Slight Buzz on my Rickenbacker

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by Ramiro Moran, Jul 10, 2022.

  1. Ramiro Moran

    Ramiro Moran

    Jul 9, 2022
    So I recently took my Rickenbacker 4003 to my local luthier to have the action very slightly lowered and he filed the nuts slots a tad and messed with the bridge. I put new strings on it as well but started getting this odd open string buzzing. It’s very slight but it’s definitely concerning me. I’m not sure whether the Luthier lowered the nut slots too much or it’s just these new strings being extra zingy. I’d rather not take my Rick back to the guy just cause I don’t really trust him but let me know what you think I should do.
    Here’s a link to the sound I am talking about:
  2. iiipopes

    iiipopes Supporting Member

    May 4, 2009
    Oh, Damn! He set it up like a Fender and probably screwed you. You need to download the manual off the Rickenbacker web site. Yes, you will have to take the bass to a competent luthier who has proper experience with Rickenbacker instruments, have a new nut installed, have another set up according to recommended Rickenbacker specs, (and if you have a heavier technique, probably loosen the E string side truss rod a quarter turn from "approaching flat" as set forth in the manual for more string excursion without fret clank), and then subscribe to to get the combined experience of many dedicated members, including myself, with combined centuries (plural) of experience to advise you to get it into gigging shape. I say that as I own a 4002 (yes, "2," not "1" or "3") from 1981, purchased in the early 90's, and lucky to have a Rickenbacker aware luthier who has kept it up and playable for decades, as well as three decades of self-education to make sure I take care of it properly.
  3. Ramiro Moran

    Ramiro Moran

    Jul 9, 2022
    Thank you for making me feel like i’m not crazy. I took it to another luthier yesterday and they said it played fine and their was nothing wrong with the nut but I knee they were wrong. Do you think filling the nut would work? Id rather not get a new nut
  4. If you’re getting buzzing on the open strings the nut slots are probably too low. You could check by putting a small piece of paper in the slots that are buzzing. The slots could be raised by partially filling with baking soda or bone dust and CA glue then filing them to the correct depth. The right, right way to do it would be a new nut though.

    Also, you’re not crazy. The best setup, or some factors of it, are going to be different for each player. Ideally, whoever did the setup should have worked with you and had you play it a bit to make sure you were happy with it.
  5. Anthony Buckeridge

    Anthony Buckeridge

    Nov 15, 2014
    Hello Ramiro, to me, this is a good case to illustrate one of my core beliefs regarding instrument set up.

    Typically, manufacturers give precise measurements for ideally setting up the action of their instruments, and most people are guided by those.

    I believe that before attempting to set up any guitar type of stringed instrument, it is wisest for a Luthier to watch and listen to the owner perform for a bit in front of them on their instrument, in their workshop.

    The time that this takes, is well rewarded by virtue of the clues and information it provides to the Luthier regarding the playing styles, rate and pressure of attack, weight of pick if used; or contra wise, gentleness and lightness of touch of the player concerned.

    Usually, such matters mentioned above relate to the experience and talent of the individual player. However, we are all different in that regard and so as I stated, I strongly believe that it is best practise for a Luthier to be acutely aware of how a player will approach the playing of their instrument.

    This is especially important when the player specifically approaches the Luthier with the intent of having them adjust their instrument to provide the lowest possible action. Different players with different playing styles will only be able to utilise a certain action before the onset of buzz, because their singular playing style tends to induce and be productive of such artifacts.

    The player themselves are a direct active limitation regarding the implementation of ideally low action settings.

    This is not the immediate usual line of thought or personal point of view of players.

    Other players with a different touch will be able to have their action set lower without any such unwanted effects.

    Lest you be tempted to imagine it, that is not a critique of your playing attack or anyone else’s. As the players attack may well be an essential element of the type of sound they aspire to achieve, as various elements act together to produce a required sound.

    The salient point to reflect upon here, is not so much the rights or wrongs or particularities of anyone’s playing style. Rather, that it is essential for a Luthier who is required to provide the lowest possible action, to be fully aware of how the owner will typically perform on that instrument.

    How low an instruments action can be lowered successfully, is therefore specifically dependent upon the individual player themselves. They are a clear and present factor of limitation regarding the level of action that can be successfully provided, before the onset of buzzing.

    This is not something that I hear or read spoken of much, yet seems to me to be a matter of pure common sense, which is why I have written at length in regard to it.

