DOTS – we all need help sometimes

Many years ago, I was doing a recording project where I needed to do tasks such as a glissando over a specified tri-tone on one string, evenly over thirty seconds.  That’s when I first used dot markers at every half step on the bass,  color coded of course.  My then toddler son thought I had a beautiful new bass.

In recent years, virtuoso Edgar Meyers popularized inlaid dots on his bass and he is pretty much the god of good intonation.  Thank you, Edgar.

I’ve done a lot of contemporary music and use all of my various basses, so I keep them all in markers.  Better to be right than sorry.

Where to place them:

Octave harmonic, the fifth above that, the fourth above that

OR – on the side of the neck if finding a low position note is the current problem

What to use:

Pasty dots – You can find colored dots, sticky on the back at stationery stores.  A magic marker will make them black if you don’t want to be too obvious. 

Nail polish alternative – Again, at the stationery store – get hole punch reinforcers. Place them in the appropriate spots, then with the bass fingerboard horizontal to the floor, carefully fill the center of the hole with black nail polish.  Several thin coats will be best.  Then remove the reinforcer.


But what about the debilitating practice of watching your left hand?  Go ahead and use your eyes if you need to, then have your ear take over.











one possibility




hole punch reinforcer




ready to paint






the finished dot