Vintage PRS CE24 - Temporary Dead Spot Solution

Justme_223

New Member
Joined
Apr 11, 2021
Messages
12
Hello everyone! I am new to the PRS community. I recently purchased one of my dream guitars. It is a 1991 alder bodied PRS CE24 that I find absolutely beautiful. I can take more pictures if you guys want!

IZBfH3y.jpg


OGftvTU.jpg


XCXzBNS.jpg


However, there is one major problem with it. After doing some comparisons with my 2011 Les Paul Traditional Faded (Long & McQuade exclusive), I stumbled upon a dead spot. I tried to compare the sustain at the 12th fret on the G-string, and unfortunately I noticed that the PRS just died off, while my Les Paul just absolutely destroyed that note (and has no dead spots that I could find). I honestly did not even know this was a problem in the guitar community.

After doing research, it seems that this is quite a common problem with older 24 fret PRS guitars to have a dead spot at the 12th fret on the G-string. It drives me nuts because even my older Ibanez RG570 (24 fret) with a much thinner Wizard 1 neck (so I assume much lighter) does not have this problem. I'm thinking that maybe it could have something to do with the PRS having a 25" scale compared to the Ibanez's 25.5", but lets leave that for another day.

Having an OCD type of attitude, I've been losing sleep over trying to figure out this problem. I've read about adding/removing mass from the headstock, adding mass to the neck in general (hence why PRS moved to a bigger heel), raising/lowering pickups, checking frets, etc. I have tried pretty much all of these methods except for removing mass from the headstock (I would have to find lighter tuners/buttons, and I don't want to drill any new holes. I may have to check out Mann's guitar vault to see what I can use for a permanent solution). However, there was one thing I tried that solved the problem instantly and I am hoping it works for those that are facing the same problem.

For those that are looking for instant gratification on my temporary fix, then here it is: Put a capo on top of the strings behind the nut. With the capo I'm using, it doesn't add enough pressure to throw off the tuning of any of the strings.

Now for those that actually want to know my methods and research into trying to solve this problem then please feel free to continue.

So the first thing I tried was of course adding mass to the neck. Considering that I hate any "visual" modifications (aka the Fender Fatfinger), I first tried to add mass to the neck underneath the pickup (see images below). I used 1/2 ounce (14 gram) wheel weights:

W89FP5Q.jpg


NzhSs2s.jpg


This may have made a slight difference. But not enough to really keep the modification. I then tried to add mass to the body as well:

B5azqMF.jpg


This made absolutely no difference between having the weights on the neck vs. having weights on the neck AND body. I really didn't think it would make a difference since mass should be adjusted on the neck, but I thought I would try anyways since I already had the guitar opened up. I also tried to add weights on the tremolo block, and on the body in the tremolo cavity. This made absolutely no difference in tone (hence why I don't really believe the idea that a heavier guitar body results in more sustain....but that's an issue for another day).

The next method I tried was to add even more mass to the neck. Considering that one ounce of additional mass didn't make much of a difference, I had to move the weights to the headstock (unfortunately). There was only enough room for two of those wheel weights in the pickup cavity. I gradually added weights (a 1/2 ounce each time) to the headstock to see if it made a difference in tone (I added up to 8 ounces of additional mass to the headstock). I also made sure to switch around the weights in case there was a "magic spot" on the headstock. To tell the truth, I felt that this made the tone even worse. The dead spot (12th fret G-string) ended up turning into a nasty sounding wolf tone, and the dead spot actually moved up to the 15th fret.

I was starting to lose hope until I tried a desperation move just this morning. For some reason, I thought to put a capo on top of the strings behind the nut to see if it made a difference. This way, maybe adding some tension to the strings (similar to a string tree) as well as adding a slight amount of mass would make a difference. And low and behold, it got rid of the dead spot completely. I tried other frets close to the area to see if the dead spot moved, and I couldn't find it (to tell the truth, I'm not sure I want to search that hard for it considering my personality lol). Please see the long (and incredibly dry) video below. Remember, this is for scientific purposes and isn't really meant to be entertaining in any way lol:


Time Stamps:

0:00-0:30 Example of the (dead) G-note on the 12th fret of the G-string. Also comparisons to the G-note on the B-string and D-string.

