What exactly are dead spots??

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by rob_d, Jul 10, 2001.

  1. rob_d


    Jun 14, 2001
    Hey all,
    As I've been checking out various reviews of basses I'm interested in on the net I occasionally hear about "dead spots" on the bass at certain frets. When I try these basses at a shop I don't hear anything different at the frets mentioned in the reviews. This has been true for about 3 different basses I've heard about and then tried. Occasionally I notice at the higher frets, like 15 and above you have to play a little bit behind the fret more than on others to get it to sound without clicking much..is that a dead spot? And if so can set up adjustments take care of it, or are these dead spots just that, dead. Thanks all.
  2. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    That's not a deadspot.

    The neck of a bass has a resonance frequency - when you knock it with your finger you hear a sound. The pitch of that sound is that frequency.

    When this pitch lies within the range of the notes on the bass, the note that has the same frequency as the resonance frequency will be affected.
    The 'energy' of that note will be soaked up by the neck, so that it's more quiet or dull.
    On Fender Jazz basses deadspots usually are found around the 5th fret of the g-string.
    But not every bass has deadspots.
    Neck construction, material, the headstock are factors that create or prevent deadspots.
    Carbon graphite necks usually don't have deadspots, because their resonance frequency is much higher than a bass' tonal range.
  3. RAM


    May 10, 2000
    Chicago, IL
    JMX - well said!:D

    I'd like to add, however, that sometimes dead spots exist between notes, so while they may be present, you'll never notice them. So, just because you don't notice a dead spot doesn't mean it's not there.

    Also, I'd characterize a dead spot as any note having a noticeable loss of sustain relative to other notes on the bass. That doesn't mean, however, that a note won't hold for 3 or 4 bars...so, the dead spot may not be an issue to you.

    Third, I've found situations where there appears to be a dead spot (I had a very bad one), but it can actually be corrected with a simple fret-leveling:)
  4. Precisions are noted for them, too. They tend to be around 4th to 7th frets, D string.

    I've a Squire P and it's really noticable a couple of frets either side of 5th. The note just dies: it sounds like a rubber band being played. No doubt a fresh set of strings would help a bit but I've not bothered....

    It's like the other guys said. It's a loss of sustain @ certain points and comes from the mechanical characteristics of the bass.

  5. i normally look for dead spots around the C# or D on the G string... (6th or 7th fret) .. if they're anywhere, they're gonna be here IME
  6. Yep. Sorry guys. Cephas45 is quite correct. I should have said the G string, not the D string.

    Sorry again.

  7. Flatwound

    Flatwound Supporting Member

    Sep 9, 2000
    San Diego
    Right. My P has the typical dead spot at C and C# on the G. My Washburn, however, has a fairly major dead spot at A on the D string. To illustrate the resonance thing pointed out by JMX, if I don't damp the other strings when I play on one of these dead spots, they all vibrate like mad.
  8. Kevinlane

    Kevinlane Supporting Member

    Dec 30, 2000
    Missouri, near Branson
    If you really, really take your time and pluck your bass with one finger at the same strength level, you can go up and down each string of any bass and find a note or two that just won't quite get it.

    Yeah a lot of Fenders have that 7th fret g string dead spot, I had a Lakland 5594 that had it at that spot AND on the A string 5th fret. So that would support the theory of the resonant freqency, but graphite in the neck such as the Lakland did'nt help.

    I had a Conklin that did it and Bill Conklin made me a "fathead" , or a brass plate that mounted under the tunigngears on the back of the headstock and that took care of it. I guess it added mass to the neck.

    Most of the time those 7th fret g string ones will fade quickly from the fundamental into a harmonic that sounds like the fifth of the note played( inthis case the harmonic note is an A)

    May none of your basses have these NASTY dead spots.
  9. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Staff Member Supporting Member

    Yep. The dead spot can afflict any bass, no matter how expensive.

    My Pedulla Rapture has a slight dead spot on the G string 5th fret, but it only shows up when it is very humid, like above 75%. Weird.

    I have also seen a Roscoe with a dead spot, a Ken Smith with a dead spot, and an Alembic Epic with a dead spot.

    Yet I have an old Peavey Foundation that has none.
  10. Just been to the WWW, Randy. I agree. It's really good. Might be a bit techy for some but good info nevertheless.

  11. Turock

    Turock Supporting Member

    Apr 30, 2000
    For years my Jazz had a dead spot on the fourth fret g-string, somehow it is not there anymore. If it moved, I have not found it's new location. Maybe it is between notes?
  12. Heh, well almost any bass. My bass has absolutely no dead spots. It has exactly the opposite...live spots. I play a 1979 Kramer DMZ4000 with an aluminum neck ;)
  13. holderman


    May 25, 2000
    Randy, thanks for the link. Very interesting stuff.
  14. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Staff Member Supporting Member


    What I meant, Mudbass, is that high end basses are less likely to have dead spots than mass produced basses, but there are high end basses out there with dead spots.

    I have even played a Status and 2 Modulus' with dead spots.

    Graphite necks are supposedly immune to this phenomena.