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Strings clicking when I play too hard..what's wrong?

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by Corey, Oct 31, 2004.

  1. Corey


    Oct 27, 2004

    I've been playing bass for about a year and a half now, and have always been using fingerstyle when I played. I've worked my way up to using three fingers when I play and whenever I play hard on the strings they either bounce and click off the fretbaord or the pickups, I can't tell but I'm fairly sure its the fretboard. I find this very distracting as I can't play anything without hearing a horrible click which just ruins the song when I'm play. I was wondering if anyone could tell me what the porblem was and how I could fix it. When I play I'm not like slamming the strings but just getting into the mood of the song.

    Corey Valadas
  2. Groove Theory

    Groove Theory Grizzly Adams DID have a beard.

    Oct 3, 2004
    The Psychiatric Ward
    If you're pretty sure its the fretboard, it could be several things.
    What I would do is first check the action. What is your string action setup like? Whats the action of the first fret as opposed to the last fret?

    If you're setup for a really low action, its possible you could fix it by simply adjusting the saddle height. You might want to look at the strings you're using also. If you are using a really light gauge sting set and they are kinda floppy, the strings could be rubbing a little bit on your last fret or whatever. You might try some heavier gauge strings because heavier gauge = higher tension = less floppy.
    If you find that its hitting the pickups, you can try adjusting them a little lower to see if that helps.

    On a more technical aspect, you probably also want to check out any bowing of the neck and make the correct adjustments to the truss rod. And it would probably be a good idea to do a good fret leveling job on it as well, to eliminate any high frets that could be adding to the problem.

    Most likely it isnt anything too serious. I've got a customized cheap Cort that I have set up for a really low action that I love to play, and I have the same problem when I try doing some slapping, but when I'm slapping on my J bass, with a higher action and thicker strings, I dont have that problem at all.

    It might also be worth it to get a full professional setup w/ a fret leveling job by someone in your area if you don't haven't done any of this before. but then again they're also really good things to learn if you want to be able to keep your instruments in tip top shape.

    Let us know how it ends up.
  3. Groove Theory

    Groove Theory Grizzly Adams DID have a beard.

    Oct 3, 2004
    The Psychiatric Ward
    Although, if you're playing "too hard" you might just want to crank up the volume and play a little lighter. :D
  4. Corey


    Oct 27, 2004
    By playing too hard..what really happens is me playing slightly harder than lightly so that I can enjoy the feel of the music. It would probably be worth while to bring it into a Luthier though.

  5. Corey


    Oct 27, 2004
    Also, I've been playing with some pretty heavy gauge strings and that hasn't made a difference. The only time I haven't experienced the clicking was when the strings were brand new and stiff.
  6. Bryan R. Tyler

    Bryan R. Tyler TalkBass: Usurping My Practice Time Since 2002 Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    May 3, 2002
    I have this problem sometimes-my index finger is pretty thin and bony and the nail goes right to the edge, so a clicky sound often comes out of it. Lowering your pickups (tightening their screws will do it) often helps. Your fingers will still make the noise, but it won't be amplified so much.
  7. Groove Theory

    Groove Theory Grizzly Adams DID have a beard.

    Oct 3, 2004
    The Psychiatric Ward
    Hmm, I guess I should ask what gauge strings you are using? Also, How old are they and how soon after they were installed that you first noticed the clicking?
  8. Corey


    Oct 27, 2004
    The gauge on the strings are .55 .75 .90 .110. About a couple of weeks to a month after putting these strings on I started to hear the clicking again. Right now they're probably about 3 months old.
  9. Skorzen


    Mar 15, 2002
    Springfield MA
    Do your pickups have exposed poll-pieces, or are the sealed? I have found that this can cause "clicking" with the string hitting the poll-pieces. It could be the fetboard, but if the pickupes are exposed I tend to think that is more likely the problem.
  10. Groove Theory

    Groove Theory Grizzly Adams DID have a beard.

    Oct 3, 2004
    The Psychiatric Ward
    Yeah your strings seem like they are plenty heavy...What I would say is that its probably a combination of several small things...as strings get older they tend to slacken up a little bit. it could be that you have a small amount of neck bow, and/or a low action, and as your strings get used after a little while they probably slacken up just enough to cause the clicking. Of course it is kindof hard to diagnose problems without actually personally seeing it. :ninja:
    I would recommend getting a full setup done on it as I was talking about before by a professional luthier, that way, if it is something more serious than what a simple setup/fret leveling could fix, he'll be able to tell you what exactally is going on.
    Best of luck. :bassist:
  11. Vanman


    Nov 14, 2004
    San Francisco
    I find when my playing gets physically more aggressive I have to roll off some highs if I don't want the harshness or clicking that comes with the harder attack. That MAY help.
  12. I had this problem for a while, IIRC its essentially your fingers attcking the strings straight down instead of pulling upward like normal. For me it happened when i played fast or harder and it caused me to raise my action a little as well as be conscienus of my playing style
  13. BruceWane


    Oct 31, 2002
    Houston, TX
    What he said, but I'll add something.......what I've found is that I'll often get a click not from the string I'm plucking, but from the string my fingers come to rest on after the pluck - i.e. plucking hard on the A string gets a click from the E string. It's caused by resting my thumb on the string below the one I'm plucking, putting a little bit of downward pressure on it which effectively lowers the action a bit, so that even a small "thump" of my fingers coming to rest on it produces a click.

    So, be careful when resting your thumb on a string that you're not pushing the string downward toward the fretboard; do your best to pluck across the string, parallel to the body of the bass, instead of plucking downward; and be conscious of what your fingers are doing AFTER you pluck as well.

    It's just yet ANOTHER one of those little details about technique to pay attention to.
  14. This is exactly what happens to me when I get the clicking/clacking it's all technique. I've installed a chrome pickup cover on my jazz bass to aid my pulling up rather than plunking down onthe strings and it's helped a lot.

  15. mjw


    Jun 12, 2001
    Spring, TX USA
    I kinda found the same thing. Instead of playing real agressive, I'm now letting the amp do more of the work. But... having said that.... I also have to admit how hard it is for me to supress my natural desire to dig in real deep when playing those real funky grooves... - lol ;)