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Simple Fret-buzz Question

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by HCEarwicker, Oct 13, 2013.


  1. HCEarwicker

    HCEarwicker

    Aug 30, 2013
    London UK
    The 10th fret on the A string buzzes. Otherwise the bass is buzz-free. The buzzing stops when the A string is depressed at the 9th fret at the same time as the 10th. Action, intonation and relief are all just fine. What's going on? How's it fixed? Thanks.
     
  2. Zooberwerx

    Zooberwerx Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2002
    Virginia Beach, VA
    How much relief are we looking at? Appears as if you have some back-buzz going on. Try this: remove the string from the nut slot, stick in a small slug of aluminum foil, replace the A string and tune to pitch. Is the buzz gone? If so, we're on the right track and will proceed from there.

    Riis
     
  3. HCEarwicker

    HCEarwicker

    Aug 30, 2013
    London UK
    Relief: very little. I like the neck almost flat and that's how it is right now.

    In fact, I've had a folded cigarette paper in the A nut slot for some weeks - to stop the open A buzzing.

    I've just swapped the paper for foil, filling the slot a little more and yes, buzz is gone from the fret. So thanks!

    Hope so! I realise that an adjustment here usually means a compensating adjustment there... I have to warn you: I don't have feeler gauges or suchlike fancy gadgets ;)

    BTW - We're talking about a short scale (31") bass. In case that matters.
     
  4. Zooberwerx

    Zooberwerx Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2002
    Virginia Beach, VA
    Hey, great minds think alike! You can snag an inexpensive set of feeler gauges at any auto supply mart for $4...pounds, quid, whatever. The gap between the 1st fret and string should be .003-.005" while fretting at the 3rd.

    Also, A strings are notorious for buzz issues by virtue of design. Just make sure you have a cleanly cut slot, adequate break angle, and the string itself is wound to the bottom of the tuner post. A retainer sometimes helps.

    The tips apply to any scale when it comes to a basic set-up.

    Edit: you may want consider adding a bit of relief, maybe .012-.014. I know you like a flat neck but they are frequently problematic for a myriad of reasons.

    Riis
     
  5. HCEarwicker

    HCEarwicker

    Aug 30, 2013
    London UK
    I've googled, and yes - just 4 of our English pounds will buy a 16 blade metric and imperial feeler gauge. I'll start saving right away!

    Thanks again, Zooberwerx.
     
  6. Zooberwerx

    Zooberwerx Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2002
    Virginia Beach, VA
    Mine has 25 blades and cost just south of $5...or approximately one McDonald's Happy Meal. Best wishes with the project...keep us up-to-date.

    Riis
     
  7. If you have pawn shops locally, you just might find some feeler gauges there...cheap. But they're already pretty cheap.
     
  8. HCEarwicker

    HCEarwicker

    Aug 30, 2013
    London UK
    Thanks for the suggestion, Pilgrim. That's a good idea.

    Truth be told, I am poor. But not THAT poor. I could splash out on a feeler gauge and survive. There again - google informs me that a regular piece of note paper will be .003-.005" thick. And I already got some o that!

    I can get pretty anal/OCD about stuff. If I had a feeler gauge I'd very likely discover all sorts of hitherto hidden imperfections in my set-up to stress over. I got by for four decades knowing bugger all about the mechanical and electrical aspects of rock n roll, just using my ears and a bit of common sense. Not saying that's the way to be; I'm enjoying finally learning how and why my bass does or doesn't work, But I gotta be careful...

    ...Feeler gauge/Happy Meal??? :meh: ;)
     
  9. HCEarwicker

    HCEarwicker

    Aug 30, 2013
    London UK
    Update: Zooberwerx was clearly right about the back buzz, and the solution. So I did the same to the E nut slot; I'd accidentally discovered that letting the open G and D strings ring at the same time as fretting the E around the 7th/8th frets (who'd want to do that?!) caused buzzing. The nut shims have stopped that. I've lowered the A and E a tad at the bridge and my DeArmond/Guild Starfire is once more a delight to play.

    I'm bearing in mind that the truss rod may need a tweak; following a pretty hot summer, winter approaches in the U of K!
     
  10. Zooberwerx

    Zooberwerx Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2002
    Virginia Beach, VA
    Set of feeler gauges is ~$4 as is the kid's meal (aka "Happy Meal") at out local fast food joints, McDonalds. Kinda adds a new perspective on value IMO. For that fact, I think all transactions should be referenced as such...but let's round it up to $5 to keep thing simple. Used SansAmp RPM $200 = 40 Happy Meals. This could go head-to-head with the Euro in the world of global finance.

    Riis
     
  11. Turnaround

    Turnaround Commercial User

    May 6, 2004
    Toronto Canada
    Independent Instrument Technician, and Contractor to Club Bass and Guitar - Toronto
    Let the little guy starve - I need some feeler gauges!
     
  12. Zooberwerx

    Zooberwerx Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2002
    Virginia Beach, VA
    They rarely eat the durn things (Happy Meals, not feeler gauges); they just want the stupid Lego sets that come with the deal. You parents know what I'm talkin' about.

    Riis
     
  13. HCEarwicker

    HCEarwicker

    Aug 30, 2013
    London UK
    YOU have McDonalds TOO!!??

    :p
     
  14. HCEarwicker

    HCEarwicker

    Aug 30, 2013
    London UK
    Update.

    A couple of weeks ago I took my bass into Bass Gallery Camden for a rewiring (from 'independent volume' to 'standard Les Paul' - DA Starfire lovers, get it done!). While the bass was being looked over by Martin Peterson my make-shift paper and foil nut shims ended up on the floor. After I got the bass home I decided to re-check and re-tweak the action before playing with the nut again...

    Martin had said I had 'quite a lot' of relief (more than he's used to, I guess) so I tightened the truss rod over a couple of days, and lowered the action at the bridge (saddles close to maxed-out now but OK). With this lower action and straighter neck I'm surprised to find the back-buzz is gone; the A string rattle likewise. All of which is contrary to expectations/the rule book, no?

    So I'm thinking 1) the wood's moved as winter approaches, and 2) it's a mysterious universe. Any other explanantions?
     

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