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Having a hard time with a setup - help!

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by HeavyDuty, Jan 21, 2006.

  1. HeavyDuty

    HeavyDuty Supporting Curmudgeon Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 26, 2000
    Suburban Chicago, IL
    I sold one of my basses to a co-worker (a Steinberger Spirit), and I went over to his place today to help him change strings and give it a quick setup.

    He bought new LaBella .105 double-ball roundwounds. The bass still had the factory roundwounds installed and played well with no buzzes.

    I went through and set the relief to .014 to start (a minimal change) and the string height to 3/32". I slowly increased the height until it played well fingerstyle, even with enthusiastic playing.

    However, as soon as he switched to pick, everything fell apart. Buzz city! I kept increasing string height, no luck. I also added a little more relief - no soap. At this point, the bass is set up like Jamerson's. The buzz is up and down the neck, mostly on the E but also on the A.

    One thing I'm noticing is that the neck end ball windings are long enough that they're actually riding on the zero fret. However, I can't see how that could cause a buzz.

    Looking at the clearance between the string and other frets when a note is fretted, we can't see where a buzz would be coming from. All hardware is tight. It doesn't sound like trussrod rattle. Our next step is to remount the old strings, readjust and see what happens.

    Could it be the strings?
  2. Kronos


    Dec 28, 2005
    Philadelphia, PA
    I wouldn't know how to go about fixing this, but one thing I have done when I can't figure out where the buzz is coming from, I play the offending note, and put my ear really close to the neck and move my head up and down the neck while strumming to find what point the buzzing is happening. Then I usually decide where to go from there.
  3. HeavyDuty

    HeavyDuty Supporting Curmudgeon Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 26, 2000
    Suburban Chicago, IL
    We tried that, and it seems to be coming from the fret or string near where it it fretted. I don't think it's his technique.

    My problem is that I strictly play flats fingerstyle, so picked rounds are a foreign land.

    I *think* I've heard cases where strings can buzz - am I nuts? Also, what about the wrap on the zero fret issue - could that cause it?
  4. That wrap issue may not be the source of the buzz but it isn't good either way. That portion of the string is thicker because of the backwinding. It's also not a part of the vibrating portion of the string. If it lays on the zero fret, it will be higher than it should be and you are having to adjust to fit it. Also, those windings and the part of the string just in front of it are the stiffest section of the string. I imagine that the actual witness point of the string is much further out over the fretboard. This could present some intonation issues as well.

    You might try taking a tip from the yahoos that are trying to make more string tension by using a spacer ala Gary Willis. That would get the flexing portion of the string on the zero fret and might help things all round.