My Frets Buzz in the Wrong Places

Discussion in 'Luthier's Guitar & Bass Technical Discussion' started by little cyress, Feb 8, 2008.


  1. little cyress

    little cyress Member

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    I have some fret buzz on my heavy strings starting up near the 8 or 9th fret and going up from there... I gave the neck some relief and the strings are a healthy distance from the fretboard... I noticed when I fret the strings to see the amount of relief, there is more relief in the lower section (1st fret to 12th fret, and when I fret the higher fret section (say, from 8th fret to 21st fret, this section has very little relief.... i.e. there is more much less bow in the higher frets... The bass is a Kramer 710 Hundred Series... The neck is flush in the neck pocket... maybe I need to adjust the neck angle a tad...
    Note: the strings are not too high as to be unplayable, and they only buzz if I pluck the strings hard... This is my first bass guitar... is this a common problem with long scale necks?... do I need "less fat" strings, or do I need to tone down my plucking as I go up the neck?... There is really no issue on the D and G stings and not really on the A string...
    Any advice here? I really like the neck, I just think the angle is slightly off...
     
  2. Bob V

    Bob V Member

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    I would not consider changing the neck angle (using a microtilt screw or a shim in the neck pocket) unless the action needs to go higher or lower than the saddles will allow within their adjustment range. Neck angle does not have much to do with neck relief.

    As for the neck relief, check it on the area of the neck that bends - that is, before you get to the body joint. Use a straightedge or hold the string at the first fret and the body-joint fret. Until you're comfortable enough to see by eye what relief you like on that particualr axe, measure the relief with a feeler gauge. Then compare your figures to the spec range for that make of guitar. Some six string guitar players can get away with almost no relief, but bass guitars almost always need relief in the neighborhood of .015" which is more than you'd be used to seing on a regular guitar.

    Dumb question maybe, but was the guitar set up by the store when you got it? If so, was it done by a tech who was recommended to you by other players (that's a loaded question)?
     
  3. little cyress

    little cyress Member

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    not sure what the specs are ... it's really just the e string on the upper frets I'm getting a little buzzing on.
    I always eyeball the relief and it works for the whole neck except the heavy E string. The neck was super straight when I received it. I know how to set relief and string height, but not sure why the neck is so straight on the upper frets as this seems to be the issue. The truss rod must be a bit on the short side? There is pic of the bass in the Bass Forum under Kramer 710... Just wonder if other necks have this characteristic. I tend to like my strings on the high side for my 6 string guitars for better control of bends/clean playing, but what is a typical height / or "high" height for bass strings... I guess I could see some specs for other bass guitars to get an idea what is typical... Do most people pluck their strings as hard as I do? Do most bass players pluck lightly as they go up the fretboard to avoid buzzing issues on the big E String? IMO It shouldn't be buzzing at the 12th fret even if I'm plucking hard... Right? I will forget the neck angle for now and play a bit more with relief and height... The nut really should not be an issue on the higher frets, Right?
     
  4. walterw

    walterw Gold Supporting Member

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    try the opposite approach. straighten the neck back out, which will bring the strings closer to the frets, then raise the saddles. this will give more clearance where it counts, i.e., under the vibrating part of the string, rather than under the part behind your fretting hand, which just makes it harder to play and throws off intonation.

    you don't want it to go "backwards", but as straight as you can get it and still have just a little relief is a good place to start.
     
  5. patpark

    patpark Member

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    +1 on this suggestion.
    the neck probably has a hump or rising tongue (end of fretboard raised slightly) by straightening the neck out with the truss rod, you can sometimes get that hump to even out. once the neck is straight you can rasie the saddles to get the action where it needs to be.

    alot of asian made necks suffer from this problem.
     
  6. little cyress

    little cyress Member

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    The truth about this neck is, I had the neck waaaay straight and the saddle height was maxed on the Low (Heavy E string) and I was getting fret buzz on the high frets... in fact, all of the strings were pretty darn high... then I gave it some relief ...... now it's about a string diameter of relief at fret 7 or so and I'm just going to raise the strings a tad from where they are if they're still buzzing, be more mellow with plucking on the high frets and call it a day... It's just for laying down recording tracks so I shouldn't be playing much up there anyway... I've been wanking a bit on it as it's my first bass and all... Another thing is,,, the frets stick up pretty high... This will like be bought and sold many more times on the Ebay Highway... but I'm going to give it my best shot...
    Thanks for the help... Interesting about the rising tongue ASIAN connection
     
  7. David Collins

    David Collins Member

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    Your neck could be straight, or even in so much back bow that the strings were tight against up to the 10th fret. This would have no influence on buzzing at the upper frets. The truss rod only effects notes played on areas of the neck which the truss rod effects - so anything past the heel all at the saddle.

