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Thread: In Tuneness and Buzz

  1. #1
    Registered User Kevin Briggs's Avatar
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    Default In Tuneness and Buzz

    Hi, Everyone:

    Hope you're all staying safe and are not being hit too bad by the changes in our economies. Hopefully we'll be back on track sooner rather than later.

    I've been battling a buzzy, tinny sound as well as some maddening out of tuneness coming from my mandolin. It's all situated in the two A strings.

    Two lutheirs (one highly recommended, one good but not so well known) have looked it over and proclaimed it does not need a new nut, although the second did go ahead and throw some powder and glue in the slot. That helped for a few days, but the tinny buzz was soon back, and the two strings either don't stay in tune (mostly the bottom A string), or they are in tune in open position but not up the neck a bit.

    The two A strings definitely slightly buzz open, not so much when pressing the first fret, but do again a few frets up the neck. A few frets up the neck is also where the tuning seems to change from open position.

    Any ideas?

  2. #2

    Default Re: In Tuneness and Buzz

    First try another set of strings. weird strings do happen.

    next, I'd get a new nut made. the fact that the modification to the nut worked for a while would seem to implicate the nut.

    Best of luck with it!!

    Marc

  3. #3
    Registered User Doug Brock's Avatar
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    Default Re: In Tuneness and Buzz

    It can be hard to diagnose some of these weirdnesses, and even good mandolin repair folks can miss things. I had some weirdness in the E and A strings of a new mandolin - weak tone, a sort of buzzy thing with each pair of treble strings in which they were in tune when open but seemed a bit out of tune with each other when fretted. I tried a new nut and a PLEK machine fret job but they didn’t fix the problem (but the nut and PLEK jobs did fix some other problems). No other suggestions from the tech. I finally replaced the bridge with a Cumberland Acoustic and the weird/weak tone was fixed! I was thrilled, but I had to wonder why the technician didn’t notice a problem either with the sound or with the bridge.
    Doug Brock
    2018 Kimble 2 point (#259), 2019 Silverangel Econo A (#446), Eastman MD315, 2020 Morris Oval Flattop A, Eastman MDA315
    Pisgah Wonder open back banjo, cheap old German fiddle, Martin HD28, Martin D18GE, CA Guitars Bluegrass Performer

  4. #4
    Registered User Kevin Briggs's Avatar
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    Default Re: In Tuneness and Buzz

    Thanks, folks!

    I am likely taking a trip to Nashville in April to have Dennis and possibly Dan Voight take a look. Iím the meantime, I raised the action a bit and, although itís still there, itís much less.

    Hanging in!

  5. #5
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    Default Re: In Tuneness and Buzz

    I too would look at new strings. If it buzzes when fretted it isn't the nut. Have you checked the bridge hasn't moved?

  6. #6
    Registered User Kevin Briggs's Avatar
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    Default Re: In Tuneness and Buzz

    Quote Originally Posted by Nevin View Post
    I too would look at new strings. If it buzzes when fretted it isn't the nut. Have you checked the bridge hasn't moved?
    Thanks for the suggestions. I've changed the strings a few times and it doesn't impact what's going on. The warmer weather in Pennsylvania has helped a bit though, with things being more humid. The bridge looks good to me. It's well-seated and looking nice and upright.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: In Tuneness and Buzz

    You may have a few frets lifting slightly. A short straight edge to rock across 3 frets at a time will tell you. They can be tapped back down.
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

  8. #8
    Registered User Vernon Hughes's Avatar
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    Default Re: In Tuneness and Buzz

    Check the truss rod nut, if it has one it could be loose. I've had them buzz because they had backed off and created a buzz.
    Hughes F-5 #1
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  9. #9

    Default Re: In Tuneness and Buzz

    This is a good article:
    http://lutherie.net/nuts.html

  10. #10

    Default Re: In Tuneness and Buzz

    I just noticed a new buzz source on my primary mandolin, D strings, and after first blaming the nut a bit, I finally saw that my lowering of the bone saddle on the bridge by sanding the bone and adjusting the bottom of the slot it rests in, resulted in those two strings actually touching the wood on the fret side. This would also cause intonation error at higher frets as the string angle changes. So the bridge, as well as the nut has to clearly define the string length and also not bind.
    Until I get around to fixing this, I’m enjoying the banjo sound. Nothing like being pinned down at home to allow fussing with little issues when there’s nothing we can do about the big ones!

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