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Author Topic: Fret Buzz... adjust Truss Rod or change to higher saddle?  (Read 3895 times)
indigoMood
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« on: September 02, 2006, 06:31:48 AM »

Hi all,

I just recieved my new OM-03R today, and I am loving it!  But I noticed that the 6th string (low E) buzzes like crazy when played Open.  I bought it through Jason at Notable.  He set up low action for me.  He's been a great help so far, and he also pointed me to Frets.com.  But I want get more feedback from others, perhaps w/ similar experience, in order to get a proper diagnosis.

When 6th string is played Open, it buzzes when I thumb pick it with the flesh (Robert Johnson like, but letting it ring) and in medium strumming.  I tried loosening the Truss Rod, but after about 1/4 to 1/2 turn, and the buzz still existed.  Also, it seemed to have already reached the end of the rod (I did not want to take the chance of actually removing the nut). 

From what I've learned so far (from Frets.com) is that the Truss Rod is for neck relief and only remedies fret buzz on the low end frets (towards the nut).  And buzz towards the body means "raise the action at the bridge, and tighten the truss rod".  However, the latter case does not seem possible since I cannot loosen the Truss Rod much more.

Perhaps the saddle is too low, or unevenly filed?  I suppose it could also be my technique, but what concerns me is that it ONLY buzzes for the 6th string.

Some background:  I've been playing 3 yrs. This is my second guitar. My first was a Taylor 110. I primarily play fingerstyle blues, some folk, and medium to light strumming.  I just learned about the whole art of setup today.

So...
- Is it common for the Truss Rod to be so loose as it is on mine, leaving little room for more neck relief if needed?
- Is it possible the problem is something more major (i.e. "unhealthy neck")?  (I hope not. This would be a headache.)
- Would changing the saddle to a higher one and tightening the Truss Rod produce the low action I want without the fret buzz?

I know I can take it to a local shop, but I would like to save the money if possible.  Plus there's probably people just as knowledgeable here.  Thanks in advance.
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ronmac
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« Reply #1 on: September 02, 2006, 11:28:47 AM »

Have you been able to identify which fret the string buzzes at?

If you place a capo on the first fret does the buzzing disappear?
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Ron

indigoMood
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« Reply #2 on: September 02, 2006, 04:40:38 PM »

Have you been able to identify which fret the string buzzes at?

If you place a capo on the first fret does the buzzing disappear?


The severe buzzing occurs when the 6th string (low E) is played Open; the buzz is sustained.  I capoed it at the first fret like you said, and it does not really buzz (maybe a miniscule amount); a drastic difference from when played Open.

What do you make of that?  Thanks.
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Larrivee OM-03R
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« Reply #3 on: September 02, 2006, 05:13:31 PM »

The severe buzzing occurs when the 6th string (low E) is played Open; the buzz is sustained.  I capoed it at the first fret like you said, and it does not really buzz (maybe a miniscule amount); a drastic difference from when played Open.

What do you make of that?  Thanks.

look at the nut slot for the 6th string. something is wrong there, most likely...
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indigoMood
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« Reply #4 on: September 02, 2006, 05:26:33 PM »

look at the nut slot for the 6th string. something is wrong there, most likely...

It looks fine to me... and it is brand new.  How do I tell if it is a bad nut slot?
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Larrivee OM-03R
Hoser Rob
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« Reply #5 on: September 02, 2006, 05:57:55 PM »

It looks fine to me... and it is brand new.  How do I tell if it is a bad nut slot?

Well, it's pretty hard to eyeball a nut slot.  Usually the nut is too high new, but you did have it set up for low action.  Perhaps the store overdid it.

Go back to frets.com and look up nut action.  There's a good test there.  I think it's probably the nut too. 

Remember that the nut, saddle, and relief are a system.  Don't think just because you've read a few things off frets.com you've learned the "art of setup".  Don't rush too much.  Change only one thing at a time.  Be extremely careful tightening the rod back up ... don't force it.  And you also have to realize you can't diagnose everything "over the phone".  The 1st fret may be a bit high too.

The problem with really low action on acoustics is that it makes the guitar more temperamental.  You need stable humidity and level frets to achieve it.
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ronmac
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« Reply #6 on: September 02, 2006, 06:08:41 PM »

The severe buzzing occurs when the 6th string (low E) is played Open; the buzz is sustained.  I capoed it at the first fret like you said, and it does not really buzz (maybe a miniscule amount); a drastic difference from when played Open.

What do you make of that?  Thanks.

This almost certainly points to a problem with how the string is sitting in the nut slot. If the string isn't seated firmly, or if the slot is a bit loose, you can experience a buzz on the open string. Try setting the string into the slot with a firm push over the nut, using your thumb. Some have had success by loosening the string and pulling it back and forth a bit to clean the slot. If the slot is too loose it can be fixed by building it back up with a mixture of baking soda and cyanoacrilate (Krazy) glue and refiling to the proper shape.

If you are handy with tools, neither one of these procedures is difficult. If you are in any way unsure of what you are doing a god local tech can put it right for a few dollars.
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Ron

indigoMood
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« Reply #7 on: September 02, 2006, 08:50:38 PM »

Well, it's pretty hard to eyeball a nut slot.  Usually the nut is too high new, but you did have it set up for low action.  Perhaps the store overdid it.

Go back to frets.com and look up nut action.  There's a good test there.  I think it's probably the nut too. 

The 1st fret may be a bit high too.

The problem with really low action on acoustics is that it makes the guitar more temperamental.  You need stable humidity and level frets to achieve it.

I will ask if the Nut was lowered.  But it did pass the "Nut Action" test on Frets.com.  And the 1st fret seems consistent w/ the others.  Considering it traveled from Montana to Southern California, a lot could have changed en route.


This almost certainly points to a problem with how the string is sitting in the nut slot. If the string isn't seated firmly, or if the slot is a bit loose, you can experience a buzz on the open string.

The Nut seems to sit in the slot correctly (snugly).


Given your suggestions and the symptoms (i.e. only buzzing when played Open), the Nut being the problem makes sense.  But I'm just having doubts considering that these problems seem to occur in used/older guitars, not a brand new one.  But I could be wrong.
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Larrivee OM-03R
indigoMood
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« Reply #8 on: September 02, 2006, 08:58:40 PM »

I appreciate all suggestions and help you guys are giving me.

I posted some pictures here: http://s59.photobucket.com/albums/g291/indigomood/OM-03R%20Fret%20Buzz%20Diagnosis/

Don't know if it will help, but it might for those experienced eyeballs out there  :GRN>
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Larrivee OM-03R
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« Reply #9 on: September 02, 2006, 09:48:16 PM »

Hi Anson, I am almost positive that I probably went a bit too low with the action.  The bone saddle I am sending will be a bit taller, so hopefully that will cure your problem.  Nice pictures also, you must have a good digicam.  J 
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« Reply #10 on: September 03, 2006, 04:25:30 AM »

Quote
The bone saddle I am sending will be a bit taller, so hopefully that will cure your problem. 
    Jason to the rescue!  Well done. 
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ronmac
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« Reply #11 on: September 03, 2006, 11:56:30 AM »

The pictures show the E string riding pretty high in the slot. I suspect that is the cause of your buzz.

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Ron

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« Reply #12 on: September 03, 2006, 12:15:38 PM »

The pictures show the E string riding pretty high in the slot. I suspect that is the cause of your buzz.



take an old string of the same gauge, and run it back and forth in the slot a few times. does that help get rid of the buzzing?
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« Reply #13 on: September 03, 2006, 03:59:59 PM »

Yeah, that E string looks like it is not seated properly.  Randy_R's advice sounds good.

Did you contact Jason before putting the Q on the forum?
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indigoMood
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« Reply #14 on: September 04, 2006, 01:04:19 AM »

The pictures show the E string riding pretty high in the slot. I suspect that is the cause of your buzz.

Perhaps it is my lack of experience, but it seems to me that if it would be more likely to buzz if it is LOW IN THE SLOT, rather than "high in the slot".  Or are you suggesting that it might not be secure in the slot, therefore it is higher?

take an old string of the same gauge, and run it back and forth in the slot a few times. does that help get rid of the buzzing?

I will consider trying this when I get the new saddle from Jason and have to re-string (I don't have any old strings laying around).  But given Larrivee's great reputation for quality, would a Nut problem be likely?

Did you contact Jason before putting the Q on the forum?

Yes, I'm in frequent contact with him to try to get this resolved.  He has been very helpful.


I added a couple pics the (low E) slot after loosening the string:


http://s59.photobucket.com/albums/g291/indigomood/OM-03R%20Fret%20Buzz%20Diagnosis/
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Larrivee OM-03R
rpg51
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« Reply #15 on: September 12, 2006, 12:10:23 PM »

Hope the saddle Jason sent fixed this for you. My feeling about these things is that you really have to give a guitar the once over to assess problems and it is very difficult to do on forum or over the telephone.  If it were me and if I could not quickly see what the problem was, I would start from scratch and do a full set up to be sure I have the relief set property and the nut height set properly and the saddle set properly.  If you do all that and it still has a buzz I would try to assess exactly where the buzz is coming from. Sometimes a tube from a paper towel roll can help isolate buzzing sounds.  If its in the middle of neck my experience is that a little extra relief my eliminate it.  If its on the first fret maybe nut work is needed but I can usuallly tell that when doing the full set up from scratch.  Sometimes you will have a high fret  here or there.  But if you can't set up with normal specs without buzzing then something must be wrong with the frets or the board and a visit to the guitar doctor is probably in order at that point.  Almost always it nothing that can't be dealth with pretty easily.  Its just that there are so many potential causes that it is hard to diagnosis over the phone so to speak.
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Rob


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indigoMood
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« Reply #16 on: September 13, 2006, 05:50:10 AM »

Hope the saddle Jason sent fixed this for you. My feeling about these things is that you really have to give a guitar the once over to assess problems and it is very difficult to do on forum or over the telephone.  If it were me and if I could not quickly see what the problem was, I would start from scratch and do a full set up to be sure I have the relief set property and the nut height set properly and the saddle set properly.  If you do all that and it still has a buzz I would try to assess exactly where the buzz is coming from. Sometimes a tube from a paper towel roll can help isolate buzzing sounds.  If its in the middle of neck my experience is that a little extra relief my eliminate it.  If its on the first fret maybe nut work is needed but I can usuallly tell that when doing the full set up from scratch.  Sometimes you will have a high fret  here or there.  But if you can't set up with normal specs without buzzing then something must be wrong with the frets or the board and a visit to the guitar doctor is probably in order at that point.  Almost always it nothing that can't be dealth with pretty easily.  Its just that there are so many potential causes that it is hard to diagnosis over the phone so to speak.

I'm still waiting on Jason to send me the new saddle.  The saddle was modified (lowered), but the nut was not.  However, I am not sure if he changed the relief or not.  The current relief seems to be at its max b/c when I tried to loosen the truss rod, it felt to be at its end.  The guitar only buzzes on the Low E string when played Open (and very minimal on 1st fret).  The other strings do not buzz no matter how hard I play them.  The first fret seems normal and consistent with the others.  The guitar is brand new.  What is a sign of a bad board?
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rpg51
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« Reply #17 on: September 13, 2006, 11:56:54 AM »

Well, try the new saddle when it arrives.  But no matter if it helps or not - if it were my guitar I would bring it to a good set up man and have him give it the once over.  I don't mean to imply there is anything at all wrong with the guitar. Its just been my experience with EVERY guitar I have ever owned, new or used, that I am not happy until I have a good set up done the way I like it.  It makes a world of difference in my opinion and its usually not expensive. It can make the guitar so much easier and enjoyable to play.  Guitars are simple but complex all at the same time and lots of moving parts need to be brought together to put them in there best state.  Its the nature of the beast.  Its does seem unlikely from what you describe - buzz on first fret only - that a new saddle will cure it.  But on the other hand it is definately possible.  I just would want to have the relief set right for me, the nut set right and the saddle set right for me in that order.   After I while you can get to the point that you can do this stuff yourself if you are handy but unless you have experience my feeling is its best to have it done by a pro - and frankly, with all due respect to dealers, often its best to find a real good set up guy locally that you can meet with and talk to.  Just my opinion.  Take it for what its worth.
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Rob


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indigoMood
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« Reply #18 on: September 13, 2006, 04:11:36 PM »

Well, try the new saddle when it arrives.  But no matter if it helps or not - if it were my guitar I would bring it to a good set up man and have him give it the once over.  I don't mean to imply there is anything at all wrong with the guitar. Its just been my experience with EVERY guitar I have ever owned, new or used, that I am not happy until I have a good set up done the way I like it.  It makes a world of difference in my opinion and its usually not expensive. It can make the guitar so much easier and enjoyable to play.  Guitars are simple but complex all at the same time and lots of moving parts need to be brought together to put them in there best state.  Its the nature of the beast.  Its does seem unlikely from what you describe - buzz on first fret only - that a new saddle will cure it.  But on the other hand it is definately possible.  I just would want to have the relief set right for me, the nut set right and the saddle set right for me in that order.   After I while you can get to the point that you can do this stuff yourself if you are handy but unless you have experience my feeling is its best to have it done by a pro - and frankly, with all due respect to dealers, often its best to find a real good set up guy locally that you can meet with and talk to.  Just my opinion.  Take it for what its worth.

Thanks Rob for the input.  Hopefully I will get the new saddle soon, and then I can make some progress.  Currently the guitar is playable, but I'd like to get this problem solved and over with.  I do realize the complexity of setup, which is why I appreciate all the info the forum has provided me.  But another issue is that I do not know a good setup man in my area (Orange County, CA).  I do know of two good shops (McCabes, Buffalo Bros.), but they are both quite a ways drive away.  If the problem persists (w/ new saddle) I may have to have a professional check it out.
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« Reply #19 on: September 13, 2006, 09:24:12 PM »

There must be a good set up man in your area, its just a matter of putting out some inquiries and getting some recommendations.  You might try the Acoustic Guitar Players forum, i think there are some members from your area that are active on that forum. 
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Rob


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