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What's the purpose of the block of wood between the pup and fretboard?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by CJK84, May 19, 2005.


  1. CJK84

    CJK84

    Jan 22, 2004
    Maria Stein, OH
    On Gary Willis' website and in his great book, 100 Bass Tips, Gary is shown playing a light colored bass (maple?) with a nicely finished block of wood situated beneath the strings between the neck pup and the end of the fretboard.

    What's the purpose of this block of wood? Any tonal/playability benefits?

    I've never seen such a thing on any other bass.

    (Not sure how to post a pic of it - sadly my tech skills are low)
     
  2. Figjam

    Figjam

    Aug 5, 2003
    Boston, MA
    Is it a ramp? (a place to rest your thumb)
     
  3. CJK84

    CJK84

    Jan 22, 2004
    Maria Stein, OH
  4. adrian garcia

    adrian garcia

    Apr 9, 2001
    las vegas. nevada
    Endorsing Artist: Nordy Basses, Schroeder Cabs, Gallien Krueger Amps
    some like the way that a ramp provides a "floor" for your right plucking hand. Kinda like playing of the fretboard but with the tonal quality of playing by the pickups. Matt Garrison ( and a few others, including many of our own, like Andrew Dow ) prefers this as well. I usually pluck right on top of the bridge pup or very near it depending on the tone i want, so i have not tried it, but i am intrigued...
     
  5. greg

    greg

    Jun 1, 2004
    Austin,Tx
    Gary Willis uses a willis ramp..it extends from the bridge pickup and all the way to the fingerboard as opposed to a normal ramp which is just in between two pickups. I think Gary actually came up with the idea for that kind of ramp hence the name the "Willis Ramp" I don't think a lot of people use willis ramps, he makes good use of his though.
    -Greg
     
  6. CJK84

    CJK84

    Jan 22, 2004
    Maria Stein, OH
    For what use?

    If it's there merely as a rest for his thumb when playing on the B string, why so much wood extending under all five strings?
     
  7. My understanding is that it forces you to use a light touch, and thus makes you play faster. You can't really dig in with your plucking fingers.
     
  8. Dincrest

    Dincrest

    Sep 27, 2004
    New Jersey
    I think you're right on this, since I believe Willis adheres to the credo that digging is a no-no on fretless basses since hard digging could wear out the fingerboard. Hence, his ramp prevents you from digging.
     
  9. CJK84

    CJK84

    Jan 22, 2004
    Maria Stein, OH
    Thanks guys - I think I got it.

    So would Willis' plucking fingers actually touch this "floor" below the strings?

    Or is it probably meant as a guide that, when touched, indicates you're digging too much?

    And doesn't this prevent popping (at least on a fretted bass) since you'd struggle to get a fingertip under a string?
     
  10. In addition to a thumbrest, ramps offer a place for your fingers to stop whe you're playing "through" the strings, stopping well before they hit the adjacent lower string. This facilitates economy of motion and speed in playing.

    It's not just for fretless, either.
     
  11. Bryan R. Tyler

    Bryan R. Tyler TalkBass: Usurping My Practice Time Since 2002 Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    May 3, 2002
    Connecticut
  12. CJK84

    CJK84

    Jan 22, 2004
    Maria Stein, OH
    Thanks BRT.
     
  13. could it also change the slapping sound?

    the strings hitting on the upper frets usually adds to the sound of a slap so wouldnt the ramp have a similar effect on that too??
     
  14. With a regular ramp between two pups, there's all the room in the world to slap and the strings shouldn't hit the ramps (do you want your strings hitting your pups?).

    If you have a Willis-style ramp on a fretted, remember the ramp's not going to stand as high as the frets. The frets would probably stop the motion of the string before they ever hit the ramp. That's not to say they won't, but it tends to be a moot point as, as it was said previously, Willis ramps are pretty few and far between.