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Whats the deal with finger ramps?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by HG1180, May 22, 2020.

  1. HG1180


    Aug 11, 2019
    Rehoboth Beach,DE
    Ive played a few basses with installed finger ramps most notably Ibanez basses and I never saw the appeal or point to them. Does anyone here use them? And if so what purpose do they serve?
  2. S.F.Sorrow


    Dec 6, 2014
    It will depend very much on your personal technique whether you like them or not. Lots of people like them and some even need them to play the way they want. Personally I hate them like the plague. They prevent me from really digging into the strings, especially if they're placed close to the neck where my preferred tone is.

    It's just a matter of personal preference, like number of strings, active/passive, neck profile, nut width, fretboard radius, finish, etc. etc. Just go with whatever works for YOU.
    Haroldo, SteveCS, Kijuer and 8 others like this.
  3. luciens


    Feb 9, 2020
    I use the pickup faces on my basses as the ramps, but I use ramps exclusively. In fact, I suck so bad I can't play a bass without either a ramp or a pickup face in the correct position for me to pluck over.

    What it does is provide a consistent "stop" for the fingers when plucking. This in turn makes plucking a lot more consistent. Without it, the fingers can drop further down or less far after each pluck with nothing to stop them, which can lead to inconsistent plucking.

    It's just a matter of preference and technique, because many (if not most) players can pluck consistently with nothing but dead air under the strings where they pluck.

    I learned about plucking directly over the pickup from a video years ago by Billy Sheehan. Where he describes that he stole the idea from someone else.... But ever since then the improvement in my plucking was so dramatic I haven't tried to pluck over dead air ever since.

    As I said, I suck, though, and suck so bad that I've never been able to learn plucking over dead air. That's one of the reasons I never owned a Fender Precision bass as its only pickup is in a place I don't like to pluck. And that I'd only get a P/J, because it has the pickup at the back that I can pluck over.....

    Kenova, bassballs27, JRA and 2 others like this.
  4. Nashrakh


    Aug 16, 2008
    Hamburg, Germany
    All my basses have ramps. I feel they give support to the plucking fingers, as said they can't dig in too deep anymore but that's what I like about them. They help in maintaining a light touch, so if you're into beating your strings senseless, they won't appeal to you. It's still perfectly possible to play in triple forte or get that string clack, you just have to go about it differently.
  5. jonathanhughes

    jonathanhughes Supporting Member

    Jan 3, 2009
    Buffalo, NY
    I have an Ibanez (BTB33) that came with one, and I converted a Yamaha TRBX to a fretless and added on to that. On both basses, it lets me play fast things more cleanly, and gives the option of "playing over the pickup" without having to play over the pickup. I certainly wouldn't want or need on on my Precision, but it would be much more difficult to plate way I want to on the basses of mine that have them.
    JRA likes this.
  6. DiabolusInMusic

    DiabolusInMusic Functionless Art is Merely Tolerated Vandalism Supporting Member

    That is the point of a ramp. The ramp works on the economy of motion. The more energy you spend somewhere, the less you have somewhere else. Digging in past the string causes your fingers to go more than they need to. A ramp helps speed you up by keeping your fingers from going under the strings.

    I have a ramp on all of my basses. I have a pretty light touch so I hit it less than I thought I would when I got my first one. Still, I like having it there in case I get excited and start digging in. A properly made ramp will be radiused to match the fret/fingerboard height. It feels very much like you are playing over the neck (without all the reggae dub/boom). You can find lots of info on Gary Willis' site.
    Mili and Inara like this.
  7. MMiller28

    MMiller28 Supporting Member

    Apr 27, 2003
    It's definitely a very personal thing. My playing doesn't change at all over the pickups or in between, where a ramp would go. I would never get one.

    IMO, they also have a negative effect on the appearance of a bass.
  8. GretschWretch

    GretschWretch Supporting Member

    Dec 27, 2013
    East Central Alabama
    I like ramps because of the rebound effect, just like plucking directly over the fretboard. Makes me just a bit faster.
    JRA likes this.
  9. gebass6

    gebass6 We're not all trying to play the same music.

    Ramps limit the depth of your plucking fingers.
    And imitates the feel of a pickup under the fingers.
    I have never had a pickup that high.

