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Osiris

'Clicking' sound along D string (it's not fret buzz!)

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Hi all,

Having just completed reassembling a cheap project bass (an old Ibanez Soundgear) I've found that there is what I can only describe as a weird clicking type sound along the whole of the D string. It happens when playing the string open and across every one of the 24 frets. The sound appears to be coming from the head end of the neck as far as I can tell. And just to confuse things, it only seems to happen when playing finger style, using a pick or playing down strokes with my thumb sound fine.

This weird sound doesn't appear to be being transmitted through the amp but is quite loud and very noticeable when playing acoustically or at in-house volumes. It's a bass that I'm hoping to use to teach my young son so would like to get it sorted so that it doesn't serve as a distraction to him as he's learning.

I've tried a number of things already to diagnose the problem, none of which have resolved the issue;[list]
[*]The truss rod has been adjusted to the required relief,
[*]The fret levels checked (none need to be reseated),
[*]The bridge saddle has been raised to it's maximum height,
[*]I packed the nut slot out with a length of matchstick to raise the string from the fingerboard,
[*]I've tried different strings
[/list]
The fact that this problem only affects the D string leads me to suspect that it's a problem with either the bridge, or more likely the nut as the clicking seems to be coming from that end of the neck.

Can anyone shed any light on this, please?

Sid.

Edited by Osiris

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I had a similar clicking/buzz once on a bass. When I played the "A" string it happened. What it turned out to be was a loose clover-leaf in the post of the tuning head on the G string.

I know yours wont be a clover-leaf, cos Ibby don't use them. But don't limit your search to the D string. It can be the frequency of the vibration of the D string is just right to make something else rattle.

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+1. check for loose screws on the tuners - I had one last week. It's a really easy fix too.


Hope you get this sorted :)

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Or maybe it is a dud string? or a worn saddle on the bridge rocking slightly? or as said a bad tuner I cant think of any thing else sorry but I hope you get it sorted mate.

Edited by Thunderbird

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If it has a precision pickup it could be the string touching a pole of the pickup.

P pickups in particular can obviously be adjusted to have any string "high".

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Thanks for the advice folks, I've been through and tightened everything up on the machine heads and the bridge (plus pretty much everything else) but still the annoying sound persists. I even swapped the D & G machine heads over but that hasn't made any difference either :angry:

Paul - I've tried other strings and replaced the bridge saddles, but that hasn't helped!
hamfist - The string has good clearance over the pup (Yes, it's a P style!) and is definitely not hitting it when the string is plucked.

As the bass was only cheap I'm loathed to take it to a 'pro' to be fixed as it could potentially end up costing more than the bass is worth!
And whatever the fault is could hopefully be something that I could easily rectify - if only I knew what the problem is!!!

Anyone else have any suggestions?

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You've probably already tested and dismissed this but something I've come across before when playing fingerstyle on basses with a pretty low action is an annoying click when your plucking finger comes to rest on the string below. Caused by the string below the one your plucking being clacked against the frets. Took me a while to work out what it was when I first experienced it. Another suggestion anyway!

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String retainer on the D and G string....on the head..had this once....tbe screw was loose but looked?

Worth a try

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[quote name='Osiris' timestamp='1391954591' post='2362922']
hamfist - The string has good clearance over the pup (Yes, it's a P style!) and is definitely not hitting it when the string is plucked.
[/quote]

Is your fingertip striking the pup though ? With me that still makes a noise similar to that you are suggesting.

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[quote name='hamfist' timestamp='1392019726' post='2363538']
....Is your fingertip striking the pup....
[/quote]

+1

Sounds lke you've removed all the suggestions I was going to make, so the last one is you.

How are you playing the string?

Are you lightly plucking it, or battering it into the fretboard/pickup?

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Hmmm I cant think of much else could the neck have a slight warp? but I will be honest I am just clutching at straws now sorry I cant be of any more help Sid but I hope you get it sorted mate as a last resort you could pop it into Arrowhead Guitars I have heard good things about him but not used him myself and he charges £20 for a set up might be worth getting him to do a set up then if there is a problem he should spot it and let you know what it is if that helps any?

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[size=4][font=arial,helvetica,sans-serif]Why not mail [color=#323232]Si600. He lives in Northampton. He could check the bass and watch you play and you might get a bit closer to the answer.[/color][/font][/size]
[color=#323232][font=arial, helvetica, sans-serif]... If Simon doesn't mind, that is.[/font][/color]

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[color=#282828][font=helvetica, arial, sans-serif] Just had a thought maybe the pick up is a touch high that side and you get a kind of click or very faint earth pop as you are close to the pup but when playing with a pick or outstretched thumb you are just that bit extra away from the pup for it not to interfere if that makes any kind of sense? I would tray lowering the pickup on that side a touch see if that helps. [/font][/color] :)[color=#282828][font=helvetica, arial, sans-serif] or you can drop it round mine if you want and I will have a fiddle with it if you want as I have plenty of time on my hands right now [/font][/color]

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Thanks for the additional thoughts on this, people.

ikay - your suggestion of the string below being the culprit is worth investigating, I'll take a look.
iconic - there's no string retainer, so unfortunately that can't be the problem (the headstock angles back from the neck and body slightly to pull the strings down tight over the nut)
hamfist - yes my fingers do strike the pup when playing but I still get the noise even if I change my right hand position i.e. near the bridge or at the end of the neck.
chris b - my string attack is probably somewhere in the middle, I neither hammer nor tickle the strings! Obviously the harder I play the more pronounced the click, but it's still apparent even with a fairly soft pluck.
Grangur - Thanks for the recommendation of Si600, It could well be worth arranging something for him to take a look. I don't know the guy, do you think he'd mind if I message him?
Paul - the string clicks even when the bass isn't plugged into anything so I suspect that the string being too close to the pup isn't the issue.

