So where are these "Dead Spots" I keep hearing about?

shimmilou

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Hmmm, maybe these so called dead spots, are from various causes, but all getting lumped together. For example, has anyone considered that some of these certain notes that don’t ring out as long as others could be caused by the pups? Particularly the magnetic pull on the strings can cause this. I have heard some notes that seem to die out quicker than others, but simply switching pups (say from bridge to neck) can get rid of the “problem”. Sometimes the strings can even become magnetized themselves. Similarly with “wolf tones”, aka “stratitis”, can be from the magnets in the pups. (we aren’t dealing with cellos, but magnetic pups in guitars)

I certainly don’t buy the premise that these so called dead spots are inherent in all guitars made from wood. There are too many variables, such as pups, pup heights, pup position (22 vs 24), string gauge, string brand, wood types, hardware variances, etc.

I also believe that some of the problems could be setup related, as many problems are.
 

Huggy B

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"Dead spots" mainly pertain to fret condition, in which worn frets that are lower than the fret(s) above it cause the notes to buzz and not give the string room enough to vibrate and produce sound. It can be caused by warped necks or bad neck joints, but this is rare and any proper fret level and setup should resolve it.

The reason dead spots are suspected or determined around the 12th fret a lot of the time is because there are a lot of songs in E and D, and it's a place on the neck that players tend to dig in on their bends and shredding, so frets get worn there first a lot of the time. With all the songs in Amin & Cmaj, the area around the 5th & 7th frets is next in line on the fretwear sequence for a lot of guitars.
 

Tone-y

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Hmmm.....Dead spots are just reality of pretty much all stringed instruments and it is due to the physics of vibration. When the frequency of the string vibration causes the body vibration to be of a similar mode shape but opposite phase, then the signals are cancelled out. This is exactly the same principle as noise cancelling headphones use. Where these dead spots occur will depend on the physical shape and material of a particular guitar. If you're lucky, they won't land directly on a particular fretted note, at least not one that you tend to let ring out.

For instruments like Cellos, you can buy tuning weights that you attach to the strings to shift the resonance frequencies and therefore the positions of the dead spots.

My PRS has a couple of dead spots. Most of the time they are not noticeable, and it depends on how loud I'm playing, how much gain, how new the strings are etc. But a couple of places, if I play a note and let it ring acoustically, they don't sustain as long as their neighbors.

My Taylor 814 acoustic has some pretty bad dead spots up around the 12th fret. Notes will pretty much die off straight away.
 

Tone-y

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"Dead spots in a typical electric guitar with a symmetrical headstock (such as the Les Paul) occur around 200 and 450 Hz. In a typical guitar with an asymmetrical headstock (such as the Stratocaster), the dead spots occur at slightly higher frequencies, the difference being due to torsional motion of the neck."

Er, I don't know that I agree with this....That's way too much of a generalisation. Neck cross-section dimensions, stiffness and length would have much more impact than whether the headstock was symmetrical or not. Of course stiffness (maple/mahogany) and length (25.5/24.594") are fairly uniformly different between a Les Paul and Strat and hence their difference.
 

zerolight

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I only had this on one guitar, a PRS McCarty Rosewood, which I bought around 2004 and sold around 2008. It had a terrible dead spot around the 10th fret on the Low E string. I put it down to the Rosewood neck which felt great but I didn't like the sound of.
 

Tone-y

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If the dead spot is due to body resonance cancelling out string resonance, then the more resonant a body is, the greater the cancellation when the two are resonating out of phase.
 

gabebennett

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I wish I'd read this forum before purchasing my 35th Anniversary SE Custom 24. My copy is beautiful, plays very well (after a fret leveling, polish and setup) but the 12th fret on the G string is flat dead. I've tried many things to attempt to solve the issue. I've added a 5th spring and tightened the bridge so it makes contact with the body. I've dampened the trem springs so they do not vibrate. I've replaced the saddles with brass ones. I've lowered the pickup height and changed pickups to Alnico IIs so there is less magnetic pull. The action is high enough that it's not fretting out. I've tried a small C-clamp on the headstock. None of these attempts made any difference. The G note still dies in about a second and a half. No amount of amp/pedal gain adds any sustain to the G note. The same G note played on the B and E strings rings true and long. It's only the 12th fret on the G string that has this dead spot.

I was able to fix the same issue on my Squire Strat by dampening the trem springs. Now my Squire Strat sings! But, I like the feel of my PRS (and general tone) much better than the Squire. So, I guess when I need sustain I will play my Squire. When I can avoid the 12th fret G note, I will play the PRS. I just wish there was a way to shift the dead spot to G# (13th fret).

This was my first guitar purchase over $1,000 and I had high hopes, but it seems like even the more expensive PRS models have this same issue. I've been playing guitar for over 30 years and I've never owned a guitar with a dead spot like this. I wanted to believe the PRS marketing hype that these guitars sing and play fantastic right out of the box. But, as I should have known since my dad is a guitar builder, it's just another guitar. Nothing special.

