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Open A rattle - Please Help

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by Saint, Jan 26, 2001.


  1. Saint

    Saint

    Mar 2, 2000
    DC - USA
    I've got a problem I've never encountered before and don't know how to solve it.

    The A string on my Fender MIM Fretless Jazz rattles whenever I play it open (but not any other time). Dampening the string between the tunner and the nut with my finger stops it, but I only mention that as a point of reference. It seems like the rattling is coming from the tuning machine, but none of them feel loose to me. I should also mention that the bass is strung with medium guage roundwounds.

    I was thinking it might have something to do with the nut or the neck relief, and/or to do with the fact that the bass is set up for flatwound strings (higher tension). Honestly, though, I don't have a clue what is causing this or how to resolve it.

    Please, any help or observations would be greatly appreciated.
     
  2. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    Well shucks, those are open gears, so I'm thinking, as the inspector said in "Casblanca," "Round up the usual suspects," meaning, truss rod. When you're fretting you've got your thumb acting like a damper or a string tree. See if you can rattle your truss rod.

    Just a guess because the "A only" aspect spooks me. I don't know muchabout resonances and metal. Let us know where this shakes out if you would.

    [Edited by rickbass1 on 01-26-2001 at 02:01 PM]
     
  3. I put a tiny little piece of cellophane tape under the A-string at the back edge of the nut slot. Fixed mine when it was doing the same thing.

    Chris
     
  4. Sounds like maybe 2 things to me. The slot in the nut may be too wide and the string is vibrating side to side, wedging a piece of tape or paper would be a quick fix. It may also be that you don't have enough down pressure, is the string wound to the bottom of the tuning post?
     
  5. Saint

    Saint

    Mar 2, 2000
    DC - USA
    Thanks, that's very helpful, but do you have any idea what's causing it in the first place? I'd really like to diagnose and address the underlying problem, rather than just mitigate its effects.

    I will definitely follow up on rickbass1's suggestion and let you know what I find.

    Keep the responses coming!! It's very helpful!
     
  6. Saint

    Saint

    Mar 2, 2000
    DC - USA
    I've tried winding the string both at the bottom and top of the post w/o any major effect. Re: the nut, you've basically hit on my suspicion. I just don't know how to resolve that short of replacing the nut --and I understand that to be a pretty tricky little operation.
     
  7. TonyS

    TonyS

    Dec 13, 1999
    USA
    Saint,
    I've got a Fender Am.Delux that does the same thing. When I restrung the instrument recently I added an additional turn or turn and a half on the "A" string. The added string windings provided more downward pressure on the nut. Seems to have taken care of the problem.

    I've been told by others its a relatively common trait.

    Regards.

     
  8. Saint

    Saint

    Mar 2, 2000
    DC - USA
    Thanks TonyS.

    The fact that this may be a relatively common trait of fender basses doesn't do much to boost my image of the company. One wonders why they don't do anything to correct the problem. I've never had such a problem on any of my basses, not even on my Vantage (let alone my Smith!).
     
  9. It's a combination of not enough down pressure, and a nut slot that is filed a little bit too wide. If the slot wasn't too wide, the lack of down pressure would not be a big deal, and if the down pressure was more, then the wide nut slot would not be a problem. I planned on getting a new nut, but now that the tiny piece of tape is in there, I don't have the problem so I'm not in as big a hurry to fix it anymore. :D Loosen the A string, slightly lift it out of the nut and put the piece of tape into the slot just short of the fretboard edge of the nut. Mine's been there for a few months now.

    Others have said to use nut filings and glue mixed together to partially refill the offending slot. I don't have the nut filings, so I can't do that myself, or else I would.

    I agree that this is a crappy way to fix the problem, but since I don't have the problem anymore, I can't complain.

    Necessity is a mother....

    Chris
     
  10. There really isnt a problem with the bass, just with how you strung it. You have to make sure that you wind from top to bottom and have plenty of string wound to make more pressure on the nut. Even though on cheaper Fenders like squires the problem is more evident, because of different tuners than there is on the American ones, like my P-Bass. I never have had trouble with it because the string post is low enough, but on my old squire jazz the tuning peg was taler and cause more rattle unless I made sure to wind enough around the post. Just take care for the instrument that you have chosen.
     