    Good Luthiers often produce good set ups with or without the player ever being present. However, as players can vary so much in their playing styles and weight of attack, observing that at first hand is a great safety net that can avoid the problem you describe, but often at the cost of a slightly higher action that could be successfully achieved, if the players touch and attack differed.

    The bottom line here for you is probably you will need a new nut cut to accommodate your weight of pick attack and eliminate buzzing and / or adjustment elsewhere at the bridge and possibly the truss rod etc. Though that should have been set properly as a first order of business. A combination of very slight adjustments might fix it.

    Or indeed, you might find that if you evolved and further developed you’re playing style, specifically your weight of attack digging in, particularly with a heavy pick. You may find that the action your Luthier has provided, works perfectly without inducing any buzzing whatever, to your great surprise and delight. Its good to be optimistic and try.

    Listening to your movie, my impression was that the outer strings rang reasonably clear with the A and D that sit on the crest of the fretboard’s 10” curvature buzzing.

    I would start by raising the individual saddles of the bridge for those strings, very slightly and see if that cures the problem as a first move, but note what adjustments were made.

    In case you want you put them back to where they were and have a new nut installed.

    Which is probably the definitively ideal solution.
    iiipopes likes this.
  6. iiipopes

    iiipopes Supporting Member

    May 4, 2009
    Filing the nut will make it worse. You not only need the correct depth, width, and contour to nut slots, but the slope back to the tuners is critical since there is very little down angle back to the tuners compared to other basses.
  7. Ramiro Moran

    Ramiro Moran

    Jul 9, 2022
    Wow thank you for the amazing response. It really opened my eyes to the connection a person makes with their instrument and how they’re sound differs from others depending on soley their feel. Do you think filling the nut slots with repair powder and CA super glue would solve this or should I just replace the nut? I don’t know any luthiers near me that I feel comfortable installing the nut.
  8. Turnaround

    Turnaround Commercial User

    May 6, 2004
    Toronto Canada
    Independent Instrument Technician
    I heartily agree with wat is expressed here. As an example, one of my clients who is highly regarded internationally plays absolutely cleanly with super low action. I have a light touch and very good technique bit I cannot play his bass cleanly. His setup is unique to him.

  9. Same thing happened to me. One of the busy, well known players where we used to live had a bass for sale in one of the local shops. He always sounded great on it but as light as I could possibly play, back then anyway, and it was still a buzzy mess for me. A Fender Roscoe Beck 5 string if I remember correctly.
  10. iiipopes

    iiipopes Supporting Member

    May 4, 2009
    Yes. When I help a player with a setup, I make sure to see how he plays live, not just at the workbench.
  11. cataract

    cataract Supporting Member

    Feb 14, 2007
    Columbia SC
    But ain’t the buzz the 4003’s best feature (along with the clank?) :bassist:
  12. Gilmourisgod


    Jun 23, 2014
    Cape Cod MA
    Unlike most bass builders, Rickenbacker provides NO recommended setup specs, and typically ships new basses with a very high nut, expecting the customer to have it cut to "user preference", as if some people " prefer" a super high nut. The nuts are entirely unfinished on the newer basses, I think they are just dropping rough blanks in and calling it good. The bakelite nuts they use are actually a nice material once dressed and polished, or if you want to try a brass nut for bling, Axemasters sells a nice pre-cut one on Ebay.
  13. 96tbird

    96tbird PLEASE STAND BY

    Let’s ask Chris Squire.
    cataract likes this.
  14. Gilmourisgod


    Jun 23, 2014
    Cape Cod MA
    I love that one, particularly the A string ringing a little in the background as he hammers away. The fret buzz a huge part of his tone.
  15. Gilmourisgod


    Jun 23, 2014
    Cape Cod MA
    I love that one, particularly the A string ringing a little in the background as he hammers away. The fret buzz a huge part of his tone.

    JEDI BASS Supporting Member

    Jan 26, 2008
    Knoxville, TN
    Am I the only one that thinks the OP’s Ric sounds fine? I mean, as pointed out above, string buzz (really bad string buzz) is in some, if not the majority, of the most iconic recorded basslines. Geddy buzzed like a jar of angry hornets, on all his basses, not just the Rics.

    Personally, I would play the bass with my band and see how I like having the buzz available. If you don’t want the buzz, play lighter, then bring that snarl in when you want it.
    MdC64 likes this.
  17. Ramiro Moran

    Ramiro Moran

    Jul 9, 2022
    Thank you everybody for the
    Thank you everybody for the responses! I guess I was just overthinking it a tad haha. Love this bass so much. Plays like a dream :)