What would Trujillo do? String action while playing hard and fast w/ fingers

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by JnKlm, Jul 24, 2019.

  1. JnKlm


    Jul 24, 2019
    I play a very heavy sort of metal music and use fingers on my right hand.
    The basslines (mostly inherited from the previous bassist who used plectrum) are quite simple but very fast.
    Consistent hard and aggressive plucking (=tone) is a must.

    How should I set my string action?
    Or how does e.g. Robert Trujillo set his?

    I play a 5-string, .45-1.35 gauge.
    Elixir strings on a Sandberg VMII5.
    I have always set my action pretty high to give me plenty of "room" for the strings to oscillate (a sort of upright bass ideal).
    But now we recorded an album and I hear that the lack of fret buzz actually resulted in lack of higher crunchy frequencies in my sound.

    Would you recommend setting the action lower?
    Is it OK if the strings hit the frets basically on every note (often 500x/minute)?

    Thank you very much for any ideas and comments!
  2. Nashrakh


    Aug 16, 2008
    Hamburg, Germany
    Yes, I would go lower. The tricky part, at least for me, is to get that clack on every note. Consistency is the ideal here, I think it sounds poopy if the clack is only there on some notes. You'll have to experiment with how low is low enough.

    Bonus: you may not have to attack the strings as hard anymore to get that sound.
  3. JnKlm


    Jul 24, 2019
    Thank you, Nashrakh!
    Your advice is greatly appreciated.

    Anyone else will share his/her view or experience?
  4. Thorny1


    Jun 16, 2019
    I'm in the exact opposite situation. I also have a 5 string that I play fingerstyle, for a lot of metal music. However, I'm trying to AVOID the clack as much as possible. The lower I tune, the worse it gets. Plying near the neck definitely makes it worse, but that may be a desirable result for you.
  5. socialleper

    socialleper Bringer of doom and top shelf beer Supporting Member

    May 31, 2009
    Canyon Country, CA
    Low action and a pretty straight neck are your friends here. That way you don't have to waste a lot of movement with your plucking fingers. I can play pretty fast on one string using a three finger technique.
    A good practice technique is to set a best, play the quarter's for a while, then switch to the eighths, the finally sixteenths. Work towards a nice even attack.
    I will also say that sometimes a pick is the right tool to use.
  6. JohnArnson


    May 28, 2019
    Lower action would probably help to improve on the issue you describe, but why don't you experiment yourself with what setup works and sounds best with what and how you play?

    Theorizing can only take you so far, and you heard the result of that yourself.

    Also I don't really get why you don't just use a pick for this project, if that is truly what fits the music best?

    It's hard to replicate the sort of click like emphasis of the attack you get when using a pick with your fingers.

    If you insist on keeping using your fingers the EHX Steel Leather pedal might help you some of the way with that though, as it is actually designed with that in mind.
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2019
  7. IamGroot


    Jan 18, 2018
    I dont play metal but I like Trujillo and his back up band.

    I find Rotosounds R66 very conducive to playing fast, more so than D Addarios nickels. Unfortunately, R66 are short life. TI Flats are very slow but last forever

    My action is average to stoopidly high depending on the bass. I pluck most notes without hammerons. No clack, no fret noise, every note is clear. Doesnt seem to hurt my speed

    Edit: if i was copying the Who, i would be pushed to lower action.
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2019
  8. JnKlm


    Jul 24, 2019
    I want to say THANK YOU for every tip from you all!
    Keep them coming!
    It helped me a great deal to find out how wide the spectrum of relevant perspectives can be.

    Regarding the use of a pick - I might force myself to learn it, although I think using fingers is beneficial for me even in this extreme kind of music.
    Even in the fastest songs there are passages where it is better to go flesh on steel (/nickel).
    But it is really a shame not to be able to have this in my vocabulary...so many bassist I adore are unimitable without a pick.

    I am going to test the lower-set action in some summer gigs.
    And I will definitely ask sound engineers in studio and in concerts what their opinions are.

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