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What causes a string to vibrate unevenly?

StevieK

Member
Messages
47
Seems like a strange question but.....

I was at a guitar shop today and I found a really nice guitar that I'm thinking about buying. It sounded great, but I noticed when I was playing that the A string was wobbling really funny when I picked it. Instead of an even back and forth motion is was all over the place. Maybe it was my imagination, but I thought I could feel a vibration in the wood of the guitar too, although the sound didn't seem to be affected. I thought it might be a bad string, but the shop replaced the A string and it still did the same thing. Does anyone know what might cause this or if I should be concerned about buying this guitar?

Thanks,

Steve
 

kimock

Member
Messages
12,522
Seems like a strange question but.....

I was at a guitar shop today and I found a really nice guitar that I'm thinking about buying. It sounded great, but I noticed when I was playing that the A string was wobbling really funny when I picked it. Instead of an even back and forth motion is was all over the place. Maybe it was my imagination, but I thought I could feel a vibration in the wood of the guitar too, although the sound didn't seem to be affected. I thought it might be a bad string, but the shop replaced the A string and it still did the same thing. Does anyone know what might cause this or if I should be concerned about buying this guitar?

Thanks,

Steve
fluorescent light flicker, betcha. . .take it outside
 

walterw

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
38,461
if the magnet of a pickup was a little too close to the string, it might vibrate funny, but you would hear it, too.

all strings vibrate "all over the place", as they are full of various and continuously changing overtones and harmonics from your plucking it. that's where the tone comes from. in any case, all this is completely irrelevant to the quality of the guitar in question. if you like it, buy it without worrying about this at all.
 

ChickenLover

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,856
Sounds like a great sales pitch for the shop. "Our guitars have so much sustain...you can even see it."

Then make sure the competitor has a ceiling fan running in their listening room and they're all set.:rolleyes:

As far it 'wobbling' back and forth, it sounds like it's the equivalent of waves (in liquids) bouncing/reflecting off of a hard surface...like when you see waves in water hit a wall and 'reflect' back. Or a droplet in your coffee pot making a wave that bounces/reflects in-out-in-out-etc. When the wave in the string (which I assume would be a lower frequency wave among all the different waves that simultaneously exist on a plucked string) hits the saddle or nut...it reflects/bounces back and travels toward the other end of the string, where it reflects again and so on. That sound right?
 

StevieK

Member
Messages
47
Thanks for the replies. I guess the A string was vibrating erraticly. Maybe that's a better way to describe it. It was only the one string and I didn't notice it on any of the other guitars there. Maybe I'm just crazy :messedup

Assuming I'm not crazy for the moment however... It seems that the cause would be something to do with the string or possibly the magnetic pull from the pickups?
 

EADGBE

Senior Member
Messages
12,341
Did it do this only when played open? And was it muted or quieter than the other strings?
 

axepilot

Member
Messages
630
Thanks for the replies. I guess the A string was vibrating erraticly. Maybe that's a better way to describe it. It was only the one string and I didn't notice it on any of the other guitars there. Maybe I'm just crazy :messedup

Assuming I'm not crazy for the moment however... It seems that the cause would be something to do with the string or possibly the magnetic pull from the pickups?

It's the lights, man.....................

Take it outside if you don't believe this.
 

StevieK

Member
Messages
47
Yes it's the lights! I went back to the shop today and noticed that they have nothing but flourescent lights in the store. Taking the guitar into different light made the A string look normal. Thanks to everyone that shared their wisdom.
 

smj

Member
Messages
1,881
Super old thread I'm resurrecting, but I keep experiencing this phenomenon with most of my guitars and students' guitars. I had to google it and found this thread. I just shut the lights off and used my phone light, and sure enough.... it was normal. Huh!

Sean Meredith-Jones
www.seanmeredithjones.com
 

walterw

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
38,461
weird things happen when the frame rate of a video (or light cycling rate of fluorescents) is close to the vibrating rate of certain harmonics of a string:

 
  • Wow
Reactions: KFJ

James Kaloki

New Member
Messages
2
Thanks for the replies. I guess the A string was vibrating erraticly. Maybe that's a better way to describe it. It was only the one string and I didn't notice it on any of the other guitars there. Maybe I'm just crazy :messedup

Assuming I'm not crazy for the moment however... It seems that the cause would be something to do with the string or possibly the magnetic pull from the pickups?
My A string is doing the exact same thing suggestions
 




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