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Strings are buzzing

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by spectorbass83, Oct 20, 2005.

  1. spectorbass83


    Jun 6, 2005
    My strings start to buzz when I play anything above the 9th fret. Will a neck adjustment and saddle adjustment solve this? I play a mid 90's Spector European Series 5-string neck-thru.
  2. DGbass70


    Jun 1, 2005
    Rochester N.Y.
    most likely..............i would just bring it to your local luthier or repair guy(music store) most of the time is less than$60.00
    for a setup.good luck :bassist:
  3. Ouch! Although this really isn't bad advice, it's costly, considering that small adjustments are gonna be needed fairly regularly. I think it's best to learn to do it yourself, unless you're lucky enough to have a setup guy that can know just what YOU want.

    spectorbass83: Start by reading some of the setup FAQs at the top of this page. It's hard to just give you advice until we know more about how the bass's action is setup.
    For instance: Is the action set really low? Does it feel good at the lower frets, but really high at the higher frets?
    Have YOU made any adjustments to this bass?
    Is the buzz on ALL strings, or just one or two?
    Does the buzz get worse as you go higher than the 9th frets?
    Is this a newer bass, or if not, does it have much fret wear?

    Most times when you start getting buzz at the higher frets, the truss rod needs to be tightened a bit, but I don't want to get into telling you how to do this until you've read the FAQs and understand how neck relief and trusses work.

  4. BurningSkies

    BurningSkies CRAZY BALDHEAD

    Feb 20, 2005
    Seweracuse, NY
    Yes do check your neck relief. I have a feeling you may find it needs a bit of adjusting. Read up on checking neck relief, and also as with any trussrod adjustment, go slowly while turning the truss rod in either direction (don't force it) and It's best to adjust in small increments and then re-check (1/8th of a turn at a time until it looks good).

    Once your neck relief looks good, then check the 'action' and adjust saddles to taste. Again, go slowly and take notes along the way in case you want to put things back.

    Keep in mind that with a change in string height and action, you might need to adjust your intonation.

    If you're uncomfortable doing any of these steps or are afraid to try them, seek someone who can do it...that you can learn from too! It took me many years to sus out how to do these things with confidence...and its really easy once you do learn!
  5. spectorbass83


    Jun 6, 2005
    The action feels good at the lower frets but it seems to be high as you go up the neck. I have not made any adjustments to the bass personally. I did take it in to a music store for a neck adjustment over a year ago when I first got it.

    The buzz is on all 5 strings, but it is worse on the A & E string.

    The buzzing does get worse as you go higher on the neck past the 9th fret. I notice it gets VERY noticable on the 12th fret.

    As stated in my 1st post - the bass is a mid 90's Spector European-series, so no it is not a newer bass. Of course there is some fret wear, but not to a big extent at all.

    I will take a look at the FAQ's and go from there. I appreciate your help and everyone else's :cool:
  6. You're welcome. It does sound to me like you need a neck/truss adjustment. Learning how to be comfortable doing this is probably the hardest part when you're first learning how.
    The Gary Willis setup site is a great place to start. It will show you how necks need a small amount of forward bow (relief) so that the strings can vibrate properly across the neck.
    Adjusting the truss, saddle height, intonation, and pickups is something that will have to be done from time to time. It's good to know how to do this yourself. Keeps your bass playing better, and saves a chunk of money.
    A few points to keep in mind, ok?
    1. Never tighten a truss rod without loosening all the tension on the strings. I usually loosen strings even when I'm loosening the truss rod.
    2. Personally, I never tighten a truss more than 1/4 turn at a time, unless I'm working on bass where I can clearly see that it will require more. Usually no more than 1/2 turn per day. If , for any reason, the truss nut does not want to turn with only moderate force, stop! There could be a problem that you could make worse by forcing things.
    Remember, that neck is made of wood. It will flex and bend, it contracts when cold and/or dry, expands when it is warm and/or moist, and it doesn't want to be pulled too far one way or another too quickly.
    3. When changing strings, it's better to change them one at a time if possible. If you're like me, you like to pull them all off and give the bass a good cleaning, but when you do that, remember that the truss doesn't have the string tension on it anymore, and it's actually pulling backwards. When you get the new strings on and get them tuned up, it will still take a bit of time before the neck pulls back into position. Your action might feel too low at first, but after 30 minutes or so will usually start feeling closer to the way it was before.
    4. Usually, you'll have to make a saddle height adjustment after you adjust the truss. Once you get the relief set right, you usually won't have to adjust saddle heights very often. You'll quickly be able to see that it's the relief that needs adjusting.
    5. If you find yourself experimenting with different tunings, you'll find that your action changes alot, especially if you have the action set low. Remember that any change in string tension changes the amount of pull on the neck, which would require loosening or tightening of the truss to compensate for it.
    6. Keep in mind that even though tightening the truss will usually bring the string height down for those higher frets, it's not actually designed for this. It's for setting the bow/relief in the neck. I've found a few basses that required a shim in the neck pocket to compensate for string height at higher frets.

