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Annoying clicky sound...

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by SuperBassSam, Feb 21, 2009.

  1. SuperBassSam


    Feb 9, 2009
    Dorset, UK

    I've been learning bass for about 3 months, and was a reasonably mediocre guitarist for approx. 3 years. I mainly play metal/rock, and whenever my playing starts picking up speed, I can hear an annoying sort of clicking sound. My drummer even pointed it out.

    I play fingerstyle, and I was wondering why this happens? Is it technique related or amp settings or something else?

    Thanks for reading
  2. ldervish


    May 22, 2005
    Johnson City, TN
    Could be any of several things, from the treble/mids settings on your amp to the particular qualities of your strings and pickups. However, my bet would be that you're action is set a bit too high... At slower speeds you are a little gentler with your fretting, but as you pick up speed the fretting motion takes more pressure and has to be done quicker, until it almost becomes a "hammering". The click is the string hitting the fret before you pluck the note.

    Check (or have someone check) the instrument for proper relief and string height. Once that is where it is supposed to be, practice using the least fretting pressure it takes to get a clear note, and gradually build up your speed while concentrating on that. You might also try a different position on the fretboard for the line you are playing, or even experiment with using a slight "sliding" or squeezing motion into the target note. Coated strings can also help with this, but may change the sound at the same time.

    Of course, I could be all wet, in which case completely disregard the above. :p
  3. Ganky


    Nov 29, 2008
    Cambridge, England
    Unlikely to be amp settings if your getting the sound when your playing acoustic, it's to do with the strings. You might need to lower your action (the height of the strings from the fretboard), or it simply might be part of the bass's sound, if it's on the amp try lowering your tone. What bass are you using?
  4. When people play louder or faster, they automatically want to hit the string harder and tend to hit it a more sloppy and uncontrolled way.

    Check yourself when your playing to see if your slapping down toward the fretboard/body of the bass as you attack the string. If your doing that, you will definately get a clicking sound by the string either hiting the frets in a downward way or even hitting the pickups.

    If this is they cause, try attacking the string in more of a sideways motion. For example if your striking the D string, strike it as if your pulling toward the A string and not downward toward the fretboard.
  5. Atech


    Dec 27, 2007
    Hi. I asked the same question about a year ago. It's like some said, it has to do with your right hand picking the strings towards the fretboard and not 'parallel' to it. You tend to do that when you play fast. If you listen carefully you hear that at many bassists. Steve Harris is a prime example, and a ton of death metal bassists, even Alex Webster. The first thing you could try is keep your right hand towards the bridge, and pick there. Also, if you play downtuned, make sure you don't have soft strings. I found it helps a bit if I keep my picking fingers straight. I know this might sound weird but it helped me a bit. Or you could just use a pick. :) Just my opinion, good luck. :)
  6. Knubbis91


    Dec 7, 2008
    Although I really don´t even believe this is the matter here, but I sometimes get a sort of annoying high-pitched clicking noise when i hit the strings fingerstyle, and I realised that it was my nails on the plucking fingers hitting the string right after the finger, so I cut them and problem´s gone.. I tend to let my nails grow abit, since I´m too lazy to cut them like once every two weeks..:p
  7. "Clacking", as my former teacher calls it, can be caused by all of the above;
    - Long Nails
    - Poor Plucking technique (striking the strings downward toward the body, thus causing them to slap down onto the frets)
    - Action - could be too high - could also be too low - in other words, not right. If your action is really low and your plucking technique is more of the downward, hammer-fingered approach, clacking is inevitable.

    Get your bass set up properly. Practice a lighter touch that does not include striking the strings in a downward (toward the body) motion and practice your plucking technique using scales and arpeggios focusing heavily on getting ONLY the note to speak out and evenness of articulation for both (all) plucking fingers.

    You can still dig in and get a killer, driven sound if you have your technique refined. Also - sometimes 'clacking' can be a cool sound if used appropriately (Think Steve Harris or Geezer Butler). But if it's happening when you don't want it to, it needs to be addressed.
  8. progrmr


    Sep 3, 2008
    Columbus, Ohio
    Long finger nails...happens to me every week or two :)
  9. jschwalls


    Sep 4, 2007
    Savannah GA
    also make sure you're not "pre-fretting". Which is when your fret hand makes contact with the fingerboard, milliseconds before your plucking hand is able to make contact with the string again to pluck it.

    basically learn to play very staccato... I was taught to play my exercises at slow tempos and to make sure that my 2 hands were 100% in sync with each other...

    I was surprised how much this method cleaned up my playing... it also teaches you the importance of a lighter touch, which lends it's way to using dynamics as a tone tool as well...
  10. DeanAngerer


    Jul 18, 2008
    It could be a lot of things but I'm betting it's as simple as having your tone high and you're striking the strings too hard. When your tone is high, it really captures the "attack" a lot more and if you're striking the strings really hard you're going to hear a ton of clicking and clacking.
  11. jruberto


    Dec 23, 2008
    Denver, CO
    Staff Producer / Audio Engineer: Blue Tower Studio, Denver, CO & Mighty Fine Productions, Denver, CO
    All good advice. The clack might actually be the string hitting the pickup, if you can adjust your pickups to be a little lower, try that. The better solution is to try to gain a little more control over your technique.

    One of the hardest things to master is keeping good technique when you are trying to play really loud or fast, especially when you approach the boundary of what you can actually play. You wind up playing harder than normal, less relaxed and you sacrifice tone and technique just trying to keep up. A regimen of practicing "the hard stuff" really slowly with a metronome can make the stuff easier to play and you won't tense up & play too hard when it's time to play it at performance tempo.

    I also tend to keep my amp cranked up louder than it needs to be, which forces me to play more gently & relaxed and has the added benefit of granting access to a lot more dynamic range.

    Cheers, j