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Making a bass a tapping instrument

From: stick@earthlink.net (Stick Enterprises, Inc.)
Subject: Re: Making a Bass a tapping instrument

Replying to Simmon Keith's post of Thursday, here are some general steps in setting up your bass guitar for two-handed tapping:

  • Make sure your fretboard has a very straight profile.
  • Try to get the fret tops to form an even plane.
  • Restring with somewhat lighter gauges1.
  • File the nut grooves to get the strings down low so they barely clear the first fret.
  • Put a hairy or spongy damper under the strings at the first fret space close to the nut2.
  • Lower the bridge to get the tapping action of each individual string down as low as possible without buzzing against next higher frets.
  • Raise the pickups up close to the strings, especially to the highest pitched string, which should almost touch the pickup when played at the highest fret.
  • If your bridge is adjustable for forward and backward positioning of the saddle, adjust for true octaves, tapping each string at a lower fret space, then playing the harmonic octave of that note by touching that tapped string 12 frets up, then tapping that note at the same higher octave position and comparing the pitches.

Although I've outlined the general procedure in sequential order, much of the work is really interactive, so you might have to retrace your steps. For example, if you file the nut slots for low string clearance over the first fret and you later lower the bridge a lot, the strings may no longer clear the first fret (bad move).

If the basic construction of your bass guitar was done right to begin with, you should be able to achieve tapping playability in feel and sound as your setup grows together.

Good Luck,

Emmett Chapman


1 - I got my strings from Touchstyle Publications. Since I found it impossible to find the high strings in the scale length needed, I ordered from these guys. They were happy to accommodate the 5ths tuning (like the bass-side of the StickTM). If, however, you don't want to order from them, I might be able to track down the guages...

2 - The StickTM uses a piece of 1 inch self-adhesive velcro (the hairy side, not the hooky side).


In hind-sight, I should've just been patient and gotten the extra money for a Stick. But at the time I thought I might be getting a new one, so it was that much more to save up for. {shrug}

Anyhow, I wanted to get used to the vertical playing posture, so I added an extra strap button, got some strap locks, and made some adjustable straps (parts salvaged from old duffle bags). They hooked onto both sides of the bass and snapped around my belt behind my back. It worked pretty well. Here's some pictures:



 

 

 

 

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