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Thread: Mandolin Close Ups

  1. #1
    Registered User Kevin Briggs's Avatar
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    Default Mandolin Close Ups

    Buzzing everywhere.... Truss rod is just about full on straight, with slight relief. Iím thinking itís saddle string slots or nut slots, although a local luthier said itís the hump where the neck and body meet, around d frets 12-14. What do you think about these slots and pics?
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  2. #2
    Kelley Mandolins Skip Kelley's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin Close Ups

    I’ve done quite a bit of fret leveling at the neck joint area on factory mandolins. Not a big deal. It should fix this issue quickly.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Mandolin Close Ups

    Don't take this the wrong way, but you've spent a lot of time on this buzzing issue, IMHO. There are basically 3 or 4 causes and that's it. We can obsess until it drives us crazy. If it is still under warranty, that may be an avenue to pursue.

    Or, maybe just learn to like buzzing? It is a matter of degree vs. how low you want the thing to play. I hear buzzing all the time from famous musicians who don't mind walking that fine line -- actually, NOT so fine because I can hear their buzzing.

    Kinda how I dealt with my weight. When I was young at 150 lbs, I was always the "fat" guy in the band, back in the day. As I got older it required dieting, starving, fasting, etc. just to stay "rock'n'roll skinny." After 30+ years of dieting abuse and punishment, somewhere in my mid-40's I said to myself "screw it" and went out and bought a fuchsia (that's BRIGHT purple!) suit that was two sizes too big for me and suddenly that became my new stage look. Suddenly, everything changed. Instead of being the guy in the skin tight black clothes that were uncomfortable, I was the guy in the loose purple suit! People even asked me if I had lost weight. It is all a matter of perspective....and comfort.

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  5. #4
    Registered User DoubleE's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin Close Ups

    I would call Collings to see if this is a warranty issue. You don’t want to try to fix something that you can’t diagnose.

  6. #5
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    Default Re: Mandolin Close Ups

    Hey Kevin

    Excellent pics, but to do this right someone who knows how to do mando setups needs it in hand.
    I think it needs a good basic going over and everything would get on the same page. A Collings can be setup to have low easy playing action with no buzzing, unless there is some structural misalignment with the mando, or its parts, but i think its likely some small things may need addressed and it will take a total checkup involving the nut,neck,frets,bridge,saddle, endpiece.
    I would call up, or email Collings and ship it to the mothership if there's not a well regarded mando tech within your reach. They will do a great job, and I've heard they turn this sort of thing around quickly for the owner.
    Best of luck, and keep us posted.
    d
    Last edited by darylcrisp; Nov-14-2019 at 1:17am.

  7. #6
    Mandolin user MontanaMatt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin Close Ups

    I had a persistent buzz on my Weber...it was the hump from the neck block. The complete solution was to wait till refret and have the board leveled. I did have the buzzing frets leveled prior to that, but the hump made the high one need a significant reduction to get in line.
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  8. #7
    Registered Muser dang's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin Close Ups

    I have had some buzzing on my Collings a style, I feel it was associated with this weather change and forced heated air. I do humidify, but I feel like the instruments definitely change at this time of year. I put on some Monell strings on and the buzzing went away. It was there for 2 sets of EJ74s, YMMV
    I should be pickin' rather than postin'

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    Lurkist dhergert's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin Close Ups

    I don't know when the problem began, but if it's late-fall or later, I'd strongly consider weather, perhaps top shrinkage, which would just require raising the bridge. A number of us have been discussing weather changes in another thread over the last few weeks.

    If not weather, contacting the manufacturer about it cannot hurt. They may be able to recommend someone close to you to do the work.

    Just out of curiosity, are the frets trad nickle-silver or another material? Also, is the truss rod bi-directional?

    Edit: Not to discount what your local luthier has told you, or what your own pretty long-term experience is telling you, but looking at your action it looks like it should be high enough, or maybe too high. In my experience if the strings are too high, my fingers cannot consistently press the strings down sufficiently to prevent buzzing... And it causes "buzzing everywhere". The right height should be low enough that you can consistently manage this normal accidental buzzing with your fingers, but high enough that the strings do not buzz against multiple fret locations even when fretted properly. Since this involves your own fingers and the feel of the strings, this includes the possibility of strings being too high at either the bridge or the nut.

    Also, it looks like your James tailpiece lid is high and possibly un-latched, is it buzzing?
    Last edited by dhergert; Nov-14-2019 at 7:31am.
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    Default Re: Mandolin Close Ups

    Quote Originally Posted by dhergert View Post
    I don't know when the problem began, but if it's late-fall or later, I'd strongly consider weather, perhaps top shrinkage, which would just require raising the bridge. A number of us have been discussing weather changes in another thread over the last few weeks.
    Since commenting in that other thread I've actually had to raise my bridge a second time. The first adjustment bought me several weeks during the summer/fall transition but after snow started to fall and my heat began kicking on more frequently I found that both sides of the bridge (as opposed to just the treble before) benefited from another ~1/4 turn in an upwards direction. The whole house is being humidified but this is making me seriously consider case humidification until the spring thaw as I'm getting awfully tired of snapping strings during bridge adjustments. I've got three packs of strings from which only the E course has been used lol

    Hope you're able to track down the source of the buzz and get back to enjoying your new baby soon, Kevin!

