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Buzz on A string after widening nut

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by acmeseed, Feb 10, 2014.

  1. I introduced a problem in my 4-string Jazz bass when I installed a set of Rotosound 88s and had to enlarge the

    nut slot to fit the larger strings. The A string buzzes similar to what fret buzz sounds like, but if I fret

    the string the buzz goes away, I am 99% certain the buzz is from a problem at the nut. I am not sure if it is

    that the nut is cut too low or if it has to do with the break angle.

    I am wondering if you can enlighten me on the effects of the wrong break angle and what should I be looking


    I have plenty of length on the string as I always err on the side to too long, but I will look at my wrapping more closely, it is possibly too high.

    Before I filed the slot to enlarge it, I put graphite on the bottom of the slot with a pencil and I made sure I

    did not file all of the pencil mark away, I don't think I lowered the slot much if any, I get more than a

    credit card under the first fret when I fret it between the 2nd & 3rd fret. I have the same clearance on the A

    string as in the low E which does not buzz at all.

    If I push lightly on the string behind the nut the buzzing goes away, this makes me thing too low nut slot

    since by doing this I am technically increasing the clearance. I also did "resolve" the issue by placing a

    piece of paper under the string at the nut folder twice. This also would indicate a nut cut too low, but I am

    not sure.

    I replaced the nut on the bass a few weeks ago with a Graph Tech TUSQ XL, the old one from fender was quite

    beaten up and sustain stunk on the bass, after replacing the nut sustain improved tremendously with the old

    Chromes I was using and I had not buzzing issues.

    The nut slot is not too wide, this particular string is 100 and I used a 105 nut file, I don't think sloppiness

    is a problem here, but it is possible.

    I would greatly appreciate any feedback; I am pretty handy with tools and have been doing my own setups on

    guitars and bass for a long time, but this one has me stumped.

    BTW: I like the sound of the Rotosound 88s a lot, I think they are staying on this bass for a while.

    Follow up: I searched again and found some threads about this problem; my apologies for the repeated post. I don't see a way to delete it, if you think it should be, please do that for me?
  2. elBandito


    Dec 3, 2008
    Rotten Apple
    If you can stick a credit card under 1st fret while fretting third, your nut slots are still very high.

    megamaeng likes this.
  3. Oops! I meant to say business card.I can loosely slip a card between the fret and the strings.
  4. jamminology101


    Aug 22, 2012
    Indianapolis In
    Endorsing Artist: Glockenklang
    Just buy one of those stealth A string retainers that fender sells on their website. ..that should fix it. You usually can get fairly close to that low if you leave alot of excess string and wrap it as many times as you can around the post until the string is pushed down to the base of the post. Good luck. ..were all counting on you. ...
  5. uOpt


    Jul 21, 2008
    Boston, MA, USA
    It's probably rattling sideways, not on the frets.

    Put some superglue or epoxy on the sides. (shield fretboard with painter's tape etc)
  6. narud

    narud Supporting Member

    Mar 15, 2001
    santa maria,california
    one thing ive been doing that was posted here by walterw is take a swipe with the file for the d string on the a string nut slot. kind of creates a channel for the string to seat in. thats cleared up rattle for me.
  7. +1. Oops, slot too wide.

    He may need to fill the slot completely with epoxy or the old epoxy + baking soda blend, pick a narrower file, and try again. If he can get just the exact amount of glue on the side walls of the nut slot to cure this, I'm going to start sending him my basses for repairs. ;)

    Or it's off to the pro for a new nut.
  8. Lots of good ideas, thanks.

    I like the idea of using the thinner file to round off the bottom of the slot, the .105 file I have from StewMac is not quite a full half-circle on the bottom.

    The idea that the slot is too wide makes sense, that may explain why a piece of paper placed under the string in the slot resolves the issue, it's probably closing up the gap. The .105 is probably too large for the .100 string, but their next lowest is .85 which is too narrow. I guess I could enlarged the slot by hand.

    I'll also look at my post wrapping technique, it definitely could use some help.