  11. pkr2

    pkr2

    Apr 28, 2000
    coastal N.C.
    Saint, It sounds like the slot in the nut on the A string may be too low. It helps to keep in mind that each time you tune yiur bass that you may be grinding a tiny amount of material out of the nut slots. The best way to minimize this problem is to lubricate the nut slot with graphite. Pencil lead or lock graphite( the white kind is less messy) in the nut slots each time the strings are off the bass.

    The tape or a tiny piece of paper in the offending slot will almost always correct the problem.

    If you will put a small piece of a business card between the first fret and the A string, it should fall out. If the string holds the card, chances are good that you just have nut slot wear.

    You don't have to replace the nut to correct this problem. Remove the nut and place a shim between the nut and the nut slot that the nut rests in. A piece of the same business card will work. I'm not talking about the slot that the string goes through. I'm talking about the slot that the nut sets in.

    I don't think that the problem that you describe is any more prevalent with a Fender bass than any other brand.

    A piece of paper (or tape) in the string slot will correct the problem as well as a shim under the nut but is subject to fall out each time you change the strings. Be sure to get at least three wraps around the post to assure that you have enough "break angle" over the nut.

    Hope this helps.

    Pkr2
     
  12. TonyS

    TonyS

    Dec 13, 1999
    USA
    Saint,
    I hope I did'nt leave you with the impression that there is some serious design flaw in Fender Basses. IMO there's not an issue with the instrument but more likely the set-up. Sometimes you can get close to perfection in a Mass produced instrument ... sometimes not.

    The "A" string does'nt get held down by a string tree like the D & G strings, consequently you (sometimes) get a buzz or rattle because the break angle (of the string) across the nut is too shallow. When re-stringing, the extra string length that becomes an extra turn or two on the tuning post generally takes care of the buzz.

    As some have said, it could be other things, but this is a cheap and easy experiment. Especially, considering that the buzz goes away when you put pressure on it above the nut.

    Best Wishes.





    [Edited by TonyS on 01-27-2001 at 12:27 AM]
     
  13. ytsebri

    ytsebri

    Sep 1, 2000
    Dallas
    But, you can buy a string tree and put it on between the A and D string. I did that a long time ago to minimize "wolf tones" and rattles. It was only a coupla bucks, and BOOM! problem solved. BTW, the extra wind or two is good, but the more winds you have, the more likely your bass is to go out of tune. That's why the string tree was my answer to the aforementioned problems.
     
  14. Saint

    Saint

    Mar 2, 2000
    DC - USA
    First, thanks for the great response and all the assistance. It was very helpful!

    Second, I did manage to mitigate the rattling problem by using a piece of scotch tape as suggested by many who responded. That, combined with the downward pressure I had already had on the string seems to have helped for now. I may ultimately go Ystebri's route and install a string tree.

    Ultimately, though, I will have to firmly disagree with jim the bass player in that I think this IS a problem for Fender and it doesn't speak well for the company that so many of us have had this problem. I don't think it is a design flaw, but it is at least representative of shoddy manufacturing and/or quality control. There is just no excuse for a bass to have that kind of rattle and those nut problems. This certainly shouldn't happen on a mid-range bass like the American Deluxe, but it also shouldn't happen on a lower end bass like the Standard either. While I understand that these aren't handmade basses, there are plenty of companies that mass manufacture basses without this kind of major flaw.

    Anyway, enough of the high horse. Even though I may disagree with the Fender defense, I do sincerely appreciate everyone's help. Thanks!
     
  15. This problem has come up a few times and I'm a big fan of Fender and all but it does seem to be a problem with Fenders exclusively. As has been posted before and as before I must give credit where credit is due, gmstudio99 had the quick fix (business card is fine too) by using cable ties. The little zip strips electricians use. It puts downward pressure on the string and solves the problem. Could be the set up, but i've tried different strings and tried winding properly, to no avail. Except with a set of Labella nylon wounds they don't rattle. Oddly though, i briefly replaced the neck on my MIM jazz witha Warmoth P-bass neck and the rattle was still there, so who knows?
     
