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Is this normal? - complete beginner

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by willbearr, Jan 7, 2013.

  1. willbearr


    Jan 7, 2013
    Hey guys,

    picked up my first bass last week and making great progress but one thing is really really digging at me..

    When I fret any string, anywhere, the note plays loudly. I have no idea if this is normal or if that makes sense. But for example, if I was to play C on the A string, the note will play twice. Once when I fret it and again when I pluck. Even if I depress the string and pluck at the exact same time it is just replaced with a loud clank. I therefore get a sort of echo with every note.

    I know I'm a complete newbie but I cant really pinpoint this to technique as even if I fret the string at the pace of a snail who lives in the attic of a coffee shop it still happens. I can literally take 10 seconds to gradually fret the string and the note will still chime away.

    This could be completely normal I guess but I really don't know, I'm a complete stranger to stringed instruments!! So don't make fun :spit:
  2. Hobobob74


    May 21, 2007
    Kalamazoo, MI
    Its normal, lol.

    It will come with time and practice, you will soon be able to fret and pluck fast enough that it will eliminate the two sounds you hear into one smooth one

    Congrats on joining the Bass world!
  3. willbearr


    Jan 7, 2013
    Many thanks good sir!
  4. sikamikanico

    sikamikanico Supporting Member

    Mar 17, 2004
    I honestly had to grab my bass to figure out how I play... and while it looks like I do fret the string pretty much at the same time as I pluck it, I had to try really hard to make a loud sound with my fretting finger...

    i think you will be able to solve the mystery (issue) sooner if you work with another bassist on this... one thing you might try is keeping your fretting fingers on the strings at all times (lightly), to mute the strings and to avoid excessive hammering of the strings when you fret them...
  5. willbearr


    Jan 7, 2013
    This is what I was expecting, I've watched countless instructional videos - granted they are by greatly talented players but I've never heard it.

    The best way to sum my problem up is that I can effectively 'hammer on' an entire scale without plucking a string. And I can do so without applying any ferocity or pressure at all.

    Thanks for the reply by the way.
  6. SirMjac28

    SirMjac28 Patiently Waiting For The Next British Invasion

    Aug 25, 2010
    The Great Midwest
    +1 And welcome from me also.
  7. willbearr


    Jan 7, 2013
    Thanks! Have held it off way too long, this forum is providing invaluable help!
  8. kirkdickinson

    kirkdickinson Supporting Member

    Will, do you have the gain cranked way up? If you do, the tapping with your left hand will be exaggerated. Also since you are new, you may not have yet developed the control to lightly fret, but are actually hammering on every fret with your left hand.

    Keep on working on it. You will get better faster than you think. :)
  9. Helaskold

    Helaskold 100% Mediocre

    Jul 22, 2012
    Austin, TX
    Lower gain and treble, and hit the note right when you fret it so you don't hear both noises. :)

    Good luck with your bass! You'll get it quickly.
  10. VinKreepo


    Nov 13, 2009
    +1... also, you need to have a bass that is properly setup (mainly the relief in the neck). There are many threads on here regarding how to setup your bass and will be useful if you are on a tight budget, otherwise, get a qualified tech to do it for you.

    To see if you need a setup, press the E string down on the 1st fret while pressing down on the last fret with your elbow (bit tricky, I know). Then, use your free hand to slide a credit card or pick under the string at the 12th fret. If it is a considerably smaller OR larger gap than the credit card, it needs a setup.

    My guess is it will be larger meaning you have to press down harder and quicker to play in time without buzz since your strings are too far from the neck. This results in a hammer on EVERY TIME and is extremely annoying since you do it without thinking to compensate for the bad setup.

    Here's a picture for your reference. Note that neck relief is NOT the only part of a setup, but probably the part you are having issues with. Also, the pic is definitely exaggerated and a proper setup will look almost dead straight from a 10ft distance; however, your bass neck should have a minute bow in it like the last neck in the pic, resulting in that credit card thick gap in the middle (12th fret) that I mentioned earlier.

  11. KissThaRing


    Nov 3, 2012
    From what I gather, your just hammering on the fret to hard, and your treble could be alittle high which picks up the higher frequency. Lower the treble and keeps practicing, I believe I had the same problem since bass strings are thick and heavy, so you first start off "pushing hard and fast" thinking thats necessary, however, in a few months (or weeks, depends how much you practice) you will start to naturally iron out your playing, and as you get alittle faster notes will start to flow and you will start muting strings without really thinking about it. It's all part of the beginner process. Good luck!
  12. Sounds to me like you are slamming down that fretting hand too hard, and actually getting a hammer on.

    Play bass softly and turn up your amp: Best advice I ever got.
  13. Jens Busck

    Jens Busck

    Nov 16, 2011
    Man, this problem brings up some memories :) I generally agree with Zerosymbolic about playing soft and turning up, but that is IMO a better advice in the longer run and not so much where you are now. I'd say you should rather dig in hard until you get the basic skills going. There'll be plenty of time to develop an elegant sound later on. I would also recommend a similar approach when you get to the more advanced techniques: Don't be afraid to play too many notes, learn to play fast scales, get all the crazy chops you possible can and THEN take it easy and make music by using the means that the music (and not your ego) calls for. Older musicians always tell younger ones to keep it simple, but I think it's a bit of a misunderstanding - simplicity is IMO best achieved if you first spend some years doing the opposite.

    And welcome!
  14. revtime


    Aug 26, 2012
    Good advice.
    I would like to add that my playing got much better when I stopped trying to choke the life out of my bass. Learning the basics is good but your developing habits. And a good habit to develop is a soft touch. Try sneaking up on the fret instead of a full on frontal assault.
  15. bggeezer

    bggeezer Guest

    May 25, 2001
    Your action may be a little high too (gap between string and fret board)