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What do you use make the markings on the bass neck?

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by aceshigh, Apr 1, 2009.

  1. aceshigh


    Nov 6, 2006
    For those of us who use markings on the bass neck to help identify the notes and improve intonation, what do you use to make the markings? Is it a sticker? Pencil? Band-aid? What is it?

    Some background info:
    I was using a small paper sticker. I got a paper label and put it on the 3 hole puncher. I retrieved the small rounds dots, painted them in light brown and stick them on the bass neck (by the way, I only use two marks - one for 5th 'fret' and one for the octave). It looks very discrete.

    Last weekend I had a gig what the bar was too hot inside. On the third and last set, I couldn't keep the bass in tune and could not find the right intonation. That happened not only because of the heat and the sweat in my hands but also because my little paper dots had moved down in the neck, turning all my notes a little sharp. It was a mess.

    So, what do you use to make the markings on the neck? Please notice I'm not getting into the discussion of whether one should use markings or not, this is an individual choice.

    Thanks a lot

    Ottawa, Canada
  2. Cat urine works very well.
  3. TroyK

    TroyK Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2003
    Seattle, WA
    Yeah, but it's gotten expensive.
  4. Tony Gray

    Tony Gray

    Mar 6, 2006
    A tiny pencil mark does it for me.
  5. Jake deVilliers

    Jake deVilliers Commercial User

    May 24, 2006
    Crescent Beach, BC
    Owner of The Bass Spa, String Repairman at Long & McQuade Vancouver
    White Out is terrific. :)
  6. Heifetzbass

    Heifetzbass Commercial User

    Feb 6, 2004
    Upstate, SC
    Owner, Gencarelli Bass Works and Fine String Instruments, LLC.
    White out pens to be exact. Brush is messy.
  7. Exactly what I used to put small dots on the edge of the fingerboard (i.e., side of the neck),
  8. aceshigh


    Nov 6, 2006
    That is one great idea. I will get one on my way home.

  9. aceshigh


    Nov 6, 2006
    Are you serious?

    Imagine the pathetic scene, me chasing after my 3 cats at home with an empty mayo glass in my hand.

  10. RBrownBass

    RBrownBass Supporting Member

    Aug 22, 2004
    If your strings don't stay in tune (or if they don't go out of tune consistently with one another), the dots aren't really going to help.

    If you're looking at your bandmates, the piano player's left hand, a chart, the woman at the corner table... the dots aren't really going to help. IMO, IME, YMMV, etc..
  11. aceshigh


    Nov 6, 2006
    That is true. By using these dots we miss the most important point that is (IMO) to train the ear to listen to the right note. Ideally, we should be able to hear the difference in intonation on the bass, if the piano is in tune, if guy playing sax is in tune, etc.

    But before we can run we should try to walk. I used 10 dots in the beginning and I'm down to 2. My goal is to be able to remove the 5 'fret' one till the end of the year and keep only the octave. But in the meantime that dot's gotta stay there or else I'm not skilled enough (YET) to find the notes I need, at the moment I need them.

    I just wish I don't have to stain my bass with cat pee, like the first guy said.

  12. drurb

    drurb Oracle, Ancient Order of Rass Hattur; Mem. #1, EPC

    Apr 17, 2004
    This is why disappearing ink would be the best choice for the dots! ;)
  13. I can't resist. So when do you get rid of those addictive little dots? I would set a timetable for yourself so you don't enslave yourself to the visual cues. What if you need to play a different bass etc etc. I know we've all been through this before. Do what you have to do to learn the bass but get rid of them ASAP.
  14. zeytoun


    Dec 19, 2008
    Portland, Oregon
    Is this really a concern?

    I know I see this idea in every thread about markers. But I wonder how much is hypothetical concern, and how much is real issue. How many bassists never progressed beyond high school orchestra, because they got hung up on dots?

    The big question for marking users: Do you find yourself becoming increasingly dependent on them?

    Here's an example: The dots on the FB and sides of guitar necks. They vary from one guitar to the next, and some have no dots. I've used them when they were present on a guitar as a quick visual cue, but when I've played on a guitar without them, it's not like I suddenly was lost. In fact, the dots were helpful at first, and now become occasional reference points that I can take or leave. I never had to wean myself off them.

    What if the dots help you find the vicinity of a note quicker, and as a result, you develop muscle memory faster, as long as you aren't abandoning hand positioning or turning off your ears?
  15. Yeah, let's not go into the dots thing BUT getting into "the vicinity" on an electric bass will get you in tune. Getting in "the vicinity" on the double bass will get you fired.
  16. Greg Clinkingbeard

    Greg Clinkingbeard

    Apr 4, 2005
    Kansas City area
    KC Strings
    Fretwire is the answer here.
  17. Clear fingernail polish on the fingerboard at the 4th and the octave are nice reference points and only you can see them. If you read enough while you play you'll quickly get to where you won't need markers.
  18. One small pencil mark on the octave harmonic next to the G string aids me in switching back and forth from thumb position. When it starts to wear off, I just put it on again. It's not permanent like whiteout, so if your notes move (bass settles, strings settle/stretch, weather change, etc) your markings can move with them.
  19. Jake deVilliers

    Jake deVilliers Commercial User

    May 24, 2006
    Crescent Beach, BC
    Owner of The Bass Spa, String Repairman at Long & McQuade Vancouver
    White Out isn't permanent.
  20. I'm new at this, so how do you get whiteout off your fingerboard?

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