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Fret buzz on first frets

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by guizzy, Mar 31, 2009.


  1. guizzy

    guizzy

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2008
    Location:
    Montreal
    I've had issues with fret buzz on my Brian Moore i4 recently. This bass had a pro setup and some job done on the neck about a month and half ago, so I would be surprised if the issue was something that required major work (else I would guess the person doing the setup would have done it). The guy who did the setup had to send it to a luthier because apparently, the truss rod on it was maxed out and it still had a bow.

    It was working great once I got it back. But now, I get fret buzz on the first 2-3 frets, and most pronounced on the second fret of the A string. It's not buzzing too hard, but still enough to be very annoying.

    I'm guessing it's probably an issue with neck relief, but I'd like to have a second opinion before I go and ruin a setup I paid for. I don't think I have good enough eyes to just "see" a bow. It all seems straight to me.
    :help:
     
  2. Toshiro

    Toshiro

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2004
    I'm not an expert, but in my limited experience, the truss rod needs to be loosened a hair to add more relief.
     
  3. XylemBassGuitar

    XylemBassGuitar Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Aug 14, 2008
    Location:
    Durango, CO
    Disclosures:
    Owner and Operator, Xylem Handmade Basses and Guitars
    Toshiro is right, you loosen the truss rod to add more relief, and that is probably what you need to do to fix the buzz on your bass. You loosen the rod by turning the adjustment nut counter-clockwise as you are looking down on its top.

    Now, without seeing the bass in person, I can't give you an exact diagnosis but, generally, when the first few frets are all buzzing, the bass has too little relief. As the strings vibrate in an elliptical shape they will buzz against the middle frets of a very flat fingerboard when you are fretting the first couple of frets.

    Here is my recommendation: first, read the relief of the bass. Fret the low E on both the first fret and the 17th fret (or 12th or 15th or last fret, depends on who you ask) at the same time. Next, look under the string at the seventh-ish fret. If there is a small gap between the bottom of the string and the fret, your bass has a little bit of relief. If there is no gap, your bass' neck is either dead flat or has some backbow. If the gap is smaller than the thickness of a business card or there is no gap, loosen the truss rod very slightly (1/16 of a turn at most), check the tuning and re-tune if necessary, then let the bass sit for several hours.

    Play the bass again and see if that fixed the problem. If it still buzzes, loosen the rod another small bit and repeat. I wouldn't do this more than about 2 or 3 times since you are not familiar with setups and just paid to have one done (we don't want to mess anything else up here).

    If you still have trouble after that, re-post and we'll help you out.
     
  4. guizzy

    guizzy

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2008
    Location:
    Montreal
    Well, waddaya know! Added some relief, and now it's fine. I think I can actually see that the neck is not exactly straight now, so I guess there might have been a good reason why I couldn't see any bow before; it didn't have any at all.

    My bass and I are thanking you both; now it plays again like the instrument I originally fell in love with! :D
     
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  6. XylemBassGuitar

    XylemBassGuitar Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Aug 14, 2008
    Location:
    Durango, CO
    Disclosures:
    Owner and Operator, Xylem Handmade Basses and Guitars
    Glad that it worked out for ya!
     

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