Buzzing That Can't Seem To Be Fixed

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by BassGod, Nov 15, 2005.

  1. BassGod


    Jan 21, 2004
    This is a weird, annoying and highly frustrating problem:

    About two months ago, I bought a new bass, and had it setup with new strings before I took it home. About a week after that, I started to notice some insane buzz, even when playing with a light touch, on the E string. I raised the action, but it didn't help, so I went in for another neck adjustment.

    It seemed to work, so I took it home again. A few days later, playing fingerstyle was fine, but playing with a pick yielded some terrible buzz.

    Fast-forward to last night. As the buzzing continued to worsen, I decided that maybe I should raise the action a little bit. I raised it so that the bottom of the E-string was four millimetres from the fretboard (I'm not sure if that's considered high or low, and keep in mind that these are XJ frets).

    It seemed to play fine, with no buzzing fingerstyle, and almost none with a pick. It also made tapping hell, unfortunatley. And then I got home from school today - less than twenty-four hours later - and the buzzing was back, even with fingerstyle playing. Also, I forgot to mention... at the first fret on the E-string, the string is really, really close to the fret, which is causing a buzz even when plucking the open string.

    So what the hell? This is quite frustrating, and I'm starting to think that this may not be something that's fixable, I think it maybe a construction defect with the bass, which sucks because I really like this one., it sounds great.

    So what should I do? I can't keep hassling my parents to drive me to the music store at which I bought it, as it's quite a drive, and the only time they'd be able to take me would be during rush-hour. If it helps, it's a neck-through bass.

    Has anyone had an experience like this, in which it turned out to be un-fixable? Any input would be greatly appreciated, I really need some help here.

    Graeme :(
  2. ashtray9


    Aug 1, 2002
    Tempe Arizona
    Check out the gary willis setup sticky in this forum. Helped me out a great deal and you will know if you need that fret leveled
  3. Blues Cat

    Blues Cat Supporting Member

    May 28, 2005
    Katy, Tx
    It could be that your nut is cut too low. To check: fret on the 3rd fret w/your right index finger & push down on the 1st fret. There should be a hairs clearance between the 3rd & 1st fret.
  4. +1 RCA (root cause analysis)...we must sort out what is wrong before we can fix.
  5. horrible


    Jul 20, 2005

    If this is the problem, it's easy to fix with either clear nailpolish or threadlocker.
  6. BassGod


    Jan 21, 2004
    Alright well I read the stickies, and I think the problem may be that the trussrod needs to be loosened. I did the relief check, and found less than a millimetre of clearance between the strings and frets. So basically, I'm gonna take it in on Friday, have it fixed, and check out the point about the nut (actually, if there's a problem with the nut it doesn't matter, I was gonna have it replaced with a graphite one anyway).

    So I believe that this can in fact be fixed. But I'm still a little worried that this will just keep happening, or that the neck was damaged from having the trussrod in too tight. Can that happen? I'm afraid that humidity may be the problem - I have my bass stand fairly close to a window, in a corner - it's pretty cold there so maybe that could be problem.

    Anyway, thanks for the help. After I take it in (I'd rather leave the trussrod adjustment to someone who knows what they're doing), I'll post what exactly was wrong with it.

    Quick question: Do new basses or neck-through basses generally need neck-adjustments more often? Have you ever needed this many adjustments on a new bass?

    Graeme :bassist:
  7. Turnaround

    Turnaround Commercial User

    May 6, 2004
    Toronto Canada
    Instrument Technician, Club Bass and Guitar - Toronto
    Have you ever needed this many adjustments on a new bass?

    Graeme :bassist:[/QUOTE]

    New basses often need a lot of adjustment, expecially if they were made in an area where the relative humidity is significantly different from where it currently resides. I always expect to adjust a new bass several times before it stays right.
  8. depending on the bass...i'll go through a period of about 2 months where I'm constantly tweaking the setup and then playing her until I get it where I want it.

    neck relief is one that I do slowly and deliberately...action is set as low as I can stand it and then tweaked up to suit my playing style for that instrument (yes, I play them all a little bit differently)...intonation is checked and tweaked any time I move the relief or action.

    Optimisation takes time.
  9. You'll probably be surprised at just how often a truss needs adjustment. EVERY bass I've ever owned has needed semi-frequent adjustments, especially when exposed to changes in temperatures, humidity, and even string tension changes. Strings often require more or less tension during their lives to tune to pitch. New strings might require less tension, and then after a time need more tension. This slight change puts more tension on the neck, and changes the bow or relief. I think we all have to deal with these changes, and this is why so many of us learn to do our own setups. It isn't really all that complicated.

    Don't leave your bass by the window, and don't expose it to big changes in temp/humidity. Never leave it in a cold or hot car, and keep it out of direct sunlight.
    Let's say your bass sat in a nice comfy warm shop for several hours. The tech sets it up, you check it, it's perfect.. You leave, come home, let the bass start to cool off in a colder room or by that cold window. The cold tends to make wood tighten or contract, this tends to make the neck straighter, pulling some of your relief out along with it. Then you could get the buzz.
    This summer, I had my bass in a nice 75F room all the time. I'd leave to band practice (30 min. drive) and by the time I'd get there I quickly noticed all my strings were a little flat. Temperature in the practice room was quite a bit warmer and humid. I'd tune to pitch, and notice that my perfect action was a touch higher than it was at home. I think the bass neck warmed up, the wood expanded causing less tension around the truss rod, and that's why I needed to tune up. Of course that also changes action. I'm no expert, but this seems to hold true for me.
    One day I actually tightened the truss just a touch, tuned up, left for practice. When I got to the warmer practice room, I still had to tune up a bit, but the action was perfect. Stayed that way all night.

    Sorry for my long posts. I seem to do this alot these days.. :D

  10. tadawson


    Aug 24, 2005
    Lewisville, TX
    I dunno, compared to my setups, 1mm would be kind of high . . . . I tend to run with more like the thickness of a business card or a bit less, and am totally buzz free . . . . .

    - Tim
  11. slugworth

    slugworth Banned

    Jun 12, 2003
    So. Calif.
    Since it's only on one string, do you think it could be a bad string? I've gotten bad strings right out of the pack that had weird buzzing sounds.