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open string buzz (DB thread)

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by kreider204, Aug 13, 2012.

  1. kreider204


    Nov 29, 2008
    Forgive me if this has been asked before - I did a search, found a couple of close topics, but not exactly what I'm looking for.

    I have some buzzing that occurs only when I bow fortissimo on the open G and D strings - mostly the G, but a little on the D too. I do not have any buzzing anywhere else on the fingerboard, not even first finger in half position (e.g., the Ab right above the open G) and it's only when I'm really digging in, so it's not that big a deal, but the perfectionist in me is still bugged by it.

    I don't believe my action is overly low - 6 mm under the G, 9 mm under the E, measured between the string and the bottom of the fingerboard (and Original Flexicores, BTW, if it's relevant). I'm hesitant to raise it much more, given my struggles with tendinitis and CTS.

    I am concerned that the nut might have been filed a bit too low, but I don't really know what the standard is. I can say that I am able to slip a standard thickness business card under the open E and A strings, but not the open D and G strings, if that's any help (I'm afraid I don't have anything to make more precise measurements).

    If the nut was cut too low, I assume I just need to make a trip to a local string tech for some work - I'm guessing some sanding the fingerboard a tad right by the nut will be in order. However, if it's a setup issues that I might be able to correct myself, I'm all ears.

    Thanks much in advance.
  2. Jake deVilliers

    Jake deVilliers Commercial User

    May 24, 2006
    Crescent Beach, BC
    Owner of The Bass Spa, String Repairman at Long & McQuade Vancouver
    If the nut slots are too low, the best fix is to pop off the nut and shim it up from the bottom with matching material, then re-adjust the string heights at the nut.

    Your luthier will probably check your board for bumps while he's at it, which is a good idea! ;)
  3. JoeyNaeger

    JoeyNaeger Guest Commercial User

    Jun 24, 2005
    Houston, TX
    Bass Specialist, Lisle Violin Shop
    Shimming the nut will help the most if it really is lower than a business card under those strings.
  4. kreider204


    Nov 29, 2008
    Groovy, thanks folks.
  5. mirwa


    Aug 4, 2012
    Australia - Perth
    Definetly sounds like a nut thats worn the groove down or was cut to low to start with
  6. kreider204


    Nov 29, 2008
    Ya, I think the latter. Ah well, sounds like an easy enough fix.
  7. mirwa


    Aug 4, 2012
    Australia - Perth
    You have options, dependant on your skill level and access to some basic tools

    For me I would simply remove and cut a new nut.

    Does the nut come of, or is it fitted and fixed firmly, from this I can give you a couple of ""home"" repair ideas.
  8. kreider204


    Nov 29, 2008
    You know, I'm not sure about the nut. I've only had the bass for a couple of years, and haven't changed the strings yet. I'm relatively handy - I've upgraded hardware and electronics on my electric basses and so forth - so I'm all ears.
  9. mirwa


    Aug 4, 2012
    Australia - Perth
    Try and see if it will come of first.

    If its fixed firmly, then you may not want to do it, as it could be attached with hide glue / super glue / pva glue / araldite etc, theres been times where ive had to chisel the nut away.

    When we know how firmly its fixed I can walk you through a simple repair process to suit

    If you decide that you want to change the nut, Im sure one will come in this week, I can photo the process for you.

    Heres an example of a nut done for a guitar http://www.ultrainspections.com/Nut.html

    Regards (Steve)
  10. kreider204


    Nov 29, 2008
    Ya, I'm pretty sure it's glued in there, or stuck pretty darn tight anyway. I think I'll leave it for a pro.

    Thanks for the info, though!
  11. mirwa


    Aug 4, 2012
    Australia - Perth
    Sounds like the best idea.

    I have seen many DIY ways to repair a low nut, if you wanted to give any of them a go, then I may be able to talk you through it.

    First lets note however IMO the best way is replacement.

    Ive seen the nuts shimmed from underneath with slivers of ebony, (means you have to be able to remove the nut)

    Ive seen grafts in the applicable string groove, this is where a section of the nut has been removed and a new piece fitted in its place and then re-filed to shape.

    Ive seen built up areas where a combination of a glue was used with ebony dust to create a higher surface.

    Ive seen the string, covered in a small piece of heatshrink and then this was located at the low point of the nut.

    All of them had worked fine for the owners prior to bringing the instrument in for repair.

    If you are cutting a nut yourself or looking for a string height, most people on this forum so far advocate a business card thickness, this is unusual for me, I measured a local business card and it is 0.013" thick, to me thats pretty close, if its tight under your strings then your nut is too low.

    I always start when I cut a nut at 0.040" under string clearance, I listen to how the player hits the strings and then tweak it down from there.

    Theres other factors which will influence how the string feels under your fingers or vibrates in the open position, and these range from fingerboard shape (bowed) to bridge height to your playing style etc.

    Hope this helps

  12. Do you happen to keep a little clip-on tuner on your bass? I once had a buzz on A and Ab for two months before I realized that I was leaning my tuner over so that it just barely contacted the wood, making that buzz. Felt like a dumb ass when I realized what it was, but that's all there was to it.
  13. kreider204


    Nov 29, 2008
    No, nothing like that. However, coincidentally I noticed a buzz on my fretless the other day just at a couple of pitches. It was driving me crazy. Then I realized the battery (active bass) was lose in the compartment and vibrating against the battery cover. :)
  14. Cody Sisk

    Cody Sisk

    Jan 26, 2009
    Lilburn, GA
    Ronald Sachs Violins
    +1 :)
  15. Eric Rene Roy

    Eric Rene Roy

    Mar 19, 2002
    Mystic, CT
    President: Upton Bass String Instrument Co.
    Everything might be technically fine with the bass' setup, it might be a wolf on the g. Try changing the string if you have a different one around and go see a luthier.

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