0:30-1:20 The notes after the capo is added. Huge improvement.

1:30-2:00 Adding 1.5 ounces of wheel weights behind the headstock in the same area that the capo would be pinching on. Not much of an improvement.

2:00-2:45 Another example of using the capo method. Massive improvement over using the wheel weights.

2:45-3:00 Putting the capo at the tip of the headstock to see if it makes the same improvement. Does not make a difference and the dead spot is still present. This, along with adding the wheel weights proves that (in this particular situation) it's not just about adding mass to the headstock.

3:00-3:20 Putting a capo on the 12th fret. Similar results to adding the capo behind the nut. The G-string has a massive improvement. I'm thinking that this may prove that adding a slight amount of mass (the capo itself) as well as adding tension to ALL the strings helps to remedy the problem.

3:24-3:30 Another example of the sad dead spot with no modifications.

3:30-3:45 Showing the capo method once again.

Also, for additional information. Please see the pictures below for the weight of the capo, as well as the wheel weights I used (I used three of the wheel weights, since that came closest to simulating the weight of the capo):

mkHCgYY.jpg

Capo: 38.1 grams (1.34 ounces)

ICTdFxA.jpg

Wheel Weights: 41.6 grams (1.47 ounces)

Now after my findings, these are what my thoughts are on the situation:

1) I think if PRS increased the headstock angle on these older models just slightly, this could have helped to rid the neck of any dead spots. Considering the improvement of using the capo behind the nut sort of adds additional "break angle" to the strings, I think this could have worked.

2) A string tree similar to the ones used for Ibanez, and many Floyd Rose guitars may help remedy the situation. Unfortunately, I really don't want to test this theory since it would require me to drill holes into my headstock. If anyone is willing to do this though then please let us know!

3) I am not really sure if the mass of the capo actually makes a difference. All I know, is that using it helps to remedy the situation. Considering that there was minimal improvement to the dead spot when I tried to use the wheel weights, I'm thinking that the majority of the problem is resolved with the string break angle created by the capo, as opposed to the actual weight of it.

4) I found a video on Youtube recently:


The mans name is Juha, and he seems to be a very talented luthier looking at the guitars he builds. He encountered a dead spot on one of his guitars, and his solution for it was actually removing weight from the headstock through the use of lighter tuners. The difference in weight between the old tuners and new tuners is approximately 50-60 grams (around 2 ounces). If you guys don't want to sit through the whole video, then his solution starts at approximately 53:20. This would be a great (and permanent) solution with no notable visual modifications, but unfortunately I haven't tried it yet. If there is anyone out there that has maybe tried to install lighter tuners on their older 24 fret PRS, then please let us know if it has made a difference. I am tempted to order a new set of tuners from Mann's guitar vault, as well as lighter tuner buttons to see if this makes a difference. However, I would feel terrible to spend close to $200.00 for something that isn't a guaranteed fix.

Anyways, I hope this guide is helpful. I'm sorry for the long writeup, especially since it's my first thread. But I know there are people out there like me that become almost obsessive over figuring out problems like this. In the mean time, I'm just going to be playing with the capo on top of my strings regardless of how unsightly it is. Like I said, I am very tempted to try reducing the mass of my headstock through lighter tuners. But it will be a while until I decide to spend the money on this project.

Thanks!

Ace
 

Black Plaid

Other Alan!
Joined
Apr 10, 2019
Messages
2,285
Location
Spokane, WA
I wonder if just muting the strings behind the nut would work instead of tension on them. That way you wouldn't mess with the tuning stability.

Try wrapping something soft around the strings behind the nut that would stop them from vibrating! It might be a harmonic resonance that's causing the problem.
 

