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New fingerboard -- BUZZ on G string (VIDEO added)

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by lukehagerman, Feb 23, 2016.

  1. Hopefully this is the right place for this topic because I could use some input.

    I have a carved German bass, estimated age 70+ years old. I just had the fingerboard replaced by the guys at the Cincinnati Bass Cellar (Cincinnati, OH) less than a week ago. The new FB is beautiful and the bass has improved greatly in tone and play-ability... EXCEPT I am getting a buzz on Bb and C on the G string (first position) which was not present before the new FB installation. The bass is currently strung with Evah Pirazzi Weichs which are about 6 months old at this point. String height is "medium." I play almost exclusively pizzicato and the buzz only occurs when really digging in on the same note repeatedly. Or striking a whole note. When playing the notes in passing (like during a medium or up tempo walking line) the buzz is not evident. But when I'm playing a "down home" style, greasy blues, the buzz just drives me nuts. I can dig in deep everywhere else on the bass except for this area.

    Now, this issue wasn't occurring while I was at the shop to pick the bass up. I played it for about 45 minutes before leaving and was satisfied. I drove 4.5 hours northwest and haven't moved the adjusters. What happened? Can I eliminate this buzz without having to make another 9 hour round trip to Cincinnati? I'm a very "hands off" musician and don't like to tinker with the setup because odds are I'll make it worse. Is this something that will work itself out over time?

    I'm happy to provide any other info deemed useful to solving this issue. Thanks, fellow TB'ers!
  2. Does your bass have an adjustable bridge?

    If you do, crank it up a full turn and see what happens. If the buzz goes away, you have a high spot on the board above the C that will need to be scraped.
    lukehagerman likes this.
  3. Greg Clinkingbeard

    Greg Clinkingbeard Commercial User

    Apr 4, 2005
    Kansas City area
    Black Dog Bass Works
    I use a variety of metal straightedges when dressing fingerboards. When checking for high spots, I'll normally use a 6" steel ruler on edge with a light source behind. Often the ruler will rock in the middle. Rulers like this are available at most any hardware store.
    You can leave the bass strung up for this; just lay the ruler against the string.
    lukehagerman likes this.
  4. Thanks for the replies so far, guys. I do have adjusters. Giving both wheels a full turn eliminates the buzz slightly, but the strings are then too high for comfortable playing :-(
    I already had them cranked up a little higher than I'm used to begin with...

    I have a Home Depot across the street, so I suppose I could stop there tomorrow and pick up the steel ruler. Anything else I should grab while I'm there? :p
  5. Yeah, heavy boots so you drive faster.

    It takes me nine hours to drive from Albany to Youngstown. How it takes you the same amount of time to drive there from Cincy is a mystery to me.
    lukehagerman likes this.
  6. 4.5 hours each way
    9 hour round trip :thumbsup:
  7. lowfreqgeek


    Mar 15, 2010
    Tijeras, NM
    Every time I've had a fingerboard planed, it's taken a few days to settle in, and I've almost always had to have a few minor adjustments made after a few days. After that, they've been great. Fortunately, I'm 20 minutes or less from a couple of world-class luthiers.
    lukehagerman likes this.
  8. Well there's your problem.

    You spent nine hours driving, and 9.2 seconds checking if the fingerboard job was up to par.

    Slow down, son.
  9. Did you even read the original post? Come on man. I got to the shop, played on the bass for almost an hour and didn't see any other reason to stay. It was playing great. The guys at the shop agreed that it sounded really good. The closest reputable luthiers to me are the Bass Cellar guys and Mike Shank, who's just as far away. So driving the long distance is a necessary evil if I want my bass to be worked on. I asked for help and advice, not grief :rollno:
  10. Grief is what we do here. I didn't mean anything by it.

    The last time I bought a new bass I had the same problem...it played fine in the shop with an orchestra setup, but when I got it home and dropped the bridge height it buzzed like crazy in first position.

