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Technique v. Setup Buzz

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by LakeEffect, Mar 20, 2013.

  1. LakeEffect


    Feb 21, 2013
    Hey all,

    I've recently started slapping, following closely with "The Slap Bass Program" DVD, trying to take my time with it.

    It has been somewhat discouraging though that I seem to get some killer fret buzz on frets 5 through 9. When I slap on frets 1-4 I sound alright, and when I move up the neck higher than fret 10 the buzz goes away.

    Is this common? Is there some minor technique adjustment that needs to take place on this portion of the neck (I realize you don't have to slap/pluck as hard when you're in the lower register to get the strings to hit the fingerboard as you do in the higher registers, so am I just missing the "middle ground" necessary for these middle frets)?

    Im really trying to avoid having to pay for a setup if I don't have to, but if its unavoidable I will. I have played other basses in the shop and it doesn't seem to be much of an issue, then when I get home theres a very useful chunk of the neck that doesn't really sound great to me.

    Any thoughts? I really would like to avoid paying for a setup, I just got one two months ago.
  2. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    If you make a major change in your playing style (such as learning to slap) then it is entirely reasonable to setup your instrument. Or it may just be the changing of the seasons; your bass was setup for winter, and now that the weather is warming, it needs another setup?

    You can save a lot of $$ by learning to do a setup following these guides: http://www.talkbass.com/forum/f18/all-basic-setup-questions-answered-here-125382/

    On the other hand, since you are new to slap, it is entirely possible that there is nothing wrong with your bass/setup, but rather, you simply haven't mastered the technique yet. Do you get the fret buzz slapping, but not when you play with fingers/pick? In this case I would recommend that you practice slapping with as light a touch as possible so you get less string/fret noise. Being very gentle and economical with your motion is the key to slap technique, in my opinion/experience. Also don't be afraid of a little fret noise; it may be unpleasant when you are playing solo in your bedroom, but it tends to disappear in a full band mix, or even help give the bass some extra "growl" to cut through the mix. Go on Youtube and listen to islolated bass tracks by Geddy Lee, John Entwhistle, etc. and you will hear a ton of fret noise.

    I am a little concerned that you do not mention a teacher. Working 1-on-1 with a good instructor is the best way to identify and correct any flaws in your technique. A DVD cannot look at your hands and make suggestions.
  3. LakeEffect


    Feb 21, 2013
    Yeah I try to play as light as I can, I have always sounded better when playing lighter because I am generally more accurate. Sure there is room for improvement, but it is at least something I am cognizant of. To your question, I only get fret buzz when slapping, but only on frets 5-10 and I don't experience it on other basses, so I'm a little suspect of just this isolated area causing a problem.

    I understand your point about in some situations it won't really be a big deal or even that audible at all, and that it would be better take lessons in a live setting, but unfortunately I'm really not in a position to benefit from either (which I am bummed about). For the next year or so I'll still be a full time law student and part time clerk, my schedule and student loans don't really allow for lessons and band members yet. I pretty much have taken up bass in the "playing solo in your bedroom" situation, not the quickest path to improving and it is something I wish to change eventually when free time isn't scarce, but for now it is what I'm working with.

    I have tinkered with my action at both the nut and the bridge but I would rather not go at the truss rod myself unsupervised. Is it really that easy to do for a first-timer?
  4. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Truss rods aren't brain surgery.

    But if it were me, I wouldn't worry about it. You're banging your thumb into some strings and yanking on others. Of course it will rattle sometimes. Wouldn't give it a second thought if your bass is comfortable to play otherwise.
  5. LakeEffect


    Feb 21, 2013
    Haha, I can dig that, trying to walk that fine line between warding off bad habits and thinking too much I guess.

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