How to rid of the fret "clank" on Precision bass?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by bozha, Mar 18, 2023.

  1. bozha


    Jun 5, 2008
    String action is set as low as possible, according to Fender instructions, with minimal neck relief.

    Plucked string is ringing fine, without buzz, open or fretted, all along the neck, even when I hit hard, so I guess there is no problem with action being too low.

    Problem is with other 3 strings, those that are muted. When I play with the band, my right hand tends to jump on those strings rather percussively, or my plucking finger hits nearby string, and when do so, muted strings seems to be hitting against last couple of frets. On some amps, this is coming out as quite audible and nasty "clank".

    If I calm down my right hand, problem disappears, but in that case I'm loosing all the dynamics. Applicable for bedroom, but not for live playing.

    Just to add, of all the basses I been playing recently, where all are set to same specs, this problem is noticeable only on my Precision bass. It happens with all the string sets I tried so far, rounds or flats...

    Is there any quick fix that I am not aware of? Or I need to do different setup and probably raise the strings?
    DJ Bebop and Patrice B like this.
  2. RattleSnack


    Sep 22, 2011
    Like you said, calm your right hand down and than find proper way to increase dynamics without producing noise.
    You can also go other way around. Play softer and add gain on your amp for normal parts. Than when you need to go all in, play harder but you are within your healthy sounding technique. No need to go berserk on that poor guitar.
    This is just technique problem. Don't go for other solutions like setup or EQ, best way to progress is to improve your playing.

    Edit: Just to add, it takes time to develop consistency and dynamic range in any playing style. But that is best way to go forward, and very rewarding.

    Edit 2: You can try this excercise: choose a song and play it as comfortably and as consistently as you can. Let's call this dynamic no. 2. Than, do the same consistently with dynamic no.1 (softer). Number 1 and 2 need to be clearly different in loudness. Now, do no. 3 (louder than 2). When you are certain all three of those takes sound good and consistent, try and mix them up. I.e. song verse - do 1. Bridge or solo, do 2. Chorus - do 3. Than back to 1. Work on each one until it sounds good and clean. It doesn't matter you feel 1 and 2 are bedroom playing. You are building your technique and finding range. If no. 3 (or 6) doesn't sound good, than it is NOT within your range so don't use it.
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2023
  3. This sounds as if this may be a combination of both technique and set-up issues. The fact that when your "right hand tends to jump on those strings rather percussively, or my plucking finger hits nearby string, and when do so, muted strings seems to be hitting against last couple of frets. On some amps, this is coming out as quite audible and nasty clank" suggests that technique may definitely be part of the issue.

    In addition, I can see where the set-up could also be a source of the issues you are having. You state that the "string action is set as low as possible . . . with minimal neck relief." This statement is rather subjective. Kind of what do you consider low action and minimal relief vs what I would consider low action and minimal relief. How does the bass play when it is set-up using the recommended specs? [action - 6/64; relief .012-.014] I have found that I get the best (for me) play-ability on my P basses with the relief set to a tight .012 (the .012 feeler gauge actually pushes the string up a very little bit, so I've probably got about .011 relief) and the string height set to 5/64. YMMV

    If it were me, the first thing I would do is to set the bass up with Fender's recommended specs. That is your starting point. Then pick one of the two that you want to change (action or relief). I would start with the action. Plays good at 6/64; then drop the action to 5/64. Still plays well, drop it another 64th. Find out how low you can go on your bass. Once you find the lowest action that you are pleased with, then you can begin to play with the relief. The real key here is to only work on one specific spec at a time.

    Best of luck in getting this sorted out. And do please let us know what you finally end up doing to correct this issue.
    bozha, andare, DrThumpenstein and 3 others like this.
  4. gebass6

    gebass6 We're not all trying to play the same music. Supporting Member

    Raise your action a hair?Add a little more relief?
    Super low action requires a very light touch.
    Try to use a"free stroke".
    Rather than a "rest stroke"against the adjacent strings.
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2023
  5. 1. Roll off the tone a bit.
    2. Use a higher DCR pickup (generally sounding darker and killing the fret noise a bit as well).
    3. Switch to flatwound strings.