Justme_223

New Member
Joined
Apr 11, 2021
Messages
12
I wonder if just muting the strings behind the nut would work instead of tension on them. That way you wouldn't mess with the tuning stability.

Try wrapping something soft around the strings behind the nut that would stop them from vibrating! It might be a harmonic resonance that's causing the problem.

Thanks for the response! I totally forgot that those string dampeners exist. At least it looks somewhat normal considering players like Guthrie Govan use it. I will try picking one up or making one at home and see if that makes a difference.

It is a bit of a pain having to add these little modifications to make our guitars sound "normal". But I'm really not willing to unload this guitar since it was so hard to find in the first place and I got it at a good price.
 

Justme_223

New Member
Joined
Apr 11, 2021
Messages
12
Thanks for the response! I totally forgot that those string dampeners exist. At least it looks somewhat normal considering players like Guthrie Govan use it. I will try picking one up or making one at home and see if that makes a difference.

It is a bit of a pain having to add these little modifications to make our guitars sound "normal". But I'm really not willing to unload this guitar since it was so hard to find in the first place and I got it at a good price.

So I tried to follow Black Plaid's suggestion of adding a sort of dampener behind the nut. In this case I used some of my girlfriend's hair ties (as is common practice for a poor mans string dampener). Unfortunately this did not solve the problem of the dead spot. But thanks for the suggestion! It was worth a shot.

If anyone else has any suggestions then feel free to provide any input.
 

Moondog Wily

Howlin' At The Moon!
Joined
Feb 12, 2021
Messages
1,680
Location
Piccolomini Crater, Luna
Hello everyone! I am new to the PRS community. I recently purchased one of my dream guitars. It is a 1991 alder bodied PRS CE24 that I find absolutely beautiful. I can take more pictures if you guys want!

IZBfH3y.jpg


OGftvTU.jpg


XCXzBNS.jpg


However, there is one major problem with it. After doing some comparisons with my 2011 Les Paul Traditional Faded (Long & McQuade exclusive), I stumbled upon a dead spot. I tried to compare the sustain at the 12th fret on the G-string, and unfortunately I noticed that the PRS just died off, while my Les Paul just absolutely destroyed that note (and has no dead spots that I could find). I honestly did not even know this was a problem in the guitar community.

After doing research, it seems that this is quite a common problem with older 24 fret PRS guitars to have a dead spot at the 12th fret on the G-string. It drives me nuts because even my older Ibanez RG570 (24 fret) with a much thinner Wizard 1 neck (so I assume much lighter) does not have this problem. I'm thinking that maybe it could have something to do with the PRS having a 25" scale compared to the Ibanez's 25.5", but lets leave that for another day.

Having an OCD type of attitude, I've been losing sleep over trying to figure out this problem. I've read about adding/removing mass from the headstock, adding mass to the neck in general (hence why PRS moved to a bigger heel), raising/lowering pickups, checking frets, etc. I have tried pretty much all of these methods except for removing mass from the headstock (I would have to find lighter tuners/buttons, and I don't want to drill any new holes. I may have to check out Mann's guitar vault to see what I can use for a permanent solution). However, there was one thing I tried that solved the problem instantly and I am hoping it works for those that are facing the same problem.

For those that are looking for instant gratification on my temporary fix, then here it is: Put a capo on top of the strings behind the nut. With the capo I'm using, it doesn't add enough pressure to throw off the tuning of any of the strings.

Now for those that actually want to know my methods and research into trying to solve this problem then please feel free to continue.

So the first thing I tried was of course adding mass to the neck. Considering that I hate any "visual" modifications (aka the Fender Fatfinger), I first tried to add mass to the neck underneath the pickup (see images below). I used 1/2 ounce (14 gram) wheel weights:

W89FP5Q.jpg


NzhSs2s.jpg


This may have made a slight difference. But not enough to really keep the modification. I then tried to add mass to the body as well:

B5azqMF.jpg


This made absolutely no difference between having the weights on the neck vs. having weights on the neck AND body. I really didn't think it would make a difference since mass should be adjusted on the neck, but I thought I would try anyways since I already had the guitar opened up. I also tried to add weights on the tremolo block, and on the body in the tremolo cavity. This made absolutely no difference in tone (hence why I don't really believe the idea that a heavier guitar body results in more sustain....but that's an issue for another day).

