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

  1. #1
    Senior Member sergiodeblanc's Avatar
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    So where are these "Dead Spots" I keep hearing about?

    I have noticed a lot of comments on "The Grumpy Page" about PRS having "dead spots" around the 12th fret, I have no idea what they are talking about. I mean I know what a "dead spot" is mind you, but neither PRS guitar I own, or any one I have ever played has had this problem. It seems like there are a bunch of people who still love their PRS but are complaining about it, is this really an issue? Do I need to clean my ears? I know I have to trim the hair that magically started appearing daily after I turned 36, but Damn! Is this just a new form of slander about PRS guitars that gets repeated until it becomes "truth"?

  2. #2
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    In my experience most dead spots are caused by too low of action or fat fingers hanging over the fret. Of course I'm sure some instruments do have dead spots.

  3. #3
    A♥ hoards guitars ♥A rugerpc's Avatar
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    The dead spots for those complaining are actually between their own ears....

    There will always be something wrong with PRS guitars for some. Maybe in this case it is better to consider the source of the complaint and thereby dismiss the complaint.
    Last edited by rugerpc; 01-15-2013 at 07:52 PM. Reason: rumour control
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  4. #4
    I've been playing PRSes for 22 years, have owned quite a few, and have played many more. I've never observed this problem with one. They've all sustained evenly up and down the neck.

    Doesn't mean it can't happen, but it must be very unusual.

  5. #5
    Cream Crackered Mikegarveyblues's Avatar
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    Dead spots can and indeed do occur. I had a Schecter I had to return that had a terrible dead spot that I couldn't live with. The guy in the shop had no idea what I was on about when I tried to explain it and did the whole "Just needs a setup" thing.

    I think it's probable that a lot of the time a 'dead spot' is more likely a setup issue or a technique issue. However, there are some incidences where nothing can be done as it's inherant to that particular guitar, it's construction and materials.

    My dead spot meant 'e' notes high up the neck wouldn't sustain for more than 2 - 3 seconds. The decay of the note wasn't normal and abrubtly ended. Completely unmusical. Something was killing that particualr frequency. Didn't matter if I tuned the string up or down as it would follow the e note or in other words it wasn't related to that fret.

    I took the guitar back and got the Bernie so a happy ending. I did do a vid on dead spots for another website. I won't post it here as it's pretty dreadful in every way.

    By the point i'd edited and uploaded the vid i'd got my PRS and was singing it's praises. John Suhr did leave an interesting comment:

    "All guitars will have a dead spot some place unless they are made out of concrete.

    The more alive the guitar is the more dead spots you will have. PRS are not exempt either and even had a kit they would ship you to try and move the dead spot to an area that doesn't bug you as much. Changing mass in the headstock will move it like even different tuning gear buttons

    A good finger vibrato would go a long way in letting the note regenerate itself as well !"


    I wasn't sure if the last part of his comment was a dig at my vibrato in the vid but he's partly right. A good vibrato and volume will help a note sustain longer. But for the dead spot on my Schecter it didn't really help.

    As for rarity... I've owned quite a lot of guitars including many budget (Sub £300) ones and played many others. I've only had that 'dead spot' experience once with the Schecter (Which had other issues too!).

    ALL my guitars have 'sweet spots' where the sustain is richer and the tone seems better but overall pretty balanced.

    Guitars are made from natural materials. It can happen!
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  6. #6
    408 Sig Club President Twinfan's Avatar
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    The sustain and strength of notes vary on all my guitars, but none have any really dead spots. On a PRS I'd say it was an unusual problem.

    The comment about fat fingers and fretting techinque is also a very good one - this can easily dampen the note. Vibrato definitely helps the note ring out too.

  7. #7
    Occasionally Onery Member CantankerousCarl's Avatar
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    I actually had a (used) 92 CU24 that "severely repressed" G. Abrupt, unnatural decay as Mike described.

    I first noticed it on 3rd string 12th fret, but then discovered that any G played anywhere had unnatural decay as opposed to the other notes around it. It was most pronounced with gain up, guitar on neck pickup with tone rolled down. As I would tune the strings sharp or flat, the issue followed the note, not the fret - like the guitar was "eating" G!

    I did return the guitar to GC, but I suspect that I would have kept it had the overall condition been better. I wasn't in love with it, went looking for problems, and found some.

    My Mira had this too @ G# but that didn't bother me so much...
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    My '89 Cu24 has what would be considered a 'dead spot' on the G string at the 12th fret. As stated, it's a note that quickly dies off with little sustain. I installed the PRS Upgrade Kit that swapped out a number of pieces of hardware (don't know if this is even still available) and it helped somewhat.It was primarily for instruments made pre-'90, I believe, so there was some recognition by the company that there were some issues with some of the early instruments. Issues, I believe that led to what Ed Roman termed the 'heel from hell' - increasing the size/mass of the heel of the neck.
    The problem is not imaginary and it cannot be entirely alleviated with a setup or a different playing technique. None of my more recent acquisitions display this trait, but perhaps it was limited to 24 fret models - all my other PRSs are 22 fret.

  9. #9
    Opaque John Beef's Avatar
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    My CU22, on the D string 7th fret, that particular A note does decay faster than any other note on the fretboard, but not so fast as to cause any real problems.
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    Member tacomadriver's Avatar
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    I'm getting the impression that the term dead spot refers to more than one phenomenon. The SE Singlecut I bought a few months ago had a three fret dead area post setup, 12-14 frets on unwound strings barely sustained. It now plays perfect after having the frets leveled and crowned. The other dead spot or live spot mentioned sounds like for some players the entire guitar is resonating or not.
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  11. #11
    Senior Member AP515's Avatar
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    My 2006 Cu24AP had a very significant dead spot on the 12th fret. It also has two sweet spots on the 7th and 9th frets. I figure I'm ahead one sweet spot! My 88 CE24 also has dead spots. I just play a 22 fret one if I was sustain on those frets.
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    Senior Member veinbuster's Avatar
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    I'm pretty sure the dead spots I hear from time to time are in my ears.
    They are not the same from day to day.