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    Lurkist dhergert's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin Close Ups

    Quote Originally Posted by WaxwellHaus View Post
    Since commenting in that other thread I've actually had to raise my bridge a second time ...
    Interesting, me too. And I'm out in the south left coast area, no snow or rain yet but cooling all the way down to a high of 75F in many places ...

    I've probably raised mine nearly a mm by now, action feels good and sound is great.

    Our wooden instruments are little accidental barometers -- this may be an interesting year for humidity.
    -- Don

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  14. #11
    Registered User Kevin Briggs's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin Close Ups

    Hi, Everyone:

    Thanks for your encouragement and wisdom. I was turned some relief into the neck last night, further than I had been turning it to date, and it helped a bunch. It didn't solve it though. I used a metal ruler to see how straight the neck is, both with the truss rod tightened quite a bit and with the relief. In both instances the truss rod was working well resulting in relief or no relief, depending on how I had it adjusted, but the hump at frets 12-14 was visible, although quote subtle.

    I heard back from Collings today with a very detailed email about the way the necks are created, which includes a subtle but intention S shape, so what I'm seeing reflects that. I'm happy about that and grateful for the information. That leaves the nut, saddle/bridge, and frets. Collings was super cool about everything and we're trying to find someone close by with whom they are familiar who can check it out.

    If need be, I can bite the bullet and go see Mark Bluett. He's a great luthier and repairman, and I know he'll be able to get everything worked out. I anticipate a new nut, some fretboard leveling, possibly some new frets, and possibly a saddle sanding with new string slots. I'm actually pretty excited to go see Bluett. I was there years ago and it's a great place to be. Possible mando-tasting as well. :-)
    Last edited by Kevin Briggs; Nov-14-2019 at 12:33pm. Reason: More accuarte info

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    Default Re: Mandolin Close Ups

    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Briggs View Post
    Hi, Everyone:

    Thanks for your encouragement and wisdom. I was turned some relief into the neck last night, further than I had been turning it to date, and it helped a bunch. It didn't solve it though. I used a metal ruler to see how straight the neck is, both with the truss rod tightened quite a bit and with the relief. In both instances the truss rod was working well resulting in relief or no relief, depending on how I had it adjusted, but the hump at frets 12-14 was visible, although quote subtle.

    I heard back from Collings today with a very detailed email about the way the necks are created, which includes a subtle but intention S shape, so what I'm seeing reflects that. I'm happy about that and grateful for the information. That leaves the nut, saddle/bridge, and frets. Collings was super cool about everything and we're trying to find someone close by with whom they are familiar who can check it out.

    If need be, I can bite the bullet and go see Mark Bluett. He's a great luthier and repairman, and I know he'll be able to get everything worked out. I anticipate a new nut, some fretboard leveling, possibly some new frets, and possibly a saddle sanding with new string slots. I'm actually pretty excited to go see Bluett. I was there years ago and it's a great place to be. Possible mando-tasting as well. :-)
    Whoa! Is this your new Collings? If this is the new mandolin you were so pleased with not long ago, then it's probably just in need of a tune up to reset to the seasonal climate change. Adjusting the saddle and possibly a bit of truss rod tweaking should do the trick. There's no way a new Collings is going to be in need of a new nut, saddle sanding and reslotting, their quality control is top notch. I'd also let Collings be the judge on whether a fretboard levelling/ refret ($400 worth of work) is called for. Likely as not, some select fret leveling up in the "hump" section will take care of it. Collings has a very high reputation to maintain and I've never heard of any owner not being well taken care of.

  17. #13

    Default Re: Mandolin Close Ups

    Lou Stiver does all the mandolin work for Acoustic Music Works in Pittsburgh. You might call there also and see if they have anyone else they can recommend.
    Good Advice: Play before you pay, and know your product and your market.

  18. #14

    Default Re: Mandolin Close Ups

    In picture 5, your James tailpiece isn't closed all the way. Is it causing the buzz? Also, moving the truss rod should be done in minimal increments and allowed to settle before moving it again.

    If it's under warranty, get it to Collings or a Collings authorized repair shop. They know how it's built and how to fix whatever problem it might have.
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  20. #15

    Default Re: Mandolin Close Ups

    Did the mandolin come with a James tailpiece, or did you install this yourself?
    Good Advice: Play before you pay, and know your product and your market.

  21. #16
    Registered User Kevin Briggs's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin Close Ups

    Hey, Folks:

    Yes, I noticed the tailpiece lid was up. That does contribute to the buzzing, but also happens when it's secured.

    I just posted another thread about Collings helping me out and what that entailed. I created a new thread for it because the wonderful level of Collings customer service deserved a shout out of its own, so it's documented. Once I made contact with the repair department, they were very timely and informative, even explaining the formula for how the necks are cut, and discussing with me the differences in how my MT sounded versus how the MT2 sounds, which is a bit of an Engleman vs. Adirondack discussion.

    One thing I though was cool was Peter, the fellow with whom I spoke, referenced the way an Adirondack top changes over time, which I know is controversial. But, this is coming form a person who has personally finalized thousands of mandolins while at Collings, often running across them months and years later for various types of warranty work. Anecdotal evidence doesn't get much more legit than that, if simply for the sheer volume of instruments he's handled and heard.

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