    If worse comes to worse I can always get a new nut and pop it in.
  9. pfox14


    Dec 22, 2013
    I use baking soda & crazy glue. Fill the slot with baking soda, hold your finger over it and blow off the excess, then add 1-2 drops of CA. This creates a substance that's almost as hard as the nut itself. Very carefully re-file the slot to the proper size.
  10. mech

    mech Supporting Member

    Jun 20, 2008
    Meridian, MS, USA
    I'll bet an adult beverage it's the break angle. I have five 4 string basses set up for BEAD, .130-.070". I can change any of them to EADG, .105-.050", with no problem. The bottom of the nut slots are round and angled toward the headstock and there's no way a string at tension will vibrate sideways. Take your pencil and mark the bottom of the slot again and take a few swipes with the file angled toward the headstock to set the break angle, leaving about .016" of the pencil mark at the fret board side of the nut to set the witness point. If it doesn't work and you have to fill or replace the nut, nothing is lost.

  11. t77mackie


    Jun 13, 2012
    Wormtown, MA
    Invest in the proper tools and learn proper set-up techniques! A set of feeler gauges and a capo don't cost much!! That will take most of the guesswork out.

    Good luck getting rid of Mr. Buzz. We all feel that pain from time to time.
  12. If you re-fill the slot completely as suggested above, you can probably use the .085 to create a snugger new slot if you can finess the file back and forth (left right) a bit, creating a slightly wider slot than the .085 file. If you just go deeper in the existing slot you already created and try to create a divet for the string to rest in, you may sink the slot too deep, which will also create buzz, especially on the A string.
  13. How I wish this were true.

    It simply isn't.
  14. JoeWPgh


    Dec 21, 2012
    I would start with a little gel super glue in the slot. Let it cure overnight, before returning the string to the slot. You may need to lightly refile it with the correct file. 105 is generally the file for the E string
  15. After re-reading the OP, I am inclined to agree, the slot ended up too low. The 105 file should work for a 100 string. And the angle has to be correct as well, both in the slot and when winding the string on the post.

    Fill 'er in, let 'er dry, and try again.
  16. I think I have this one licked, thanks for all the replies, I learned a lot in 1 day. I now know to pay more attention to the nut (including the one playing the bass) break angle, how to best wrap the string around the post, etc. Up to now most of the setups I had done were to guitars and they seem to be easier in this department.

    First price goes to uOpt, I looked at all the strings and the A had definitely more side to side slack. I tried inserting a piece of paper only on one side of the string and that seemed to take care of the problem.It seems like I would have to fill the sides of the slot to take care of this, but wanting to use the bass Thursday night and this weekend and not having a lot of free time to mess with this I tried other approaches.

    Paying attention to how I wound the string around the post took care of most of the rattle; I made sure the string almost came to the bottom of the post, this gave me a nice angle. I still had a bit of rattle.

    Honorable mention goes to Narud, I used the D file to cut the groove slightly deeper and this seemed to take care of the rattle altogether. I may end up filling the nut soon, but for now I think the rattling is pretty much done. I'll probably order a replacement nut just to have in case I decide to go back to lighter strings.

    I would like to learn more about break-angle, I understand the concept, but would like to learn how much is enough, too little or too much and the effects. I'll do some searching here, but if you can chime in and offer some info I will greatly appreciate it.

    For tools I am pretty much set, I have a whole range, feeler gauges, files,etc. The set from StewMac for bass jumps from .85 to .105, I wish they had a .95.

    TheRotosound 88s apparently have lower tension than the Chromes, I had to relax the truss-rod to avoid some string buzzing and it looks like I'll have to raise the action a bit a the briDge to get cleaner tone, but I am looking forward to using them to see how I like them.

    Again, thanks a lot for all your input.
  17. You may be right, but it does not feel that way. Right now I can put a fairly thick business card under the string and still slip it out with very little resistance.

    I wonder what others aim for when setting this up?

    I do have a good set(s) of feeler gauges, I guess I should start using those instead of business cards ;)
  18. This is just me, and I'm not advocating it, but it has served me well: I eyeball it. I estimate how much the string is going to vibrate that close to the nut (and it's not much) and I only go a couple strokes at a time with the file. When I depress the string at the first fret and the action looks close enough, I'm done.

    Again, that's just me, not a universal recommendation.

    The reason I first suspected a wide slot is because I once used a 105 file for a 100 string and the slot ended up too wide. In that case, I am not convinced the file was accurate. My solution was to take a 90 file and put a little force to the outside as I ran the file in the slot. That did the trick, and ever since then I've gone with either an exact width file, or one slightly narrower, for my nut slots.