Got fret buzz? Don't forget that STRINGS DO MATTER

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by dogbone, Nov 16, 2017.

  1. dogbone


    Nov 5, 2017
    I pulled out my old Yamaha BB404 and decided to get it all cleaned up, which hadn't been played in years. I bought some of the cheapest strings on Amazon ($10 pack 4 strings) and set the bass up perfectly by the books to specs with the correct neck relief and action (Yamaha officially told me it is 3mm on the 24th fret). Everything played nice, except for a persistent buzz on the A string 5th to 7th-ish fret area. If you look everywhere on bass forums/Youtube about issues with fret buzz the answers you get are always based on "it needs to be set up correctly" and if that doesn't fix it "the frets need to be leveled/polished/etc". For weeks I just couldn't figure this out and was on the verge of getting the frets leveled when I noticed that A string had a noticeably visible amount of movement when plucked (large arc). Way more than on my other bass. Luckily I had my old strings so I decided to test that theory and I removed the A string only on the Yamaha and swapped it with the old A string. The fret buzz problem went away immediately. I speculate it has something to do with the gauge, probably lighter gauges are more prone to this. Only way to truly test would get light vs heavy and see what happens. If it isn't a gauge issue, then it is the fact they were $10 strings and you get what you pay for. I did post this to Reddit and another used mentioned that a bend in the string can cause this same effect. Regardless, it had to do with the strings. Either way, I'm writing this is a PSA for those of you who have fret buzz issues. If your neck relief/action are perfect and there isn't anything obviously wrong with your frets please CHECK YOUR STRINGS. Of course when you google search "fret buzz lighter string gauges" you will read replies that "don't be insane, string gauge does not cause fret buzz", reconsider. I googled endless on how to fix fret buzz and no one mentions the strings as a possible culprit. So much cheaper and easier to test your strings than blindly assuming it must be a fret issue or warped neck issue and going that painful and expensive route.
  2. mpdd

    mpdd neoconceptualist

    Mar 24, 2010
    it doesn't happen a lot, but i've had two bum strings in the last 8 years, one was super cheap and one had a weird taper anomaly that vibrated on the tuner
  3. Not sure that cheap A strings are the cause.

    I've seen this same effect ( " noticeably more movement") on some A strings I have. But they are well known reputable brands.
  4. Loring

    Loring Supporting Member

    May 4, 2017
    tensions are probably all over the place - loose A and tight D G. adjust for overall tension and you still have a sloppy A...
  5. Killed_by_Death

    Killed_by_Death Snaggletooth Inactive

    Once I put some cobalt flats on my BTB & the buzz was maddening & yes I did a setup (adjusted the relief & action).
    Putting roundwounds back on it solved that, but the cobalt flats are just fine on my SRX (SR eXtreme).
  6. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013
    Bad strings are a thing, yes, but that's not how setting up an instrument works.
    A good setup is as individual as the person playing the instrument. It has to take into consideration how hard you play, what kind of strings, the genre of music, how worn the frets are, etc.
  7. If you play with the same preassure, a lighter string would have a bigger arc and buzz more than a tighter one.
    But i think the idea with light strings is playing softer producing the same arc as heavier strings
  8. Loring

    Loring Supporting Member

    May 4, 2017
    or to sound clankier or to be able to bend easier or... lots of reasons.

    If it's set up right it won't buzz but yeah you could get more fret slap with finger style (ie clank as above).

    The only reasons I can see one string buzzing while the others don't is A: huge discrepancy in tension so effectively the one string is "light" while the others are med-heavy. or

    B: and much more likely - bass is setup properly but it has high spots on some of the frets.

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