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Thread: Metallic String Buzz

  1. #1

    Default Metallic String Buzz

    I have a metallic buzz on my mandolin. I've owned the mandolin for almost two years. Had this problem for the whole time. Of course this buzz happened after the trail period.


    The mandolin has a James tailpiece. With the cover off and bear down on the open tailpiece I can just about eliminate the buzz. I don't want to play that way. It's uncomfortable!
    I've tried tape and a good quality felt underneath the strings where ever there is contact on the tailpiece. It works for about a minute. Then it comes back.
    I've tried a different James tailpiece. Same thing. Works for about a minute then comes back.
    Thought the screws were stripped. Plugged the screw holes with a soft wood and glue. Then re-drilled the holes and nothing.
    I've tried different sets and gauges of string. Nothing.
    Tried a luthier in my area[no names] and it was just a waste of money.
    If anyone has any ideas how to fix this issue. I'd be glad to hear about it. I'm about at the end of my rope.

  2. #2
    Registered User Vernon Hughes's Avatar
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    Default Re: Metallic String Buzz

    If it has a truss rod, pull the cover and see if the nut is loose. Had one buzzing like that a while back and that was the problem. Gently tightened the nut and the buzz was gone.
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  3. #3

    Default Re: Metallic String Buzz

    I suspect that bearing down on the tail piece is distorting the structure of the mandolin and/or certainly dampening the resonance. Yea, I like the trussrod also.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Metallic String Buzz

    How close are the pairs of strings they could be vibrating against each other,usually more pronounced on open strings.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Metallic String Buzz

    Great idea Mr. Vernon. And of course the nut for the truss rod is tight.
    Mr. Wrnchbndr I totally agree dampening the resonance by bearing down on the tailpiece takes away the buzz.
    Mr. Mandoplumb another great idea. I just measured the string spacing at the nut and tailpiece. They seem to be standard distance apart. I also played one pair of strings at a time. Also pulled strings apart from one another and picked. I think the buzz becomes even more pronounced.
    Thank guys for the ideas! It's really appreciated.

  6. #6
    Registered User jim simpson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Metallic String Buzz

    Try taking the strings off or making them really loose then try lifting the leading edge of your James tailpiece a little to increase the string pressure against the rubber grommets that dampen the strings. I bought a mandolin once that had a James on it already. The hinged cover wouldn't snap closed completely as the angle needed to be adjusted. The proper way to adjust it would be to take it off of the mandolin and either clamp one side and gently bend the other side (one direction or the other). Instructions are included with the purchase of a new tailpiece or can be obtained from the maker. I have two James tailpieces on two of my mandolins. I think they're the best.
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  7. #7
    Registered User Steve Sorensen's Avatar
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    Default Re: Metallic String Buzz

    Also check that the nut and bridge slots are clean. And tuner buttons are all tight. You would be amazed how far a buzz source can be from what you imagine to be the source.

    Steve

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  9. #8

    Default Re: Metallic String Buzz

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Sorensen View Post
    Also check that the nut and bridge slots are clean. And tuner buttons are all tight. You would be amazed how far a buzz source can be from what you imagine to be the source.

    Steve
    Given your symptoms, particularly the bridge slots. If the way the slots (maybe just one) are cut, or have worn, leaves a tiny gap under the string as it leaves the saddle, that can cause buzzing. Pressing down on your tailpiece would reduce or remove that gap.

    A quick check is a scrap of paper under each string at the saddle (if you can play a note and then damp that string between the saddle and the tailpiece, you might narrow this down to just one or two strings). If the buzzing goes away then it's probably (but not certainly) the slot. If it is, you can decide whether you're up to fixing it yourself or can get suitable help.

    But as Steve Sorensen says, buzzing can come from almost anywhere. I once tracked down the buzz on a guitar, which everyone could clearly hear loudest at the bridge, and it was caused by a loose tuning peg.

  10. #9
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    Default Re: Metallic String Buzz

    I run into this every so often with new James tailpieces I install. I believe it's in the hinge of the cover. First of all, make sure that the angle of the tailpiece is set to match the height of your bridge. There are instructions with a new tailpiece to explain this. You might find them on the axiom site? If the angle matches, that puts tension on the rubber o rings to keep the strings from vibrating.

