Old Kay, F-hole Flap Buzz
Hi all, new to the forum here.
I have a '52 Kay with a wicked buzz. Two luthier's couldn't solve the problem. I notice that when I play, I can put a little pressure on the f-hole flaps, and the buzz goes away completely. So, is there a tool or method to secure those flaps a bit?
Without seeing the bass in person, it could be any of 100 unknowns...but....
As someone who works on old Kays almost every day of the year and who gigs on one regularly, my first suspicions would be a factory Kay endpin rattling ( does the rattle go away when the endpin is fully extended and come back when it is shortened?). Next in line is a poorly fitting or positioned soundpost. Even on one of my nice carved basses, when the weather changes, I get the exact thing you described- a very noisy rattle that goes away as soon as I press down on one of the soundhole wings or tighten the soundpost slightly.
As a final question: were your two "luthiers" double bass players and builders, or were they from the local electric guitar and fiddle shops???? No matter how much we try to tell folks, it isn't a big fiddle or funny fretless guitar, so why do they keep going to those guys for advice?????? Good luck and let us know what you find out. You are welcome to call the shop and I'll put the earpiece in and try to walk you through a couple of other ideas while I work on the splintered jigsaw puzzle from the other recent thread....
Hey James, thanks for the thorough response. I discovered that if I put a little pressure on the area around the bridge, the buzz goes away. So I am assuming this is either (a) a loose sound post or (b) the action was lowered a lot recently, I wonder if there is enough pressure from the strings to press hard enough on the sound post to stop the buzz.
I did an experiment, I purchased a $4 rachet clamp, and put it around the bass and over the strings right behind the bridge, then tightened it juuuuust enough to get the buzz to go away. Now the bass plays and sounds like a dream. It isn't pretty. But it sounds better than it ever has.
The two luthiers were good. One is a true luthier, the other comes highly recommended.
I'm certainly no expert, but I had a very similar problem with my '45 Kay. It had a nasty buzz that I could stop by pressing lightly on the top in various places. All kinds of horrible thoughts went through my head, such as a problem with my bassbar. I took it to a good, bass-specific luthier, and he immediately diagnosed it as the endpin rattling. He took it out, shortened it a bit, and I have had no problem with buzzing since. I had not considered the endpin, since the rattling stopped when pressing the top.
Thanks guys. I tried the endpin all the way out, all the way in, and completely off and the buzz is still there. Sounds like the sound post is the key.
Dampening the bass at a certain spot to get rid of buzzes doesn't necessarily mean that that's where the buzz is coming from. The overall sound or vibration is naturally a few degrees less when you dampen the bass and whatever's buzzing needs enough sound or vibration to buzz in the first place (pretty logical, but I was kind of surprised when my luthier first hipped me to this).
I really like the bass, but I may sell it. I wonder if someone would buy it as is, with the slight buzz?
On my carved bass, I found what sounded like a bass bar rattle was an open seam on the bottom. Damping the bass near the neck made it stop. That makes me think that the source of the rattle may be unexpected compared to where the rattle comes from.
Does it rattle on a specific note or string?
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