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What's the best type of string clank?

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by topo morto, Sep 26, 2013.

  1. topo morto

    topo morto

    Mar 22, 2010
    Answering in another thread about how to get 'growl' reminded me I've been thinking about this... how do you guys set up your basses to get a nice interesting bit of rattle / growl from strings hitting frets / pickups / whatever?

    My current recipe is to try to get the string hitting the highest fret just a bit when I play hard - seems to give a nice growl. Seems to be better with a bit of neck relief, rather than having the string clattering against the fret board all along its length. EDIT : wondering if this works better on shorties, too...
  2. Low action, very little relief, tone knob turned all the way up (or almost) and either both neck and bridge pick-up, or just bridge. Turn up highs on amp to taste.

    I have my basses set up like this, but with just a touch higher action so I can get clank at will.
  3. Precision101


    Sep 22, 2013
    Play closer to fretboard and lower your action like hell. You'll get a nice growl
  4. Turnaround

    Turnaround Commercial User

    May 6, 2004
    Toronto Canada
    Independent Instrument Technician, and Contractor to Club Bass and Guitar - Toronto
    Best kind of string clank? - none.
  5. Steveaux

    Steveaux Safe-Guardian of the Stoopid Supporting Member

    Jul 1, 2008
    The Wilds of NW Pa.
    Whats the best string clank for metal?

  6. Kmonk


    Oct 18, 2012
    South Shore, Massachusetts
    Endorsing Artist: Fender, Spector, Ampeg, Curt Mangan, Nordstrand Pickups, Korg , Conquest Sound
    I don't want string clanking at all! I want a clean, full, punchy sound.
  7. topo morto

    topo morto

    Mar 22, 2010
    If you're a tech though, aren't you sometimes asked to set instruments up for a bit of spit 'n' snarl?
  8. Yep!

    I set my basses up with very low action and no fret buzz unless I dig in. If clank is desired, I play on the fretboard instead of between the pups.
  9. fhm555

    fhm555 So FOS my eyes are brown

    Feb 16, 2011
    I must have missed the memo. I play on the fret board all the time, my action is set low and I don't get anything but a more muted sound than I get playing closer to the pups.
  10. RustyAxe


    Jul 8, 2008
    +1 ... I let the drummer play percussion.
  11. The best kind of string clank is "totally missing" clank.

    If you can hear it in the mix, it's too loud and needs to be reduced or eliminated.
  12. walterw

    walterw Supportive Fender Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 20, 2009
    as in string buzz off the frets? never. some players may not mind a little buzz as a consequence of low action and an aggressive technique (that's me, actually), but saying you want fret buzz sounds like stockholm syndrome to me :).

    calling it something cool-sounding like "spit 'n' snarl" doesn't make it desirable. a bright, zingy tone is something entirely different than a bunch of buzzing and clacking on the frets.

    (it's like guitar players saying they like single coil hum, when they really just like the tone of single coils, and associate that tone with its unfortunate byproduct of noise.)
  13. P Town

    P Town

    Dec 7, 2011
    Here's how I do it:
    I get it accidentally, because I am not very skilled, I don't practice much, and I have not taken lessons.
  14. Turnaround

    Turnaround Commercial User

    May 6, 2004
    Toronto Canada
    Independent Instrument Technician, and Contractor to Club Bass and Guitar - Toronto
    I've been asked to set up instruments for all kinds of things, some of which were impossible. But in the case of "clank", I can set them up for that, and I will if that's what the customer wants. If they want my opinion - well, that's a different matter. No clank for me.
  15. topo morto

    topo morto

    Mar 22, 2010
    It's an important part of a lot of driven tones - drive on its own can sound a bit dull, whereas a slight bit of fret rattle on the attack of the notes through distortion sounds great. "Spit and snarl" is what it sounds like - pretty cool to my ears. Not trying to persuade anyone if it's not what they like.

    60 cycle hum is something you can't easily control, and doesn't alter dynamically with your playing - if it did, maybe I could get into it!

    To me a better analogy would be valve distortion - maybe technically undesirable but adding a little musicality sometimes.
  16. 202dy

    202dy Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2006
    The request most often heard in the shop is "As low as it will go without buzzing."

    The tech risks their reputation when sending a guitar out the door that "clanks." The overwhelming majority of people will think that the tech is incompetent.
  17. topo morto

    topo morto

    Mar 22, 2010
    I guess so - and that people for whom clank is good would be doing their own setups.
  18. It's nearly the same as slap. I can play finger style on about the 17-18th fret on my 24 fret five string, and it's nasty as heck. It sounds nastier than the verse parts on Heartbteaker (LZ) than JPJ recorded. Thick and clanky.

  19. BrandonBass


    May 29, 2006
    To achieve the 'good' kind of grind and clank, the fretjob has to be immaculate and the action of the bass has to real low. Your technique has to be quite refined as well, as it will some pretty 'chaotic' if you dont have a controlled and consistent touch

    Basses with less than perfect fretjobs will choke out certain notes when the action is too low. I have owned more than a dozen basses, and trust me, some basses are just not capable of the kind of grind that requires an immaculate fretjob and a perfectly straight neck.

    Fender basses are kinda inconsistent from my experience, some great and some not so great. They usually require a shim to achieve very low action. The EBMM basses I have owned are really consistent in terms of playability, Im really impressed.
  20. Not true at all. I wouldn't recommend most players to have string clank as the basis for their tone, but there are plenty of situations when a touch of clank is perfect.

    I was listening to Nine Inch Nails - The Fragile the other other day and noticing the wide variety of bass tones on the album. The string clank on the bass in "Please" pretty much makes the tune.

    Not to mention all the "aggressive" bands who are almost defined by their clanky bass tone (Tool comes to mind).

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