E string buzzes when slapping?

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by TLBass, May 8, 2019.

  1. TLBass


    Nov 27, 2016
    Hello. I'm in the middle of working on some recording and I noticed the E on my 5 string RockBass Streamer LX buzzes considerably when doing fretted slapping, and it's the only string doing so.

    I setup my bass (I don't play bass too often so it needed that after a long while) according to the Warwick instructional instruction videos. I think the relief is correct now and the bridge and saddles height was set according to their process, getting all strings to just touch the last fret and then raising the entire bridge to their recommended height.

    I didn't feel like the E needs to be any higher really as the action is not that low, but I added a bit more height to the E saddle and it still buzzes. It obviously can't get ridiculously higher than the rest or it would be unplayable.

    Now, it doesn't buzz on all frets, and not with the same intensity. I would say it doesn't buzz at all when fretting the 6th to the 11th frets. Does that tell you anything? Seeing how it buzzes throughout most of the neck, below and above those few clean frets, I don't know if it should be fret leveling issues. It probably also can't be just a relief issue, as I don't think the higher frets would also buzz if there were an under-reliefing "bump".

    I'm not even sure if it were a fret leveling issue, why would it buzz almost exclusively on the E string. There are a couple of spots for the D string up the neck and a bit for the B string, but it's not as bad as on the E which is probably set higher right now.

    Here's the string height at the last fret plus how the saddles are currently set:
    IMG_20190509_062847.jpg IMG_20190509_062724.jpg

    Thanks in advance.
  2. guts


    Aug 13, 2018
    Have you checked if your frets are level? You take a series of small straight edges and place them so that they're touching the top of 3 frets and only 3 frets at a time and see if you can rock the straight edge back and forth. If you can the middle fret is high. You should do this all up and down your fretboard. Check the frets with your straight edges as close as you can get to the string that is buzzing, sometimes the frets pop out of the fret board on only one side.

    You need a few different lengths of straight edge to check because the distance between the frets changes. I once used a trapezoidal metal spatula because it had different length sides. I've heard of people using credit cards, but I would prefer something metal for certainty.

    If that doesn't seem to be the issue. I would imagine that you would need to raise your action. It is very low, so if you play very loudly it could be expected to buzz. Especially on the lower strings. It shouldn't take much to get it to stop buzzing though, just a small adjustment.

    It sounds like your relief is set properly, so I would leave your truss rod alone.
    Last edited: May 9, 2019
  3. bass40hz

    bass40hz Cigar smoker, scotch drinker, American Patriot

    Aug 13, 2014
    Sussex County, NJ
    no endorsements yet...Are you listening Spector, DR, GK, Line6?
    Yeah, its all preference but that E saddle looks to be really low...I am a fingerstyle player and I have a heavy hand, it often takes me a day or 2 adjusting the truss to add more relief since its buzzing at the top and give another quarter turn to your saddle height(s), take your time and make small adjustments, it often takes a day for any truss adjustments to be fully realized. Setup specs are really guidelines only.
    Rock on.
  4. TLBass


    Nov 27, 2016
    I don't have a set of straightedges to check throughout all of the neck, but the relief perhaps had been slightly low than I thought was adjusted as the gap measured above the 7th fret seemed lower than 0.5mm so I loosened the truss rod slightly. The action didn't seem "very low" to me, I set it so the low string is 2.5mm above the last fret as recommended by Warwick. I did raise it some more so the E string is closer to 3mm now; it's better now but not perfect. I suppose I'll need to take it to a tech to check the frets and possibly have them leveled, but I already spent a bunch recently on a new acoustic+setting it up, so I'm not thrilled about spending another $100+ over the bass now.
  5. Look at the bass from the bridge towards the nut. You should probably see if any fret is 'sticking out of the row'. I've had a bass with visibly sticking frets that was buzzing on one string only (different frets, different strings).

    When I set my 4-string Fender, I adjust everything according to general rules, aiming for low action. When it buzzes, it usually buzzes on E string somewhere around 3rd fret. If it's the case, I'd loosen the truss rod and lower the strings on the bridge. I adjust the truss rod almost always when changing string brand.

    From your first photo, it seems to me that the B string is quite high, though not extremely. If your buzzing is around 3rd fret, I'd try adjusting truss rod.

    Experiment, you can learn a lot. If you don't tighten your truss rod too much, you can't really damage your bass.

    I'm surprised you're trying to slap on flat wound strings. I have flats on my Precision, slap sounds terribly. I wouldn't seriously think of using flats for slap. It's probably not the case... but can't this be the source of the problem?
  6. TLBass


    Nov 27, 2016
    I adjusted the truss rod and the saddles a bit, though I hope I didn't overdid it so I won't end up with an forward-bow in a couple of days. But if the low E saddle seemed so low, how come the low B was quite lower yet it barely buzzed? I think it's even lower tension so it should wobble about more than the E string.
  7. bass40hz

    bass40hz Cigar smoker, scotch drinker, American Patriot

    Aug 13, 2014
    Sussex County, NJ
    no endorsements yet...Are you listening Spector, DR, GK, Line6?
    Cant answer that I am not an expert, a lot of this is trial and error and we just bounce ideas off each other here, could be your frets arent level as stated in another reply.
    I'm sure someone else may be able to offer a different idea. Good luck.
    Rock on.
  8. TLBass


    Nov 27, 2016
    The opinions of how high my setup is currently seem to differ here... The slap can sound nice if done correctly (and depends on the exact string type, I suppose), though I'm not that proficient of a bass player (I mostly play the electric guitar) and thus I have more work to do on my technique. But I doubt the flats should be any more prone to fret buzz than roundwounds of similar rigidity.
  9. Could be that @bass40hz meant the lowest string on the second pic, which is automaticaly E for us 4 stringers, but in your case I guess it's B, the second string is E and seems to me quite high. But otherwise I think @bass40hz's advice is good one - try to adjust the truss rod, bridge, wait, try again ... you'll find it in a while.

    I agree, they shouldn't. I just find flats uncommon for slap, so if all other ideas prove wrong, you might consider trying different strings.

    Even more doubtful idea: In my opinion, a bit of buzzing is a part of good sound. You might find that when the buzz is all gone, the bass sounds more boring. Bass is different than guitar in this. I don't aim to convince you, just offer an option. Keep you ears open. Good luck!
  10. TLBass


    Nov 27, 2016
    I don't know, perhaps the fret buzz does sound different for flatwounds vs roundwounds, because here it just seems annoying. Maybe it gives something in a complete mix, I don't know, but it definitely doesn't sound like a good bass solo sound.

    And how much flatter wound one set the lowest string? E or B, I didn't have much more room to lower the B saddle. The E does seem much higher in comparison (though it's not really if my measurement was correct), but as I said, the saddle position for the B (and G) string is about minimum.
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