    Good luck, and if you have any more questions, feel free to ask..

  7. DaRK_CaRNiVaL


    Sep 13, 2005

    I have a similar problem with my Squier P-bass (in terms of the mega fret buzzzz), but this is post-setup (from the shop I got it from)..

    All 4 strings are buzzing especially below the 9th fret, I thought it was just because I am new to playing bass so I still need to learn some technique but it seems the case whatever way I play.

    Are my strings too low? I did get them lowered by the shop so that may be the problem.. I took some very quick measurements and the height of the E string is 4mm basically along the whole neck..if that gives you a rough idea of the string height.

    What do you think??
  8. dwm612

    dwm612 Guest

    Nov 2, 2005
    Olney, Maryland
    Dark Carnival - Where is your finger placement on the fret and are you positive your strings are 4mm away from the neck from the first fret to your last fret?? And when you say below the 9th fret, are you referring to frets 1 to 9 or 9 to 21/22??

    The correct finger placement on the frets is having the edge of your finger aligned flush with the lower fret wire... If your pressing too light that can cause buzzing, I had that problem when I first started but my hands and fingers got stronger over time and it isn't an issue now... I might be able to help you a bit more if you fill me in on the questions above.
  9. pkr2


    Apr 28, 2000
    coastal N.C.
    Guys, I certainly don't want anyone to think that I'm disputing thier word here but fret buzzes on the bridge end of the neck indicate a need for saddle adjustment, not TR adjustment.
    The Gary Willis site is a great site but it comes up a little short when it comes to diagnosing problems.

    The rule of thumb is that buzzes on the nut end of the neck indicate a TR adjustment while buzzes at the bridge end of the neck indicate saddle heigth adjustment. Buzzes in the middle of the neck but ok on eiother end indicate a fret prob, either worn frets or high frets. unlikely but possible, a bad string, especially if the prob is on only one string. If the action is still too high even with the proper relief and the saddles bottomed out indicate a neck tilt adjustment is in order.

    My advice is to go ahead and raise the saddle heigth untill the buzz just disappears. Count the turns that are made on the adjusting screws so you can go back to yard one if needed.

    I agree with Mag 100%. Over the life of your playing career you'll save a wad of money by doing your own setup, not to mention that your bass will always be playing at its very best.
    Multiply each time that your bass needs a minor adjustment by $60.00 and you'll get an idea of the money that can be saved.

    Worst case scenario (short of causing damage) is that you'll have to spring for a shop setup if you fail to get the results that you want.

    Believe me when I say that anyone that can learn a scale is capable of learning enough about setup to do routine adjustments to thier bass. Like a lot of other things, it sounds a lot more complicated than it really is.

    I also agree with Mag that to say "just take it to a repairman" is not bad advice but it is sort of counter productive to the purpose of this forum. After all, every question that has ever been asked here could be answered with that one stock reply.