    Plus,I don't pluck down.
    I use shallow rest strokes.
    So I have never felt the need for a ramp.
    Last edited: May 22, 2020
    SteveCS likes this.
  10. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Supporting Member

    i've used them. and my P-bass has a ramp. my PJs give enough pickup footprint to serve as such. i also play over the fingerboard enough that it serves the purpose.

    i don't need ramps, don't swear by them, etc., but i appreciate what they're for and i'm conscious of the need to limit my digging-in when i'm getting aggressive and need speed at the same time, whether i' have a ramp or not.

    installing a temporary ramp just to re-train your approach to plucking (adding to your skillset) could be useful for a lot of players who don't know the experience of plucking uniformity/consistency or who struggle with speed in their chosen genre.

    the way they look is irrelevant. looks are for kids.
    FugaziBomb, rohi and Ralph Manak like this.
  11. S.F.Sorrow


    Dec 6, 2014
    If that works for you, GREAT, but some styles/genres/tones require a right hand technique that just isn't compatible with a ramp. I know exactly what you mean about playing more economically but if a ramp prevents me from getting the tone I need for the job then I don't want a ramp. It's as simple as that. It's all about getting the right tool for the job. I need to be able to play lightly AND dig in. When I want to play more "economically" there's nothing stopping me to do that just because I don't have a ramp but a ramp will prevent me from really diggin in, like John Entwistle style. A ramp limits my options so I don't want one. If they work for you, or anyone else, GREAT, go for it. Like I said in the post you quoted: It's just a matter of personal preference. And personally I avoid ramps like the plague.

    Funny you should mention Gary Willis because I tried his Ibanez signature bass recently and disliked the ramp so much I got an SR2600 instead, even though I think it's ugly as sin. But it plays like a dream, sounds great and made all my younger hipster friends vomit in disgust when I turned up for rehearsal with it instead of bringing the usual vintage vibe stuff, lol.
  12. nilorius

    nilorius Suspended

    Oct 27, 2016
    Riga - Latvia
    The finger ramp is a good thing for a bass player. I have it on my Ibanez GWB1005. It helps me to not dig in my fingers too deep, when i play not on my pickup and gives a rest to my thumb also. It's like a wood 3d pickup, without giving sound.
    nonohmic and teh-slb like this.
  13. king_biscuit

    king_biscuit Supporting Member

    May 21, 2006
    My first good bass, a T-40, had that big bridge pickup which I used as a ramp. I got so used to playing over that pickup/ramp that every time I picked up another bass I couldn't play it, which really frustrated me. I stopped playing the T-40 eventually and started playing a Jazz Bass and made a decision to never become reliant on something like that again that would limit what instrument I could pick up and play. My right hand technique is very good now and I'm sure I can play as well without a ramp as I could if I were using a ramp. Just another opinion on the matter...
    Roxbororob and nilorius like this.
  14. Until this very moment, I've never heard of such a thing. I had to go to google images. I'm just getting back into bassiness and I've always used a pickup as a thumb rest. I'm fairly crafty; perhaps I'll fashion one and I'll get back to you with an honest to goodness virginal opinion.
  15. vvvmmm


    Dec 6, 2016
    I'll not use a ramp until I'm inna wheelchair!

  16. bassballs27

    bassballs27 Supporting Member

    Aug 12, 2002
    Ontario, CANADA
    Ramps are an good experience. If you have "light touch" playing and enjoy low action they can be very helpful. For those that play with high action and really dig in, I wouldn't see a point.
  17. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Supporting Member

    and they don't have to just be a block of wood --- this one is PVC sheet cut to shape/form...
    84037501_10218635942023733_806010798471118848_o small.jpg
    you can see that i'm also using it as a guide/rest...at that moment.
  18. casualmadness

    casualmadness Man About Town Supporting Member

    Dec 15, 2005
    Do you ramp users just make your own or do you buy them somewhere? Very been looking for some for my Basses and can’t find them. I chug hard on my Basses and want to develop a lighter touch. But I just can’t force myself to play lighter.
  19. non


    Aug 4, 2015
    i make all my own ramps.
    beside helping you play faster with less digging in they allow you to play between the pickups if you are a anchor player. for me the sweet spot is right in the middle of the pickups so the ramp lets me anchor there. you can even put a little notch or dip in the top side of the ramp so your thumb knows where home base is with out looking:)
    AudioTaper likes this.
  20. vvvmmm


    Dec 6, 2016
    Or, I might use a ramp if ever I learn to skateboard.


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