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Help with "clacking" of low strings

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Rusty Miesner, Aug 28, 2007.

  1. I've been playing for about 2 years in live bands and I'm still working on timing and technique. When I don't use a pick, I get a bit of "clacking" on my Ibanez, but on my Fender Jazz 5-string I get heaps on the low strings. I've tried holing my right hand in different possitions, but the only way I can stop the loud clacking sound on every note is by playing very softly or fingering near the end of the string. The action is fairly low, but not excessive.
    I'd like to minimise the clacking sound somehow.
    Any help would be appreciated.
  2. Alexvs


    Oct 18, 2000
    Kalmar, Sweden
    Is the Ibanez strung with lighter gauge strings? My personal experience is that heavier strings equals less fret noise.
  3. Beta


    May 9, 2007
    I've found that the angle of the attack differs greatly between picking and fingerstyle. It's easier for me to keep from digging in too much when using a pick.

    I sometimes dig in too much when playing fingerstyle. This, I think, changes the direction of the string's vibration- basically, you're plucking up, so the string comes down, right into your frets.

    Fender 5-strings are also known, if you believe the postings in the Basses forum, for having "floppy" B strings. Combine that with low action and a right hand that digs in, and you're going to hear a lot of clacking.

    Playing closer to the bridge is not your answer, unless you're comfortable with the change in tone. Try to keep from digging in, and soften up your attack a little and see how it goes.

    And, yeah, maybe heavier gauge strings are in order.
  4. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    I think you just answered your own question. Yep, those are the two most common ways of getting rid of it. Other ways are using much heavier strings and raising your action, but these often make the bass uncomfortable, and they have limited effectiveness.
  5. My Fender Fretless P does this on the E and A strings. I suspect it's me digging in too hard.

    The bass has a beautiful low action and for the life of me I can't back the power of my fingers off enough to stop it once I disengage the brain and enjoy playing...so I am considering raising the action.

    It never used to do it when I first got it, so I'm wondering if it's one of those Fender maintenance things I need to keep on top of :)
  6. Rattlehead


    Dec 28, 2006
    In addition to what has been said: It also helps to curve your fingers towards to bass when you're playing so that they are essentially pointing at the bass, rather than more towards the floor.

    That way you're pulling the string up (gravity-wise) and it will realease downwards, neither of which is the direction of the frets. This will allow you to get away with using a bit more power than otherwise, but you'll probably have to use it in combination with other stuff in this thread.
  7. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    I used to clack when I bought my first "real" bass, a Warwick. I learned a few things to clack less, but I like to dig in and ultimately I had to find a bass that suited my style. Some basses just seem to clack more than others. The follwoing are the only cures I know for clack:

    • Play more lightly
    • Raise your action
    • Change your technique
    • Use different strings (nickelwound, flatwound, or nylon)
    • Roll off the treble
    • Find on your amp the frequency the click is coming at and dial it out
    • Find a bass that doesn't click when you you play it, buy it, and sell your others
  8. llatikcuf


    Aug 24, 2007
    Sitting in the mix well
    As said by others above, I play more lightly and change the angle of my fingers a bit.
    I also cheat and roll off some of the high end of my EQ and have the sound guy take my gain down some - makes it far less noticeable :D
  9. Thanks heaps guys. Very helpfull.

    Practice, practice, practice.
  10. user101


    Oct 15, 2006

    +1 to the cheating part. I do it too. hehe
  11. Very Very wrong that's the exact way you shouldn't play bass. Oh how much speed you lose that way.
  12. 69nites


    Jul 11, 2006
    actually....what he posted was proper technique.
  13. Rattlehead


    Dec 28, 2006
    Care to explain HOW this compromises speed or tell me where you got this information?

    I do agree that at first you'll lose tons of speed, but you lose tons of speed anytime you start off learning a new technique.
  14. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    Sorry guys, but I"m with aces high here. If my fingers were pointed AT the bass my wrist would be a 90% angle and I'd have to LIFT my finger to get it to the other strings. If ya'll think that's proper technique then do it if it works for you, but I'll keep my fingers pointed to the floor - which has served me wonderfully for years and years.
  15. tswd


    Jun 20, 2007

    Apparently you should point your fingers more towards for the floor when you're in the smaller window. If you're playing in the bigger window, point them towards the bass. ;-)
  16. Turn your amp up. Easiest way to get rid of the clacking.

  17. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    :) That's pretty funny.
  18. I get clacking when i play through my little 15watt practice amp but never when i play through my rig.
  19. 69nites


    Jul 11, 2006
    funny my wrist is perfectly straight.

    maybe it's where you hang your bass and anchor your hand.

    I also like to keep my hand in a half closed relaxed position.

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