The next method I tried was to add even more mass to the neck. Considering that one ounce of additional mass didn't make much of a difference, I had to move the weights to the headstock (unfortunately). There was only enough room for two of those wheel weights in the pickup cavity. I gradually added weights (a 1/2 ounce each time) to the headstock to see if it made a difference in tone (I added up to 8 ounces of additional mass to the headstock). I also made sure to switch around the weights in case there was a "magic spot" on the headstock. To tell the truth, I felt that this made the tone even worse. The dead spot (12th fret G-string) ended up turning into a nasty sounding wolf tone, and the dead spot actually moved up to the 15th fret.

I was starting to lose hope until I tried a desperation move just this morning. For some reason, I thought to put a capo on top of the strings behind the nut to see if it made a difference. This way, maybe adding some tension to the strings (similar to a string tree) as well as adding a slight amount of mass would make a difference. And low and behold, it got rid of the dead spot completely. I tried other frets close to the area to see if the dead spot moved, and I couldn't find it (to tell the truth, I'm not sure I want to search that hard for it considering my personality lol). Please see the long (and incredibly dry) video below. Remember, this is for scientific purposes and isn't really meant to be entertaining in any way lol:


Time Stamps:

0:00-0:30 Example of the (dead) G-note on the 12th fret of the G-string. Also comparisons to the G-note on the B-string and D-string.

0:30-1:20 The notes after the capo is added. Huge improvement.

1:30-2:00 Adding 1.5 ounces of wheel weights behind the headstock in the same area that the capo would be pinching on. Not much of an improvement.

2:00-2:45 Another example of using the capo method. Massive improvement over using the wheel weights.

2:45-3:00 Putting the capo at the tip of the headstock to see if it makes the same improvement. Does not make a difference and the dead spot is still present. This, along with adding the wheel weights proves that (in this particular situation) it's not just about adding mass to the headstock.

3:00-3:20 Putting a capo on the 12th fret. Similar results to adding the capo behind the nut. The G-string has a massive improvement. I'm thinking that this may prove that adding a slight amount of mass (the capo itself) as well as adding tension to ALL the strings helps to remedy the problem.

3:24-3:30 Another example of the sad dead spot with no modifications.

3:30-3:45 Showing the capo method once again.

Also, for additional information. Please see the pictures below for the weight of the capo, as well as the wheel weights I used (I used three of the wheel weights, since that came closest to simulating the weight of the capo):

mkHCgYY.jpg

Capo: 38.1 grams (1.34 ounces)

ICTdFxA.jpg

Wheel Weights: 41.6 grams (1.47 ounces)

Now after my findings, these are what my thoughts are on the situation:

1) I think if PRS increased the headstock angle on these older models just slightly, this could have helped to rid the neck of any dead spots. Considering the improvement of using the capo behind the nut sort of adds additional "break angle" to the strings, I think this could have worked.

2) A string tree similar to the ones used for Ibanez, and many Floyd Rose guitars may help remedy the situation. Unfortunately, I really don't want to test this theory since it would require me to drill holes into my headstock. If anyone is willing to do this though then please let us know!

3) I am not really sure if the mass of the capo actually makes a difference. All I know, is that using it helps to remedy the situation. Considering that there was minimal improvement to the dead spot when I tried to use the wheel weights, I'm thinking that the majority of the problem is resolved with the string break angle created by the capo, as opposed to the actual weight of it.