    Sorry for the long post :)
  10. dwm612

    dwm612 Guest

    Nov 2, 2005
    Olney, Maryland
    Amen pkr2!

    In my opinion, there's only one area in the set-up adjustments catagory that could do some serious harm to your bass and that would be the truss rod... Saddles are pretty much harmless and don't stab your pickups with a screwdriver and set-up away... Like pkr2 said, knowing how to set-up your bass can save you a lot of money and will allow you to get the exact sound YOU want. Do your research and be gentle, plain and simple...
  11. DaRK_CaRNiVaL


    Sep 13, 2005
    Thanks for the replies..

    Hope this helps with the diagnosing:
    My finger placement is not exactly in the middle of the fret but closer to the pick up end (gotta learn all the right terms I know) rather than the head end. When I start playing with a pick, and even slightly attack the strings it doesnt matter where I put my finger or how hard I press it buzzes.

    Below the 9th fret for me meant 9-22, and I tried to do that measurement where you measure the bow of your neck..the relief I think it is is about 3mm (would have to measure it properly) from the fretboard to the string (D string).
  12. pkr2


    Apr 28, 2000
    coastal N.C.
    A buzz on the bridge end of the neck is normally the bridge saddles too low.

    A quick check without having to adjust anything: loose the G string (or any other string) untill you can lift the saddle roller enough to slip a couple or three thicknesses of matchbook cover between the base of the bridge and the saddle roller.Tune the string back up. If the buzz is gone or noticelably improved you will have proven that the saddle(s) are in need of raising.
  13. DaRK_CaRNiVaL


    Sep 13, 2005
    Hey pkr2,

    I managed to jam a peg (its all I could find) under both the G and the E (because that one usually buzzes the most) and then re-tuned it and there was basically no buzz whatsoever. I put the peg basically where the P/U's were and it lifted the strings a little bit, it looks like my saddles are too low.

    Now I just need to find a good guide to change the height I guess :cool:

    Thanks for the help
  14. DaRK_CaRNiVaL


    Sep 13, 2005
    I have adjusted my action so it is a fair bit higher now, it has somewhat stopped the buzzing even with a pick, im sure the rest is technique.. Now its just a matter of getting used to the higher strings..

    Would a TR adjustment be in order with my 3mm or so relief?
  15. pkr2


    Apr 28, 2000
    coastal N.C.
    Your strings very likely wont be too high after the saddles are adjusted properly. Go to the Gary Willis site that is stickied at the top and read the part about adjusting the saddle heigth until you are sure that you understand exactly what he is saying. If you have a problem understanding it after you've read it a couple or three times, come back to the thread and someone will help you out.

    You will need the right size allen wrench to adjust the set screws in the saddles. You can get an assortment at the hardware store for just a few bucks. You can probably get just the one wrench at most music stores but you'll pay more for it. Besides which, you may need to make a truss rod adjustment and you'll already have the proper wrench if you just go ahead and get the set. Carry your bass with you so you're sure to get the right size.

    I wouldn't worry much about the truss rod at this point. We can determine if you need to adjust it after you get the bridge sorted out.Chances are that it's ok. Use the right tools and take your time and you should be good to go.

    Remember to raise the saddles just untill the buzz goes away. Any extra will only make the action higher than it needs to be.

    At this point you want to avoid messing with the screws with the springs on them at the back of the bridge . Those are VERY critical adjustments and you don't want to adjust those unless the intonation is out.

    Spectorbass, I apologize for shainghiing your thread but all of this applies to your prob as well.
  16. DaRK_CaRNiVaL


    Sep 13, 2005
    Thanks pkr2, I managed to fix the fret buzz almost completely by lifting the strings (the rest is technique) so that should keep me contented for a while untill I find something else that needs fixing.
  17. pkr2


    Apr 28, 2000
    coastal N.C.
    y w. :)