Open String Rattle

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by bassinplace, Mar 24, 2013.

  1. :help: I've got a 2012 American Standard J bass that I bought brand new from GC about a couple weeks ago. I immediately took the stock rounds off and put flats on. I wanted La Bella's, but GC didn't have them in stock, so I got the sales guy to throw in a set of Rotosound 77's with the deal and I put those on as soon as I got it home.

    They sounded fine, but I wanted the La Bellas, so I ordered a set. I got them yesterday and installed them. When I went to play my bass this morning, the open E and open A string have this terrible rattle when I play them. The D and G string don't. I looked at the nut, and the strings seem to fit there just fine. What gives? :help: Thanks!
  2. I left plenty of string on the post. I didn't even cut them. I figured I need to do a setup. I hope that will fix the problem. I guess it couldn't really be anything else, could it?
  3. Every once in a while, a defective string makes it through quality control at the factory. But I would do the setup first. :)
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  5. Zooberwerx

    Zooberwerx Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2002
    Virginia Beach, VA
    *Adequate string wraps on the tuner post with the last almost on the "deck" (lowest portion of the post).

    *Bridge saddles are even / parallel with the bridge baseplate, not tilted to follow the fretboard radius.

    *Witness points set at the nut and bridge saddles. Important with all string installs but can be a bit tougher with flatwounds as opposed to roundwounds.

  6. Sorry for my noobness, but what's a witness point? I've got the manual that came with the bass and I'm gonna follow that.
  7. Zooberwerx

    Zooberwerx Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2002
    Virginia Beach, VA
    Manual is woefully inadequate in some regards as is frequently the norm. The "witness point" is the clear delineation or bend where the string leaves the nut & bridge saddle contact points. After correctly installing a string and tuning to pitch, press down forcefully on the string just ahead of the nut slot (fingerboard side) and bridge saddle (pickup side). This creates a clean break necessary to establish desired string height, promote intonation, and minimize the chance of extraneous buzzes and rattles. If not addressed, the string (especially the thicker A & E strings!) has the tendency to form a "lazy loop" as it passes over the nut and bridge saddles...not good.


  8. Nicely worded Sir :)
  9. Ah! Good to know! I will do this! Thanks!
  10. Mikhail1


    Apr 8, 2008
    If, after checking everything that has been described, and if it still rattles, tightening your truss rod a quarter turn and bring it back to where it originally was. I had a bass once that had a string rattle and by trial and error, found out that it was the truss rod that was rattling. I'm sure you will fix this problem, it's usually the simple things that drive you crazy!
  11. The saddles appear to be going in a radius pattern across the bridge. The are not all level with one another. The tuning posts have string going all the way to the bottom of the post and are "on the deck" and then wrapping back upwards again on the E and A strings.

    I pressed down on the E and A strings at the witness points. It seemed to help the E string a little but not the A sting. Well, I guess I'm off to the music store to get a capo and do a proper set up. It'll be my first time. I hope I don't end up pulling my hair out!
  12. JGbassman


    May 31, 2011
    Eastern Iowa
    To isolate rattles try placing a finger on both the but and then the saddle where the string make the contact. This has helped me in the past find the exact rattle point. Hope this helps you.
  13. Zooberwerx

    Zooberwerx Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2002
    Virginia Beach, VA
    There's yer problem right there! - my mechanic.

    The string wraps should not start back up the string post. The last wrap should "hit the deck" and take-off towards the nut. You really need to trim the strings to the correct length before installing....usually about 3-3.5" past the string post as a rough estimate. A lot depends on the string and tuner types. This is frequently a trial 'n error exercise: trim a conservative amt at a time, reinstall, and check progress.

    The bridge saddles will demo staggered heights but they should be parallel with each other and the bridge baseplate. A tilted / leaning / cockeyed bridge saddle will jeopardize the firm contact amongst the saddle height screws and baseplate.

  14. JLS

    JLS Supporting Member

    Sep 12, 2008
    Emeryville, Ca
    I setup & repair guitars & basses
    Thereby negating the intended effect.
  15. Zooberwerx

    Zooberwerx Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2002
    Virginia Beach, VA
    To the OP: J and I frequently chastise folks for not allowing adequate "wrappage" when installing strings. You, my friend, have gone to the opposite extreme. Look at the bright side: if you cut them too short, you'd have to purchase another string. In your case, all you have to do is trim the excess (little by little) and you should be on the right track.

    This is fun, isn't it?

  16. Kinda. I've attempted to do a set up and seem to have really made a mess of things. Lots of fretbuzz now in the middle of the neck on the D string and weird clanky sounds coming from the nut when playing down low on the D and G strings. I did trim the strings to a more manageable length and now I have about 3 wraps on each post. The rattle has gone from the open E but is still there on the open A, but a lot less. It's almost gone. It's a shame I tinkered with it I think because it was playing like butter before I touched it. Guess it's time to plunk out some dough and have a professional set it up back to it's proper state. :rolleyes: :mad: :(
  17. Ok, I got rid of the fret buzz on the D string. It turns out that saddle wasn't completely level. There still is a weird clankyness at the nut that cant really be heard when it's plugged in. The rattle in the E string is still gone, the A is slightly there, it only shows up if I really dig in. It also can't be heard if I'm plugged in.

    The noise at the nut and the A buzz can only be heard when unplugged. But it's still not the same as factory. I could play it unplugged then and it was just like butter. I'd like to get it back to that state if I can. I don't see much else I can do though, I checked the intonation and it seems fine from what I can tell and dosen't need adjustment. I do have the action set low.

    I did turn the truss rod forward 1/4 turn back to it's original position. The feeler gauges now show too much space, whereas when I had it loosened a 1/4 turn, it seemed a bit on the tight side. I guess I'll let it sit overnight and see how it is tomorrow. I don't see much else I can do beyond that. I'm thinking the nut might need to be adjusted. Even though these strings are the same gauge as the previous ones that were on there. They do have an apperance of being slightly larger to me, for some odd reason.
  18. Jools4001

    Jools4001 Supporting Member

    Stick with it and you will learn a lot. Do things slowly and methodically and don't do too many changes at once.

    What is strange though is that the feeler gauges show tighter clearances when you loosen the rod...are you sure you're turning anticlockwise to 'loosen'? The trussrod counteracts and balances the string tension, so if you loosen the rod the strings will exert more tension on the neck than the rod, and the neck will bow forward - increasing the feeler gauge gap.
  19. Yeah, that is weird. The gap seemed tighter to me when I loosened it counter clockwise than when I tightened it back up again clockwise. I moved it 1/4 turn each time, once loosening it and then returning it to it's original position. It is interesting to experiment with all this. The only sad thing is this is a very beautifully playing instument that deserves to be set up at it's optimum level. It's playing quite nicely at the moment, but there is some slight buzzing that wasn't there before. I'm hoping after it sits for a day and I pick it up again tomorrow afternoon it will all have settled in nicely. If not, back to the drawing board. It may ultimately have to be handled by a pro.