Muting help.

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Jyswoo, Oct 16, 2018.

  1. Jyswoo


    Sep 21, 2018
    Im a new bassist (very new). And I have a problem, where, whenever I lift up my finger after playing a note, I get a little buzz noise. Im wondering if this is a technique problem, or a problem with my bass. Either way can someone tell me how to fix this.

    Video example (the audio is a tad outta sync):

    please pardon the terrible quality
  2. For starters, I'd say that that bass is in need of a setup. The action looks very high.
    Torrente Cro and Lobster11 like this.
  3. Jyswoo


    Sep 21, 2018
    I got it setup already though :/ Guess they didn't do a very good job.
  4. 1) If you put your finger very close to the fret you want to press, the buzz will lessen. Jaco Pastorius said that he plays fretted and fretless bass the same way, because placing your fingers right on the frets helps deal with the fret noise.

    2) You want to learn left as well as right hand muting. Check what's it about here

    You can hear that the fret buzz you ask about is in the video too, only much less than in your recording. When you learn to mute, your buzz will lessen, as well as other unwanted noises.

    3) You got quite a high action, which makes the fret noise harder to deal with. You should generally focus on using your fingers dexterity, not muscle strenght. I'd put the strings lower. You can do it yourself, it's no rocket science and if you are sensible, you can't do damage that cannot be repaired easily. Read some fender manuals on how it's done.

    4) Don't be worried too much. Most of the small noises will get lost in the mix when you play with a real band; some (actually a lot, style depending) of the noises are even desirable.
  5. Jyswoo


    Sep 21, 2018
    I know im supposed to put my finger as close to the fret as possible, but thats not the problem. It doesnt buzz while the note is being played, but after I pull my finger up (and it buzzes louder on higher notes). I try to mute the strings by pulling my finger up (to where the string would naturally rest), but not completely off the string (so that I mute it). But it seems to be making the buzz while im pulling up the string (in between playing the note, and muting it). I think it might be the action thing as you said, as when I lay my bass horizontally the strings arent exactly parallel to the fretboard, but instead rise slightly the further down it goes. It just doesnt quite make sense, why the action would be like this, as I had the bass set up a little while ago. Guess they either ripped me off, or just did a crappy job.
  6. Lobster11

    Lobster11 Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2006
    Williamsburg, VA
    I think your problem will be much reduced or eliminated with a better setup. When you have to pull the string so far to fret it, a lot of energy is stored in the string -- that's why it takes a lot of strength on your part to do it. When you release the string, all that energy has to go somewhere, and some of it is winding up in extraneous noise. Also, that's probably why it is worse the farther up the fretboard you go, where the strings are even farther from the fretboard.

    Let's hope that the ultra-high action is the result of the setup guy being incompetent, and not because he found it necessary to set it so high because there is some other problem with the neck. I would start by simply lowering the strings at the bridge and see how low you can get them without producing fret buzz. If you're lucky the truss rod won't need adjustment and this will solve the problem. And given that you said the strings "rise slightly" as you go toward the bridge (I think that's what you meant), it might well be that they just need to be lowered at the bridge. That' something easy you can try yourself without getting into all the other nitty-gritty details of setups.
    Mushroo likes this.
  7. Personally I think that the main reason to putting the finger closest possible to the fret is that it lessens the buzz when you lift your finger. Try it - in your video (it's not available anymore) I think there was a tone without buzz, on which you fretted exactly right.

    As for muting, you could try this excersise:
    play a tone for a beat - then pause for a beat - then another note on a different string for a beat - then pause for a beat.
    Now: to stop the tone being played, before you lift your left hand finger, lay a right hand finger softly on the string where you normally pluck. So you stop the tone with your right hand. Only then lift the left hand finger. No buzz now, right? This is called right hand muting.
    And another way: play the tone with your left hand index finger. To stop the tone being played, lay the three other left hand fingers softly on the string. Only then lift your left hand index finger. You should hear no buzz. This is left hand muting.

    This is the general idea. It avoids buzz as well as oversounding harmonics on some (most) frets. In time, it will get automatic for you - sometimes you'll mute with your left, sometimes with your right, sometimes with both, sometimes with just lifting the finger. When I look at myself doing it, I see that I mute and lift the 'fret finger' practically at the same time. Try to remember that stopping the tone is just as important as starting it.

    Strings should not be exactly parallel to the fretboard, and the fretboard should be a bit bowed, so that when you press down 1st fret and last fret, the string around the 12th fret is about 1,5-2mm above the fret. This is set by adjusting the truss rod. For the action, meaning how far you need to press the string so it stops at the fret, you should adjust the four cylinders at the bridge, in your case by turning the screws so it goes down. Lesser action means less muscle work. Different players have different preferences for the height of the strings, I'd try lowering it down for start.
    Mushroo likes this.
  8. The beast does buzz and growl and we have to do something to stop that. There are many different ways of muting, but, most deal with a light touch on the string that is buzzing. You say your buzz happens when you lift your finger off. Lay something, your palm, your thumb, etc. back down on the buzzing string and I bet it stops.

    I over the years fret with the pad of my fretting hand not the tip. This tends to do two things; 1) gets the wrist into a straight angle which helps with wrist pain and then 2) tends to deaden the strings below the targeted string. Kinda kills two birds with one stone.

    How you mute depends on how you sound the note. That dictates the best muting method you need to use. I use my thumb as a pick, or if you are using a pick, then the floting thumb or palm mute seem to do the trick.

    A Google on muting the bass should bring up all kinds of different ways. Pick one that best fits how you play and give that a try. After a week if it is not working, pick another way.

    This is something we all had to go through.

    Good luck.
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2018