass I've owned or played had dead spots.
  12. MultiScaleMale

    MultiScaleMale Columbia, MD Supporting Member

    Jun 19, 2003
    Ii had one bas that was incredibly bad at C# on the G string. You would play a note and it decayed in maybe two seconds at most. So if I needed a sustained C#, I would play it on the D string.
  13. 40Hz

    40Hz Supporting Member

    May 24, 2006
    Avoid basses that have them whenever possible.

    When it’s not possible, use alternate neck positions and fingerings to get around the otherwise dead notes.
    Miles_ONeal, Ellery, jamro217 and 2 others like this.
  14. A9X

    A9X Inactive

    Dec 27, 2003
    Close, but not quite. Most long headstocks are basically half of a suspension bridge and the tension of the strings and the length of the headstock create the mode which is then in opposite phase to the D on the G and it cancels. Leaning the headstock against the wall damps it, so the resonance is reduced or eliminated. It's in the same spot on most 4 string FSOs because the headstock is the same length, construction and wood and weight.

    I usually tell people to put a ruler partially over the edge of a table, clamp it and strum the unsuspended section. Same as is happening with the headstock.
    bobyoung53 and clickclack like this.
  15. MultiScaleMale

    MultiScaleMale Columbia, MD Supporting Member

    Jun 19, 2003
    Is "play a 5 string" a viable option? My fivers seem to have no dead spots.
    Geo Monty, chris_b, murph7489 and 3 others like this.
  16. adamrobertt

    adamrobertt Supporting Member

    Dec 14, 2007
    I see people on this forum talking about "dead spots" all the time, but I honestly don't even really know what y'all mean by it. I've been playing guitar and bass for about 23 years, and I'm a guitar tech for a living - and I still don't know *** you are all on about.

    Are you talking about notes fretting out/choking out? This can basically only be caused by one thing (provided that the setup is otherwise good) - a high fret. The solution is to file the fret down so that it isn't high anymore. I can't think of another thing that could be called a "dead spot."
  17. MultiScaleMale

    MultiScaleMale Columbia, MD Supporting Member

    Jun 19, 2003
    It's caused by the resonance of the neck. If you tap a neck, the tap tone will be, usually, a C# or D and those are the notes that when you play on the G string coincide with a node on the vibrating neck and the neck will essentially absorb the vibrations from the string and the note, played there, will quickly decay. You can add mass to the headstock to shift the resonant note elsewhere and a few other tricks, but it's a very real phenomena on basses.
  18. A9X

    A9X Inactive

    Dec 27, 2003
    So why is it almost always reported to be f7 on G on FSOs? That fret always being high is extremely unlikely.
    JoshS, MattZilla, AlexanderB and 3 others like this.
  19. GretschWretch

    GretschWretch Supporting Member

    Dec 27, 2013
    East Central Alabama
    This isn't what we're talking about.
  20. MultiScaleMale

    MultiScaleMale Columbia, MD Supporting Member

    Jun 19, 2003