1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  
    TalkBass.com has been uniting the low end since 1998.  Join us! :)

How to avoid the annoying "clack" sound?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by JuanDPradoG, Dec 31, 2012.

  1. JuanDPradoG


    Apr 20, 2012
    This days I've been facing an awkward situation with my bandmates. While playing normal speed section the sound of my bass is pretty good, but when we go into a fast part, my bass starting doing a "clack" sound that makes the other notes confusing for everyone. When I'm playing 16ths it sounds like 3 and a clack, other 3 notes and a clack. I know they know it, because in that cases they all start snicking and looking to each other, and this last rehearsal one guy told me: Your bass got a cold, huh? It hurted.

    I don't know what's going on. I played fast bass lines before with a sweet sound, you could actually hear every single note. But now it's embarrassing for me.

    I came up with different conclusiones:
    - Something's wrong with my technique, when I hit the strings.
    - The strings were improperly installed, maybe their quite near to the pickups, or something.
    - My amplifier it's not doing good.

    I'm now desperate, because I need my fast clean bass sound as soon as possible. Jams are near.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bf6LKsSbJpc This is the example of how I used to sound, it's not me, but the sound is similar.

    I'd really appreciate any kind of help. Thanks to all of you guys! Happy New Year :)

    PD: Sorry if something it's not right, english it's my mother tongue.
  2. Technotitclan

    Technotitclan Lurking TB from work

    Mar 1, 2012
    Rochester, NY
    Could be a few things here or a combination of some or all of them.

    Try turning down some of your highs so the clank comes through less.
    Try a lighter touch on your plucking.
    Use heavier gauge, they flex less.

    What has changed other than time since your vid and now?
  3. king rew

    king rew

    Feb 18, 2009
    Are you playing over the pickups or back by the bridge? maybe playing closer to the bridge will keep your strings from "clanking"
  4. Gearhead17

    Gearhead17 Supporting Member

    May 4, 2006
    Roselle, IL
    Possible reasons:

    1. Strings are hitting the fretboard and need to be raised
    2. Your plucking motion on faster notes is a different angle or you are hitting the strings harder which is causing the strings to move more.
    3. Your pickups are too close to the strings
    4. Your neck has too little or too much relief.

    Taking your bass to someone that can show you how to do a SETUP is the key here. You could also pull up a video on youtube about bass setup, grab some Allen Wrenches, and go to town. It's not too hard at all to do a setup on your bass - at this point though, it's probably best to have someone sit down with you and show you how it is properly done. Get the bass working now, then go back to this person to learn more.
    bass nitro likes this.
  5. thereallime


    Aug 2, 2012
    Your plucking too hard
  6. pacojas

    pacojas "FYYA BUN"

    Oct 11, 2009

    a light touch opens every door! (unless it's locked)
    Lownote38 likes this.
  7. Rockin Mike

    Rockin Mike

    May 27, 2011
    I had a mystery clack when I had my action set too low.
    I couldn't see what the A string (for example) was hitting when I plucked it.
    Then I pulled the E string up and out of the way while plucking the A... and the clack went away.
    The clack was actually my finger hitting the E down onto the frets after plucking the A.
    DanielJR likes this.
  8. Rockin Mike

    Rockin Mike

    May 27, 2011
    Also had a bass that clacked due to worn out frets.
    Look for big flat spots on top of the frets where the strings contact them.
    Small flat spots are no big deal but there's a point the fret is worn out.
    Don't throw the bass away, they can be refretted.
  9. What's the right hand technique you're using when playing those lines. Sounds like you're overemphasizing that fourth note due to over compensating for a weak finger or something along those lines. Try practicing those lines slowly and pay close attention to playing all the notes with the same force. Then build the speed up.

    I don't think it's the bass setup as there is no clank while playing anything else. I think it's all a technique issue.
  10. Gearhead17

    Gearhead17 Supporting Member

    May 4, 2006
    Roselle, IL
    After re-reading the post, I believe you are most correct. Hard to tell without seeing anything, but the technique issue is probably the biggest culprit.
  11. SBassman


    Jun 8, 2003
    Northeast, US
    Without hearing or seeing more, I'd have to blame it on technique.

    OP - if you play these runs at 50% speed, do you still hear the clacking?

    If you Really want an accurate, effective, quick answer, video yourself playing these runs, and somebody will identify the source.
  12. That's my guess. I think Jeff Berlin's thing of turning the amp up and picking/plucking softer saved me a lot of grief. Let the amp do the work for volume. I used to play so damm hard...all it did was tire my fingers out and add a lot of unwanted noise. Play as hard as you can and then back off until the fret noise goes away...that's what you want.
    JMHO...which is worth nothing on ebay. :smug:
    Lownote38 likes this.
  13. Oh yeah!
  14. My technique is always my biggest enemy...when it's right, all is well in the world. Hang in. It's part of the journey :smug:
  15. Tupac


    May 5, 2011
    Why would your band mates make fun of you? At least 50% of bassists out there have some clack in their playing. It's unavoidable if you're playing rock or metal fingerstyle, it's needed to cut through and not sound like a fairy.

    1. Embrace the clack and lower the action so every note has it Like this
    2. Heighten action
    3. Play lighter (best option)
    4. Cut highs
    5. Play at the bridge

    By the way, is that you in the video? I saw that a few weeks ago and was marveling at it.
    davy4575 likes this.
  16. Fenwick


    Dec 9, 2012
  17. Anonymatt


    Jan 3, 2009
    Brooklyn, NY
    What kind of bass do you have? This is probably the sound of your strings hitting the pickup.

    I play a Jazz bass and I mostly play over the neck pickup. I have the bridge pickup turned all the way up, but I have to dial back the neck pickup to keep the clack away at the top of my attack range. I think I have fine technique and a nice tone.

    If you hear a lot of fret buzzing when you play unplugged, maybe your action's too low.
  18. Josh Thatguy

    Josh Thatguy Registered abUser Supporting Member

    Unplug the Sansamp
  19. 9mmMike

    9mmMike Would you happen to have a cookie for me? Supporting Member

    Older post I know but I am going through this now. I have a freshly-built parts bass with "clacking". I play with a light touch but when I need to dig-in, I was getting some clack. I have a fairly low action and not much relief in the neck. I added just a touch (not quite a quarter turn on the truss rod) and it is already better.
    I have not adjusted string height yet.
    I noticed this on another parts bass (with a '72 neck) when I was gigging it but it was not evident in any of the recordings. This newer bass (with a '74 neck) was more severe. Perfectly fine when played sedately but clanky (but with a cool dirty growl) when played with aggression.
    I have noticed this on my basses with 70's necks (which I am becoming quite fond of!). All of my basses until recently had the very small vintage-style frets on them with low action and very little neck relief and I get a very even volume and sound from them no matter how much or little I attack.
    Time will tell if I can adjust this out without the need to radically alter my finger style.
    What bothers me more than the clank is that it seems to also come with an uneven volume across the strings. Random loud notes. Nothing consistent, like when you hear someone learning to "pop" and they occasionally get a "good one" in.
  20. stop playing with your duck and it won't clack so much.