  16. Saint, I've got to firmly disagree with your characterization. First, one single additional loop of string around the tuner post would have alleviated your problem. This cannot be seen as a design flaw, shoddy workmanship, or poor quality control. As for the possiblity that the strings have filed their way down into the nut slot, this isn't the fault of the bass, or nut. It is solely due to the string selection. As anyone will tell you, some strings are rougher than others, just compare a Rotosound strings against others. Finally, since this condition can be found or induced on ALL basses regardless of style, manufacturer, construction or price it nullifies the argument that it is only a Fender problem. You could make the argument that it is a possible characteristic of a guitar with straight pull strings, but that includes a bunch of instruments. My point is that your experience with this problem is limited, but most of us have seen and dealt with it numerous times, in a variety of ways. We find it little more of an inconvenience than having to change strings.
     
  17. pkr2

    pkr2

    Apr 28, 2000
    coastal N.C.
    Well put Hambone. Maybe we hear of and see more of this sort of thing in Fenders than most other brands because there probably are more Fenders in use.

    I'm not a huge Fender fan but in all fairness....

    Pkr2

    [Edited by pkr2 on 02-01-2001 at 12:43 PM]
     
  18. Saint

    Saint

    Mar 2, 2000
    DC - USA
    Saint, I've got to firmly disagree with your characterization. First, one single additional loop of string around the tuner post would have alleviated your problem. This cannot be seen as a design flaw, shoddy workmanship, or poor quality control. As for the possiblity that the strings have filed their way down into the nut slot, this isn't the fault of the bass, or nut. It is solely due to the string selection. As anyone will tell you, some strings are rougher than others, just compare a Rotosound strings against others. Finally, since this condition can be found or induced on ALL basses regardless of style, manufacturer, construction or price it nullifies the argument that it is only a Fender problem. You could make the argument that it is a possible characteristic of a guitar with straight pull strings, but that includes a bunch of instruments. My point is that your experience with this problem is limited, but most of us have seen and dealt with it numerous times, in a variety of ways. We find it little more of an inconvenience than having to change strings. [/B][/QUOTE]

    Well Hambone, one more wrap and additional downward pressure didn't help. Like many of the others who responded, I was only able to stop this with additional downard pressure AND the tape. Again, I've never had this problem on any of the other 5 basses I have owned regardless of the string type, gauge or brand.

    Maybe it is the sheer number of Fenders that are out there, but the fact remains that there a number of folks who have had this problem (beyond just the downward pressure issue).
    I am not a huge fan of Fender bass designs, but the fact is that Fender does make some great quality stuff in numerous price ranges (In particular, I think the Standard strat is one of the best buys ever)and, overall, the Standard Jazz is a great buy (I wouldn't have one otherwise), but that doesn't excuse the fact that this problem keeps popping up on these basses. All I'm saying is that if it is happening in even 5 percent of the basses, Fender would do well to look into the issue and try to address it in future versions of the bass.
     
  19. You cant think that Fender doesnt know of this problem, but why change it? If you purchase an instrument you should enjoy it or have atleast one reason for purchasing it, besides "everyone else has it" or "it looks cool". When you purchase a bass it should be because you think it is the end all of instruments. Adding more loops of the string around the post fixed it for my squire. You have to take care of your instrument and treat it like a child. You have to keep it clean, and maintain it. For me, the buzzing was no problem because I understand that Fender Bass designs have been the same for ever and why should they change them now? Just because one person doesnt care enough for their instrument is not a reason...IMO of course..
     
  20. Sampoerna

    Sampoerna Guest

    Oct 9, 2000
    W. KY, USA
    I know you've found your solution, Saint, but I'd like to make an addendum to this thread. I, too, had a rattle with the open A on my Squier P-Bass. My solution was different and I'd like to leave it here in case somebody else runs into the same problem and does a search here (like I did). :)

    It seemed like my sound resonated from inside the neck. At the suggestion of others, I tried putting more tension on the A string past the nut and confirmed that there were enough windings on that string post to keep the break angle in check. Didn't solve my problem. Then I found out that the "handles" on the tuning machines sometimes jiggle loose on the stem of the post. When I held onto the tuner, the sound disappeared.

    I took the bass to a tech for a setup and he and another fellow found the culprit: The handle of the E tuner would vibrate. They told me of a fellow they know whose '70's Precision has the same problem and that he just taped it up.

    It was maddening and I'm glad I'm rid of the problem! ;)