I'm new to bass, and I just got a new 200 dollar fender.

The issue that I'm having is a clanging noise when I play in the upper frets. The strings are a lot higher from the upper frets than the lower.

I took my bass back to the store for someone to look at and they told me that it was OK. I thought maybe it was my technique but I've tried playing as soft as possible but I am still having issues with the higher notes. its not an Issue at all in on the lower end. any tips?

I have included an audio clip. the first few seconds is on the lower end and the last few is on the upper frets. If you notice the noise increases as i move up the frets. It sounds like I'm playing really harsh on the video but I'm really not hitting the frets hard at all.

  • 1
    Comment, rather than answer - back to store, stay with it till you're happy. Bass is played more effectively with fingers and thumb!
    – Tim
    Commented Apr 10, 2018 at 6:24
  • 1
    The strings should be about the same distance away from the frets all the way, slightly further around 12th fret. Could be the action needs sorting, but the shop can't be bothered. Go back!
    – Tim
    Commented Apr 10, 2018 at 10:40

4 Answers 4


It sounds like FRET BUZZ. Cheap guitars and basses often have it. You can have the bass "set up" at a guitar shop, meaning they'll do their best to correct issues like this.


Sounds like you bought the bass off the rack in a store. First thing you need to do is get it set up correctly and put some better strings on it. A good set-up with quality strings will often alleviate many problems with annoying noises and playability issues. It might cost you a few bucks, but if you end paying a total $250 or $300 to get a very serviceable bass, it's a bargain and money well spent.

Default factory set-ups and strings are generally not very good - Fender in particular are known for that. (However, even the cheap Fenders will usually play very nicely when set up correctly.) And most stores will unpack a bass and put in the on the rack with the factory set-up, and leave it that way.

@Tim mentioned in the comments: back to store, stay with it till you're happy. That's good advice - but make sure to tell them you want them to do a setup on it. That will show them that you know something and they'll be less prone to just brush you off with "everything's OK".

About now you might be wondering what I mean by a set-up. Take a look here to learn about it:
What does 'Setting Up' my guitar actually mean?

Other important points likely relevant to your problem are explained here - question and answers: Are electric guitars more prone to fret buzz than acoustics?

Here's the crux of the matter:

Fret buzz (and other assorted noises, rattles and acoustic/dynamic annoyances) on electric instruments is much less troublesome than it is on acoustics. The reason is that in many cases the pickups on an electric will not pick up the fret buzz, or the signal from the fret buzz is so weak relative to the signal from the strings that it becomes virtually inaudible by the time the audio signal reaches your speaker, and certainly your ears or those of your audience when at a distance, surrounded by all sorts of sonic noise.

It happens often enough that I'll hear some annoying fret buzz or rattling on a bass when playing it unplugged, but through the amp that fret buzz is inaudible, so I don't worry about it if I'm pleased with my set-up, even though there's a bit of fret buzz.

Important: There is nothing wrong with a $200 Fender (I'll assume it's a Fender Squier- regular Fenders don't sell that cheap in stores.) If it's strung right and set up correctly, it can be a fine instrument for learning, and even more.

The Fender Squier line is widely acknowledged by bass players to be the best bang for the buck available. Pros have been known to switch the logo on a Squire and play it on stage, so their very expensive gear doesn't get damaged!


My first impression is that your neck has an "S" shape to it. Meaning, there is a bow going one way on the first part of your neck (Frets 1 - 12ish), and then around the 12th-14th fret the neck starts bowing the other way - hence the "S" shape. Normally you see this on acoustic guitars, but it fits the bill right now.

Try looking straight down the side of the neck and seeing if this is the case. I would also check the neck relief (how much bow is in the neck).

If it's not a neck relief issue, then my next guess would be it needs a fret level and setup. Frets buzz and do funky things when the tops go flat instead of rounded. Fret buzz is common among guitar and bass players for one reason - frets wear out over time and it's ignored if you can't hear it through the amp.


Your post doesn't offer much detail and the phrase "clanging noise" is not very specific. It sounds to me like you are just playing an electric bass guitar unplugged and recording the sounds directly with your phone.

Firstly, a $200 bass guitar sounds very cheap, especially for a Fender.

EDIT: This is ambiguously phrased. I mean to say that $200 seems like a very low price to pay for a Fender. To be clear, I do not mean to suggest that your guitar is a lost cause. I would say that if you got a good new guitar for $200, you should consider yourself lucky.

I would expect to pay at least 3 times that for an instrument of decent quality. That being the case, you might expect that the intonation of the instrument and the construction/alignment of its neck might be somewhat imprecise on this more affordable guitar. Poorly built necks suffer from bad intonation and fret buzz. I own a cheap Epiphone guitar and its most frustrating component by far is the neck. No matter what adjustments I make with the truss rod or pickup height or bridge saddles or nut, the notes always sound out of tune somewhere on the neck.

EDIT 2: Anecdotally, I paid a pro who works near Berklee School of Music to set up my Epiphone and he told me that the neck sucked and that, no matter what adjustments he made, I would always have fret buzz and intonation problems unless I replaced the neck. You may have better luck. I still have the Epiphone because it sounds great for a few open chords.

In any case, the hammer-ons you seem to be playing are likely causing the string to vibrate on both sides of your fret finger such that you have both halves of the string resonating: the usual, desirable half of the string between your finger and the bridge and the other, undesirable half of the string between your fret finger and the nut. The result is that you sort of have two notes playing at once and they are almost certainly going to be out of tune with each other.

If you were plugged in and turned up, the desirable half of the string would be amplified by your pickup much more loudly than the undesirable half of the string, which has no pickup. There might be some small amount of the undesirable vibrations being propagated through the neck to the body of the guitar, but it would probably be inaudible compared to the desirable half of the string.

If you are plugged in and have a very clean sound and/or cheap pickups, you might still be able to hear this undesirable vibrations interfering with your desired note. You might be able to mitigate the problem with your fret hand by using your palm or another finger to mute the half of the string between your fretting point and the nut. This sounds a bit tricky to me. The hammer-on you are playing seems to require the open string note alternated with the fretted note. Getting another finger or palm in play just enough to mute that unwanted vibration while still getting a good tone for both the open string and the fretted note might be difficult and require some practice.

Have you tried playing the bass plugged in and turned up? Do you also get that same 'clang' when you play a more expensive guitar?

EDIT 3: Your problem may also be due to fret buzz. More specifically, when you play notes in a certain range on your guitar, the vibrating string scrapes against one of the frets higher up on the string causing unwanted noise. This noise may be buzzing or an unintentional harmonic. It also damps the vibration, reducing sustain. Fret buzz in many cases can be solved by adjusting one or more of the following:

  • your bridge to change the height of the strings
  • your nut (these wear down over time and your strings can get too low, this would manifest as string buzz when you play lower notes, replacement is fairly affordable)
  • your neck's truss rod (this affects the curvature of your guitar's neck)
  • the frets themselves (frets can wear down and get too low over time, or poorly installed ones might have irregular heights)
  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – Doktor Mayhem
    Commented Apr 13, 2018 at 11:54

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