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Soften the “clack”?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Ringhammer, Nov 10, 2018.

  1. I have owned and modified many Fender basses, and sometimes when I get them all put together, the clack from the string hitting the fret(s) is really overpowering. I like that effect to some degree when the strings are fresh and you get the “boing” out of it, but that tapping, clacking,clicking or whatever you want to call it is much more prominent on some basses more than others, regardless of maple vs rosewood, Jazz vs Precision, pickup choice, etc. I wonder if anyone knows any tricks to softening that sound, with a resistor or cap configuration.

    I try to do it with eq and compression, and it helps, but it would be nice if there was something to do on the basses with the problem to make them more like the ones that don’t have it.
  2. gebass6

    gebass6 We're not all trying to play the same music.

    May 3, 2009
    N.E Illinois
    Pluck so that your fingers are curled over the strings.
    With your fingertips.
    And the finger motion is along the plane of the strings.
    Not plucking downward to the frets.
    roogbass, Sleeko, Chrisk-K and 9 others like this.
  3. I find it very hard to setup a Fender style neck for low action. I feel they Benefit from higher than normal bridge height, and a fair amount of relief in the neck. When done in the right proportions, it almost eliminates fret buzz.
    fhm555 and bobyoung53 like this.
  4. Playing near the bridge helps, but you need to learn how to play more horizontal; to pull the strings in line with each other and not perpendicular to the neck.

    For me that involves rotating my right hand counterclockwise and plucking sideways (45°ish) across the strings.
    gebass6 likes this.
  5. Yeah, I could use the noisier ones when I play softer stuff, and recording, but I play my basses pretty hard when live and, when the clack is right, I try to use it, (not a slap/pop player, but a good thumb hit on the E is effective. I am a finger player, not using a pick very much, if ever, except to write and sometime to practice because it’s good to be good at both styles..
  6. Yes, I’m finding that I can only get my post 2010 Fenders to do well with low action, but my old 1970 Jazzes are a struggle to get them good with low action, the older P-basses I have are a little better with lower action though.
  7. mongo2


    Feb 17, 2008
    Da Shaw
    To stop the clack, change the attack.

    Provided the setup is done correctly, lighten up and don't force the strings into the frets.
    TheDominoKid, Koog, Eric DK and 4 others like this.
  8. MattZilla


    Jun 26, 2013
    How flat/round are your fret crowns?
  9. Actually, the frets ARE very flat on the bass in question at the moment.
  10. Nickweissmusic

    Nickweissmusic Knows all intervals from one Fred, to Juan octave Commercial User

    Jan 26, 2014
    San Diego, CA
    I teach lessons and perform live music in and around San Diego CA. Sometimes I even make money doing it!
    Mainly technique. Whether pick or finger, side to side movement is key, any downward push will make results worse.
    I was just marveling on how clean Peter Cetera’s bass work is on Chicago ‘s collaboration of Tired of Being Alone with Al Green, he doesn’t hold anything back and it’s a very dry recording, yet not a clack to be heard. That said, I don’t mind a little clack here and there, as long as it’s not choking the note off.

    Clack happens at a certain narrow frequency on every bass and is pretty easy to EQ out when recorded, and generally inconsequential live, if you’ve got some modicum of technique, so be sure to record your live performances/rehearsals to see if it’s even something to worry about.
    Rocker47, gebass6 and somebrains like this.
  11. I find either with too low action or too flat necks I'll get clack which I hate, so I set my action medium and put a little bit of relief in the neck. With light guage strings I get clack too sometimes so I go for more medium gauge. To me setting up a bass is a balance between ease of play and good sound.
  12. stuntbass77


    Nov 6, 2007
    I absolutely love the sound of a jazz bass but I have had two MIA fenders ( one a P and I still have the Jazz , both post 2008 ) and getting low action seems to be impossible and I play with a soft touch. My fix, raise the action and continue to use soft touch. I even took my bass in and had the frets leveled ( I believe they just did the last several frets ) and still high action. I LOVE the tone from this bass but I have never played a fender with really low action. I have just accepted at this point it is what it is ( I do believe my jazz got worse as it seems to have developed a sky jump/kink and the end of the neck ). I know many will give my an ear full for knocking fender but it’s just my experience., and if you want a traditional fender tone, fender is the way to go. If I could go back I would have purchased a Sadowsky as my first choice and Lakland as a my second. Sorry if this comes off as not helpful but I have chased the “low action fender” thing to long ( even my MIA P didn’t have low enough action and it had a dead straight neck ). I would raise the action and try to live with it, really hope you the best outcome.
  13. 600 Ohms

    600 Ohms

    Jan 4, 2012
    I have learned to raise the lower strings a little and it eliminates it for me. I bought radius gauges, great to skew it but keep the right curve.
    saabfender likes this.
  14. Rip Van Dan

    Rip Van Dan Supporting Member

    Feb 2, 2009
    Duvall, WA
    If you get string and fret noise, dial back the treble control on your amp. It certainly depends upon where the shelf of your treble control is set and that can vary a LOT depending upon manufacturer and model. But odds are it will help considerably.

    Just so you see what different treble settings can do to string and fret noise, dial your treble EQ up to about 3 o'clock and play it. Odds are you will clack and have string noise like crazy. Then dial it down to 9 o'clock and play it. Got a lot quieter didn't it? Then put it back to up to flat or a couple of clicks below and adjust no more than two clicks at a time until you get something you like.

    Good news is that when you are playing in a group, your string and fret noise will be covered up by guitars and keyboards. So the audience really won't hear it unless you are playing a solo.

    I've only played two Jazz Basses since 1966, but they are the only basses I've played over the last 53-years with the exception of my "once in a blue moon" use of my 5-string (played it twice in the last 3-years). I typically set my treble 2 clicks below flat on my Eden amp unless the room is muffling those frequencies. One place I play a lot though, I have to boost it by 2-clicks to adjust for the room acoustics.

    Another thing that will help with string noise, but not fret noise is using flatwound strings. Most flatwounds deaden the upper frequencies. It you still want the upper frequencies, try some LaBella Tape Wound flats. I switched to those about 6 months ago or so after only using round wounds on my current bass for 33-years. You can get them here at the TB store.
    Rocker47 and DavidEdenAria like this.
  15. cnltb


    May 28, 2005
    Adjust your playing technique and you'll be fine.
    lermgalieu, salcott and Wisebass like this.
  16. xnewyorka

    xnewyorka Supporting Member

    Jun 26, 2006
    NYC Area
    First, try adjusting how you attack the strings, as others suggested.
    If that doesn't work, then...
    If it is clacking on the lower frets, loosen the truss rod a little.
    If it is clacking on the higher frets, raise the saddles a little.
  17. interp

    interp Supporting Member

    Apr 14, 2005
    Garmisch, Germany
    In addition to adjusting the attack, smaller frets can help. Witness Lee Sklar’s use of mandolin frets on his basses.
  18. Correlli


    Apr 2, 2004
    New Zealand
    I cut the treble, especially if I have new strings on.
  19. tpa


    Dec 1, 2007
    København, Danmark
    Are you sure it is fret clack and not stringagainstexposedpolepiece clack? That can be a pain in the behind if you tend to get carried away and loose control of your technique when playing live. IME fret noise is not more prominent when plucking away from bridge than close to the bridge, which simple logic might imply. This might relate to the ratio of fundamental vs. overtones in the vibration of the string. Anyway - as other recommend: pluck mainly in the string plane will reduce clack, buzz or flabber.
  20. Robscott


    Mar 20, 2017
    Tonbridge UK
    Flabber!!!!! Did you just make that up? :)
    tpa likes this.

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