This Buzz Is Driving Me Crazy

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by Berkin, Jul 21, 2019.

  1. Berkin


    Jul 21, 2019
    Hello everyone,
    2 days ago I purchased my first ever bass (yes, I am a beginner), Sire V7 Gen 2 Swamp Ash (5 string).

    As I was playing the bass at home, without an amp, I noticed the A string was buzzing. It was buzzing when no fret was being pressed on. When I start pressing on the 1st and 2nd frets, the buzzing immediately decreases to a point of becoming inaudible. Throughout the remaining frets, the buzzing remains at a low level, but not none. I tried to adjust the truss rod, saddle heights, but no matter what I did, the open A string was buzzing. Only when I raised the action a lot did the buzzing stop. I also tried to touch the string behind the nut, thinking the problem might be behind this area, but that wasn't the case either.

    I'm probably missing something, and I am spending these last 4 hours to fix this frustrating problem.

    If you have any idea what the problem may be, could you please help?
  2. jblock


    Mar 20, 2004
    I would try to loosen the string a bit and reseat it at the post so there’s some more down angle. Beyond that, maybe the nut was cut too low for that string so it buzzes when open but not when fretted.
    Samatza likes this.
  3. Berkin


    Jul 21, 2019
    What do I do if the problem is the nut?
  4. Being a should take it to a pro. The problem sounds like a low nut slot. It should be replaced. Yes it can be fixed but that’s another more complex thing. They will knock it out and put a new one in. You also fiddled with the truss rod. Not sure if you tightened but too many turns may cause damage.

    I am not trying to be patronizing. I admire you attempted to fix the issue! That’s more than some people do. Even string changes gets them all flustered. LOL
    Reedt2000 likes this.
  5. Berkin


    Jul 21, 2019
    Ok, thanks for the suggestion. I guess I will try to find a luthier to take care of the issue. Nevertheless, I was able to considerably reduce the amount of buzz by re-doing the truss rod, and then the string heights. I didn't have the measuring tools, so I just folded a piece of paper to form 3 layers (approx. 0.300 mm), and used it as a reference to adjust the string-neck spacing via the truss rod. I hope I didn't damage the truss rod, because I assume if I did indeed damage it, adjusting the rod wouldn't lead to a change in neck-string spacing.
    Then, I took a ruler and adjusted the height of the portion of the strings closer to the pickup to approximately 0.25-0.30 cm.
    I admit the tools weren't the most utilitarian, but I was able to reduce the issue. Now, the intonation remains to be addressed, as well as double-checking the string heights.
    Though, I still get a subtle but audible buzz on the open A string 1-2 second after plucking it, which is weird. Likewise, I get buzz on all the strings on the higher frets. Is that normal?
  6. Ok .30mm is about .011” Fender says .14” but I like .012” Did you capo or hold down the first and 17th frets? If your by yourself use a capo at the first and press the 17th. Now you still have one free hand to measure at the 7th. Your measuring the gap between the top of fret and bottom of string.

    Once that is good move to the string height. Don’t fret the string and measure the top of fret and bottom of string at the 17th fret for the string height. Should be around 1.98mm

    If all that checks and still it buzzes at the 1st or 2nd frets then the nut was most likely cut too low. the bass new or used??
  7. For the buzz on the A string, you could test if the nut slot was cut too low by temporarily placing one or more strips of paper or aluminum foil into the nut slot. This is to simulate a nut slot not cut too low. Tune the strings and check if it still buzzes.

    Generally, when the buzzing is only in the upper frets, the neck is too curved. Adjust the truss rod to start straightening the neck. Shoot for buzzing all up and down the neck, then it's mainly a matter of adjusting the string height.
  8. Berkin


    Jul 21, 2019
    The bass is brand new. I did all you've mentioned about the neck but I held down the highest fret instead of the 17th, so I guess I will now adjust again.
  9. Berkin


    Jul 21, 2019
    Should I tighten or loosen the truss rod? (I mean, which way is the curve?)
    I will get back to you about placing a piece of paper on the nut.
  10. Ya, try it again.

    If the neck it too straight loosen it. If it’s bowed like a banana tighten a 1/4 turn at a time. Small increments. When tightening loosen the strings, turn truss, tune to pitch and measure. Remember should be .014” (.35mm) at the 7th fret. Oh and measure it in the playing position. Not flat on its back.

    When setting up a bass it’s

    1. Truss rod
    2. String height
    3. Nut action
    John6 likes this.
  11. Berkin


    Jul 21, 2019
    Ok, thanks. I can't really see its bow, so I assume the neck is fairly straight. Question is, if the neck was bowed, would I be able to to easily detect it with my eyes?
  12. If the neck is very bowed (banana), you can see it. If it's only slightly bowed, you might or might not be able to see it.

    The quick and commonly used way to determine the neck bow is hold the B string down at the first fret and last fret. You've now made your own straight edge ruler.

    If there's space under the B string between the points you're holding, it's bowed.

    If there's no space under the B string, the neck is straight or back-bowed.
    John6 likes this.
  13. Berkin


    Jul 21, 2019
    Hey everyone again,
    So I spent another 3 hours re-doing every step, but with some more precise and accurate measuring devices I acquired. I set the neck up exactly to 0.3mm with the necessary frets, etc. I adjusted string heights... I tried many combinations but nothing is working. I always get the open string buzz on the A string. I also get buzz on the D and G strings when I go to middle-high frets (8-12, around 16 too). I don't think there is anything I can try anymore, so tomorrow I will call the store back and ask if they can fix it, otherwise I am going to take it to a luthier. :/

    Thankfully, I broke nothing. Truss rod still works, and nothing is damaged. I just "wasted" my 8-9 hours in these last 2 days. By the way, the straight edge ruler strategy for the B string didn't work while adjusting the truss rod. There always was a gap (though it became very less). Maybe I was just too afraid to crank up the truss rod a lot. (I didn't want to go any further when I received significant resistant feedback from the allen key)

    Do you have any other comments, suggestions? Even if not, I really did appreciate both of your help, so thanks!
  14. No, man, you didn't waste anything. You were learning things, same way as all of us. Welcome to higher education the hard way for bass LOL.

