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Sudden E string buzzing

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by Davo737, Jan 30, 2003.


  1. Davo737

    Davo737

    Feb 29, 2000
    Syracuse, NY
    I recently picked up a moses/warmoth jazz bass, and all of a sudden, there is an unbelievable amount of buzzing all up and down the e string - every fret (and only the e string). i checked the set-up, took measurements, and everything seems as it should be - all 4 strings are set up exactly the same. Any suggestions?

    Thanks for the help.

    Regards,
    Dave
     
  2. Have you tried changing your E string? Try changing all the strings?

    Always helps to eliminate some of the more simplistic ideas...

    :D:D

    Merls
     
  3. Davo737

    Davo737

    Feb 29, 2000
    Syracuse, NY
    actually, i forgot to mention this, it happend right after changing strings. the new a through g strings were fine, but the e was buzzing on every single fret. so, i put the old e string back on, and the problem didn't go away. the nut is cut very low on this particular bass, and the buzzing seems to be coming from first or second fret. i put a piece of a match rather shoddily under the string at the nut to raise it a bit and see that did anything, but it didn't. maybe something more permanent to raise the nut would be the answer? although, that still doesn't explain why it just started doing it. i'll go back again and re-do the whole set-up from the beginning. maybe i was on crack when i checked the neck relief or something...

    regards,
    davo
     
  4. Check your action and check how the strings slope from left to right. It should be a slight arc with the E more level with the A strings as the E is thicker.

    Check the height of the E too.

    Maybe try putting some packing in the nut slot. Perhaps some paper etc. Try to get the string on the tuning peg pushing the other winds up to the top to give a nice tight angle over the nut.

    :D:D

    Merls
     
  5. pkr2

    pkr2

    Apr 28, 2000
    coastal N.C.
    Davo, I would just go ahead and increase the relief a bit(loosen TR nut) and see if that helps the prob.

    You obviously are familiar enough with setup to return to the original relief if it doesn't help.

    The only thing that normally makes a string buzz at all the frets is a back bow in the neck. The heaviest string is usually the first to start buzzing as one reduces the relief in a neck.

    If the bass was set up with a very low action originally and you changed to a lower tension set of strings, that may have caused some loss of relief. Maybe even enough for the neck to go dead straight or slightly back bowed.

    This probably doesn't apply to you but tuning lower than standard pitch could aggravate a back bow prob. Just be sure that you're tuned up to standard pitch.

    There is even the possibility that the neck may have settled in enough since the string change that the prob may be better when you try the bass again. Not very likely, but maybe. :)

    Anyway, good luck and please let us know what finally resolves the prob.

    Pkr2
     
  6. Davo737

    Davo737

    Feb 29, 2000
    Syracuse, NY
    Thanks everyone for the replies. The first thing I did was re-string to make sure there was a strong angle at the nut to the peg. And yes, I did switch to lower tension strings - much lower, in fact (GHI Boomers were on it when I got it, and I put TIs on). Given that its a graphite neck, I wouldn't think it would have moved that much, but anything is possible. I'll give that a whirl and see where it takes me. I also compared the nut to my other basses, and its definitely much lower, with slots that are much shallower. So, if altering the relief doesn't work out, it may be time for a new nut. Thanks again.

    Lates,
    Davo
     
  7. pkr2

    pkr2

    Apr 28, 2000
    coastal N.C.
    Sounds as if you're gaining on the prob, Davo.

    You might want to keep in mind that the nut can only cause buzzing on open strings.

    The fact that all the frets on the E string buzz is a good indicator that a nut problem is not causing the buzzing.

    Increasing the relief stands at least a 90% chance of fixing the prob.

    Even graphite has some flexibility so your prob is not unusual.

    Pkr2
     
  8. Davo737

    Davo737

    Feb 29, 2000
    Syracuse, NY
    Well, I increased the relief, and no change. Actually, the E string still buzzes up and down, and now the other strings buzz above the 12th fret.

    I now have no clue where to go from here - the string height at the 12th fret is 5/32, and it sounds as though the strings are just lying on the frets. I guess the place to go now is to the local tech :meh:
     
  9. Well try tightening the truss rod and get the bass back to the way it was.

    Did you check the action from left to right. Try raising just the E string a little.

    Try fretting the first fret on the E and then with your picking hand rest your elbow at the end of the neck and tap the string about halfway up. This makes the string dead straight. How high is the E off the board? You should be able to slide a credit card or a guitar pick under it.

    for more info go to www.garywillis.com

    :D:D

    Merls
     
  10. pkr2

    pkr2

    Apr 28, 2000
    coastal N.C.
    I don't mean to come off as a smart **, but which way are you turning the truss nut to increase the relief?

    Pkr2
     
  11. Davo737

    Davo737

    Feb 29, 2000
    Syracuse, NY
    No offense taken. I'm turning it counterclockwise. As far as measuring the relief, that's one of the reasons I was confused from the start. Before adjusting the relief, there was a little more than a credit card's thickness (I couldn't slide a credit card in and have it be held there). After adjusting, there's at least 2 and a half credit cards thickness.

    Thanks again for the help and ideas.

    Lates,
    Dave
     
  12. pkr2

    pkr2

    Apr 28, 2000
    coastal N.C.
    2 1/2 credit cards should be enough relief to elimenate the truss rod ajustment as the cause of your prob, Davo.

    Use several business cards or playing cards stacked to determine clearances. Make all the measurements on the E string. Make SURE that the tuning is at standard pitch to make the measurements.


    With the bass fretted in the fifth position (5 fret), how much string clearance do you have at the end of the fingerboard?