    Choose the option you want.
    Patrice B and Lance Bunyon like this.
  6. jellymax

    jellymax Don't fry any wooden fish

    Nov 29, 2006
    SF CA
    Have someone else play the instrument. See if it is still a problem. No bass players available? Buy a bass lesson
    bassGtar, bozha, andare and 4 others like this.
  7. swink


    Jan 10, 2019
    Do these other than some amps have LPF?
    I use LPF to diminish string noises in the upper region, it might help for your problem.
    DavidEdenAria and Patrice B like this.
  8. Zooberwerx

    Zooberwerx Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2002
    Virginia Beach, VA
    Floating thumb. Great for muting plus the angle of attack prevents you from slamming the strings against the fretboard.

  9. BassFalcon


    Nov 18, 2020
    You need lessons and/or higher action. You have to make choices, if you are gonna play so aggressively you either incorporate those extra noises into “your sound” and EQ it better or you practice and learn to make them go away at your desired intensity. That’s gonna take lessons because someone needs to see it in person, random internet guys can’t correctly diagnose and fix that for you.
    Patrice B and gebass6 like this.
  10. Jazzdogg

    Jazzdogg Less barking, more wagging!

    Jul 29, 2006
    San Diego, CA
    Patient: "Doctor, whenever I do *this* it hurts terribly."

    Doctor: "Don't do *this* anymore."

    BTW, plucking the strings more forcefully than necessary decreases dynamic range; plucking using no more force than necessary to produce a full, clean, note preserves dynamic range; when you pluck even slightly louder, there's an appreciable increase in volume.
    bassGtar, bozha, Kubicki Fan and 4 others like this.
  11. Lance Bunyon

    Lance Bunyon

    Jul 17, 2018
    This. I keep D'addario Chromes on almost all of my basses, both fretted and fretless. Almost as bright as rounds but less noise.
    Patrice B likes this.
  12. klyph

    klyph Supporting Member

    Mar 28, 2009
    Cape Cod
    Are you sure it’s the frets? You might be hitting a pole piece on the pickup. I would lower the pickup and see if that helps. Easily done, easily reversed.
  13. pbass2

    pbass2 Supporting Member

    Jan 25, 2007
    Los Angeles
    Really does sound like your action is too low. Trying to get it super low isn't necessarily desirable. There's a reason why many (most?) of the big session cats go with medium to higher action (take Lee Sklar for example--light-ish gauge stainless steel rounds, but deliberately high action). You simply get a cleaner sound.
  14. JeezyMcNuggles

    JeezyMcNuggles Supporting Member

    Feb 23, 2018
    Santa Maria, CA
    I suck, but nobody really notices
    Your strings aren't hitting the frets, the problem is your plucking technique.

    Your fingers are clacking against the strings. Not the strings clacking against the frets.
    gebass6 likes this.
  15. BlueTalon

    BlueTalon Happy Cynic Supporting Member

    Mar 20, 2011
    Inland Northwest
    Endorsing Artist: Turnstyle Switch
    This was my first thought too.
    DJ Bebop likes this.
  16. PennyroyalWe


    Sep 2, 2018
    +1 for check that it’s not the pickup. I get that from mine if I dig into the strings too hard, makes a loud *Clack!*.
    DJ Bebop and BlueTalon like this.
  17. Tim Skaggs

    Tim Skaggs

    Sep 28, 2002
    Since you can fix it by changing playing style, that’s one solution. The other option is set up.
    DrThumpenstein likes this.
  18. KidAmnesia


    Jul 13, 2022
    Buenos Aires
    I used to do that a lot, now I actively work to avoid it. For me it was sort of slaping the muted strings against the fretboard to produce a "snare-ish" sound (usually in the up beat); it sounded good playing alone, but in a band context it's a no go.

    At least for me it's all a matter of right hand technique. It's working on being able to dig in but controling your fingers so they don't hit anything but the desired string.
    MartinB and DrThumpenstein like this.
  19. If you are playing rest stroke (following through and hitting the string behind, or above, the one you are playing), then it might be the string behind that's making the clicking sound. I have had this problem too. Raising the action will help, as will playing lighter with your plucking hand. You could also try to have the follow through more perpendicular to the strings rather than downwards.

    You want to see if this is your problem, take your E-string off and play the A sting like you normally do. Is the click gone? You have your answer!
    bozha likes this.
  20. I'd only observe that the lower you set your action, the easier touch (both hands) it demands.

    I'd also suggest that after you've set the relief, be sure you set the string heights over the last fret to follow the fingerboard radius, that is, the same clearance under all 4 strings.

    As others have suggested, I'm d use the Fender factory setup numbers as a starting point if not sufficient by themselves.
    gebass6 likes this.