What is it – What is use – How to do it.
Since several years I have returned to use the ramp and although back in 2004 had made a small incursion was not until 2011 that I decided to actually reinstall. The decision had to do in large part with the change of my right hand technique (low pressure pressing and using 4 fingers) I did since.
The ramp itself is only a piece of wood (or other materials such as plastic, acrylic, rubber, etc …) located between the microphones, although there are several instruments that have it installed between the fingerboard and the first microphone going to the bridge.
The role is to preserve the same action (understood as action height) with microphones relative to the strings, but especially the sector in which it is installed, thereby preventing fingers snagging between the strings and in turn, the right hand attack being softer, with less pressure.
I do not know exactly a specific date in which the ramp was invented but is credited to Gary Willis (for those who do not know Him, bass player for Tribal Tech and solo artist of great influence for the instrument itself), who began to use it in the late 80s or early 90s.
Today and for several years there are a great range of bassists using the ramp, including to Dominique Di Piazza, Matthew Garrison, Hadrien Feraud, and many more.
The benefits were several: Achieving the same comfort of action around the space where is installed, matching the microphone height.
Playing much more relaxed. By choosing to pluck with less pressure on the right hand, the ramp helps preserve that intention, generating a sound totally different.
When pressed with much pressure the sound is quite attacked and almost instantly the intensity of the sound wave decreases (Photo 1); but when pressed with less pressure the sound wave is much more evenly and projects the sustain of the note (photo 2).
When experimenting with alternative techniques such as 3 or 4 fingers, palm mute, etc … The ramp allows for greater comfort and a wide range of new sounds to experience.
How to install it ? For those skilled is simple and for those not so many, you can always ask a luthier to do so.
The first thing to do and is quite important because will rid of unwanted noise, is to set the correct height of the microphones in the instrument (the post of next week will be on how to calibrate your Bass).
Then take measurements of heights of both microphones and the dimensions of space where it would be the ramp.
To shape the ramp you can consider the curve of the fingerboard and give the same curvature; or you can leave it straight. Both alternatives are quite different when playing but depend on each instrumentalist to find which is appropriate.
If the wood piece combines or just like, instead of paint can oiled (lemon oil, tung, etc …) to highlight more the grain of the wood.
The only trick is let dry the oil well because could mess up the strings.
Once dry, it can stick on the instrument with silicone adhesive or other glue that allows them if do not like, to remove it without damaging the paint so severely. Put on the strings and it is ready.
The mystery of The Ramp has been solved!