    Assuming the frets are level, the only way to effect upper fret buzz is adjustment at the bridge. How the truss truss rod is to be adjusted can be influenced by this, and truss rod and bridge have to be thought of and adjusted in tandem, but in the end the only way to lessen buzz at the extension is to raise the bridge or dress the frets.

    So no buzz in lower frets and more buzz in upper frets, move to a straighter neck and higher bridge. You can end up with the same action at the 12th fret with less buzzing. Of course any set up will only do limited good if the extension (or tongue) is kicked up. This problem by the way has little if anything to do with where the instrument is made. You're just as likely to find a kicked up extension on a U.S. Fender as you would a squire from Indonesia. If you want to buy a guitar without this problem, don't buy it online. Go where you can inspect and try out your instrument in person, or be prepared to take any online purchases in to your tech for inspection and possible return with any online purchase you make.

    And finally, there is no such thing as a bass or guitar that doesn't buzz. I can make a pedal steel buzz if I wank on it hard enough. Plug your bass in, (electrics can be setup lower than acoustics not because they buzz less, but because the rattle doesn't come through the amp and you don't have to hit as hard to begin with) and play as you would normally play. If you don't here fret rattle coming through the speaker, then there is no problem. If you have to wail on it harder than you would normally play to drive it to buzzing, then there's no problem with it. If you get it set up and still can't get rid of the buzz, it's certainly important to consider your attack. Slap and Pop players can often go stupid low, plucking off the sides of your fingers down by the bridge can often go lower than playing off the tips up toward the neck, which can often go lower than pick players, etc. etc. - Even after a good setup, the angle, position, and of course force of the attack will all have a big influence on how much fret rattle or buzz you're getting, and whether it matters or not.
     
  8. little cyress

    little cyress Member

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    Yep
    I simply maxed out my Low E String.... I had to borrow a slightly longer adjustment screw on the G string... and I straightened the neck a bit... (slightly less relief)
    The bottom line on this bass is, the strings need to be high because the frets stick up kinda high. The fretboard is just a little too high where it meets the body.... So unless you take some material off the neck where it sits in the pocket, you are going to have your strings high regardless of relief.... It is playable even with the strings kinda high, and I'm just laying down tracks with it so no big deal...
    SO START WITH THE STRINGS MAXED ON HEIGHT, GET A LITTLE RELIEF, AND LOWER TO SEE WHERE BUZZING BECOMES AN ISSUE,,, IF IT STARTS BUZZING ON YOU, YOU ARE STUCK WITH STRINGS A BIT HIGHER THAN MAYBE YOU WANT... bUT THIS WAS A cHEAP GUITAR TO BEGIN WITH SO WHAT DO I EXPECT? iT SOUNDS GOOD EVEN THROUGH MY "BASS AMP"
    IT WAS MY FIRST AMP BACK IN THE DAY,.... sOLID STATE mARSHALL MOSFET REVERB 100 COMBO AMP WITH THE 15 INCH SPEAKER ... i KNEW i COULD USE THIS AMP FOR SOMETHING! ha!
     
  9. walterw

    walterw Gold Supporting Member

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    a bass string diameter?! good lord!
    trouble is, that much relief pretty much guarantees atrocious intonation, as the strings get stretched sharp before they make it down to the fret, something that usually shows up on recordings.
    that has no bearing on your issue, as you're only supposed to press the string hard enough to contact the fret, not the wood. what matters is how straight, curved, warped or uneven the fret tops are, and how far the strings are from them.
     
  10. little cyress

    little cyress Member

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    The strings don't buzz now, but I did notice that when I pull back on the neck (less relief) while fretting the trouble area,,, i.e. the high frets on the Low E string, they start buzzing more.... so relief and the high frets do interact...
     
  11. David Collins

    David Collins Member

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    The term "high frets" is what's really throwing me off here. What matters is, what are they high in reference to?

    Are there individual problem frets that are high, above the plane of the others? Or when the neck (1st-15ish) is adjusted perfectly straight do you find there is a sudden elevation at the extension/tongue? - This can be checked by straightening the nut-heel section of the neck, then checking with the string as a straight-edge. Fretted at frets 1 and 12-15ish (wherever the heel begins) should show no gap at all, then fret around the 12th and last fret. If there is any gap between the sting and frets in between, it means your extension kicks up. This would tell you that you at least need a fret dress. Doing this doesn't have to make a straight neck a goal in your final setup, but it's a useful diagnostic tool for problem solving.

