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metallic "clacking" sound when playing- please help

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by poomwah, Jan 19, 2012.

  1. poomwah


    Jan 26, 2008
    My B-4E has developed an issue. I haven't played it for a couple weeks. I got it out today, and when I play , there is a metallic "clacking" sound, excessive fret noise, but not buzz.
    Does this sound like a truss rod issue?
  2. tjnkoo


    Apr 19, 2011
    Metro Atlanta
    Are the strings hitting the pickups? That produces a clack type sound on my basses if the pickups are too high, especially while slapping.
  3. Koog

    Koog Supporting Member

    Dec 27, 2010
    Central Iowa USA
    Could be your attack is causing the strings to "clack" or "clatter" off either the pups or the frets. Can be corrected by raising the saddles or a slight neck adjustment with the truss rod. Not sure where you live, but the colder, dryer air of winter will cause the wood in the bass to change and your neck can go out of adjustment. So, if there has been a sudden change in temperature and humidity, or if your furnace is running more where you live, this is a pretty good suspect. Typically a slight adjustment by a good tech or luthier will solve the problem.

    Probably no biggie.

    Good luck.

  4. tjnkoo


    Apr 19, 2011
    Metro Atlanta
    Are the strings hitting the pickups? That produces a clack type sound on my basses if the pickups are too high, especially while slapping.
  5. Sleeq


    Feb 13, 2008
    It's your strings hitting the frets; either you are playing too hard or your action is very low (so it's easier to hit the frets).

    So either turn your amp up and play softer or raise your action a bit to reduce this; some bassists use this "clack" in their music (for example see Steve Harris - Iron Maiden).
  6. poomwah


    Jan 26, 2008
    thanks guys, the strings aren't hitting the pickups, definitely frets. I don't think its my attack, since its the only bass that its happening on, and it wasn't happening a couple weeks ago.
    The weather has been crazy here lately. It was cold for a couple weeks, then we had a couple really warm days, then got even colder than it was before.
  7. Duckwater


    May 10, 2010
    USA, Washington
    Use higher tension strings, raise your action, change your technique, or learn use the clank to your advantage.
  8. poomwah


    Jan 26, 2008
    change my technique of 20 years for a problem on one bass? hmm.
    anyway, oh my god, its definitely a neck relief issue. I fretted the A string at the 1st fret, and pushed the string down at the last fret (to make a straight edge. When I do that , the string is close enough to the frets to hold a piece of printer paper. I'd say that's a little close, LOL
  9. senp5f


    Jan 27, 2008
    Santa Barbara, CA
    If it developed very suddenly, the truss rod is probably the first place to check. The wood in your neck can contract and expand with the weather, requiring you to adjust the rod to compensate.

    Here's how to check: Hold down the Low E string at the 1st Fret and the Last Fret. Now, look at the 8th fret. How much clearance is there between the string and the fret? Most players prefer a tiny bit -- about .010 of an inch, or just enough to slip a business card in there.

    If there is no clearance at all, you may need to LOOSEN the rod to introduce a bit of relief into the neck. If you're not familiar with how to do this, take it to a qualified tech. You can do some very, very expensive damage -- marring the finish, stripping the truss rod nut, causing the fingerboard to separate from the neck -- if you're not careful.

    If you do know how to adjust the rod, do it carefully. Loosen the strings to relieve the tension, loosen the rod a quarter turn, and then re-tune to pitch and check your neck relief the way I described at the start.

    The next things to check would be pickup height. To do this, hold Low E down at the last fret and check the clearance between the string and the pickups. Repeat for the High G. In each case, you should have a few millimeters clearance. The exact height is a matter of taste, but if you have no clearance at all there's a chance the strings are rattling against the pickups.

    Lastly, there's string height. The exact way to adjust it varies from bridge to bridge, but to measure it, hold the string down at the 1st fret and the measure the string height at the 17th fret with a six inch ruler marked in 1/64s of an inch. (You can find these at the hardware store for like $5. Best $5 you will spend!) Individual action is a matter of taste, but make sure it's not too low.

    Whenever I get a new bass, regardless of make, I set it up to Fender's factory-approved specs as a starting point. Then I work from there. There's a link below to the specs. Your bass might work a little different in terms of how to make the adjustments. Again, if you're unsure of anything, take your bass to a reputable store or tech!

    FenderĀ® Support
  10. poomwah


    Jan 26, 2008
    thank you for all the details senp
  11. If there's no buzz, you're simply playing too hard, or the action is too low for you.
  12. poomwah


    Jan 26, 2008
    so its not the bass that changed? its my playing that changed all of the sudden? but only on one bass and not the others?
  13. mastershake


    May 12, 2011
    [DEL]did you recently change the type of strings you are using? rounds to flats, medium to light or heavy gauge vice versa?[/DEL] sry didnt see your question had been answered
  14. poomwah


    Jan 26, 2008
    thanks anyway mastershake

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