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am I growling or buzzing???

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by pegleg paul, May 15, 2005.

  1. As a fairly new (1 year) bluegrass bass player, I'm wondering where "growl" ends and "Buzz" begins. I know this is highly subjective, but I've always heard growl refered to as a positive attribute and buzz as bad. Reason I ask is, I've got a bit of growl/buzz on my G string in the Bflat and B positions, and I'm trying to decide if it warrants additional fingerboard dressing. It's a '64 Kay with new Thomastic strings and an adjustable bridge, and was just recently set up, including planing the board. the scoop looks good and I can't detect any high spots. I can't get a bidness card under the G at the nut, but the open string sounds fine anyway. My act- oops! string height is fairly high, and I can minimize the growl/buzz by pulling fairly lightly on the G string. I'd like to be able to pull harder and lower the act- uh, string height. Is what I'm hearing really a bad thing that needs to be fixed? Also, is such a secondary noise generated up on the fingerboard likely to be transmitted through the pickup/amp and out to the house? I can't tell 'cause I'm always standing there plucking on the thing. Thanks for any thoughts on the subject.
  2. nicklloyd

    nicklloyd Supporting Member/Luthier

    Jan 27, 2002
    Cincinnati, Ohio
    So does the growl/buzz suddenly disappear on the C? Have you discussed this feature/problem with your luthier/string tech? "Growl" is something that the player can control with left hand virbrato technique. "Buzz" is more a frapping sound. (This is starting to sound like Car Talk.)

    By the way, if you can't get a bidness card under the G string, that can cause buzzing down the road as the string wears into the fingerboard. Maybe you could get that looked at, as well. It doesn't take more than a few minutes with a sharp scraper to dress that specific area. Can you fit a bidness card under the E, A, and D string?
  3. It remains pretty consistent on up the fingerboard much higher than I usually play. Best way I can describe it is sort of a "metallic" resonating sound, which continues as I sustain the note, not just a "slap" when I strike the string. I wonder how much may have to do with the smaller string diameter and my admitedly not-so-refined fingering technique. Maybe I'm just not fretting the note cleanly. I guess the frustrating thing is that some days it is barely noticeable and others it seems much more pronounced. Is it normal to sometimes feel as if you're playing a completely different instrument than the day before?
    Re: the low Gstring at the nut, seems I read somewhere that you can place a tiny piece of paper or even a half-section small rubber tube under the string where it crosses the nut and raise the height just a bit. Is this something to consider? what would be the best material? Thanks for the response, by the way.
  4. Paul, you seem to be so considerate to Arnold in not using his hated word action.
    So, i'd ask you to not use the word fretting when talking about the DB.
    Since you're a newer member of TBDB, I'd like to welcome you and mention that i'm one guy you can always count on to whine about things like this...so, take it with a grain....
    Thanks, and again, welcome!
  5. It could be a techinque issue. Do you use your whole hand to squeeze the strings or your fingertips? Using the whole hand makes it more difficult to cleanly depress the string and get a clean note. The pressure is spread out rather than concentrated and so you might get fuzzy notes.

    If you do use the "death grip" try making the notes using fingertips and see if there is a difference.
  6. nicklloyd

    nicklloyd Supporting Member/Luthier

    Jan 27, 2002
    Cincinnati, Ohio
    You can shim-up the G string nut-groove with a number of different things. Loosen the G string, pull it aside, and put a little slice of electrician's tape/gaffer's tape/whatever tape you want to use over this area of the nut. Put the string back into the groove, bring it up to tension, and cut off the excess protruding tape with an exacto-knife or razor blade. You might need two layers of these little shims, depeding on what kind of material you use.

    There are other ways to skin this cat, but this is quick solution that any player can do.
  7. Thanks to all. Paul, the "F" word shall nevermore sully one of my posts.
    I am trying to use the fingertips but am not yet really consistent with my technique, so that probably does account for a lot of the problem. I'll perservere and try to eliminate myself as much possible as a cause before getting my luthier involved.
    I'll try out the nut groove shim as well. Gee, that sounds like a new dance; or some sort of medical procedure. Maybe there's a song there.
    You guys are great. Thanks again.
  8. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    The best thing to do would be to post a sound clip of the bass before you start wrenching on things. Email it to me and I'll host it if you don't have any web space.
  9. Thank you. You'll do just fine here.
    You also might try stretching your new strings, especially that G. Don't be aggressive with it, but very carefully pull the string out towards you (standing in front of your bass) while holding the bass with one hand and pulling with the other.

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