Loud Sympathetic Buzz

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by J-Mags, Oct 13, 2021.

  1. J-Mags

    J-Mags Supporting Member

    Jun 18, 2018
    Durham NC
    [EDIT - CRISIS AVERTED I took the neck off and tightened the trust rod and the buzzing has stopped for now]

    I have a loud sympathetic vibration/buzzing on my newish-to-me 80s Fernandes PJ, and I'm worried that it could be a truss rod. I'm wondering how to deal with it.

    I bought this bass about a month ago. It's got a heel-adjust truss rod that I've avoided dealing with so far. It came with light strings, and when I got it, I replaced them with Fender 9050ML flats. It sounded good and the new strings didn't cause the neck to bow unreasonably.

    Then, the other day, I put new pickups on the bass. When I loosened the strings to put the pickups on, I broke the G string. I replaced the strings with 45-105 Boomers. After playing them for a little while, I began to notice a buzzy rattle. It sounds like it's coming from the headstock, but it could be the neck. I checked all the tuners and they seemed OK. I tightened some screws, but it didn't seem to rattle less when I put my hands on them, and everything seemed pretty tight. It also didn't seem like it was coming from the pickup/electronics cavity, which I suspected because I'd been changing pickups, etc.

    Eventually, I dropped the tuning a step down to D and the buzzing stopped. Today I changed the strings to 9050Ls (i.e marginally lighter than the Fenders I'd had on before that didn't cause any problems at the time), and the buzzing returned with a vengeance. Once again, if I drop the tuning, the buzzing stops, or at least is reduced..

    What do I look at now?
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2021
  2. Grinderman


    Dec 21, 2013
    Los Angeles
    It's kind of hard to diagnose this kind of thing this way. Describing it as a loud sympathetic vibration/buzzing leaves a lot to the imagination from here.

    I assume you checked to make sure the string tree disk on the headstock for the D and G is screwed down tight?

    Do you know how to check the neck relief and if you do how's that looking?

    I think you need to at least check the truss rod to see if it's loose, frozen, maxed out or broken yourself or take the bass to someone qualified to figure it out for you.

    // IMO, people should generally be less anxious or reluctant to check and maintain adjustment of truss rods whether it's up at the headstock or at the neck heal. It's so easy these days to find good instructions about how to do these things correctly and what are the proper tools needed.

    Equipped with the right tools and instructions it doesn't have to be a big deal. In the long run it's better for you and your basses to be able to always keep setups maintained.
    J-Mags likes this.
  3. J-Mags

    J-Mags Supporting Member

    Jun 18, 2018
    Durham NC
    In the end, I took off the neck and tightened the truss rod. I've dealt with both those things before, but not on an older bass with heel truss rod access. The buzzing immediately died down a lot, but I can still hear it if I hit a full E chord or hit the low E hard. The neck is just a touch straighter than optimal, but it's still got a tiny bit of relief. It's certainly tolerable right now.

    I'm gonna change to a slightly heavier set of strings and probably re-adjust the truss rod when I do. If it's mostly quiet, I'll leave it. If it's buzzing, I'll take it to a pro.
  4. J-Mags

    J-Mags Supporting Member

    Jun 18, 2018
    Durham NC
    Update #2. It turns out that it wasn't the truss rod that was buzzing. What was fixing the buzz was the act of tuning the D string. That tuner has a strong buzz, but only on parts of its rotation, and only traceable if you put your hand on the peg side. It's an 80s Gotoh. I can't figure out a way to dampen that vibration. I may have to replace.
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