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Musings on bass fret noise- How do you feel about it?

Discussion in 'Bass' started by jmm22, Nov 16, 2010.

  1. jmm22

    jmm22 Guest

    I have been getting good general tones from recording my acoustic bass guitar, however, the action was factory set, and was high. I finally got around to dropping the string height somewhat, and of course the playing comfort is increased, but I am getting more fret buzz. Frankly, it is not objectionable when just playing, but I am curious to hear the perspective of others about how intermittent and perhaps light bass fret buzz affects a recording, say in the blues acoustic rock genre. Any thoughts are welcome. I am also curious to know if minor fret buzz is heard or regarded differently to the engineer depending on whether the bass is acoustic or electric.
  2. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    Fretless is the way to go for bass. Just my opinion. As to whether fret buzz is heard in a recording will be a function of the frequency of the buzz versus the surrounding sounds and the volume of the buzz. I wouldn't want to hear any personally. YMMV
  3. jmm22

    jmm22 Guest

    I may have overstated the kind of fret buzz I am talking about. Of course any continuous buzz is not good, but I am talking about that more subtle initial zing from a hard attack, that settles down almost immediately. In fact, I am not sure if one can play bass with any kind of real intensity and not get some initial fret sound either of the string making contact with the fret, or that moment just before the eliptical pattern settles enough to clear all frets. And just as obviously, any kind of slap technique must involve fret noise to some degree.
  4. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    I guess I'd have to hear the tonal color of the buzz. Generally extra noise on bass is frowned upon with the advanced musicians but it's awful hard to get rid of altogether as heard on even Julian Bream or a Romero (pick one). My primary guitar experience is in (of course) classical but my wife is a fine classical bass player so I'm not wholly ignorant. Just mostly. After all, if you can hear the strings the brass aren't doing their job ;-)

    When Dave or Jeemy checks into this thread they'll have some good info for you.
  5. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Personally, I set up the studio basses to eliminate most buzzes of any kind, be they mechanical or electrical. This will usually put the action a bit higher for some players, but HEY! we're talking a few minutes tracking as opposed to several hours live......

    Action on a bass , is a fine line between string height, neck tilt, fret level, string tension, bridge height, and attack. If you're a real heavy thumper with the right hand, then a higher string height is the cure for buzz. Heavier string tension is also a good cure. Unfortunately, a lot of electric bass string manufacturers dont think too much about individual string tensions in their sets like the acoustic string guys do. Its a shame. You get a nice tension on the A and D string but the low E and the G are sloppy.....crap.....

    I digress.....

    In the studio, I use fretless and fretted basses. Also live but mostly fretted live simply because of the material.

    One thing that will effectively eliminate fret buzz in the studio is pickup height. You dont want them so low as to effect the reproduction of harmonics and fundamentals, but there is a place where you can get rid of those annoying little fret buzzes.

    Of course the over-all cure is solid technique. If you hit the strings so hard as to have that early string buzz then you are also diming the output which affects the tonal quality and the ability of the preamp to reproduce the fundamental at the strike. You dont want to have to wait for it to 'settle in' on the recording. You want the NOTE clear and clean no matter what setting you're using or style you're playing. Its a much easier task to get the bass to 'sit' in a mix when you're not repairing something from the start.

    I dont need to record bass with any sort of compression nor does either of the other regulars I record. We all have even smooth technique be it fingers, thumbs, picks, or American Liberty Dollars rounded off to a point(thats another story).

    So. A properly set up bass, properly played, Bob's yer uncle.

    Easy, huh.

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