4) I found a video on Youtube recently:


The mans name is Juha, and he seems to be a very talented luthier looking at the guitars he builds. He encountered a dead spot on one of his guitars, and his solution for it was actually removing weight from the headstock through the use of lighter tuners. The difference in weight between the old tuners and new tuners is approximately 50-60 grams (around 2 ounces). If you guys don't want to sit through the whole video, then his solution starts at approximately 53:20. This would be a great (and permanent) solution with no notable visual modifications, but unfortunately I haven't tried it yet. If there is anyone out there that has maybe tried to install lighter tuners on their older 24 fret PRS, then please let us know if it has made a difference. I am tempted to order a new set of tuners from Mann's guitar vault, as well as lighter tuner buttons to see if this makes a difference. However, I would feel terrible to spend close to $200.00 for something that isn't a guaranteed fix.

Anyways, I hope this guide is helpful. I'm sorry for the long writeup, especially since it's my first thread. But I know there are people out there like me that become almost obsessive over figuring out problems like this. In the mean time, I'm just going to be playing with the capo on top of my strings regardless of how unsightly it is. Like I said, I am very tempted to try reducing the mass of my headstock through lighter tuners. But it will be a while until I decide to spend the money on this project.

Thanks!

Ace
Wow, necessity and her inventions!!! Great sleuthing on the dead spot and thanks for sharing the secret sauce!!!
 

Justme_223

New Member
Joined
Apr 11, 2021
Messages
12
Wow, necessity and her inventions!!! Great sleuthing on the dead spot and thanks for sharing the secret sauce!!!

Thanks Moondog! I know it's not the most elegant solution, and it's not really a permanent fix. But I'm hoping that it's enough for others to at least pick up their guitar that has a dead spot and enjoy playing it.

I think if we can all put our minds together, we can maybe come up with a more elegant solution/product that blends in well with the guitar. Rather than an unsightly capo sitting on top of our headstock lol. I do still think it looks somewhat better than the Fatfinger though :D
 

Senor Verde

New Member
Joined
Sep 26, 2013
Messages
17
Glad you figured something out. I have 2 ES-335 that both had the same dead note as yours. People always say to add mass, but these guitars had Grover Rotomatics. I put lighter tuners on and the dead notes went away. If I owned your guitar, I would try to find lighter tuners that didn't need any modification to install. If you like your fix though, great! Good job troubleshooting!
 

Justme_223

New Member
Joined
Apr 11, 2021
Messages
12
Glad you figured something out. I have 2 ES-335 that both had the same dead note as yours. People always say to add mass, but these guitars had Grover Rotomatics. I put lighter tuners on and the dead notes went away. If I owned your guitar, I would try to find lighter tuners that didn't need any modification to install. If you like your fix though, great! Good job troubleshooting!

Hey thanks Senor! Unfortunately, because it's an older PRS the options for tuners (without modification) are slim to none. Simply because the D and G tuners share the same screw hole. I think the only option would be to upgrade the tuners to the "Phase 2" kit from Mann's Guitar Vault and also order some lightweight buttons to see if this works.

Thanks again for watching, and I'm happy to hear that there are now 3 guitars (your ES335's and the guys YouTube I posted) that seemed to resolve the solution by relieving the weight. It gives me hope that there's a permanent fix out there, and I think I'm definitely going to try the lighter tuner method sometime soon.
 

InTooDeep

Out Lobstering...
Joined
Oct 17, 2017
Messages
157
Really cool discovery! Maybe you could also learn something by just removing the tuner buttons to simulate lighter tuners?
 

Justme_223

New Member
Joined
Apr 11, 2021
Messages
12
Really cool discovery! Maybe you could also learn something by just removing the tuner buttons to simulate lighter tuners?

What's funny is I actually tried to do that last night! But I didn't realize how complex the tuning mechanism was. As I was unscrewing the tuning button, it also detuned the string (even though I was holding it).

This makes it a bit hard to test because then I'll have to tune it back up to pitch with no tuning button (and I really don't want to risk hurting the post by taking a pair of pliers/wrench to try and tune it back up).

But yes, we both had the same thought process in mind!
 

Justme_223

New Member
Joined
Apr 11, 2021
Messages
12
It might even be the nut, given the age of your beautiful guitar. I would consider that. None of my PRSi suffer from the dreaded dead spot, and most of them have had the nut replaced by a professional luthier who used to work at the factory.

