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Thread: Strings Catching on Higher Fret

  1. #1

    Default Strings Catching on Higher Fret

    Hello all,
    I just got a mandolin a couple of weeks ago (complete newbie.) When I got it the strings would catch on a higher note- for example playing on the g string, I couldn't go above the 5th fret because it would play the 10th fret. I took it in and got it all set up, and everything was fine for a few days. Now it's doing it again- catching a higher note. It's doing this on each string, but in a different place on each one. I'm not sure if the bridge needs to be raised, if the frets are messed up, or what is wrong. I'd rather learn how to fix something like this myself instead of having to take it in again. I'm also not sure what would cause it to happen again after it had been set up.

    I hope this makes sense, and any help is greatly appreciated.

  2. #2
    Orrig Onion HonketyHank's Avatar
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    Default Re: Strings Catching on Higher Fret

    Sounds like the top is sinking.
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    Just send an email to rob.meldrum@gmail.com with "mandolin setup" in the subject line and he will email you a copy of his ebook for free (free to all mandolincafe members).

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  3. #3

    Default Re: Strings Catching on Higher Fret

    Is it a new instrument, and did it come from a shop? If it came from a shop I think I'd be asking them to investigate. A photo of the instrument might be useful so we know what you have.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Strings Catching on Higher Fret

    It is a new instrument. It's an Ibanez M552s f-style. I got it from a shop in another state, so I could reach out to them but can't really get it to them to check it out. Click image for larger version. 

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    Thanks for the help!

    Quote Originally Posted by JimCh View Post
    Is it a new instrument, and did it come from a shop? If it came from a shop I think I'd be asking them to investigate. A photo of the instrument might be useful so we know what you have.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Strings Catching on Higher Fret

    Well, the top could be sinking. The neck could be bending. The truss rod might not be tightened. The bridge could be too low. Or the fretwork is poor.

    That's in order of ascending likelihood.
    Get a good setup, it'll be perfect!

  6. #6

    Default Re: Strings Catching on Higher Fret

    Thank you! I did get it set up, and just picked it up 4 days ago. It was playing great and then just fell out again. I hadn't touched anything other than the pegs for tuning, and now it's all out of whack again. My best guess was that the bridge is too low, but is it common for it to be fine one day and then so off the next? Is that just a part of being new, or should I bring it in to get set up again?

    Thanks again for the help. This is my first mandolin and was a big purchase for me during quarantine. I have no problem with readjusting it myself, I just want to make sure I'm not going to mess anything up further, and want to make sure there's nothing innately wrong with the instrument (or what I'm doing to it) to begin with.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Strings Catching on Higher Fret

    How is the intonation? Its possible the bridge moved.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Strings Catching on Higher Fret

    Everything on the d string starting from the 4th fret on sounds like I'm playing the 18th. It's consistent and sounds clear, so my thought was that the bridge moved or it's too low, but is that normal after getting it set up by a professional? It sounded fine a couple of days ago, and I haven't adjusted anything since then, but it is new and so are the strings so I don't know if it's just the strings stretching, me retuning, or if it's just settling.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Strings Catching on Higher Fret

    Look at the 18th fret, is it seated against the finger board or is it raised up from the finger board. Fret the G string on the 1st and 12th fret, do you see a gap underneath the string around the 6th or 7th fret?
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

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  11. #10

    Default Re: Strings Catching on Higher Fret

    I checked all of the frets (it's catching on different ones on different strings) and it seems like they're all flush with the fingerboard. They all also sounded fine after I got it back from the tech setting it up, so I don't think it's a raised fret issue. There is a gap underneath the g string, but in general they all are pretty close to the fingerboard as they near the bridge, which is why I thought it might be an issue with the bridge being too low, but again they were fine a couple of days ago after it had been set up so I'm not sure if the strings stretching would change that?

  12. #11
    Luthier Tom Haywood's Avatar
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    Default Re: Strings Catching on Higher Fret

    It looks like a nice mandolin. Folks should learn to do basic setups on their own mandolins, but some issues are beyond the ability of someone just getting started. I think this is one of those. A new mandolin purchased from a store should not fret out like that, and wouldn't if it had been properly set up before being shipped. It sounds to me like truss rod adjustment and fret level issues - maybe more serious issues already mentioned, but there is no way for anyone to know without looking at it in person. The initial course of action should have been to call the store and make arrangements to box it up and send it back for them to repair or replace it under the warranty if they couldn't make it play right. That is still the most likely solution. The person who you took it to for a setup - are they an experienced mandolin luthier? Did they tell you what was wrong with it and what they did to fix it? I would call that person and ask what they did so you can tell the store you bought it from what has been done. In any event, it needs to be looked at by someone who is an experienced mandolin luthier.

  13. #12

    Default Re: Strings Catching on Higher Fret

    It is possible there is a problem with the bridge adjusters. If there was not much thread on them or they were almost stripped out it might do this.

  14. #13

    Default Re: Strings Catching on Higher Fret

    In your place I'd be thinking that I had done all and more that is reasonable, and it was time to get it back to the shop. I would certainly be contacting them and discussing the issue.

  15. #14
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    Default Re: Strings Catching on Higher Fret

    How much gap is under the G string? The truss rod may be too loose and it will buzz on upper frets if the action is low. If you feel comfortable adjusting the truss rod make the neck flat, you most likely will have to raise the bridge saddle after that.
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

  16. #15

    Default Re: Strings Catching on Higher Fret

    Initially sounded like demonic possession, but on further thought a sudden change like that more likely something collapsing or slipping. Either way, nothing where the OP is likely to diagnose or fix the issue. Can’t imagine that even a well-made instrument is immune from break-in, although this one might involve more on the ‘break’ side.

  17. #16

    Default Re: Strings Catching on Higher Fret

    Thank you everyone for the help and advice! I contacted the shop that I got it from- his tech is coming in tomorrow and he said he'll see if there's anything they can do about it, otherwise they're just going to send a replacement.

  18. #17
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    Default Re: Strings Catching on Higher Fret

    Have you thought about humidity? The top might be sinking because it has come from high to low humidity.
    Peter Coombe - mandolins, mandolas and guitars
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  19. #18
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    Default Re: Strings Catching on Higher Fret

    Glad the shop is going to get you taken care of! Then the fun begins!!
    Chuck

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  21. #19

    Default Re: Strings Catching on Higher Fret

    I had considered that- the humidity here is higher than where it came from, but we also keep our home pretty well controlled and I haven't taken it anywhere else since I got it. I'm worried that it might have been humidity changes in transit that affected it.

  22. #20

    Default Re: Strings Catching on Higher Fret

    My two cents. Explore and get to know your instrument. The mandolin responds in remarkable ways sometimes to the smallest, yet appropriate tweaks. A great place to start is emailing for a copy of Rob's setup manual rob.meldrum@gmail.com. This manual will give you a good solid base of understanding and technique. Of course the Cafe' forum is archived with a vast amount of information . . . get good at searching the forums. You aren't likely to do any serious damage to your instrument if you research and learn first and then go slow. What little in the way of tools might be necessary are redily available online for very little money. The mando, more than most instruments probably, requires this understanding and ability to get the most out of your growth, improvement and enjoyment . . . above all, have fun.

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