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Should this old dog learn any new tricks?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by gimmeagig, Jan 22, 2012.

  1. I've been playing bass for over 30 years and I thought my technique was pretty good but watching some of those youtube guys I'm starting to have the feeling that I might have to make some changes.
    Here's the problem.
    On my 5 sting bass when I play the E A or D strings I was getting this clacking sound kind of like the strings were hitting the Fretboard. My attack is kind of medium, I don't dig in really hard and I'm not wimpy either. So I had to get more relief in the neck and raise the action. That would make it go away.
    I do not have that problem on my 4 string basses(74 Jazz and Modulus VJ) but I have it on two 5 stringers that I own.(the 5ers are a Moon JB5 and a Atelier Z M265 so they are high quality instruments)
    On some youtube videos and i see these guys with speed and chops and I can't imagine them doing what they do with anything other that really low action. Henrik from Dirty Loops for example...
    There's a Jimmy Haslip clip and a Tamas Barbaras clip and some John Pena clips ( all guys who I like and try to emulate)where I also hear quite a bit of buzzing too. Which actually surprises me, it is not noticeable on their recordings.
    Am I more paranoid about avoiding the buzzing than I should be? Is a certain amount acceptable? I don't know. But that still leaves the annoying clacking sound...
    So I'm wondering if I need to change my setups and my technique a little as well.
    To experiment I set the Atelier Z with less relief and lower action just to see if I can make it work.It plays very easy now but I really have to watch my right hand technique now to keep the clacking from happening.I lightened my attack so I don't get a whole lot of buzzing I'm really careful about how I pluck and how I mute but that also makes me think too much and keeps me from going for stuff.The bass also doesn't resonate quite as well now.
    I play latin jazz r&b funk straight ahead stuff so I want clean defined notes with punch. So I'm not 100% sure if I'll be able to make those changes and stick with them or if I'm just going to revert back into my old habits. When playing live it's not so much of an issue but when I'm in the studio or practicing at home, keeping the strings from making extra noises is a big thing for me.
    Any words of wisdom?
  2. chaosMK


    May 26, 2005
    Albuquerque, NM
    Hi-fi into an old tube amp
    In recent months my right hand has come around quite a bit in terms of getting beefy yet gentle attacks without buzz at speed. I used to play much more percussively (sounded great doing prog metal) but do hip hop right now. Muting and probably changing the angles of my attack were things that developed hand in hand with this.

    I think your various settings (amp, bass etc) can have an impact on things. I think if you have a real clinical sounding rig with upper mids presence the clank and buzz can get irritating fast, where a tube or borderline OD tone can be a little more forgiving. Maybe compression can help too.
  3. Russell L

    Russell L

    Mar 5, 2011
    Cayce, SC
    I have learned to lower my highs and upper mids to get rid of some clacking from playing with my fingernails. Might help you, too.
  4. Yes, it's possible that the sound of my rig and the sound I'm after is less forgiving.
    I like Marcus Miller, Alex Al, John Pena and there's a lot of highs in that type of sound.I'll try and dial it back a little. I have been practicing with my headphones on and I'm trying to really pay attention to muting and attack and basically keeping all the extra noise out. I may have to get used to not getting too exited and digging in too hard.
    Gary Willis talks about light touch being the secret to a fatter sound but he is a very different player than my main guys who inspire me.
  5. Russell L

    Russell L

    Mar 5, 2011
    Cayce, SC
    You can indeed find a fat sound by playing lightly, but you have to turn the volume up, too. Then you must be careful not to accidentally hit one note too hard. But, it feels good to play lightly, I think.
  6. That's the problem, because I oftentimes slap and play fingerstyle in the same tune.
    I hate dragging pedals around with me but I suppose I could hook my compressor up and boost it for fingers and turn it off when I slap. It's kind of backwards but it could work.

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