    With the bass unfretted, How much clearance do you have at fret1, fret6 fret12 and finally the last fret.

    To make the measurements, insert the cards one at a time untill the cards will barely fit between the string and the fret.


    This is about the time that a lot of people start turning and adjusting everything hoping to make the problem go away. RESIST THAT TEMPTATION!

    There is a logical reason why your bass is buzzing and if you'll be patient the reason will rear its ugly head eventually. :)

    Pkr2
     
  13. Davo737

    Davo737

    Feb 29, 2000
    Syracuse, NY
    Ok - I re-adjusted the relief to where it was from the start, and let it sit for a couple of days. Actually, I made it a bit straighter than it was before and raised the bridge saddles. The action was a bit high when I got the bass, and the bridge saddles were nearly bottomed out, which made me think there may have been too much relief from the start. (Why I didn't make that observation in the first place, I've got no clue [smacks myself in the head]) After all that, I'm still only getting buzzing on the E string (3rd fret and up) - the other 3 are buzz-free the entire lenght of the neck.

    Now, fretting the E string in the 5th position, I can slide 8 playing cards at the last fret. Unfretted, I can slide 2 cards at the 1st fret, 7 cards at the 6th, 9 cards at the 12th, and 10 cards at the last fret.

    And the saga continues...
     
  14. pkr2

    pkr2

    Apr 28, 2000
    coastal N.C.
    Davo, The measurements on the E string indicate that you have enough clearance for the string to work just fine.

    Are you absolutely sure that what you are hearing is actually fret buzz? It's not uncommon to have something vibrating that can sound very much like fret buzz.

    Does the buzz come through the amp? check carefully, this is important in diagnosing buzz probs.

    You might try touching every part of the bass while picking the E string. Listen for the buzz to either go away or change its sound when you touch the offending part.

    Check in particular the tuning keys, pup covers, springs and screws on the intonation adjusters on the bridge, control knobs and the cavity covers.

    Do you still have the new string on it or the old one?

    Pkr2
     
  15. Davo737

    Davo737

    Feb 29, 2000
    Syracuse, NY
    Pkr2, I have the new string on it. The buzzing seems to be coming from somewhere above the 5th fret, and sometimes comes through the amp. If I play light enough, it doesn't, but I literally have to play about twice as light as I do on the other strings for it not to buzz.

    I'll go over it holding various parts and let you know what I find. Thanks again for all of your help.

    Lates,
    dave
     
  16. pkr2

    pkr2

    Apr 28, 2000
    coastal N.C.
    You are welcome, Dave.

    Another little trick that may or may not be of some help: Use the cardboard tube from a roll of paper towels as a stethoscope. Put the end of the tube to your ear and hold the other end very close to the tuning keys, up and down the neck etc. as you play the note(s) that cause the buzzing.

    Pkr2
     
  17. Davo737

    Davo737

    Feb 29, 2000
    Syracuse, NY
    Hmmmm.....don't seem to be having any luck. I was re-reading the previous posts, and realized that I made a typo. I meant to say that the buzzing seemed to be coming from below the 5th fret (1st 5 frets), not above it. Anyway, I'm certain its not caused by any of the hardware or tuners. I even tried using a cardboard tube, and all I'm able to determine is that whatever fret I play, the buzzing is coming from below it. But, I can't narrow it down to one spot; its a rather 'nebulous' buzzing.

    :meh:
     
  18. pkr2

    pkr2

    Apr 28, 2000
    coastal N.C.
    Is the buzz buzz coming from fret 1 thru fret 5? When you say "above" fret 5 it puts some doubt in my mind that we're still on the same page. If fret 1 thru 5 are buzzing the TR nut is still a little too tight.

    Turn the TR nut COUNTERCLOCKWISE 1/4 turn and give it a little while to settle. Pay close attention to whether the problem gets better after you make the adjustment. If the prob gets better but doesn't go away completely, turn the nut an additional 1/4 turn.

    The idea is to only turn the TR nut just enough to clear up the buzz but very little more.

    Be patient. You'll get it eventually. Until then, just look how much you're learning about what doesn't work. :) :)

    Pkr2
     
  19. Davo737

    Davo737

    Feb 29, 2000
    Syracuse, NY
    Sorry about that, I re-read my last post, and it wasn't the clearest post ever. The buzzing occurs when I play from the 4th fret and on. The buzzing seems to be coming from below whatever fret I'm playing. For example, when I play the 7th fret, it sounds like the buzzing is coming from around the 5th fret. When I play the 9th fret, it sounds as if the buzzing is coming from the 7th fret, etc. I hope that helps to clear things up a bit.

    regards,
    dave
     
  20. pkr2

    pkr2

    Apr 28, 2000
    coastal N.C.
    Dave, are you saying that the buzz is coming from between the fretted notes and the nut?

    Are you saying that there is no buzz on the first three frets or the open string?

    If the answer to the above two questions is yes, you have an EXTREMELY oddball problem.

    The problem is this: there are no setup adjustments for a string that buzzes on the frets Between the nut and the fretted note. Those notes are completely neutral so far as setup is concerned.

    I'm wondering if you might have a truss rod rattling in the neck. I would also suggest that you make certain that you don't have a hardware rattle which can really fool you. I know, I've had it happen to me more than once.

    At this point all I can say is that we gave it our best shot but it looks like it's time for it to go to the doctor. I would really love to know what the problem ends up being but without actually having the bass in front of me I can think of nothing to suggest.

    Hambone, I'm sure you've been tracking this thread, can you think of anything that I'm overlooking?

    Pkr2