Things that make bass buzz.

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by Martin Sheridan, Aug 1, 2003.

  1. Martin Sheridan

    Martin Sheridan

    Jan 4, 2001
    Fort Madison, Iowa
    Bass Maker
    "And from things that make bass buzz in the night, oh Lord deliver us" (slight variation on old Celtic prayer).
    I'm sure this has been handled to some extent before, but there is nothing more vexing to both luthier and player alike than a buzz or rattle in the bass. A few years ago my apprentice asked me to make a list. I got to about 24 before I stopped. What made me think of this now was that we've had two instruments in the shop lately with hard to find buzzes, and one of them for a reason that was completely new to me.
    Ok, ready? I'll start and you can join in along the way.
    Starting at the scroll:
    1. A string is protruding too far through the peg shaft.
    2. A string is touching another string.
    3. A capo or gate on an extension is loose.
    4. Something is loose on one of the gears.
    5. A string isn't going over the nut groove properly.
    6. Fingerboard is partly unglued.
    7. String is buzzing on the fingerboard.
    8. Open seam.
    9. Loose cleat.
    10. Bass bar has come unglued at one end or another.
    11. Cleat doesn't fit properly
    Ok, I'm going for a cup of coffee. Bob, Arnold, Nick, Jeff? Players? Step on up and continue.
  2. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    Shouldn't No.1 be :

    "The way it is played" !!

  3. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    IMO, the #1 thing that makes a bass buzz is when the A0 doesn't propoerly match the B0. I've heard that you can rinse (not sOAk) the A0 in H20, then lightly dry it with c02, but be careful: if yOU use too much H20 on your A0, then you'll run out of c02, which means that your A0 will stay too damp, get MOldy, and start to smell a lOT like your B0, which is likely to get you PO'd, IMHO.
  4. arnoldschnitzer

    arnoldschnitzer AES Fine Instruments

    Feb 16, 2002
    New Mexico. USA
    12. Tiny splinter at end of soundpost
    13. Endpin bushing damaged
    14. Tailpiece wire vibrating in tailpiece hole
    15. Glue drip around edge partially loose
    16. Purfling shrunken in groove
    17. F-hole wing crack open (they always LOOK closed!)
    18. Bassist has asthma
  5. Not true, but funny.
  6. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    I's just that all of the posts about A0 & B0 make me feel so stupid that I can do nothing but laugh. Now I know how my theory students sometimes feel. :D
  7. nicklloyd

    nicklloyd Supporting Member/Luthier

    Jan 27, 2002
    Cincinnati, Ohio
    Chrissy- don't feel stupid. Carleen Hutchins didn't repair and restore basses for 20 years, and then start making Gold Medal instruments...

    19.Paper/label/crap inside bass
    20.Some accessory of pickup/preamp
    21.Strings are old and the outside flatwound-winding is loose
    22.Nut groove is too low (this only buzzes on open strings)
    23.Cheap endpin isn't properly secure
    24.Edge doubling is loose (on repaired basses w/doubling)
    25.Inside or outside linings
    26.Bow quiver laces
    27.Wasp nest is hatching
  8. one more, albeit rare, but which I've experienced

    28. internal separation in lamination on ply or hybrid bass

    Once a case of this drove me nuts for a while, and we only found it by pressing a hand against just the right spot on a lower bout on a hybrid bass while the buzz-creating pitch was bowed.
  9. Jeff Bollbach

    Jeff Bollbach Jeff Bollbach Luthier, Inc.

    Dec 12, 2001
    freeport, ny
    I heard a story where a student of a violin school was given a test. The test was to find a buzz. A beebee was placed in a cavity in the bassbar as it was glued in-I'm glad I wasn't given that test.

    Another buzz-related story if you will-In a previous life I was playing guitar with a bassist friend at a jam session. During a break he cleaned an ounce of pot and we proceeded to create our own buzz. He left the room and I thought it would be humourous to pour all the cleaned seeds into the eff of his bass. When he started playing it sounded like an angry nest of hornets. I thought it hysterical of course but he didn't. Ironically that buzz became a "buzzkill".
  10. arnoldschnitzer

    arnoldschnitzer AES Fine Instruments

    Feb 16, 2002
    New Mexico. USA
    Jeff, you smoked pot?
  11. Gufenov


    Jun 8, 2003
    I'm sure he didn't inhale.
  12. Sam Sherry

    Sam Sherry Inadvertent Microtonalist Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2001
    Portland, ME
    29. Loose junk in room near bass.
  13. kip


    Sep 11, 2002
    Sausalito, Ca
  15. kip


    Sep 11, 2002
    Sausalito, Ca
    thanks, Bob.
    If I play these notes lightly I still get a good growl but no buzz and of course a drop in volume.

    These are Velvet Anima's and the action is pretty high so there is probably a hump that is not clearly visible.
  16. arnoldschnitzer

    arnoldschnitzer AES Fine Instruments

    Feb 16, 2002
    New Mexico. USA
    30. Your belt is touching the bass when you play.
  17. Jazzin'

    Jazzin' ...Bluesin' and Funkin'

    I've noticed I get a buzz when I play a D (quartertone sharp) (6th note on A string) or a Bb (quartertone sharp) (3rd note on A string). The buzz is always the D (quartertone sharp, and is two octaves higher than the D semisharp). It's obviously resonating. It only resonates when I play strong. It sounds like it's coming from inside the hollowbody part of the bass.

    Might have to do with the overtone series? Those two notes are kind or related that way.

    Is it something to worry about since I'm not actually suposed to play those "notes"?

    My bass is brand new; it's a plywood Strunal. Should I get this checked out? Is it potentially serious?
  18. uptonbass

    uptonbass Proprietor, Upton Bass String Instrument Co.

    Oct 8, 2002
    Mystic CT
    31. Drummers

    Especially those that won't lock in with the bassist. :meh:
  19. Jazzin'

    Jazzin' ...Bluesin' and Funkin'

    I've narrowed it down to my tailpiece. I think it has something to do with the end of the E-string. When I gently place my foot at the end of that string, the sound stops. How can I fix this? Should I take off the E-string and restring it?

    I'm a newb to DB and I've never done anything what-so-ever to my bass other than play it.

    I think I could just live with it, because it seems as if it's not serious. And I never play those "notes".
  20. Don Higdon

    Don Higdon In Memoriam

    Dec 11, 1999
    Princeton Junction, NJ
    Could you just play that way?:D