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What exactly are dead spots

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by garmenteros, Oct 14, 2009.

  1. garmenteros

    garmenteros Bass Enthusiast Supporting Member

    Aug 24, 2008
    Dominican Republic
    Heard a lot of people talk about it, but I dont really know how to define them... What are dead spots on a bass' neck... Is it something that only happens on fretted instruments? What makes a bass have dead spots, can changing a neck solve this problem? I've got 8 basses, and I really havent heard anything that sounds different from fret to fret (well apart from the notes obviously)... even sounds all across the board... But I always come to TB in search of knowledge... and since I buy used stuff to sell i would like a clearer definition of what are dead spots and how to spot them...

    Help please:help:
  2. cassanova


    Sep 4, 2000
  3. paf77


    Dec 3, 2008
    I'm not too certain, but I believe it's when some of the notes on the neck don't have much sustain and the note just sort of dies off quick. I've heard that bolt on necks can have a few dead spots and neck thru basses are less likely to have any dead spots.
  4. JayfromDeeKay


    Jun 23, 2009
    In my understanding, from the articles I've read about it on here: what produces the sound on an electric bass is the vibration of the strings, but on most basses, the neck and body are also brought to vibrate when playing to some extent. On some basses, there might be places on the neck, where the vibration of the neck in that spot cancels out the vibration of the string, thus deadening the tone.
  5. MNAirHead

    MNAirHead Supporting Member

    Folks are talking about predictable and even response accross the entire bass.

    Some of the more popular basses are entire dead spots (let the flaming begin)

    Sincerely .. even predictable response accross the range.
  6. That link above is a good one:

    Very quickly, almost all basses have a deadspot, typically on the G string between the 5th and 7th fret. A deadspot is caused by the neck 'absorbing' a certain frequency, resulting in the note's fundamental to sustain for a shorter period of time than the rest of the notes on a bass.

    The minor deadspots on most instruments are barely noticable (i.e., the fundamental note drop-off is faster than the other notes, but still sustains long enough to not be noticable in most playing situations). An extreme deadspot results in the fundamental dropping so quickly that you barely hear that note at all... hence, that one fretted note area on the neck is 'dead'.

    Many designs have been proposed to eliminate deadspots (multilaminate necks, graphite bars, different scale lengths, etc.) None of these seem to have much impact (i.e., I've never noticed any difference in the design of a wooden neck bass and the incidence of dead spots). The only thing that seems to virtually eliminate deadspots is a graphite composite neck. I'd much rather play a bass with a deadspot than play one of those.... too much cost in tone and feel and response for me personally!

    If possible, it is always a good idea to play long whole notes from the 2nd to 10th fret on the G string on any bass you are considering purchasing, to make sure that the dead spot(s)... which WILL be there.... are not severe enough to bother you. As long as you get a good, quick, full fundamental on each note, and the fundamental does not drop away too quickly, you should be fine.
  7. MNAirHead

    MNAirHead Supporting Member

    Just noticed you're in the Dominican..

    One of my favorite players in the world lives in Pueta.. has one killer 5 string and talent to go with it.
  8. mmbongo

    mmbongo Five Time World Champion Supporting Member

    Aug 5, 2009
    It's not just fretted basses, I had a fretless Hamer Cruise that had dead spots all over. I didn't have it long :)

    The only bass without dead spots I've ever encountered was a Zon.
  9. Stampy


    Jun 30, 2008
    Yep, on my Fender 7th fret G String. The only not that has a shorter sustain than all the other. I usually don't play on that string to much so it doesn't bother me.
  10. devo_stevo


    Aug 2, 2006
    Northern Utah
    Builder: Brumbaugh Guitarworks
    I just noticed that my Warwick Corvette Std. has a dead spot at the 10th fret on the G string. Like Stampy, that one doesn't get used that much, so I'm ok with it.

    I noticed to that the neck and body tend to vibrate more when you play that note, than the others thus absorbing the vibration of the string. I was surprised how noticable it is.
  11. XXL

    XXL calm seas dont make skilled sailors

    Jun 14, 2007
    So are "wolftones" and deadspots the same thing or just releated?
    As in deadspots only affect sustain and wolftones give off a warbled note so to speak.
  12. Different thing. 'Wofltones' are typically associated with acoustic instruments like DB's, that can have certain resonant frequencies that result in a volume increase and an 'ugly' harmonic content... almost the mirror image of dead spots, I believe.
  13. chicago_mike


    Oct 9, 2007
    Chicago - LA - Rome - Dallas
    Endorsing Artist : Genz Benz
    a wolf tone on a cheap upright can almost sound like a bad flubby speaker...very very ugly.
  14. Surly


    Feb 2, 2007
    South Florida
    Agreed. All of my basses, and probably most with wooden necks, will have similar dead spots. When I bought my P-bass at Guitar Center I was checking for them but noticed them more at home when everything was quiet. I think they're less noticeable in a mix or recording.
  15. Another common place for deadspots is the D string 7th to 10th fret area. I've heard of quite a few Rickenbackers that have that, as well as other basses.
  16. JTE

    JTE Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2008
    Central Illinois, USA
    It's physics. The whole system vibrates, not just the string. The vibrations in the neck/body etc. can be out of phase with the vibrations of the string. That works just like a humbucking pickup, canceling the net vibrations. Or, more often, it reduces the amount of net output of the string there.

    Varies a lot depending on so many factors. Marcus Miller's personal Jazz bass has a dead spot around the 5th fret. He says he know it's there an he just knows he needs to play harder for those notes, but it's part of the essential character of that PARTICULAR bass. It's sorta like distortion- is it bad or good?

  17. I don't seem to have any on my L2000, but I do have notes that have predictably more resonance that just really rattle the room. *shrugs*
  18. trowaclown


    Feb 26, 2008

    My Gary Willis bass has less sustain on the 7th and 8th fret positions of the D string. Fretless basses are afflicted as well :(
  19. richnota

    richnota Supporting Member

    Jan 11, 2005
    Santa Cruz
    i had a Gary Wills and replaced the bridge (adding a piezo). The dead spot "went away"--must have changed the resonant point of the bass?

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