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General question on a bass gtr..."strings hitting frets" sound.

Hi guys, how can this problem be fixed:

I had a bassist audition last nite...all good but the loud "clink" of his strings hitting some frets is a concern....he uses his fingers only, no slappin & poppin' or thumbing.

Being a 6 string gtr player, I can only think his action is too low. Any other thoughts and how to fix this since he may be our man.

THanks aton!


Does he want to "fix" this? Or does he want the fret buzz? For lots of the best dirty bass tones out there, fret buzz is part of where the growl comes from. For example, I've been adjusting the action on my basses and guitars for over 20 years, I know how to do these sorts of things... and if one of my basses (other than the '78 P with flatwounds on it) didn't have a small but present amount of fret buzz, I would for sure lower the action to get it. It's all about a balance between getting a good amount of fret buzz present in the sound, but not losing too much sustain, if you're talking about a good rock bass sound.

But the short answer would be "if you're looking to decrease the amount of fret buzz an instrument has, a few ways to do it are 1) use heavier strings or tune to a higher range, 2) correct any issues with ill-adjusted truss rod, 3) raise the action on the bridge or the nut, whichever is appropriate or 4) either a fret dress or a refret, as appropriate."

Probably there are other things I've forgotten as well. But the first step for you is to talk to him and see if his sound is like that because he wants it that way. Like, think of all those Korn-wannabe bands, for guys like that the choked out fret buzz is the main thing the bass contributes to the band's sound. I'm personally not a fan of that much of it, but who knows, maybe your guy is. Or maybe he just didn't even notice how his instrument sounds, or he did notice but cant figure out what to do about it. Have a quick chat with him and get to know if it's intentional or not.


+1 on Scott's reply. I actually worked as a Luthier off & on since '86, and he's spot-on thruout his post (even the dig on Korn is DOBA)... ;)

Other than the physical setup of the bass, the buzz may be a product of his playing style = fingering into the strings instead of more parallel to the strings...



Power User
Is the problem even fret buzz? The description of 'clink' does not sound like fret buzz to me! Some bass players (such as John Myung from DT) intentionally 'slap' down onto the string with their left hand as they initially finger the note (I am not talking about slap bass here). This produces a 'clink' sound as the string initially hits the fret, which can be a cool percussive effect. If this technique was not done intentionally or appropriately, it could in deed sound bad.
Thanks guys, that opened my mind and gave me some options to consider.
The type of music we're doing is classic rock...very wide degree's of it...thus not much of this sound need, 'cept for maybe classic metal & grunge (Man in the box for example).


I was actually thinking it was his right hand. If you hit down on the string with your right hand (ie. towards the fretboard), you can get this clinking even with a high action. Instead, if you pull the strings towards your face (ie. parallel to the fretboard), then you won't get clinking even with a low action. The technique I generally try to visualize to prevent buzzing of any sort is to pretend like I'm holding a ball in my right hand while playing.
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