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Thread: G string buzz

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    Default G string buzz

    Hi,

    I had been playing the mandolin for a couple of years (flat-back, A-style) - and you could say I'm still a beginner, although a late stage one - when I decided to try the octave mandolin because of my interest in Irish folk music. I purchased a second-hand Ashbury AM-325, which plays just fine except (in my hands) the G strings, which tend to make a nasty buzzing sound. The buzz is coming from the fret I am supposed to be fretting, and the reason is that I find it requires an inordinate amount of hand and finger strength the press both strings down hard enough so that they don't vibrate against the fret. Somebody told me the action might be too high. However, the strings look pretty close to the frets to me: 1 mm at the first fret, 1.5 at the fifth. I'd appreciate people's input on this. Is it a common problem? Is it just a matter of practice? Perhaps ultra light strings would help?

    Many thanks.

  2. #2
    Registered User Martin Jonas's Avatar
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    Default Re: G string buzz

    Quote Originally Posted by Capitano View Post
    The buzz is coming from the fret I am supposed to be fretting, and the reason is that I find it requires an inordinate amount of hand and finger strength the press both strings down hard enough so that they don't vibrate against the fret. Somebody told me the action might be too high. However, the strings look pretty close to the frets to me: 1 mm at the first fret, 1.5 at the fifth. I'd appreciate people's input on this.
    That sounds like you may have a problem with the action at the nut, not the overall action -- 1mm at the first fret sounds high to me. A lot of people think of action only as something you adjust at the bridge, and a high bridge action is pretty easy to spot. However, in terms of playability, in particular the force it takes to fret at the lower frets, the action at the nut it probably more important.

    There is a really good guide for a simple check you can do to see if your nut needs adjustment. See this page at frets.com:

    http://www.frets.com/FretsPages/Musi...nutaction.html

    Martin

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    but that's just me Bertram Henze's Avatar
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    Default Re: G string buzz

    +1 for thinking 1mm at the first fret is high, and so is probably the nut action. Those fingertips must look terrible.
    the world is better off without bad ideas, good ideas are better off without the world

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    Mangler of Tunes OneChordTrick's Avatar
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    Default Re: G string buzz

    Before we rush to blame the nut does that model have a zero fret?

    Some Ashbury’s do, others don’t. My emando does, my OM doesn’t....

  5. #5
    Registered User Martin Jonas's Avatar
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    Default Re: G string buzz

    Quote Originally Posted by OneChordTrick View Post
    Before we rush to blame the nut does that model have a zero fret?

    Some Ashbury’s do, others don’t. My emando does, my OM doesn’t....
    That's the model:

    https://hobgoblin.com/ashbury-am-325...ndola-flat-top

    No zero fret. In any case, in models with zero fret the same applies -- if the zero fret is too high, the action at the first fret will be high as well and fretting will require too much force.

    Martin

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    Default Re: G string buzz

    Thanks for all the replies. I'll check out Martin's link. If you are right and I think you are, I'm in a small fix, because I live on an island where there is no competent luthier to adjust the nut!

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    Registered User Martin Jonas's Avatar
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    Default Re: G string buzz

    Quote Originally Posted by Capitano View Post
    Thanks for all the replies. I'll check out Martin's link. If you are right and I think you are, I'm in a small fix, because I live on an island where there is no competent luthier to adjust the nut!
    One thought: have you changed string gauge? If you're using heavier bass strings than the previous owner, the G strings may be stuck higher up in the nut and may not sit all the way at the bottom of the slot. Have a close look at how the strings sit in the nut.

    Adjusting the nut slot isn't that difficult, especially for the G string where the slots are wider. At the link I've give, you'll also find lots of guidance on nut slots. You can do that yourself either with a fine needle file or -- failing that -- even with a small folded piece of fine sanding paper. Don't use a craft knife as that may give you a V-shaped slot where the string gets jammed. The important bits are that the strings should be able to slide freely in the slot without binding and that they make good contact at the leading edge of the slot which you achieve by making sure the slot is slightly deeper at the tuner side than at the fretboard side.

    Martin

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    Default Re: G string buzz

    I haven't changed the strings but they might have in the shop (Hobgoblin) before sending it out... I didn't ask. Using the test given in the link (pressing the string down to the fretboard between frets 2 & 3), yes I can see a tiny space between the first fret and the string. On closer examination, I think my original estimate of 1 mm fret-string space (that is, as the instrument stands, without any pressure on the strings) was wrong... it is more like two thirds of a mm. So, being frightened to do anything with the nut myself, I think I'll see how I go with lighter strings. Thanks for your help.

  9. #9

    Default Re: G string buzz

    You say the buzz occurs when you fret the strings, so it can't be the nut causing the buzz. Though a high nut does make pushing them down harder of course.

    One possibility is your fretting technique - if your finger is a long way back from the fret, that could cause this. Try fretting notes closer to the fret and see if the buzz goes away. If so, lighter strings might help you position your fretting finger closer to the fret.

    The other possibility depends on where the buzzing occurs. Is it on all frets of the G string, or only some of them? And if it's on, say, frets 1-5, does it go away or change when you fret higher up the neck? If so, the peak of your saddle (or base of the slot if it's slotted) might have a ridge or rough spot, and because the angle of the strings across the top of the saddle changes as you fret higher up the neck, the buzzing changes or goes away. In this case you smooth out the peak of the saddle with light sanding or, if it's slotted, smooth the bottom of the slot and make sure it slopes down a little towards the tailpiece (if it slopes the other way it will surely buzz!) - for heavy strings, sandpaper wrapped round a craft knife blade might do it.

  10. #10
    Registered User Martin Jonas's Avatar
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    Default Re: G string buzz

    Quote Originally Posted by ProfChris View Post
    You say the buzz occurs when you fret the strings, so it can't be the nut causing the buzz. Though a high nut does make pushing them down harder of course.
    The original description was "The buzz is coming from the fret I am supposed to be fretting, and the reason is that I find it requires an inordinate amount of hand and finger strength the press both strings down hard enough so that they don't vibrate against the fret." If you need too much force to fret cleanly then that is something that a setup can help with. Excessive force needed on the low frets (but not the higher ones) is usually a nut issue. Of course you may be right that the fretting technique is a factor.

    Martin

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    Default Re: G string buzz

    ProfChris is probably right about my fretting technique. It happens most of all (though not exclusively) when I have to fret both G and D strings at the same fret, so because of the angle of my hand my index finger (on G) is farther away from the fret than the next finger (on D); and more when I'm playing faster than slower.

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