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How smooth has to be the bass sound?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by triviani, Mar 30, 2014.

  1. triviani


    Oct 23, 2010

    Long time lurker here. I'm back to play bass, after a good while playing guitar. I have this no-brand jazzbass that I like a lot, I'm really comfortable with it and I like how it sounds.

    However, I have noticed that, along with the notes, I make a lot of extra noises when playing, and that can be because of the bass (and for sure because of my technique!). Something like the frets buzzing, the strings touching the lower part of the neck when I hit it hard... I do like to have some of these here and there, but now that I'll be playing in a band again ( rock, pops..) I wonder if these noises are "acceptable", people like them or just show that you are a beginner..

    Should I really try to smooth the sound?

    Apart from improving my technique, should I consider to buy a new bass? I do know how to intonate and set the action, and I don't think I can set mine up better than how it is now.

  2. Jefff


    Aug 14, 2013
    The bass can be a noisy instrument.

    Get a little recorder and recored your jams. Chances are you won't hear much of it.

    That doesn't mean you shouldn't work towards a cleaner technique. It just means you probably don't have to sweat it.
  3. MalcolmAmos

    MalcolmAmos Supporting Member

    Palm mute, flatwound strings and some foam rubber at the bridge seemed to cure most of my problems. Plus I like the double bass sound the rubber w/flats give me. http://www.talkbass.com/forum/f8/foam-rubber-mutes-398011/

    Foam rubber at the bridge is a quick fix. If you do not have any foam rubber laying around stick a sock under the strings at the bridge and give it a try.

    We gotta mute some way, like has been said our beast is noisy.
  4. JeffLieby

    JeffLieby Supporting Member

    Dec 25, 2007
    Orange, TX
    First I would definately reccomomend working to clean up your technique. It will be well worth the time it takes to improve in that area.

    Another thing you can try are the FretWraps from gruvgear.com.

    I think BestBassGear sells them in singles instead of the 3-pack as well.

    I am not affiliated with them, just a fan and user. It would be wrong to use them as a "crutch" to hide poor technique, rather as a tool in your toolbox once the technique issues are ironed out.
  5. Gab124

    Gab124 The path is greater than the destination Supporting Member

    Dec 30, 2006
    Only do foam mute and flats if you are sure that is the tone your new gig would warrant, I know that most of my work it would not. One thing to try is developing the floating thumb technique. Most people anchor their thumb on the pickups etc and that arches the hand out where it is harder to do proper muting with the hand. I had to develop this when I moved to 5 stringers and it really did help out a lot in that regard. You might also want to consider a setup on the instrument for your playing style and attack, it sounds like you might have it a little low action for your playing technique - but that is just a guess from your description.
  6. pglaser01


    Mar 19, 2013
    St. Louis, MO
    If only I were that good....
    Cleaning up the technique can always be helpful...but when you hear the frets buzzing, do you also mean that you can hear it coming from the amp as well? many times when in a band context and turning up louder, fret buzzing is less audible. You can also EQ it out a touch by cutting highs or presence (depending on what you are using)
  7. mrb327

    mrb327 Supporting Member

    Mar 6, 2013
    Nobody Knows
    Be aware that making the strings hit the frets near the base of the neck can broadcast out the amp as distortion. This can especially be a problem if you are already using all of your headroom on the amp.
  8. triviani


    Oct 23, 2010
    Thanks a lot for the input!. I'll definitively try to work on my technique, and record the next rehearsals to hear the bass in the mix.

    I'll also check some of the gear you recommended, didn't know about some of these things.

  9. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    I recommend you go on Youtube and listen to "isolated bass tracks" from your favorite players. I think you will be surprised how "dirty" a lot of these tracks sound with string noise, fret noise, finger noise, buzz, etc. but they sound great in the mix!

    That said, of course I think it is good to practice hard to develop a clean technique. It is good to be able to dig in hard and get some noise when you want to, but it is also good to be able to back off and get a clean sound. :)
  10. experimental bassist

    experimental bassist

    Mar 15, 2009
    It's just part of working on your technique.

    Gear and other assistant devices may help, but IMO you'll still be better served to consciously work out the extra buzzes, pops, and clicks by improving your technique.

    I will say I've resigned that I have an aggressive, heavy hand and get into somewhat of an "uprightish" percussiveness when I get lost in the music and I accept that's just part of "my sound".

    So I have raised the action on my basses accordingly, and that alone took care of much of the extraneous noise I used to have to fight often.
  11. hrodbert696

    hrodbert696 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member