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Noise when pressing down string

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by bassnewb, Apr 15, 2003.

  1. bassnewb


    Apr 15, 2003
    Sorry, I'm new here and I've just started playing the bass. I've got a question but I don't really know what keyword to use for it, so I'm starting a new thread.
    When I press down on the strings, it makes a loud sound when the strings hit the frets. Is this normal, or what do I have to do to make it so that there isn't any noise? It tends to be louder for the thicker strings and it holds a higher pitch sound than if you just pluck the string (while pressing on the fret).

  2. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    The best way to sort this out is to get a teacher - a few minutes with an experienced bass player looking at what you are doing and how your bass is set up will almost certainly diagnose your problem.

    However - we can spend lots of time discussing it here, but without seeing what you are actually doing when you are playing your bass, then it is almost impossible to be certain what is going wrong!

    Just one lesson with a good teacher could clear this up and probably identify lots of other issues as well. :)
  3. moley


    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    Don't press down so hard.

    You don't need to press down hard with your fretting hand on bass guitar, in fact, playing becomes much easier when you don't.
  4. bassnewb


    Apr 15, 2003
    I guess I have no other choice but to find a bass expert. I try not to press hard, but I have to depress the strings REALLY slowly if I want it to not make that sound. It's just impossible when I need to move fast. I don't know anything about bass set up cuz I'm a beginner. It's surprising that nobody has had this problem though. Thanks for the help. Any additional feedback would be nice.
  5. It's probably just your technique.

    Your plucking finger should be on the string before you fret, and your other plucking finger should be on the string before you defret.
    Lets say you start plucking with your index finger and you're right handed.

    1. put your right index finger on the string (dampening it, ready to pluck)
    2. fret the string with your left hand
    3. pluck the string with the right index finger
    4. put your right middle finger on the same string (dampening it, ready to pluck)
    5. defret and/or fret other note with the left hand
    6. pluck string with your right middle finger

    and repeat , always alternating between your index and middle finger.

    Start practicing very slowly and gradually speed up. It will take some time practicing before your right and left hands are properly coördinated.

    Oh, by the way, welcome to Talkbass.
  6. bassnewb


    Apr 15, 2003
    Thanks! :)

    A question about dampening during defreting... what if the next string that needs to be depressed is not the string that was previously depressed? How would I manage to dampen both (during release of 1st note and depression of 2nd note) while alternating fingers?
  7. Jeff2287


    May 4, 2002
    Just so you know, all of this is a problem for beginners. All it takes to remedy is a good amount of practice (and one good teacher'll help A LOT).
  8. What you're doing sounds more like hammering than pressing on the string to pluck. As you gain experience you will also gain a feel for the neck. You will know how to press down firmly, quickly, and yet subtly. I happen to be a bassist with terrible right hand technique, but have tried to compensate with a more developed left hand. The guitarist in my band gets a kick out of me when I get a drink of water with my right hand during a song and don't miss a beat, due to hammering. I agree with the other guys though, take lessons. I've been playing more than ten years and have never had a lesson, (will be starting in about 3 weeks) While a young kid, who asked me to teach him 6 years ago, and I refused because I taught myself and would probably teach him my terrible habits, can now play rings around me, because he has taken lessons. There's no substitute for being taught how to do something by someone who knows a lot about it.
  9. You should learn to dampen them with your left hand to. Instead of releasing your (left hand) fingers from the string, just let them rest on the strings. (no pressure is needed)
    This will also minimise the movement in your fretting hand, making it easier to speed up.
  10. bassnewb


    Apr 15, 2003
    Robert Betty: Yeah, I think you're right. I think I'm hammering all the time, cuz I can get tones out without using my right hand at all. I gotta learn how to not hammer.

    Thanks for all your advices. I will attempt to put them into practice now, and it'll probably be awhile before I can get them right. It'd probably be best if I had bass lessons so that I'd get the techniques all right, but I can't access that kind of service easily around here.

  11. leanne


    May 29, 2002
    Rochester, NY
    could it be that the action on your bass is a little too high? is there anyone that could look at it?
  12. bassnewb


    Apr 15, 2003
    I don't know anybody who plays the bass over here, so there's nobody I can get help from.
    Is the action the height between the strings and the frets? If it is, how low should it be? I didn't make any changes to my bass when I bought it (guess this info probably doesn't help though).

  13. Jeff2287


    May 4, 2002
    You know, a lot of music stores (that sell instruments primarily) tend to offer lessons so that's one place to look. Also keep in mind that your teacher doesn't necesarily need to be a bass player. My teacher for the past year or so is a classical guitar player but he's familiar enough in bass lines, technique, and theory that I'm one hell of a bass player thanks to him (I RULE!).

    Just keep all that in mind (I RULE!). :D
  14. Holy Cow. Thanks for the detailed write up. I am another of the bass beginner who find it hard to find bass teachers around the area. It helps a lot of realize that the noise can be removed without adjusting the EQ!
  15. FunkSheep08

    FunkSheep08 Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 5, 2005
    Land of 100 Seasons
    Another thing I didn't see mentioned...where are you actually pressing down the strings in relation to the frets? Are you pressing down right ON the fret? If so, that might be part of your noise problem--I used to buzz the hell out of notes because of doing that. Try closing the notes right BEFORE the fret--put your finger just to the left (from your perspective) of the fret, like along side it...not too much pressure, as others have said...then pluck with your right hand. Reverse the rights/lefts I've said if you're a lefty. :) See if that helps clear up the racket some. You'll get a feel over time about where to fret the notes and how much pressure to put on. It will come with practice. Don't give up!!

    And I'll recommend a good teacher as well...check out the music stores as said.
  16. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Don't worry so much about the noise right now. It will work itself out once you learn how to play. All basses make clicking noises. Once you learn how to play, you learn to disguise them but they never go away entirely. I agree with the advice about taking lessons if you want to get serious with it. Have fun!
  17. fretting as close as you can to the fret without actually touching it can help you avoid that noise. let's say this is a fretboard:

    tuners | x| x| x| x| x| x| x| x| pickups

    you want to fret right on the x, not on the |, and nowhere else on the fret. if you don't do this, the string will vibrate against the fret and make a noise.

    if this doesn't help, then it's most likely your action. Or you're playing way too loud.
  18. Flintc


    Aug 15, 2006
    This is surprisingly difficult to do if you use a pick.

    A combination of pressing carefully, pressing just behind the fret, and correct action works for me. Even so, the B string on a 34" scale is going to be a problem.
  19. duo8675309


    Jun 5, 2005
    Maybe you turned your mid and/or high up way too high. No matter how good you are if that is up too high you are going to get some sort of noise.
  20. Some noise is inevitable. Live with it. When you practice at home without the drums or the rest of the band these noises especially when you a new player can seem well unnerving. Ever listen to a sax player solo close up. You can hear the clicks and the breathing and the slight alterations in tone.

    Its cool man, keep going forward and your fingers and muting technique will take care of themselves if you get the right initial instruction.

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