    As I alluded earlier, that bass had a high spot at Bb. Being that I'm really lucky, the luthier who sold me that bass has a brother who lives up the road from me. He made a house call after a family visit and all was right in the state of Denmark.

    In your situation, would they farm out the job to a luthier in your area? A buddy of mine had a seam glued at the shop in Pittsburgh but fingerboard work is a much more expert job. It doesn't make much sense to burn that much gas to fully get what you paid for, and living with it as-is isn't an option, so maybe there's a third way.
  11. It's cool. The buzz has got me on edge :bag:

    I suppose I could call Cincy and ask, but I get the feeling they won't have much to offer in the way of luthier references within an hour's drive of me. Only one way to find out, I guess.
    There are some violin shops just over the OH/PA border... However, the last person I knew who took a bass out that way ended up having his fingerboard come unglued during a gig with the Cleveland Jazz Orchestra.
  12. james condino

    james condino Spruce dork Commercial User

    Sep 30, 2007
    asheville, nc
    If your bridge moved, even slightly, during the four hour drive, it could cause some things to be out of order when you got home, especially if it moved toward the bass side. Try moving the bridge laterally towards the treble side and see if it goes away. Whenever I do major work like a fingerboard replacement, I pretty much insist they come back for a 45 day tune up as part of the package to fine tune any little issues that come up.

  13. Jake deVilliers

    Jake deVilliers Commercial User

    May 24, 2006
    Crescent Beach, BC
    Owner of The Bass Spa, String Repairman at Long & McQuade Vancouver
    Yup. Give the guys a call and see how your situation can be resolved. We're not going to be able to fix it for you! :thumbsup:
  14. Eric Hochberg

    Eric Hochberg

    Jul 7, 2004
    Luthier Mike McGee is outside of Pittsburgh if that helps. Bass Cellar installed a new board and bridge for me. The bridge needed tweaking when I got home, I really hadn't spent the time in the shop to get it right as they finished just before closing time and I didn't want to spend the night in Cincy. They had a Chicago luthier tweak the bridge for me. Cost me a bottle of Jack...
    Jake deVilliers and eh_train like this.
  15. Called the shop. They suggested trying a new/different G string before bringing the bass in. I'm using the Evah Weichs now and have had them on for nearly 7 months. Is it possible that the G string is worn out to the point of buzzing??
  16. Eric Hochberg

    Eric Hochberg

    Jul 7, 2004
  17. But I would try a new Evah Weich G again.
    Some strings buzz more easily than others even if they are all OK.
  18. Just thought I'd update this thread...

    I tried a Spiro Mittel G and an unknown G string (solid orange wrapping) and the buzz persisted with both of those strings as well. I also tried a paper "shim" in the nut-- still buzzing. Guess I'll be hitting the road to Cincy again this week :meh:

    Results coming soon.
  19. I had something like this happen to me on my Shen hybrid. The G string and the A and Bb in half position buzzed like crazy with a set of Zyex mediums and Evah weighs. I took my bass in to Lisa at LA Bassworks and she solved the problem with a wolf tone eliminator. I don't know if it has to do with my fingerboard or strings, but Lisa's solution has worked well for me. The only time the buzzing issue comes back is when there is a major weather change and I'm able to tame it by moving the eliminator to a different spot on the afterlength. I hope this info helps!
    lukehagerman likes this.
  20. Thanks for the tip!

    Here's something that I've noticed... If I start playing my bass after letting it sit for a few hours, the first few pulls on the G string (Bb, B & C) yield NO buzz. After playing for about 2 minutes, the buzz comes back slightly-- then more and more until it is very noticeable. This makes me feel like once the string is "warmed up" it starts to buzz. However, the case is the same with the other G strings I've had on recently. Does anybody have any thoughts on this?

    I'm headed to Cinci on Wednesday, but I'm wondering if anybody has dealt with this kind of "string phenomena" before :eyebrow:
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2016
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