Fret board noise

Hey folks.
I’ve got a Yamaha Motion B MB40 that has D’Addario ECB81M flatwounds on it. It gives a beaut warm sound and a ripper tone! But the noise off the fretboard is really noticeable.

The setup is good, action is low without buzz, have lowered the (passive) pickup heights so they don’t get too eager. At first I thought it wouldn’t be too noticeable upon recording but the fret noise is there constantly.

What kinda fret noise? Every time I place a finger down, no matter the degree of strength I use, the string has a distinct twang off the fret. Louder on the E of course, but present across all strings. Softer on lower frets but up around the mid frets it’s at it’s worst.

Anyone ever experienced this on their bass?

P.S. before the flatwounds I was running some kinda Eddie Ball set that was gifted me. They were all twang and crackle, and picked up every finger motion there was. I ditched 'em after a few rounds.


This sounds like it needs a setup to me.

Action too low and you can get truanting off the next fret etc.

Assuming it’s used, the nut may have been cut way too low etc.

Are you able to do or have you done a proper setup (besides pickup height?


Thanks John. Yep it’s used. Not an expert but the nut seems to have some meat below it so strings aren’t resting against the neck.
I wasn’t specific enough before. Noise is loudest when fingering an open string.

I do hope to get out of lockdown in a month so a luthier is on my radar. But in the time I have I’ve improved it via truss rod and action changes. Just that damn metallic fret twang!


Does it come through the amp or is it just noticeable to you while playing?

Might not be an issue at all.


Sounds to me like a neck relief issue. It’s either the neck is too straight or it has a slight upward curve in the middle. That happened to me from time to time when I get a used bass and the previous owner adjusted the neck to be dead straight. It needs some degrees of relief.

A straight neck can’t handle nice and low action without buzzing. The string especially the big ones need vertical space to oscillate properly. Give it a quarter turn or two of relief should make it go away.


I’d need a video of both hands and the fret board to be able to weigh in on this.

My initial suspicion is that you’re expecting the instrument to be silent/less noisy when it can’t be, but I don’t know. If you have time, throw a video with audio up so we can see/hear what you’re describing!
Hope we can help.


Thanks Al. As I previously mentioned I adjusted the truss rod. Previous player had it wound as far right as it could go. Have backed it off to a very gentle “cup” curve, then the action, then retuned and reset intonation.


Thanks Gio. It’s Morning here Down Unda so I will take you up on your offer. For even more clarity my noise expectation levels aren’t after complete silence. I can recreate this metal twang with a forceful hammer-on, a regular finger placement, and a soft finger placement upon the fretboard.

@John_E probably best summed up what’s happening, it sounds like frets are “truanting” as if the action was set too low. The description is right, but the effect I’m getting can be reproduced on high and low action.

I like your video idea, appreciated. Shall come back to you


Hi there @Gio , a short video as suggested.
For complete clarity this noise is NOT present when a note is already fretted. That is to say, if I’m holding a G then play G - G# - A there is zero buzz or twang. This metallic twang is when a finger is first dropped onto an open string.

Again, thanks for the offer of help

Video is HERE


It is not that much different than what I am hearing on my basses with rounds actually.

That one fret sounds a little wonky though and seems to me (could be wrong, that tends to happen) that the string is hitting the fret behind the one you are fretting, making that noise you here. I had this (or something similar) happen once in one area of my E string on a bass, and had to do some nut work and other adjustments to get it to go away. Hard to tell what setup component it might be without going stem to stern, but this is my vote.


That’s @T_dub special. He has a love hate relationship with flats and if memory serves me right he’s complaining about exactly the same issue you are dealing with.

I’m not a flats kinda guy so it’s not the issue I usually deal with. That said it does sound like a normal flat string noise imagine hard plastic tube cover metal string. It kinda sound like that.

Toby wanna jump in?


It could be my ears that are the problem hear but I don’t think I’m hearing what other people are hearing. To me, that just sounds like the typical ancillary noise that comes from playing bass and gets lost in the mix when playing with other musicians.


I thought so at first too @eric.kiser. But after running a few things through my DAW and hearing it as clearly as the real world, I figured I’d explore.

Play a few riffs where I’m crossing strings and moving quickly, the twang is as loud as a note. I’m having to ensure my technique is thorough and 110% or El-Twango turns up without any level of forgiveness.

@John_E as ,mentioned the moment I’m out of lockdown I’ll head straight for the luthier. I agree with you, I think it’s a total review of the minor details. I’m confident I’ve covered the basics well.

Pretty sure after all the encouraging feed back in this thread, it’ll be one of those “Pro’s Only” things that’ll be worth me spending the money for.

P.S. @Al1885 I will take that advice and look locally for more feedback to learn if it’s a flat thing.


Turn down your treble?


My flats don’t do that at all, i was checking rounds, but when I had the one issue, it was with flats.

I’m with @eric.kiser on this one.
I hear the sound of metal string on fret.
And because the video is not plugged in, I can’t tell if the sound translates through the pickup and amp.

I wish I could be in the room to help!
Also so I could be in Melbourne again!

I just picked up my 3 basses here - a Fender Precision, a Fender Jaguar and a Modulus Quantum and they all make that sound no matter how hard / light I press.

I feel like I’m still not understanding something about the issue you’re having. If I’m not, I’m sorry! Feel free to keep the evidence coming if you think there is help to be had here!


I’ve been playing flats exclusively for over 2 years and have never experienced that noise, so I don’t think we should jump to conclusions and blame it on flats.


Agree we should not. We are however narrowing down the issue.

Flats does sound louder playing unplugged. Tapewound are probably the quietest but not my much over the steel strings and coated.

Old dead strings are definitely the quietest out of the bunch. I just changed out out. That thing has no spring at all.


As stated, my flats don’t sound as bad as this, but I have had that twang and it did come through the amp as the OP has stated as well.

Proper setup look is #1.
Does this happen on -

  • all strings or just some, which ones?
  • all frets or just some, which ones?

My issue I had was with a worn fret in front of an unworn fret and a nut too low, got some ‘back buzz’. Some fiddling with relief and nut got rid of it.


@John_E yes that’s my aim, to work closely with a luthier when permitted.

Thanks to all of you for participating in the discussion and offering thoughts and ideas. I feel very confident I’ve exhausted all the “amateur” options. Neither my Ibanez ATK 300 or my Aria Pro II exhibit this behaviour. And it can be clearly heard through amp and DAW.

Shall keep you posted if/when the solutions presents itself :slight_smile: :+1: