Finger Scraping

@JoshFossgreen @Gio I have been getting really annoyed listening to my fingers scraping on the strings while micro shifting. From what I hear, the issue isn’t my amp, not my strings, it’s me.

Any tips or exercises on reducing finger scraping while shifting?

Thanks!

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Some people here say they like that scraping sound. I personally don’t, which is one of the reasons I play on flat wounds.

The only other thing I can think of is to elevate your fretting fingers a bit more when shifting.

I’m eager to hear what others have to add.

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… or wear a glove :boxing_glove:

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All three could contribute but at the end of the day your technique is the biggest factor. The trebble setting on you amp will hide the noise when turned down(if you want to hide the problem and sound better for now) or will expose every little scrape sound when turned up (good for practicing your technique to not scrape when shifting). But you want to learn to not make the noise happen in the first place so your amp can be used for shaping tone and not hiding unwanted sound.
As Pam mentioned, flatwound strings will also make a huge difference in scraping sound since they are flat lol. Flats vs rounds vs the other options is about personal preference and what tone you want to achieve. Play around with both. Try flats next time you get a setup.

As for exercises I’ll leave that to the professionals who you were correct to ask, but odds are there is a Josh YouTube video someone can point you to.

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This is absolutely true, as long as you look at it in a realistic light. There is some scraping and finger noise that you can’t eliminate with technique, because there is an element of sound to any movement. You can control it and mask much of it with technique, but without using your amp and bass eq to mask some of it, there will be some of it regardless.
This can also be attractive to some, and with the right type of music, it can add to the grit and depth of the attack and aggression you might be trying to create with your bass line.

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Yeah, as long as it is not excessive, I actually like it in recorded music, as it adds a little human element to the sound, kind of like slight imperfections in someone’s voice, or a bass player that is totally in the pocket but dragging a bit because it just sounds extra funky.

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Thanks for bringing this up!
Your post got me really curious. I went to some session tracks I’ve been doing from home for different clients. I started listening to the isolated bass tracks. Guess what?
Lots of string noise. Even some string rattle when I get into it and play too hard.
Lots of non-perfect sounds and artifacts in these takes.

I think you may be in a bit of a rabbit hole of listening to isolated bass sounds. Our instruments and parts are intended for an ensemble, usually. The sounds of fingers on strings, fret buzz, over-play-rattle, clacks-from-excitable-plucking… it’s all part of the bass.
So -
My first recommendation - play to music / drum tracks / backing tracks and record it. Listen back to it. If you are playing the bass balanced in the mix, and you’re still hearing string noise that is unacceptable, post it here, and maybe a video and we can work on some solutions.
My guess is that once you’re listening to the bass in context, things will be fairly acceptable and lovely.

If this answer is not what you’re looking for, I’d be happy to jump in and offer suggestions as is, but I’d need to see a video of your hands (both) playing, and a recording of you in action to better offer pointers / diagnose things.

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That occurred to me!

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Thanks @Gio ! Yeah, I certainly don’t notice it as much “in context” of a backing track or something like that. I kinda liken it to trying to tip-toe through an old house with wooden floors. I can improve it some.

For all my IT acumen, I haven’t taken the time to setup a DAW for recording. I have a Mac that records fine from the webcam though, doesn’t sound so bad.

Another thought I had was, I did replace the pickups on my bass just before I started the course. I know they’re off…and maybe too close to the strings. I thought maybe the high end frequencies of string scraping might get more intense with the pickups closer-- but I haven’t been able to turn up anything on that. I’m in the process of building my first new bass, and I’ll definitely take the time to do a proper setup on it. It will be interesting to contrast the two instruments.

I’ll work with it and see what I can do.

Thanks again!

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@T_dub @howard

I can remember when I heard string scrapes for the first time when I was a kid listening to Ace Frehley for the first time (Rock and Roll Over album). I thought it was cool. But, on the bass, the only time I might think it would be cool would be in conjunction with a slide.

Maybe you guys have example of some good scrapey bass? :grin:

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listen to these two videos. Listen to the play thru first, then listen to the Bass ONLY.

There are slides, clanks and all sorts of noise that goes un noticed in the mix, but when listened to alone, it has it all.
However, if the bass were not played with this type of grit, the mix would sound weak IMO.

I use this as an example because I have used this to learn the song (even tho I know some of the main slide riff part is incorrect, most of the “FUN” part of it is legit), and the first time I recorded myself, I was disappointed with all the noise I was hearing that I thought was my poor playing. When I went back and JUST LISTENED to the Bass ONLY version, I was hearing all the same things that you hear here, so I started to feel much better about my playing.

Also, it is not ONLY the slide parts of this song that you hear the finger scratches in.

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Try LaBella Deep Talkin’ strings. They have qualities of round wound but are noiseless.

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Which La Bella Deep talking are you referring too? I have the 760FS-B which are flat wound. Are you referring to a round wound or flat wound string?

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They aare round wound string covered in nylon tape.

I prefer the light gauge.

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To be exact they are La Bella Deep Talkin’ nylon wrapped strings 750-T.

About $38. on Amazon

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Ah ok, those are tapewounds. I have a set of those on my Yamaha BB235. Very nice strings.

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I see what you mean, although my noise is higher pitch, like dragging a pick on a guitar. It’s crazy! I’m workin’ on it though.

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Yeah, that can be amp settings. unless you prefer the tone with the treble up like that, it is not really cheating to eq the amp for less scratchy sound. I would say, go for the bass tone you want. Proper technique always going to be practiced throughout a bass players life, so you will always be working on that weather you have the bass tone you like to hear or not.

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@T_dub
May just do that. I’ve been rolling back the tone on my bass a little at a time. Everything on the amp is at 12 o’clock. I couple of months ago I was using phone on the amp, and it seems a lot quieter… But you are right about technique, and I know that I can do more.

@Boz @PamPurrs

I may just try some flat wounds once I get my new bass built, if for no other reason than to see how the other side lives. :wink:

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I’ve also been wondering about finger scraping so decided to try new strings and just put on a set of half rounds which have eliminated the scraping sounds, but feel much “stickier” than round wounds. I’ve only played them for one day so will see how it progresses.

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