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Better fretting

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by ITucker_034I, Feb 2, 2014.

  1. Hey guys. I recently downloaded some free software allowing me to record myself, after playing around for a while I realised that about half the time my playing was causing the frets to buzz or adding other noise in like the swoosh the when you change fret with the same finger (bad description I know).

    Anyway Im fairly certain its down to my technique so I was wondering if there any ways to fret better or any tips. Im fairly new to fingerstyle, so most of the 2 and a half years ive been playing I've done so with a pick. Just got an MIA jazz bass btw, and it plays great so thats not the problem (its twice as bad playing on my thunderbird).
  2. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    Interesting question!

    First, do you have a teacher that can look at your hands and tell you what you're doing right/wrong? That's a good place to start. :) Without actually seeing your hands, I would say, make sure your left-hand fingers are pressing down close to the fret (instead of halfway between the frets), get your bass properly setup, and if you really have zero tolerance for string noise, flatwound strings will be a big help.

    Second, are you playing all by yourself, or with a band? Most bass players find that, when they play in a band, the finger/fret noise actually sounds pretty good in the mix. If you go on Youtube and listen to isolated bass tracks of pro's like John Entwhistle, Flea, Jason Newstead, Robert Trujillo, etc. you might feel a little better about having fret/string noise in your own playing. There are plenty of #1 smash hit gold records that are larded with fret/string noise. :)
  3. I had a suspicion flatwounds might help, are they any good on a jazz though? I have no idea about strings. And yeah, I play a bit in a band, I dont tend to notice then, but Im trying to perfect my technique at home and it was all I could hear
  4. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    Flatwounds are good on any bass, if you like flatwounds. They feel and sound completely different from roundwounds. A teacher can help you learn about strings. :)
  5. Im still convinced my fretting needs work though
  6. I'll have my teacher look at my fretting next lesson I think, and once I have some cash I'll go get my bass set up for flats
  7. fearceol


    Nov 14, 2006
  8. Cheers guys. Gonna have my teacher have a look at my technique. Then have a crack at some vids.
  9. Look up bass permutations. They are the best way to fix any left hand technique issues. Practice them slowly focusing on finger position. Then, advance the speed to work on fluidity and start to build the agility and independence of the weaker fingers.

    Usually excess noise is caused by an imbalance in strength and agility/speed of fingers. We try to make up for the imbalance by compensating (usually speedeing up) with the stronger fingers. This usually results in more force used with strong fingers, and less time for notes to sound with weak fingers. Fret noise is the result.

    Since you are new to finger style, there may be a strength/agility imbalance in your right hand as well. This will add too the noise caused by the left hand. Permutations will address both problems simultaneously by playing them on each string successively, ascending and descending, focussing on strict alternation of the right hand. This will also develope your SA or raking technique when descending.

    As far as a complete balanced routine to develope technique for all fingers, practicing permutations are as good as you can ask for.
  10. Lee Moses

    Lee Moses

    Apr 2, 2013
    Without seeing your technique, I don't know if this is a problem . . . but fretting in the middle or bottom half of the fret can cause buzz. Make sure you are fretting just behind the fret, almost right on top of it.
  11. edpal

    edpal Banned

    Oct 3, 2007
    One man's swoosh is another man's tasteful slide. The buzz - make sure setup is all it can be. As someone said above most bass tracks by even pro players have all kinds of finger squeaks, buzzes and swoosh/slides from not picking up the fretting finger as far as possible which has a slight muting effect on the first note so sometimes is beneficial or desirable. It is always kind of odd hearing your track isolated from a recording that in full sounds just great. Many great bass parts make little sense by themselves and just ain't that pretty.
  12. Fergie Fulton

    Fergie Fulton Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 22, 2008
    Retrovibe Artist rota
    To pluck a note in a closed position it has to be fretted.......that is a given. Where the skill is.....is in the timing of it.
    Too early and it is excess fret noise, too late and it is a muted or dampened note as a rule.

    The finger has to pluck the note at the optimum time, when lots of notes are being played then it is about releasing and re-fretting notes.
    So there occurs a situation when the playing is not clean because the technique is not clean in execution.

    The trick is to correctly identify the problem, the note that is not clean may be more to do with the notes around it.
    For example going from a B to a C, if the C sounds muddy is it a fretting problem or a transition problem in the movement? Is the problem in the plucking hand not timing the strike or the fretting hand not fretting the note?

    This is why slow deliberate practice is important.
    It lets you hear and feel the notes execution, you have to be spot on to keep an even timbre in the notes.
    Whole note Scales, Triads and Arps are great for this at about Largo (44-50 BPM) as you have to give to note time to form, resonate and decay within single strike.
    The skill is in understanding that if you cannot play slow with control, you cannot learn to play fast with control. Tempo is just speed, once you have it down you just play it at the desired tempo..slower or faster.
  13. Thanks for all the responses guys. I think im going to practice my arpeggios and scales a lot more than learning songs. I like the idea of starting slow because then I can be more deliberate with my movements.

    Im by no means a bad player, my teacher and I whizzed quite easily through grade 5 stuff tonight. I just want to get my technique really good. :D
  14. michele


    Apr 2, 2004
    Try to lighten your touch. Both on fretting and plucking hand. Let your amp do the work.
    It will clean up your technique and will solve a lot of problems.
    Search youtube for Gary Willis videos on the subject.
  15. jallenbass

    jallenbass Supporting Member Commercial User

    May 17, 2005
    Bend, Oregon
    My suggestion as well.
  16. KellyM


    Jun 11, 2006
    Lynnwood, WA
    The thing I would ask is how are you recording this? Are you playing through your amp and miking it? Or are you plugging your bass into your computer?

    Recording direct will always uncover mountains of noises you never knew were there if you've only played through an amp before. And it is a good thing to work on getting the worst of them gone, but I would not obsess about getting my playing absolutely spotlessly clean if I only hear the noises when recording direct. It's kind of like if your bass rattles a bit when playing unplugged, but the rattle goes away when the bass is plugged in. Do you really need to worry about it? I never do. ;)
  17. Yeah I was taking the line out into my laptop. I guess it probably would show a lot of noise :p