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Annoying string buzz behind the fretted note. One note only.

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by dave_bass5, Oct 8, 2017.


  1. dave_bass5

    dave_bass5

    May 28, 2004
    London, UK.
    I always set up my own basses, and luckily none have ever needed anything more than a tweak and patience. So, i know the basics of set up but not sure what to look for in this case.
    My Fender Sandblasted P bass has been perfect for the past couple of years, never had any issue and its one of the best necks ive ever played.
    Over the past month or so ive been noticing a really loud string rattle/buzz when playing Bb on the E string. It moves fret position if i down tune the string, but comes back when its tuned to standard pitch. Ive gone through 3 new packs of different strings, all with the same result.

    Playing the E open doesn’t produce anything out of the ordinary, and no other string has this issue. I always set my basses up to the Fender recommended spec, as this just seems to suit my playing. Neck relief and action are as i want them, and this set up is the same on all my basses.
    The problem i cant fathom is if i place a cloth (T-shirt, micro fibre cloth etc) behind where I’m fretting it kills the buzz.
    Can anyone advise what’s happening? Do i maybe have a low fret that needs fixing? Ive run a steel ruler and used a feeler gauge over the frets and to my eyes all looks fine.

    Luckily with pick playing its not so bad, so its still usable, but annoying none the less.
     
  2. mesaplayer83

    mesaplayer83

    Jun 27, 2017
    Sounds like a back buzz - usually caused by the nut slot being a bit low...
     
    TomB likes this.
  3. dave_bass5

    dave_bass5

    May 28, 2004
    London, UK.
    Thanks. This was my first thought but I would have expected the open string to rattle if this was the case. It doesn’t.
    Am I wrong about that?
     
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2017
  4. mesaplayer83

    mesaplayer83

    Jun 27, 2017
    Not always - IMO, the slot has to be really low to buzz on the open string... Try putting a piece of paper under the string in the nut slot and see if your problem goes away... Also - can you hear the buzz when you're plugged into an amp? If not, then it probably is a back buzz...
     
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2017
  5. 202dy

    202dy Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2006
    Problems at the nut affect the open string. Once the string is fretted the nut is out of the equation. In the rare case that the slot is low enough to allow for back buzz the string would buzz in the open position. That is not the case here.

    Back buzz is caused by the neck being in a back bow.

    Increase the amount of relief in the neck. Post your findings here.
     
    96tbird likes this.
  6. mesaplayer83

    mesaplayer83

    Jun 27, 2017
    It depends on how flat a person likes their neck... I have seen necks that would back buzz that definitely weren't back bowed - in those cases, the nut slot was just low enough to back buzz, but not low enough to buzz on an open string... While you are correct that increasing neck relief will likely make a difference here, but in the situation I mentioned, raising the nut slot height would as well, without raising the action throughout the rest of the neck like increasing relief would...
     
  7. Spidey2112

    Spidey2112

    Aug 3, 2016
    Did the buzz start when you put on new strings? I stopped the buzzing I was experiencing by establishing a defined angle of the string in question, between nut and tuner...
     
  8. TomB

    TomB Supporting Member

    Aug 24, 2007
    Vermont
    Try the piece of paper in the nut slot; a simple and definitive way to eliminate or validate that theory.
     
    mesaplayer83 likes this.
  9. dave_bass5

    dave_bass5

    May 28, 2004
    London, UK.
    Thanks for the replies. Ill try a pice of paper in the nut slot tonight (UK time) and report back. The nut slot does look a bit low but as there is no buzz when played open I don’t want to get it changed if I can help it.

    The issue first started when I put new strings on about a 7 weeks ago. I noticed it straight away and tweaked the trussed rod, thinking this was needed. This was the first time I had tried these strings so figured they might need to settle in. The interesting thing was I did a half turn to the left (loosened it), it did go away but I felt there was too much bow in the neck for the action I wanted, so after about an hour I put the truss rod back to where it had been for the past 18 months, and the issue seemed to stay the gone. I’m now on my 3rd set of new strings (back to my usual XL’s) so I know it wasn’t the string itself, but the newness isn’t helping.
    I now have the E saddle set for a 2.4mm action (slightly higher than I used to have but ok) and neck relief at the 7th fret is .012 using a flat edge on the neck and feeler gauge.

    It’s not quite as audiable through the amp but you can hear it. It’s more alarming acoustically though.
     
  10. mesaplayer83

    mesaplayer83

    Jun 27, 2017
    Yeah, it sounds like you have a marginally low nut slot on your E string... I have filled a slot like that with some filings off the top of the nut and superglue in the slot mixed with the dust from the filings to good effect, if you don't want to replace the nut... This sort of situation is why I'm extremely cautious when taking down a nut slot... I typically don't go below .025" at the 1st fret for a B or E string, .024" for the A, and .023" for the D and G strings - that way, I can get a nice setup without any back buzz...
     
  11. mesaplayer83

    mesaplayer83

    Jun 27, 2017
    Any updates?
     
  12. dave_bass5

    dave_bass5

    May 28, 2004
    London, UK.
    Sorry, I forgot to post back yesterday. Im not sure ive done it 100% correctly, but it does seem to have gotten rid of the buzz. I was in a hurry so i can probably refine it, but for now i think its cured.

    Looks like ill get a new nut fitted asap.

    Thanks to all for the help and advice.
     
  13. mesaplayer83

    mesaplayer83

    Jun 27, 2017
    Glad I could be of help - this exact situation is why I'm cautious when taking down nut slots, as I don't like this kind of back buzz, either...
     
  14. dave_bass5

    dave_bass5

    May 28, 2004
    London, UK.
    Its the first time ive every seen this, but ive had my suspicion that the nut looked a bit low since i got the bass (second hand) but the bass set up well and its been a dream to play.
    It was not an issue until i put some d'Addario NYXL's on. Im sure the strings have nothing to do with it but ive gone back to XL's anyway, as i prefer them.

    Thanks again.
     
    mesaplayer83 likes this.
  15. mesaplayer83

    mesaplayer83

    Jun 27, 2017
    You're very welcome - Unfortunately, I've learned this thru my own mistakes when learning how to dial in nut slots - at a certain height, this sort of back buzz will sometimes occur, even though the string doesn't buzz on an open note... If you took that slot down only a couple more thousands, it probably would buzz on an open string... Also, larger guage strings are more susceptible to this - that's why I usually leave B and E strings at .025 at the 1st fret, as I'd rather be slightly high there than to create a back buzz...
     

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