So thanks again everyone for the suggestions, I'll take another look at it but I might just have to bite the bullet and get someone else to probe its darkest recesses ....
It may not be the end of the world, but it's bloody annoying :dash1:

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[quote name='Thunderbird' timestamp='1392126254' post='2365014']
[color=#282828][font=helvetica, arial, sans-serif]Just had a thought maybe the pick up is a touch high that side and you get a kind of click or very faint earth pop as you are close to the pup but when playing with a pick or outstretched thumb you are just that bit extra away from the pup for it not to interfere if that makes any kind of sense? I would tray lowering the pickup on that side a touch see if that helps. [/font][/color] :)[color=#282828][font=helvetica, arial, sans-serif] or you can drop it round mine if you want and I will have a fiddle with it if you want as I have plenty of time on my hands right now [/font][/color]
[/quote]
That sounds like a great offer from Thunderbird. Don't forget to take the Hob-Nobs.

Anyway, I'm not helping anymore. I just read the OP's profile. He dislikes BMW drivers!! That's me well out of here. I've got 2!!

:D

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Would suggest raising the D string at the bridge and see if that removes the click.
Have had a similar sounding problem with a P bass, the action was just a touch low so that on the initial attack the string was clicking off the fret after the one being fretted... or the 1st fret when playing an open string.
It only appeared playing fingerstyle as I tend to pluck down through the string, when using a pick and playing across the string there was no click.

Edited by johnny_frog

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Cheers Johnny, but I've Already tried raising the bridge saddle, even to the point where is was unplayable because the string was so high, but alas, it didn't stop the click!

Paul, by all means you are welcome to have a look and see if you can figure out what's wrong. Pilot error perhaps???

Grangur - http://www.thedailymash.co.uk/news/society/government-issues-guidelines-for-encounters-with-white-bmws-2014020483225

I rest my case ;)

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[quote name='Osiris' timestamp='1392214697' post='2366026']
Cheers Johnny, but I've Already tried raising the bridge saddle, even to the point where is was unplayable because the string was so high, but alas, it didn't stop the click!

Paul, by all means you are welcome to have a look and see if you can figure out what's wrong. Pilot error perhaps???

Grangur - [url="http://www.thedailymash.co.uk/news/society/government-issues-guidelines-for-encounters-with-white-bmws-2014020483225"]http://www.thedailym...s-2014020483225[/url]

I rest my case ;)
[/quote] I very much doubt it is pilot error mate :) just a thought have you tried putting a small bit of foam behind the nut kind of like a mute to see if the strings are just hitting that tiny bit of board just behind the nut? I had that with a bass once but only just thought of it

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This has me stumped for ideas; I did wonder if the nut slot was too wide for the D string but you're hearing the click when playing fretted notes as well as the open string so I wonder if the bridge saddle is moving sideways ('upwards' to the A string saddle) when playing finger style?

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[quote name='Osiris' timestamp='1392214697' post='2366026']

Grangur - [url="http://www.thedailymash.co.uk/news/society/government-issues-guidelines-for-encounters-with-white-bmws-2014020483225"]http://www.thedailym...s-2014020483225[/url]

I rest my case ;)
[/quote]

Sorry Bud, I don't fit the stereotype.

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Having taken another look at the bass, here's the latest update;

I've eliminated the possibility of it being the A string that makes the noise when my plucking finger touches it after striking the D. I even went as far as removing the A string but the annoying sound persisted! Thanks for the suggestion ikay, it wasn't something I'd have thought of.

Like you Johnny frog, I tend to [color=#282828][font=helvetica, arial, sans-serif]pluck down through the string slightly striking it towards the body. OK, so this is probably poor technique on my part, but until now it has never been a problem![/font][/color]

[color=#282828][font=helvetica, arial, sans-serif]Howie, thanks for the suggestion chap, but I've already checked and changed the bridge saddles so I'm as sure as I can be that they are not the cause. [/font][/color]

[color=#282828][font=helvetica, arial, sans-serif]Paul, you're more than welcome to take a look at the bass, I'll drop you a line and arrange something. [/font][/color]

[color=#282828][font=helvetica, arial, sans-serif]Thanks for the offer OldG, I'm not a million miles from Rushden so if Paul (Thunderbird) has no luck with the bass I'll likely take you up on the offer, cheers![/font][/color]

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Could it be a rattling truss rod? I had this on a bass with a very stiff neck (carbon fibre reinforced) that didn't need much tension in the rod. You can try rapping gently on the neck with your knuckle with the strings damped and see if it clicks.
If this is the case, you may consider going up a gauge of strings and putting a bit more tension in the rod.
Good luck.
Jules

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It looks like the problem has been diagnosed and all but cured - all that was required was 2 grown men, a selection of hand held tools, some Vaseline and a length of bicycle inner tube. :blink:

After some assistance from the very helpful Thunderbird, it appears that the hole through the headstock that the machine head shaft (not sure if there's a technical name for it?) passes through was fractionally too large - we're talking a faction of next to nothing here.
The upshot of it was that when the string was plucked, the machine head shaft was effectively rattling about in the hole and causing the annoying clicking sound.

After some experiments that involved wrapping the shaft in PTFE tape there was a noticeable improvement, not an outright cure but enough of a difference to warrant further investigation. A small section of inner tube was used to replace the PTFE tape to effectively pack out the greased-up hole :o and act as a shock absorber. The result is a massive improvement - the click is still there slightly when you really dig in but it's nowhere near as pronounced as it was. When plucking the string with my usual degree of attack there's no more annoying click!

Thanks again to everyone for your suggestions and special thanks to Paul for diagnosing the issue and suggesting the way to resolve it. .

Edited by Osiris

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