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Having some fret buzz problems..need advice

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by Magneto, Mar 26, 2004.

  1. I could use some advice. Been working on a friend's Rogue bass, fixing it up. Although some might say "why even bother", I like to see any instrument for its possibilites.

    Been working with the neck action. Neck appears straight, no warping. Frets are in ok condition, with only minor fret wear. I've played on much worse, that played much better.
    Having hell setting a decent action. Adjusted the truss several times, got that much better than before. Checked neck relief, and it does have a small amount, but not much. It was seriously out of control before the adjustments.

    Problem: Having fret buzz while fretting the 1st fret on the 1, 2, and 3 strings. Low E is ok. Any fret higher than the 1st fret is ok, all the way to the 24th fret, all strings. I am not a heavy player, and play with both fingers and pick.

    There is a problem with the nut. The first time I took the original strings off the bass, the nut fell off. Never had this happen in 20 years. Re-glued it, reinstalled the old strings, and noticed that the strings were binding in the nut, even though they were light-gauge strings. The depth of the nut grooves did not appear to be too low, so I carefully filed and widened the slots just enough to correct the binding. I didn't go any deeper into the grooves.

    Strung up the bass with some med-light boomers. Low E and A strings would not even sit into the nut grooves, but on top of them. Geez, what kind of bass won't accept med-light gauge strings? I've experimented with so many different gauged strings on all the basses I've owned, and never saw this problem. So once again I slightly widened the grooves to accept the strings.
    Brought the new strings up to tune, played on them for a bit, loosened them for another slight truss adjustment to correct for the added tension of the heavier strings. Brought them back up to tune, adjusted string height.. same buzz, same place...

    I'm thinking I might have a nut height problem, but I'm not sure. Either that, or the 1st fret is too low, or the 2nd too high. I've layed a straight edge over the frets where the strings would ride, but I can't find any problem with these.

    So .. I need some ideas. Thanks in advance..

  2. pkr2


    Apr 28, 2000
    coastal N.C.

    Mag, it sounds like a high 2nd fret. Sounds as if you know what you're doing but I suggest that you check the height of fret 2 again very critically. Use a straight edge that is short enough to span only frets 1, 2 and three. With the S.E. spanning 1,2 and 3, there should be no contact with #2. any contact will be indicated by the S.E. rocking on the #2 fret.

    You mentioned that the fret wear seemed to be ok but be aware that fret wear can cause the exact prob that you are experiencing.

    Another thing to consider: when the bridge was reglued, if there was slight wear on the frets and the nut was shifted to the right or left, the strings would then ride on one side of the wear "notch" on the fret. This can cause some hard to figure buzzes.

    I'm sure that you know that if the nut notches are the proper depth. the string will only be down in the notch by 1/2 the strings diameter with 1/2 of the string diameter above the top of the nut.

    Hope I've helped you. Ask for clarification on anything i've said that is not clear to you.

    Harrell S.
  3. Thanks for the advice pkr2. I know I got the nut reglued in the proper place, as there small edges of raised finish material at the sides to help with proper alignment. I had also wondered about the same thing, but I feel confident that the nut is where it's supposed to be.

    The strings appear to be sitting approx halfway in the nut grooves like you suggested, so the problem might very well lie with the second fret. I'm going to have to check this over a bit more closely.

    I don't get any buzz with open string, and 2nd fret all the way up, and the action really is not set very low. I can usually go much lower on most basses with no problems whatsoever.

    You have been a big help.. thanks..

  4. I thought I'd post this followup to the problems I was having earlier. I had a bit of good luck and even learned a few things while working on this problem.

    I decided to try shimming the neck slightly, to help even out the action at the higher frets. When I had the neck off the bass, I took a look down its length, and saw alot of backbow in the first 4 frets or so.. (Just in that one small area)
    I decided that I might have been tightening the truss too far trying to get the relief in the middle frets down to an acceptable level. Ok.. backed off about 3/4 turn on the nut, neck straightened out in that area, added my shim, reinstalled the neck and strings. Adjusted the action up a bit, but overall action improved by at least 50%, and my fretting out on the 1st fret was completely gone. I had the neck pulled back to far without realizing it.
    After adding about 1/8 turn on the truss this evening and bringing her back up to tune, action is very low, with no buzzing or dead spots. Action is really improved in the 10-24 fret area, because the shim helped even this out.

    I think I've gone about as far as I can with this. Bottom line: Really cheap bass, cheaply built. Neck has multiple weak spots. I guess you'd say it's S-Curvin'.. Probably a cheaper, single action truss that isn't doing its job. But hey.. at least she's playing better, right?

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