  13. #13
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    Yes PRSs can have deadspots just like any guitar can. Sometimes they're caused by a high fret, a low fret, a grooved fret, or a lot of other issues but the typical dead tone or spot is caused by what some people will call wolftones. Pretty much a sympathetic resonant frequency that cancels-out a specific note. They can happen in one place or on one note in several places..
    If you want to feel good about PRSs then the "the livlier a guitar is, the more deadspots it will have" nonsense can be a prop for PRS.
    Makes no sense that a lively guitar would have a lot of deadspots...if so would it be considered LIVELY??
    But anyway...from my experiences, Gnotes seem more susseptible to being "dead" than most notes. I have "dead" G notes on several (HIGH END) guitars.

  14. #14
    Cream Crackered Mikegarveyblues's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by blaren View Post
    Yes PRSs can have deadspots just like any guitar can. Sometimes they're caused by a high fret, a low fret, a grooved fret, or a lot of other issues but the typical dead tone or spot is caused by what some people will call wolftones. Pretty much a sympathetic resonant frequency that cancels-out a specific note. They can happen in one place or on one note in several places..
    If you want to feel good about PRSs then the "the livlier a guitar is, the more deadspots it will have" nonsense can be a prop for PRS.
    Makes no sense that a lively guitar would have a lot of deadspots...if so would it be considered LIVELY??
    But anyway...from my experiences, Gnotes seem more susseptible to being "dead" than most notes. I have "dead" G notes on several (HIGH END) guitars.
    You would have to take that up with John Suhr as I presume he had a specific reason to state what he did.
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    Junior Member hpr's Avatar
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    Sorry for the thread necromancy -- but as much as I like my new guitar (PRS US CU24) I'm having sustain issues in multiple spots -- mainly 10th fret on B string (A) and 14th fret on high E string (F#). Not sure if this is from problems with frets or what, but seems that bending to the same note from the same string causes an untimely death for my notes too in both cases. In B string sound quickly changes to harmonic, in E string it simply whimpers away at around 4 (EDIT: tested, it's around 2,5 seconds actually) seconds in both.

    EDIT: G string 14th fret causes the same problem (A, same as on B string), even when bending to it from 12th fret.

    I did have to adjust the truss rod a couple of days ago after guitar settled down to our temperature & humidity which made the E string problem more obvious, but the B string has been there since the beginning. I was pretty careful about it but might have adjusted just a tad too much and the biggest fret asymmetries are getting highlighted.

    This is really annoying as in any other place the guitar practically sings. Any tips? Sending back to PRS from Finland seems like a risk I'm not willing to take lightly.

    Any tips?
    Last edited by hpr; 12-03-2014 at 08:19 AM.

  16. #16
    Senior Member AP515's Avatar
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    The "A" sounds like a wolf tone (you get the harmonic), the F# sounds like a dead spot. Many people like the wolf tones. As for the dead spot, there are things you can try to change them but they rarely go away. As a test, put a small C-clamp on your headstock (put a cloth in between for protection) to add mass to the headstock and see if the location of the dead spot changes (to G or F for example). I've heard people say headstock mass has an effect.
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  17. #17
    Junior Member hpr's Avatar
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    Thanks for the info. I'll have to check out that headstock test and see what happens. It's kinda annoying to have these on a 3k€ guitar though :/

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    My experience with Pernambuco necks was not a good one. I had one of the limited DGTs with pern necks. It had strange dead spots in the higher registers. Not from frets or any reason I could find. Going up and down the neck on different strings would give notes that rang out perfectly, and other notes that would ring out fine for a second or two, and then just fade to nothing for seemingly no reason. I would say they had around 20-60% less sustain than the "good" notes. There were 3-4 other people who complained about the same thing on BAM, but liked the guitars enough to keep them. Mine went back. All of my guitars (Fender, Gibson, PRS) have what sound like some kind of cancellation on certain frets to some degree, but nothing like that at all.

  19. #19
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    My '98 CE-24 has a dead note on the G string at the 12th fret (almost immediately turns into harmonic overtone, which quickly dies away), and my 2013 BM signature has a dead note (less harmonic, a bit slower fade) on the B string at the 12th fret.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by hpr View Post
    Sorry for the thread necromancy -- but as much as I like my new guitar (PRS US CU24) I'm having sustain issues in multiple spots -- mainly 10th fret on B string (A) and 14th fret on high E string (F#). Not sure if this is from problems with frets or what, but seems that bending to the same note from the same string causes an untimely death for my notes too in both cases. In B string sound quickly changes to harmonic, in E string it simply whimpers away at around 4 (EDIT: tested, it's around 2,5 seconds actually) seconds in both.

    EDIT: G string 14th fret causes the same problem (A, same as on B string), even when bending to it from 12th fret.

    I did have to adjust the truss rod a couple of days ago after guitar settled down to our temperature & humidity which made the E string problem more obvious, but the B string has been there since the beginning. I was pretty careful about it but might have adjusted just a tad too much and the biggest fret asymmetries are getting highlighted.

    This is really annoying as in any other place the guitar practically sings. Any tips? Sending back to PRS from Finland seems like a risk I'm not willing to take lightly.

    Any tips?

    Can you make a video clip of this and post it here? What you are talking about on the A string flipping to the harmonic, I LOVE that! Dumble amps make many notes do that.
    Last edited by Tag; 12-03-2014 at 01:24 PM.

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