On a guitar that has such easy access to the 12th fret position, it's a shame that it's basically useless there. It really takes the joy out of owning a PRS. But I love everything else about it and I've connected with the guitar and put so much work into making it play and sound great. It's like being married to a supermodel that (for some reason) doesn't like kissing.
 

zerolight

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There's not a lot you can do. It's not a setup issue. A true dead spot is caused by the neck and body resonance just cancelling out the string at a very specific frequency. Folk that have fixed what the thought was a dead spot with a setup change were actually fixing a different problem. I've had it on a Custom 24 and a McRosie - it's not specifically a Cu24 problem. As someone else suggested, you might manage to move or remove it by clamping a small weight to the back of the headstock.

I'd just sell or return the guitar. My McRosie was an import and I never noticed it right away. So I kept it. It was around the 12 to 14 on the low E if I remember so it was easy to work around. The Cu24 was I think on the A string (maybe D string) but same sort of fret range and felt more of an issue so I returned that one. Never had it on any other brand of guitar, and it's not a feature of my Santana Retro either. Not saying it doesn't happen with other brands, but I've had it on 2 of 5 PRSs and none of the maybe 30 other guitars I've owned.
 
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Robert J Ubry

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Funny I stumbled onto this thread. I was farting around yesterday for a couple of hours with a dead spot on my McCarty 594 DC semi on the G string at 11, 12, 13 fret. Truss rod is adjusted perfectly with feeler gauge, action is set at recommended height, PU are set at recommended height. So I raised the action a bit and raised the pole screws for the G string, but could never get the sustain out if it compared to the other strings. Weird.
 

steved

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@gabebennett, you seem to be making a judgement call on all PRS guitars based on your experience with just one of them. If you've read the rest of this thread you'll know the real story - that lots of guitars have dead spots to various degrees, not just PRS but all of them. Whether or not you get the one in a range that affects you is completely luck of the draw.
 

Draconomics

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Funny I stumbled onto this thread. I was farting around yesterday for a couple of hours with a dead spot on my McCarty 594 DC semi on the G string at 11, 12, 13 fret. Truss rod is adjusted perfectly with feeler gauge, action is set at recommended height, PU are set at recommended height. So I raised the action a bit and raised the pole screws for the G string, but could never get the sustain out if it compared to the other strings. Weird.


Its ALWAYS the G string. Only a genie can fix it.

Maybe dead spots are just a myth and its really just the G string messing with our heads...
 

Serious Poo

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I’ve seen it on the 12th fret on the B string with Custom 24’s a lot, but not any other model.

Play a note on the 11th fret of the B string. Let it sustain with vibrato. Squeeze everything you can out of it.

Do it again on the 13th fret.

Then do it on the 12th.

If the notes sound exactly the same to you, then congrats on having a guitar without a dead spot.
 

gabebennett

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@gabebennett, you seem to be making a judgement call on all PRS guitars based on your experience with just one of them. If you've read the rest of this thread you'll know the real story - that lots of guitars have dead spots to various degrees, not just PRS but all of them. Whether or not you get the one in a range that affects you is completely luck of the draw.

I did read a lot of this thread because I was looking for solutions and answers. I realize this is not just a PRS issue, but in my 30 years of playing I have never owned a guitar with a dead spot. I'm sure not all PRS guitars have this issue, but I think I would not buy another one without choosing it at a store where I can play it first. I should have been more critical when I first purchased the guitar and returned it after finding the issue, but I was distracted by the need to do a fret leveling and replace the pickups with something good. I am still looking for a solution to the issue. I have new tuners on order and I am willing to try several brands before giving up on this guitar. If I can't fix it, I will either live with it and change my playing to avoid the dead spot, or sell it and start over. I would try another PRS in the hopes of finding a good copy. But, I did find it alarming that there is an entire forum thread devoted to this issue.
 

Andrew Paul

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I’ve been playing PRS since 1990 I don’t recall any dead spots. I was just checking one of my MEV’s no such thing all notes all strings sustain beautifully between 8 and 15 frets. If that’s a problem region I will check others as I have them out of the case playing come back to the thread if I find any but I think I would know by now.
 

Keith B.

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This is Real - I'm new to PRS, and I happen to be in love with these guitars - so this is not a "well, some people are just gonna bash PRS" - not in my case anyway. But, I experienced for the first time after decades of guitar playing (in full transparency, I've probably played/handled only about 25-35 guitars in that time). G String, 14th fret A note - same issue, slightly less noticeable B String, 10th fret on a new CE24.

I now have a semi-hollow CE24 and similar but not nearly as dramatic of an issue - meaning, I can deal with it because otherwise I f-ing love this thing.

BUT, my question is.... are people seeing this on the 22 Fret PRS guitars - my research led me to conclude that, while it 'could' happen to any guitar... it was the 24 Fret guitar owners that seem to be much MORE likely to experience the dead note.

I am strongly considering an SC 594 at some point in the future. So many guitars out on the Internet (especially Reverb) that are ways for people to get good deals and find good new homes for guitars. But, there is no way to be sure unless you can sit and play that thing listening for the things you care about, before you ultimately BUY. Tricky.
 
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