    In your latest post, you didn't specifically mention trying paper or foil in the nut slot to raise the A string a bit. Did you try that?

    That's actually good, better than fully at one end of the board or the other. You are now in range. It's where you want buzzing because now your only concern is the height of the strings (saddles on the bridge). If you still feel like messing with the bass, try adjusting the D and G higher to see if the buzzing goes away. Think of it as an educational scientific experiment to satisfy your eternal quest for knowledge. Or something like that LOL. Concerning the 16th fret buzz, I think most of us don't play up that high (I may be wrong), so not really an issue. Unless you're wanting to be a solo artist, then I'd be concerned. My problem frets up that high, years ago, I just ignored.

    I really am sorry you're disappointed right now. Many of us have been through this. Wanted to throw my bass into the fireplace sometimes. Well...if I ever had a fireplace, that's what I would've done... :)

    Hopefully, the store you bought it from has a technician that could do a proper set up for it. At least he/she could identify problem areas that aren't readily fixable. If you don't mind, keep us informed. We learn from discussions like this, too.

    One side thing you might be interested in. Basses made in factories don't have the frets leveled and crowned (to me, it sounds like your bass could use it). They're close, they're "good enough" (generally), but they don't get a dedicated leveling and crowning. Only luthier made basses will have your frets properly dressed. But those are high dollar basses and out of my paygrade LOL. When I get a new bass, within days to a few weeks, I do my own leveling and crowning, even it there's no apparent sign of a problem. Haven't run into a factory bass yet that didn't need attention to frets. And this would solve your 16th fret problem immediately.

    Sorry this was so long winded, but I wish you well.
  15. You didn’t waste your time!! You gained some experience and tried to problem solve. Try the small piece of paper on the nut slot to lift the string. I know your tired of it but that doesn’t take too long.

    But ya...after all that take it back to the store and speak with a tech or return for a new one.
    fig likes this.
  16. Berkin


    Jul 21, 2019
    Hahaha thanks for the encouragement! When I gave up on adjusting the bass, I also thought there was no point in doing the paper insertion on the nut. I already adjusted my D and G strings' heights fairly high (about 2.2mm), so lifting any higher didn't make sense to me.
    Even though disappointed, I am not quite frustrated about my bass. I actually think it's gorgeous! The red color with the white pickguard and that neck feel... Oh man! I'm also quite fond of the neck being maple. Gives a "sharper" tone while slapping, at least, while I'm trying to :)
    Ok, while typing this reply, I decided to give my bass one more go. Yes, the paper trick worked. The A string, FINALLY, doesn't buzz when it's played open :). However, there is still buzz on frets. I laid it out as follows:
    G 3, 8 to 18
    D 4 to 10
    A 10 to 12
    E none audible
    B 2 to 19 (I believe this is pretty normal due to the loose nature of the string, may lift it up even a bit more.)
    I, of course, will still take my bass to a luthier (or to the shop, depends on the availability and circumstances) in due time! Can anything else be done about the listed fret buzzes?
  17. Berkin


    Jul 21, 2019
    By the way, the paper trick required a few folds.
  18. Thanks for all the detailed information you provided, Berkin. That helps alot.

    It seems you really like this bass, so if it were me, and my new bass had issues like this, see if they will swap yours for another one. Offhand, it seems your bass has extreme-ish issues. Especially that nut with the A slot cut too deep. Stuff like this happens on occasion, and that nut issue is a show stopper.

    Definitely tell them of the issues you've discovered, especially the the A string problem and the erratic buzzing along different lengths of the fretboard. Tell them of the efforts and time you put into testing and trying to correcting this stuff.

    They may ask to send it to a tech before swapping. If you have the time, let them have a shot at fixing everything, but ONLY if they do it for free. Being bought recently, that shouldn't be an issue. If they wanna charge, s**** 'em and insist on a straight up swap for another one.

    If they fix it all to your liking, cool. If you still have problems, then no one can say that you, and them, didn't try. Go for the swap.

    At least you learned some things to look out for when checking out your next bass, so it's all cool.

    Keep us posted, please. I'm emotionally involved in this now LOL.
  19. Berkin


    Jul 21, 2019
    At this point I'm hoping it's some small detail that I've missed out on. Otherwise, it sucks for it to be this way :/. Mine was the last bass left in store, so they wouldn't be able to swap, but I'm hoping that there will be another sort of a solution, let that be fixing the guitar or refunding back the money. We'll see in a few days what will happen! I'll post the outcome(s).
  20. I've caught myself missing the small stuff a few times LOL.

    That A nut slot kinda stops things. However, there are ways to fix that. There are solutions in this forum and online. If it's a plastic type nut, I once used a drop or two of superglue and rubbed a shirt button with a file to make powder. Filled the slot with powder a little higher than needed, put in glue, let dry, used a roundwound string to "file" it down. Worked for years until the bass got stolen LOL.

    On this new bass, you shouldn't be having to do anything. Hopefully, the store does you right with no hassle.

    Yes, please, let us know how this turns out.
    Rallypoint_1 likes this.
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