Buzz on open A nut perhaps?

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by mmbongo, Aug 19, 2017.

  1. mmbongo

    mmbongo I have too many basses. Supporting Member

    Yes, the open A buzzes on one of my basses and it drives me nuts!

    Firstly, let me get it out of the way that this is NOT an issue with headstock angle, string wraps, witness points, or not having enough pressure on the string at the nut (unless there is a design flaw with the headstock...which is not likely).

    So, buzz only on the open A. I mean, I like low action and I get some buzz here and there but this is far worse and makes the bass unplayable for me.

    Eventually I am going to have the frets professionally dressed, probably Plek'd but until I can afford that, is this possibly a situation for a new nut? The bass is maybe 15 years old and I bought it used so I don't know what all has been done to it over the years so it probably needs some attention.
  2. What's the measurement at the first fret from the bottom of string to top of the fret?
    David Jayne likes this.
  3. MrLenny1

    MrLenny1 Supporting Member

    Jan 17, 2009
    New England
    I have the same issue.
  4. Forgot to mention what is your neck relief? Capo the first fret, hold down the 17th fret and with a feeler gauge check the distance from the bottom of string to top of fret. I have mine set at .12 or 0.30mm

    There is another thread similar to this one.
  5. craigie


    Nov 11, 2015
    Easily fixed with nut files, some filings from an old nut and super glue. Make a little pile of the shavings in the nut slot and drop in a bit of super glue. Without files you need someone to do it for you. Just buy a set. It's like owning a patch cord.

    I'm doubtful it can be fixed with more relief if there's no buzzing beyond the first fret. Maybe you can use a businesses card as a feeler guage.
    electracoyote likes this.
  6. mmbongo

    mmbongo I have too many basses. Supporting Member

    Ugh. Well because of the buzzing I haven't played this bass in a while, I was going to check those measurements that were asked for and now it's buzzing everywhere but the open A is definitely still the worst.

    I'm not sure, but I do like it low. I actually LIKE a little bit of buzz, but not this type of buzz.

    I'll make a sound clip.

    Open A 4 times, then 5th fret A string 4 times. Repeat. Let me know what you think.
  7. Nut slot may be too deep. @craigie has the right idea. A brand new, properly cut nut is always a good thing, but if you want to try to build the slot back up with super glue and baking soda, then file it down to proper width and depth based on your relief and action needs, that would be the quick cheap way to determine what's wrong. I've got a few basses and guitars that received that treatment, cured the issue, play and sound great, and as a result I still haven't gotten around to having a new nut cut for them.
  8. mmbongo

    mmbongo I have too many basses. Supporting Member

    I don't know why it didn't occur to me to jack up the nut slot with some business card or something just as a quick temporary trial thing to see if that helps! The whole nut may even need to be raised a bit. Like I said, I don't know what was done to it before it got to me. And the previous owners probably didn't like low action and low tension strings like I do :)
    electracoyote likes this.
  9. Right, that's an even quicker cheaper less-involved way to see what's up. You can even use something very flexible like aluminum foil so you can easily change the thickness while you experiment.

    But before I knocked the nut loose and jacked the whole thing up, I'd just pay a good tech to build me a new nut from a blank. One shallow nut slot, no big deal, multiple shallow slots, new nut time for me.

    Ideally, the bottom of the nut sits as close to the wood as possible with only the thinnest amount of glue to hold it in place. Combined with the downward pressure of the strings it shouldn't take much. Any shims or additional build up under the nut is too much of a compromise for me.