Hello, I’m so new it’s not funny. I have a dumb question. It’s about my bass guitar that I’ve only owned since July 7. When I play an open E it sounds fine, when I put my finger on the first fret which is an F(?) it sounds fine, but when I place my finger on the third fret sometimes the string will make a buzzing noise like it’s metal on metal, it’s kind of hard to describe. The guitar is in tune with a Snark I bought which is a cool device. I think but I may be wrong, that I may not be holding down the string tight enough against the fret? Because if I apply a heck of a lot of pressure it doesn’t do that. Anyway, this has to be the most difficult thing I’ve ever done. I have no idea how ya’ll get your fret fingers to cooperate or even know where to place them. Thanks and take care.
You may fretting it too far from the fret. Your finger needs to be right up on the fret without being on the fret. I seriously doubt you aren’t fretting hard enough. It is amazing how little force is needed to sound a clear note once you get your finger position right. It also may be that you have too low action or a fret that is slightly high. I would try different finger positions first though because that sounds like what you are experiencing.
The close your finger is to the fret wire when you fret, the better. It actually shouldn’t take a lot of pressure. If your finger is just behind the wire and you still get buzzing, you will need a setup. All basses need setups from time to time.
Thanks Wombat, but, um, what is a “setup?”
Set up is setting string height for action, string length for intonation, and neck curve. Neck curve is set by adjusting the truss rod. Typically this is an Allen screw located in the headstock or the body end of the neck (dependent on what flavor of bass you have.)
Bass necks aren’t straight. They are curved a slight amount. There’s a pretty delicate little balancing act occurring there. The Neck of the bass will actually be curved away from the strings a little, and the tension of the strings pulls it back to a playable position. The fine tuning of this balance happens with truss rod adjustment. Turning one way or the other makes the neck more convex or straighter.
This all sounds a lot more complicated than it really is. Set up isn’t hard, it’s also very good to learn. @JoshFossgreen has a really great video on it on his YouTube channel-if knew how i would link it here. But, the simple answer here is you can probably do this yourself. If that’s not something you want to do, set up is pretty cheap at most music stores and they will typically explain things really well.
Best of luck, and keep on plucking!
Thank you @John_E . I’ve still never figured out how to link things here.
Thanks guys, I appreciate it!
@autumnsdad1990 To share links, if it’s YouTube, click ‘Share’ in YouTube and 'Copy Link’s. Then within this forum, click the symbol that looks like a link in a chain. Finally, where it says ‘Paste a URL…’, just paste and press ‘ok’. It will add the link.
Thank you! I shall try this!
Good luck on this, and keep us posted. This sounds like an interesting little problem. I’d quite like to know what the resolution comes to.
Thanks, I just ordered a capo so I can do the setup maintenance.
You can also try fretting with each finger because sometimes when I fret with the pinky, it’s just not as easy as with the index finger etc.
And welcome to the forum - of course being new here is fun.
Hi Antonio and thanks. I don’t understand, I thought it was supposed to be played with each finger? Are you saying you play all the notes on the frets with just your index finger? I’m still not sure about what to do. Maybe I need to pay for lessons from a nearby music store.
Could you post a couple pictures? Maybe hold down the offending buzzy string at the 7th fret and indicate the string clearances with a pick or business card for contrast? Sorta like this?
The point of this is it will show if you’ve a funky fret, or maybe just a small truss rod issue.
Are you sure it’s only the one string? Or is it actually all of them? It can be tough to discern as a beginner.
Maybe try this- hold down the string in question at the 12th fret. Then try tapping the questionable string at the 5th or 7th fret. You should hear a small clicking noise. This would indicate that the string has good clearance as the noise is the string contacting the fret. If the string is checked up against the fret and not clicking, You may need a small adjustment.
If this click method doesn’t make sense, do the same thing and try sliding a business card between the string and fret at the 3rd fret- you should have enough clearance to allow it to slide freely. If it doesn’t, it may be adjustment time.
There are so many things that can affect your bass. Age, rapidly variable temperature changes, extreme humidity changes, seasonal changes and (ugh) unexpected impact…
I hope this helps. I’m no expert, but i know you can resolve this. And it’s kind of exciting to watch.
The OP asked “what’s a setup” so the assumption is that they most likely need one, lol.
Hi AutumsDad, I did what you said and here are the results. I’ll post the photo last. When I try to hear clicking between the 5th and 7th fret, yes, this is exactly what I hear.
As for a business card at the third fret, yes, it slides through, no problem.
And the photo is as you described, a pick at the 7th fret.
Dang, I tried to use IMGUR to create a link, and it won’t let me.
Also, I do woodworking, been doing it for 50 years, I was actually thinking of building a bass. Dunno yet.
I pasted this photo from my Mac’s desktop.
One more thing, this is just a simple Donner bass my wife bought for me from Donner.
I would follow the setup video @John_E posted, your action looks a little high. It makes a huge difference in playability if you instrument has an adequate setup. Usually this is required when you receive a new bass.
I highly reccomend taking the BassBuzz Beginner to Bad Ass course before paying a local teacher. Josh’s course really is that good.
When you see where people say it’s the best beginner bass course on the internet, they’re wrong. It is the best beginner course anywhere.
Seriously, it’s the best money I’ve ever spent on music.