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Fret click when playing fast

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Huge94, Dec 23, 2012.

  1. Huge94


    Nov 22, 2009
    Hi there

    I know there has been discussion about this already, but I haven't found my answer yet!

    I have begun working on my speed, especially for a particular song which is Israel's Son by Silverchair (link here: )
    Near the 4:30 mark, the song begins to gradually grow faster and faster.
    Now the problem is the following: when I begin playing fast, it seems that I lose myself to the rapidity and my fretting hand goes crazy in order to stay with the speed. This results in an unflattering loud ''clacking'' sound on the frets everytime I hit a note. Now I don't play with my amp very loud as I live in an apartment, so the amp might cover this sound when rehearsing, but I was wondering if my technique was faulty or if it was maybe the action on the bass that is too low? Or maybe it's just normal and everyone does it, I couldn't know :confused:

    Thank you very much and have a nice day!
  2. greggster59


    Oct 31, 2006
    New Jersey
    If your action is low and you start digging in fret buzz and/or clicking can occur.

    It's only a problem if you can hear it through your amp or if it bugs you. A lighter touch can minimize this. Try and relax your right hand when speeding up and see if it makes a difference.
  3. Huge94


    Nov 22, 2009
    What I was looking to hear. I do not hear it through my amp and yes my action is low.

    Thanks a bunch!
  4. Tom_RCJ


    Jan 4, 2010
    Cardinal, Ontario, Canada
    Band is sponsored by Trinity Amps and Sennheiser.
    It could be a whole list of things. Active or passive pickups? Tube or solid state amp? Flats or rounds? What type of tone do you dial in? If you can practice with headphones, you'd be able to hear what your amplified sound will be. I'm not saying you should always practice with headphones, just once in a while to check your tone and avoid unpleasant surprises once you get on stage and only have 2 minutes to dial a good tone in.

    That and play the song a million times and you'll find your technique will just naturally adjust to compensate.
  5. Tupac


    May 5, 2011
    There's nothing wrong with clack, ala Steve Harris, John Myung. Pretty much everyone that isn't playing at the bridge does it now days.
  6. Fenwick


    Dec 9, 2012
    I've worked hard to rid myself of the 'clack', for me it was definitely a function of technique. I also fell apart when going at higher speeds and a lot of clack was introduced to my playing.

    Ultimately, I find free strokes, or striking the string and not resting on the one below it makes for the cleanest attack (the most fundamental emphasis), though I generally relegate it to 16th note stuff. And yes playing at the bridge does help, but for me so much of it was based on the actual attack and not the placement.

    When I 'free stroke' I sort of pull up from under the strings rather than strike through them if that helps create a visual at all. it's mostly time and practice, months or even years will do it.
  7. Tupac


    May 5, 2011
    I found free strokes were very uneven, uncomfortable, and limiting. I did for months before I learned the proper way to pluck (didn't we all?), and graduated from that was a tremendous improvement. But hey, Gary Willis does it.
  8. Huge94


    Nov 22, 2009
    Thanks for the replies, but maybe I have not made myself clear enough. The strings are ''clacking'' because of my fretting hand, not my plucking hand. It is when I press down on the string next to the fret that it clacks, i think due to my lack of ''gentleness'' when I'm pressing the strings.

    Should I just play ''softer'', pressing the strings gentler while keeping the very rapid rythm?
  9. Swipter


    Sep 7, 2009
    It can be a combination of both. If you are pulling out instead of up on the strings when plucking that will cause it. If your are hitting the strings when your are speeding up with your playing hand, you may be lifting your fretting fingers really high off the strings. THis will cause it. All of this is technique but some people play like this normally depending on what they want to do.
  10. Huge94


    Nov 22, 2009
    And do you guys think this clacking will be amplified and still be heard even while playing with a band and loud ambient noise? I can't really tell right now because I'm alone and can't crank the amp up too high.
  11. FunkHead

    FunkHead Supporting Member

    Mar 10, 2007
    Phillipsburg, NJ
    I would not worry about the sound coming through the amp. Just gradually strive to apply the "Perfect" amount of pressure. Too light can affect what comes through the amp in the form of Buzzy or "underpowered" notes. Too heavy is just a waste of energy. But if your left hand is not getting tired then the wasted energy is no big deal.:cool: One other thing....Try to press straight down on the string. A lot of bass players do like a "Bend" thing. It's just a 1/64" side to side thing which is absolutely useless unless you want a groove worn in your frets. Watch some videos on Youtube and you'll see what I mean. If you do it, you should stop.
  12. Fenwick


    Dec 9, 2012
    I found free strokes were very uneven, uncomfortable, and limiting. I did for months before I learned the proper way to pluck (didn't we all?), and graduated from that was a tremendous improvement. But hey, Gary Willis does it.

    I've spent along time attempting to make strikes between my 3 plucking fingers even, this was before seriously using the free stroke technique, so I think I already had a certain amount of consistency when attempting free strokes. I certainly don't find it uncomfortable or limiting, as stated it actually opens up new possibilities (clean 16ths) for me, as this a specialized technique rather than a default in my arsenal.

    As for the OP, I've never faced the clack sourced from my left hand, but definitely what other people said rings true. The higher you lift your fingers from the fretboard the more motion you use (not good for speed) and likely the more force coming down.
  13. kirkdickinson

    kirkdickinson Supporting Member

    I came here tonight to post about my recent technique problem and found this thread.

    I have an acoustic fretless bass and in the heat of playing, didn't notice it, but listening back to the recordings of us playing, I have found that there is a very discernible clicking when the speed of the song is fast, 8th notes on a faster song.

    I am pretty new to the acoustic bass so I have been concentrating on left hand technique quite a bit.

    Listening back to recordings with my Lightwave bass, there are some clicking too, but not as obvious and frequent as with the fretless.

    After much analysis of my technique and watching what I am doing, I have found my problem. As my speed increases, my attack makes the string strike the fretboard in front of my fretting hand. I tend to strike through the string and connect with it in the middle of my stroke, I don't know if this is the "free stroke" technique discussed or not?

    When the stroke is slow, the impact on the string is not fast enough to drive it down to click the fretboard, but when it is fast it does.

    I have found two cures,
    1. change the angle and depth of my attack, so that when my fingers strike the string, that at the point of impact, the finger is not causing any downward force on the string. If I am digging in too hard, the string rolls off my finger drives it down. Also I can change my angle so that my fingers are at a 90 degree angle to the fretboard, but I don't like to roll my wrist out that far because it puts too much strain.

    2. adjust my playing style to play much lighter, and with less finger movement.

    The 2nd way is better, but will take more time for me to perfect.

  14. Do yourself a favor and pull up isolated bass tracks on YouTube. man in the box, ride the lightning, dream theater, run to the hills, avenged sevenfold. Listen for the clack
  15. Fenwick


    Dec 9, 2012
    For the free stroke, it's really about not allowing your plucking fingers to rest on the string below/above (so if you pluck the A, don't let it fall to the E, or you if you pluck the G, don't let your finger fall/rest on the D). I think it forces you (your muscles) to think about the attack all the way through it, focusing the moment of impact and response of the string and in turn your tonal control, rather than 'lifting and dropping' where control is more haphazard once the knuckle has done it's job.

    But the technique you described in 1. is getting close to what I find works for me. Try plucking from the middle joint of your fingers instead of the knuckle, that way you can curl you fingers for the 90 degree angle ( doesn't have to be a hard 90, be comfortable).

    Something else that works for me is to strike by pulling upwards (instead of striking towards the fretboard) as I described before. I start with my finger on the string (as opposed to lifting and dropping), my fingers curled, resting lightly 'under' the string, but almost imperceptibility so (always comfortable), I pull upwards (towards my head) so it's not even technically a strike (since my fingers is already there), but I can get much more force than I ever could with a 'lift and drop'. By starting on the string I have more control of the attack and more control of the resulting tone. The pressure with which I strike depends on the speed, faster is lighter, but I never go too light as I'd rather sacrifice the 10 or 20 bpm so that people can feel the notes....and I'll get that 10 or 20 bpm, with definition, it'll just take longer.

    Anyway these aren't hard and fast rules, just things I've found worked for me over the years, but would love to hear more input from others' experiences.
  16. James Judson

    James Judson

    Jul 16, 2009
    Recently I was in a studio laying down some bass lines for a friend. The next week I was back and the engineer said there was a bunch of clacking coming from my axe. Problem was, what I was hearing from the Ampeg 410hlf there was no clack. The direct out (input to recorder) was a ton of clack. I told the engineer that I needed to "hear" what was being recorded not what some speaker was putting out.

    Now I can totally control the "clack" with technic. Some basses do it more than others. I can also EQ the clack out. Sometimes I want it as in slapping.

    Good luck.

  17. lokikallas

    lokikallas Supporting Member

    Aug 15, 2010
    los angeles
    One mans problem is another mans signature sound. Don't shy away from it. Embrace the clack!
  18. Fenwick


    Dec 9, 2012

    The clack is generally the default for novice players with sloppy technique. Yes, as an avid metal fan I know there are many that embrace it and even work to emphasize it, but for the most part it is often a sign questionable control over string response. So if you embrace it and work hard to achieve it great, but if like most people it is a natural function of less-than-perfect technique....yucky slop!