    If the angle is good, then it could be the hinge. I've had to put a few layers of electrical tape under the lid cut to fit the inside outline. The tape creates some pressure to keep it from vibrating when the cover is closed. The tape worked for me. Hope you can find and fix the buzz, it's annoying.

  11. #10

    Default Re: Metallic String Buzz

    On rare occasion, I encounter a defective set of strings. Causes all sorts of weird things that has had me chasing my tail. Maybe just wait for a change in the weather and it will go away. Stand in front of a mirror and say Chris Thile three times.

  12. #11
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Metallic String Buzz

    Weave a piece of rolled up tissue through the strings between the bridge and the tailpiece to dampen the strings. Does the buzz disappear?
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  13. #12

    Default Re: Metallic String Buzz

    Thank you so much for all of your suggestions and feed back. I've spent my morning going over the mandolin following as close to the directions all of you gave. Nothing.
    Just trying out a hunch. I waded rolled up felt underneath the nut of the truss rod. And the buzz is even more pronounced!!!!!!!
    WHAT'S UP WITH THAT?
    Have any of you experienced something similar?
    What's the fix?

  14. #13
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Metallic String Buzz

    Have you tried Frank Ford's Buzz Diagnosis page on www.frets.com?

    http://www.frets.com/FretsPages/Luth...buzzintro.html
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  15. #14
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    Default Re: Metallic String Buzz

    A customer brought in a guitar that had a buzz that was hard to find. Ended up being the truss rod. Even tho it was tight it buzzed in the neck. Ended up taking out a fret marker in the center of the neck and injecting glue into the truss rod channel. Problem solved.
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

  16. #15
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    Default Re: Metallic String Buzz

    If putting felt under the truss rod not makes the buzzing worse it sounds like the truss rod itself may be buzzing in the slot. Depending on how it is installed that could be an easy fix or a big deal.

  17. #16

    Default Re: Metallic String Buzz

    Mike, Pops and Nevin. Thank You!!! Especially Mike. That FRETS.COM link was very useful. After a lengthy process of elimination, I think the trust rod itself is buzzing in it's slot. It's such a relief to know. I'm going to read up as much as I can about how to fix this problem. I'd like to be able to it myself, but after reading up I'll know if sending my mandolin out a shop or individual luthier would be the right choice. So appreciative of everyone's help.

  18. #17
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Metallic String Buzz

    There you go.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  19. #18

    Default Re: Metallic String Buzz

    If a wad of felt under the truss rod nut makes the buzz worse, that suggests (but STILL only a guess) that the problem might be that the truss rod is vibrating at or near the nut. If it were vibrating further down the neck, pressure at the nut shouldn't change that.

    So the next thing i'd try is to apply pressure DOWN on the nut, and then sideways each way. Maybe a friend can use a piece of wood to apply pressure as you play the note. If those change the buzz, then that end of the truss rod might be the culprit.

    If the nut is removable, I'd start by checking the washer behind it. Is the hole in the washer bigger than the truss rod shaft? That might be it.

    I'd also try fitting a spring washer if there is space (a crinkle washer is pretty thin).

    All these are non-invasive, so you could try them yourself.

    Beyond that, injecting some silicon sealant into the truss rod channel might work, but that's not removable if it doesn't, so I'd definitely seek expert help there! If I were trying this myself I might make some long thin (and thus removable) wedges, which would stop the end of the truss rod moving, insert those and see if the buzz was gone (checking first if the buzz was gone with the nut removed, or if the nut is an integral part of the rod then just sliding them alongside it). That would help confirm my guess that the rod is free to move at the nut end of its channel.

    Lots of trial and error here! Just make sure everything you try is reversible.

  20. #19

    Default Re: Metallic String Buzz

    Thank you ProfChris. Digging your ideas. I didn't think to apply sideways pressure to the nut. I was already on the same wave length applying downward pressure. No improvement with either directions. I did take off the nut and washer and play it. It sounded like a metallic overtone. Then with the nut and washer off, I tapped the neck from heel to shoulder and there is a noticeable difference in the ping than when the washer and nut is tightened down. The ping with out the washer and nut is hollower, brighter and louder. But not all way down the neck just at the nut. I did check the wood behind the washer. There is a considerable lip or over stand from the face plate on the head stock and the wood of the head stock. I'm going to try and smooth out that lip. We'll see what happens. I definitely hesitant to try some kind of glue or silicone sealant on my own. Again much appreciated.
    cosmos

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