Maybe I'll try doing that. If it were the nut though, wouldn't there be problems on the entire string, rather than just one fret? The rest of the frets play perfectly, but just that 12th fret is acting up.
 

dogrocketp

I drank the PRS kool aid, and it was tasty!
Joined
Apr 28, 2013
Messages
4,155
Location
Washington, DC
Not necessarily. Remember, theses are made Out of wood, and wood varies. The nut is a cheap and easy fix for several problems. My luthier considered it the single most important part of the guitar. That’s why I have it done professionally. You don’t even wanna know what my ears hear.
 

Rider1260

New Member
Joined
Jun 9, 2013
Messages
2,985
I believe your issue is more likely a setup issue. I have found a few 24s that were kinda difficult to get to ring out as much as they could once you get up high on the fretboard there is so little mass little things can make a difference.
First - Be sure both saddle screws on that string are firmly touching down, I have seen several that had some floating just a bit and it makes a big difference.
Second - try raising the action on that string just a bit and if you have a radius gauge check it I have also seen some guitars set at to flat a radius ( 10" )
Third - check the truss rod PRS double acting truss rods have a very fine adjustment all these things work together to give you the best sustain.
( Just leave the tool in the saddle screw and raise slowly until the note rings out ) ( I've done the same with the truss rod small adjustments do a BUNCH )
another thing to try is lowing your pickups a bit this can reduce string pull and often increase sustain.
Last but not least try a new string it does happen sometime.
I have always been able to get even the cheapest guitar to ring out with the right setup.
Oh and since its a bolt on check the neck it tight , and someone didn't put a poorly made shim in there or you might need a shim to change the neck angle a bit.
best of luck !!!
 

RonHal

New Member
Joined
May 3, 2012
Messages
36
I believe your issue is more likely a setup issue. I have found a few 24s that were kinda difficult to get to ring out as much as they could once you get up high on the fretboard there is so little mass little things can make a difference.
First - Be sure both saddle screws on that string are firmly touching down, I have seen several that had some floating just a bit and it makes a big difference.
Second - try raising the action on that string just a bit and if you have a radius gauge check it I have also seen some guitars set at to flat a radius ( 10" )
Third - check the truss rod PRS double acting truss rods have a very fine adjustment all these things work together to give you the best sustain.
( Just leave the tool in the saddle screw and raise slowly until the note rings out ) ( I've done the same with the truss rod small adjustments do a BUNCH )
another thing to try is lowing your pickups a bit this can reduce string pull and often increase sustain.
Last but not least try a new string it does happen sometime.
I have always been able to get even the cheapest guitar to ring out with the right setup.
Oh and since its a bolt on check the neck it tight , and someone didn't put a poorly made shim in there or you might need a shim to change the neck angle a bit.
best of luck !!!

I have this same problem on my Cu24 w/ stoptail. I have to say my action is higher than PRS spec. So the nut may be the problem. I have had "weird" problems from bad nuts before. The capo position to fix says its the nut. Otherwise every guitar would have this problem.
 

skelt101

New Member
Joined
Sep 14, 2021
Messages
12
What about trying tuning machines with a shorter string post to create a sharper break angle over the nut? I know that Gotoh offers staggered sets, as well as adjustable height posts.
 

Rod Welles

Vibrato & String Bender
Joined
Nov 9, 2021
Messages
333
Location
Seacoast New Hampshire/ S. Maine
I just picked up a new 2021 DGT Wood Library from John Mann’s Guitar Vault yesterday… what a guitar.. and John and Andy are just the best folks and so informative to deal with.. At any rate, one of the first things I noticed when I got it home was that Paul definitely (imho) changed ever so slightly the headstock angle from the early PRS’s I used to play in the 80’s and 90’s…everything on these newer guitars has been tweaked and refined over the years, and every note is very even and lively over the entire fretboard and very well balanced volume and response wise… just my thoughts….
 
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