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Action / Fret buzz

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by kd5uwl, Oct 25, 2012.

  1. kd5uwl


    Jun 7, 2012

    I'm a fairly new player and not sure if this belongs here or Technique. With low action and heavy plucking I get fret buzz. This is more prevalent within the lowest 5 frets and mostly on E and especially A strings, especially about the 2nd and 3rd frets.

    If I raise the bridge enough this goes away. Or, if I don't pluck too aggressively, the bridge doesn't need raised as much.

    The guitar tech at the local music shop who is a bassist and owner of RICs looked at it and thinks the neck is dead straight but says he likes the action much lower.

    But if I lower the action I have to play less aggressively. But if I get loud on the lower strings, especially where I've indicated, like "ff" or "fff" loud, I get that buzz.

    So, do some bassists just like a higher action, and maybe I'm one of those? Or is this a setup issue?

    One guy told me "they just sound like that".

    Any suggestions?

  2. Foamy


    Jun 26, 2006
    Sac Area
    It shouldn't be straight. There should be some relief in the neck. That "may" be the problem. Do a search here for how to setup your bass. You need to do do it all, step-by-step. It is likely not enough just to set the relief. You also have to set the action and intonation.
    But try and give a 32nd or so relief at 7th fret when fretting at fret 1 and where the neck joins the body.
    I like to set relief so that 2 business cards are held, but 1 falls free.
  3. kd5uwl


    Jun 7, 2012
    Thank you, Foamy. By the way, I suppose my question is a generic one but I should mention anyway: this is a new 2012 Ric 4003, fresh from the manufacturer.
  4. Foamy


    Jun 26, 2006
    Sac Area
    Still needs to be set up. And once it is setup properly, it will still need adjustments in relief due to weather/season/temperature changes once in a while. And again if you change strings, etc...
    Lookup here how to adjust relief. I am guessing it will take you 5 minutes to do and you'll be very well pleased.
    Most importantly, be sure to read first and understand what you are doing before adjusting truss rod. It is not rocket science!!! You just have to understand how to do it.
  5. kd5uwl


    Jun 7, 2012
    Thank you so much, Foamy. I feel much better just reading this reply! My Peavy T-40 has an almost imperceptible upward curve when sighting down the neck (I'll try your business card trick) and it doesn't do this thing I've described. I can play it as aggressively as I want.

    Thank you again. As scary as it seems to me, I'd rather learn to do this setup myself than leave my new Ric with a stranger for a week. Right now there is not a scratch on it!! :)
  6. Epitaph04

    Epitaph04 Bajo Supporting Member

    Jul 5, 2010
    The only real problem I see with this is that we don't know if you really have a brand new Ric or not. We're gonna have to see pictures.....
  7. chef wong

    chef wong Banned

    Sep 15, 2012
    Grind at the 3rd fret could mean a convex bow in the neck.
  8. Jaco Taco

    Jaco Taco

    Jul 30, 2012
    If you have low action and you are picking hard, you are going to get fret buzz, regardless of how well the bass is set-up.

    If you are playing rock, this is not a bad thing at all as fret buzz helps to contribute to an aggressive and ballsy sound. If you were to isolate the bass tracks on a lot of rock records, I think you would be surprised at the amount of fret buzz on those tracks.

    Now, if you want to play mellower music or jazz or whatever, I would recommend either playing with a lighter attack or raising the action.
  9. Jaco Taco

    Jaco Taco

    Jul 30, 2012
    As an example of a Ric with fretbuzz, I point you over to one of the most famous bassists ever, Chris Squire, playing his Rickenbacker on one of the more famous basslines ever, "Roundabout".
    Hear all that fretbuzz? Yeah, it's not a bad thing, it's part of the tone if you want a rocking Rickenbacker sound.
  10. DethByDoom


    Sep 23, 2012
    Yup listen to isolated bass tracks on notreble.com Fleas are a bit noisy. Fret buzz, and clacking from playing hard.

    Set your relief properly first. But if you still getting buzz that you can't live with ease up the bridge. I have some basses with very low action and some higher. I go with the right one for the job.

    Also look at how to check if your frets are all the same height. On cheap basses they may not be…
  11. wilfredes


    Oct 11, 2012
    This is exactly what I want to know .
  12. kd5uwl


    Jun 7, 2012
    Super - thanks to all for the great replies and links isolated bass tracks and notreble.com, I didn't know that site...see what a noob I am?

    Here are the asked for pix:

    Attached Files:

  13. I'd say with those amps, aggressive plucking = inefficiency.

    I used to like medium action until I saw the light. Nice stuff BTW!
  14. kd5uwl


    Jun 7, 2012
    Thanks, Immigrant. I suppose the heavy plucking came from playing my acoustic bass, Takamine TB240SC, not shown in the previous photos. When I want to get loud I pluck hard. Plus I like the sound when I really get after it :)

    After listening to the Roundabout stand-alone bass line I'd say Yes, I sound just like Chris playing that :) Seriously, though, that is the kind of noise I'm talking about. And he's always been one of my favorite bassists. So, I'm thinking of playing around with a lighter touch ... I'm already experiencing that closer action could possibly lead to faster possibilities ...

    Thanks again to everyone ... I have a lot to consider, check out, and try.

    Photo of the acoustic:

    Attached Files:

  15. I'd definitely adjust that relief. I play pretty aggressively, and if I stick to plucking above my bridge pickup, there's no buzz.
  16. Jaco Taco

    Jaco Taco

    Jul 30, 2012
    What I do is I just vary my playing style depending on the sound I want out of the bass. I have my basses (one of em an 8-string Rickenbacker 4003) set for low action, and if I don't want buzz, I pick with a medium or light attack. When I want that grind and rattle, I dig in and play more aggressively. It's nice to have that option in terms of dynamics and color.

    But like I've said before, if you are playing rock, you shouldn't be afraid of fret buzz, anymore than a guitarist should be afraid of distortion, it kind of goes with the genre of music, you know? The thing is, when an entire band is playing together and you've got all sorts of frequencies flying around from the drums, etc., you're not really going to hear the fret buzz that much, but it will still add to the aggressive effect of the bass and the band, imo.

    Enjoy that Ric! It looks great!
  17. Sav'nBass

    Sav'nBass What the .............. Supporting Member

    Jan 18, 2009
    Northern Va.
    Oh man... That brings back memories.. of The Nightbird.. on WNEW FM..

    Alison Steele

    It could be your strings too (along with the neck adjustment) ... A heavier gauge string will flop around more.

    See these threads:
    Basic setup guide

    Strings FAQ
  18. darkstorm


    Oct 13, 2009
    A lot of players play overly hard. Those who learn to play less aggressively generally find they have better control, and better ability to do various nuances in their playing. Hitting the strings as hard as you can to me just indicates poor technique. Dunno if thats your problem or not. I think a person can be more expressive with their playing when they develope lighter fretting and lighter pick or finger striking skills.
  19. kd5uwl


    Jun 7, 2012

    Thank you, this is helpful. I'm a noob .. only been playing a couple of years. This is very helpful, thank you.

  20. Sav'nBass

    Sav'nBass What the .............. Supporting Member

    Jan 18, 2009
    Northern Va.
    I have also noticed with different strings that playing at different places on the bass (right hand) will produce more or less buzz.. Playing closer to the bridge produces less buzz.. closer to the neck produces more.. and to dovetail on what darkstorm said.. when I play closer to the neck I have a lighter touch...