    It almost sounds from your description that you may be talking about the overall neck angle or a kick-up at the extension, rather than individual high frets.

    High individual frets, kick up at the extension, or neck angle too steep for the bridge's range of adjustment. It's important to differentiate all of these things when trying to problem solve. They each require totally different approaches to remedy.
     
  12. little cyress

    little cyress Member

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    just high as in 12th fret on up to the 21st... Also, each individual fret seems a bit on the high side as in elevation height from the fretboard. Like I said, the area that shows relief upon loosening the truss rod is evident primarily from fret 1 to fret 15 or so, and when you do the same test to show what relief there is from say fret 15 to 21, the neck seems almost straight in comparison. The string has a hard time making it over the high elevation frets when it when terminating at the saddle, and I've got the saddle height pretty maxed... I think the neck angle must have something to do with it, but probably could be remedied by a good fret dressing by my luthier... Where are you Dave? need to give him a call,,, have some other guitars that need his magic touch too....
    Thanks for all of your advice. I'm a piano technician by trade, and I'm always learning more from The Gear Page experts...
     
  13. David Collins

    David Collins Member

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    Okay, it's making more sense to me now. From what you describe it sounds like what most folks refer to as the "tongue" or "extension" kicking up, or tipping up. The truss rod will only have any real effect on the area past the heel of the instrument (not what's referred to as the heel by violin folk of course, but where the neck joins the body - gotta love the consistent terminology in this field, eh). Over time though the strings can pull along the entire length, causing a warp at the heel, where the truss rod cannot correct it. This is aggravated even further by common modern glues which are prone to "cold creep". So what you end up with is no matter how you adjust the truss rod, the frets steadily rise in height (in reference to the rest of the board) beginning around the 15th fret. Many makers today are using more steel and graphite reinforcement in that area to keep this from happening.

    In any case, you're on the right track that you probably need to take it in to have the frets dressed. This can usually be taken care of in the frets themselves, without need to pull them and level the board, though it's a case-by case basis. In doing this, it should hopefully affect a better neck angle as well, leaving you room to adjust the bridge to where it needs to be.

    As to the height of the frets above the board, for practical purposes in setup it's best to view this as irrelevant. Your tech may need to consider it when deciding where to adjust the neck to while leveling, but in setup it is only the plane of the tops of the frets that matter.

    Your local tech should be able to take care of something this simple, but if you're not established with one let us know where you're located. This forum is a great place for finding referrals to trustworthy technicians.

    And it's great to have a piano technician here. I used to share a shop and still occasionally work with a harpsichord/piano builder. He's a good friend and I've learned a great deal from him, though his pianos are quite different from modern, mostly harpsichord work and the occasional Cristofori or Silbermann style fortepiano. I'm sure your expertise will be valued around here (especially when people break out in spats about temperaments :rolleyes:).
     
  14. little cyress

    little cyress Member

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    I tightened up the relief a bit more,,, so the neck has just a little bit of relief, what I would call slightly more than normal for my six string guitars, but I would imagine could be more the norm for a bass... Anyway, the string height is reasonable enough not to throw off the intonation without buzzing, and in fact is not MAXED out as high as it will go... (we're still talking about the Big Fat Low E string) ... at least that's how it sounds at first blush... I can see where increasing the relief a bit too much to solve a fret buzzing problem can lead one down the wrong path... Every instrument is different... I still believe this neck would benefit from a slightly improved neck angle... That seems to be the main issue and would aid in a lower action.... Luckily for me, I actually like my strings on the high side for both tone and Clarity... I don't believe a low action player could put up with this guitar for very long unless they were a VERY light plucker, and like you said, a dressing could improve the angle... Yeah, Guitar Temper Mints (now that sounds like a good seller at your local guitar shop) Ha
     
  15. megatonic

    megatonic Silver Supporting Member

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    I'm just going to throw this bit of trivia/personal experience in here. I was searching for a mystery fret buzz on a guy's guitar once and I just couldn't get a fix on it. I tried neck adjustmants, etc.

    Anyway, as wellas the action being too low, etc., it ended up that the strings were actually buzzing on the neck pickup that was very high I felt like an idiot, but learned another possible cause for an alleged fret buzz.
     
  16. David Collins

    David Collins Member

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    Good example of the often unexpected. Pickups are so often overlooked in trouble shooting.

    I've found plenty of cases where it wasn't even hitting the pickup, but the magnets were just too strong and close, pulling the string out of orbit. Of course this would typically be accompanied by atrocious pulsing overtones and impossible intonation. The arrival of the use of rare earth magnets in some pickups is making this even worse in a lot of basses, and often have to be dropped as low as they can go.
     

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