1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  

Shifting and string noise

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by dkziemann, Mar 9, 2008.

  1. dkziemann

    dkziemann Supporting Member

    Dec 13, 2007
    Rochester, NY
    Endorsed by D'Addario
    Hey all,

    I've been playing upright bass for about 7 years, and recently picked up electric bass (officially). I have an easy quick question. One of my problems is that when I shift, or even just play notes in the same position I get lots of string noise (like my fingers are grazing the top of the string and you get the annoying shifting sound). I'm not really sure why that happens but it definitely contributes to the "amateur" bass sound. Anyways of working around that or helping to stop it completely?


  2. arthurzen


    Feb 29, 2008
    New England
    Play flatwounds :)

    Seriously --> I get the "grinding" sound, especially on new round-wounds. I find it difficult to get rid of entirely - I just try to shift with as delicate a touch as possible, if even touching the strings at all.

    As the strings break in and lose their "metallic" sound, it will go away as well.

    If you're playing with other musicians, you won't really hear it (especially with a drummer).

    Good luck!
  3. hey, the bass IS a noisy instrument... one factor that can contribute to string noise is EQ settings, if you can afford to lose your 'tone' a bit, try playing with the settings and seeing what can be cut back a bit? I find that lots of mids tends to increase the string sound... as well as when using distortion etc its increased tenfold... BUT there have been some major groups with polished recordings who release songs with the sound on them... so cant be all bad,...

    a tip if your getting other unwanted string noise, try and use your index or middle finger to lightly bar all the other strings not playing, it will cut down on the other strings vibrating which is especially important to me as I only own 5 strings where everything just seems to ring constantly! :)

    my teacher has always told me if your finding noise where you dont want it find out how you can isolate it and get rid of it, I always thought it next to impossible but if you practise slowly at muting with your left and right hand on the strings your not playing it cleans up the sound alot... its taken me a while but I am noticing the improvements and it feels alot more natural now! keep it up :)

    out of interest are you playing with pick? floating thumb technique? anchored thumb?
  4. HollowBassman


    Jun 24, 2007
    Hancock, MD
    You can EQ out some of your highs, keep your fingers moisturized, and/or work on keeping your hand up off the strings when shifting positions.

    Hope this helps.:)
  5. Don't ride on the strings when you move your fingers around. The thing I found about flatwounds is that it makes you lazy because you can be sloppy without being heard. Not so lucky with roundwounds.
  6. Nick Kay

    Nick Kay

    Jul 26, 2007
    Toronto, Ontario
    Flats FTW.
  7. SweetMelisma


    Feb 25, 2008
    In an instructional video, Jaco was asked about his development. He said that first he had to figure out how to keep the bass from making noise. Or something like that, somebody else out there can probably quote the whole video, so feel free to chime in. He went on to talk a little about having only the sound you want come out of it, not all that other stuff (ringing, shifting noise, fretting out, etc.). So, I hope you don't feel like you're not getting it. You're not alone, apparently Jaco was at one point in the same position that you are in (and I am in, but working on it).

    If you want to cheat, you can try Elixer strings. I use the polyweb line on my acoustic guitar exclusively because the thicker coating gets rid of that squeak sound. I'll probably be smacked upside the head by everybody else and that's ok. I hear they last forever. A friend of mine had a set on his Jazz Bass for a year and a half of regular playing.


    Jan 13, 2007
    Elixirs still have the sound
  9. kerley


    Feb 19, 2008
    Flatwounds certainly did it for me, although have to admit it would be better to address technique! I can now get away with being lazy and slide along strings (when not fretted) to get between frets. Conscious of this though so trying to stop.

    Imagine I will be useless when using rounds again though...
  10. Fishbrain


    Dec 8, 2000
    England, Liverpool
    Endorsing Artist: Warwick Bass and Amp
    My advice would just be, don't worry about it. As you get more comfortable on the electric bass it'll probably reduce anyways. Just have fun =)
  11. Keep your shifts to a minimum by playing in a position where all the notes you need to play are located within 5 frets.
  12. kerley


    Feb 19, 2008

    Tell that to the people who are writing the music I play :)

    I was also getting noise when remove my fingers from the strings. Must have fingers that attract themselves to the little grooves in the round wound or something.

    As someone said earlier, if I was in a band environment I wouldn't even notice it anyway, but practising with the amp set on a low volume seems to make the sound more obvious.
  13. BargeOn


    Mar 19, 2004
    Lots of good advice here but I'm with Fishbrain:
    Relax and don't worry too much.

    Yeah, try some flats and mind your Es and Qs, but you'll find as you play and your technique improves that it mostly goes away and what doesn't go away you learn to ignore.
    Funny, but that may be the hardest part. After all, you spent years making your ears sensitive.

    If you're coming from URB you'll probably be comfortable on a fretless electric (with or without lines), and with flats or nylon wrapped strings you lose the string noise and the fret-clank -- and gain all the beautiful tone a fretless offers.

  14. Scot


    Mar 20, 2004
    Pacifica, CA, USA
    Here's a good thread from some months ago that addressed this topic nicely.
  15. OtterOnBass


    Oct 5, 2007
    Muting your strings goes a long way.

    For the strings above the one I'm hitting, I use my left hand to mute them. Usually it's my index finger, even if I'm holding the note with it - I bar the other strings enough to mute them. For the strings below, I use the side of my right thumb.
  16. I remember that from when I was first starting out. A lot of it really could be from the strings you have on the bass. Some of them are just noisier. But even so, it's a learning process that is common with someone new to bass. You have to learn to not slide your fingers up the strings but to lift them up and place them on the note when you're fretting the strings, while muting the other strings around it.

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.