buzz at 2nd,6th,11th, and 18th fret, on one high E string.

buzz at 2nd,6th,11th, and 18th fret, on one high E string.

So, I have had my trinity college octave mandolin for some months, and have really enjoyed it.. but just tonight I noticed buzzing on the aforementioned frets on the highest course. It is actually just one of the strings of the course that is buzzing when these frets are fingered. It is the string closest to the floor.

I am fairly certain this just started, unless I just didn’t notice it before. I really think I made a bad choice in the person who I had set this up for me, but , living in the middle of southern indiana cornfields leaves the choices limited…

Any idea of what the problem is, and how to remedy it? I should add, I keep and play the instrument in a basement of a stone house, and there was a storm a few days ago. No water comes in, but I thought perhaps a change in humidity/temperature could have done this.

The buzzing is very minor, but it’s annoying me greatly, and I am mainly just worried it could be something more serious.

Any words of help would be appreciated!

Re: buzz at 2nd,6th,11th, and 18th fret, on one high E string.

By the way, as far as my eye can see, all the frets seem to be secure and in same position as when I got it. None of them appear elevated to the naked eye.

Re: buzz at 2nd,6th,11th, and 18th fret, on one high E string.

fold up a tiny piece of paper and put it under the string at the nut. Or get a higher bridge or nut or both, or just take it back to the guy who set it up. Often new instruments will adjust and settle, and yes a sudden change in humidity could cause a fret buzz that may or may not go away again when the weather changes. If there is a truss rod it may need to be adjusted. Don’t keep your instrument in a basement either. If you absolutely must, keep it in a case at all times with a dessicant if necessary. Get a dehumidifier. Personally I don’t obsess too much over my humidity levels but I keep the instruments in their cases 99% of the time.

Re: buzz at 2nd,6th,11th, and 18th fret, on one high E string.

Don’t bother with the wee piece of paper under the string at the nut. That would only stop any buzzing of the open string. But it may be the action needs raised (via the bridge). Worse, it could be that the frets aren’t levelled properly at the treble edge of the neck.

Re: buzz at 2nd,6th,11th, and 18th fret, on one high E string.

And, as Earl said, there may be insufficient relief in the neck (i.e., it is too straight). This can sometimes be corrected by loosening the truss rod, if one exists.

Re: buzz at 2nd,6th,11th, and 18th fret, on one high E string.

Adjusting the truss rod will affect all 8 strings. Since your problem is with one string only, do not adjust it. What about the bridge, has that string been set in a deeper slot than it’s partner?

Re: buzz at 2nd,6th,11th, and 18th fret, on one high E string.

You’ll find some very knowledgeable people here http://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/forumdisplay.php?45-Builders-and-Repair

If it is just one of your E-strings that is buzzing, then hammerman’s suggestion seems likely. A quick fix would be to use the wee-piece-off-paper trick at the saddle end, just in the one string slot. Thin cigarette papers are ideal, since you can increase it in very small increments until you get it just right (i.e. as low as you can get it without any buzz).

It could also be a fret levelling issue - if some of the frets taper off a little at the ends, it could mean that the outermost string would buzz against those that don’t.; or it could be the converse - that some of the frets are sticking up a bit.

Re: buzz at 2nd,6th,11th, and 18th fret, on one high E string.

Have a close look at each end of the string for loose windings, bits of material or anything that might vibrate, above the nut and below the bridge, especially around the tailpiece.
Using feeler gauges (or if you don’t have any, bits of thin card or paper) check that the height of each of the two strings is the same. I would suspect that one of the grooves is a fraction lower, either in the nut or in the bridge.
Try with a capo on, going up one fret at a time.
Hold the instrument with the soundhole next to your ear and give it a good shake (mind the ornaments) listen for anything inside that can be jiggled out.
Hold the neck with your fingers damping the strings and bump the body with the heel of your hand to test for rattles.
That’s all I can think of at the moment.

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Re: buzz at 2nd,6th,11th, and 18th fret, on one high E string.

I think the piece of paper idea is a good thing to try as you work to narrow down the problem.
I would suggest that too dry an instrument is as likely a cause as too much humidity—from what I hear, Iowa has not suffered from a surplus of moisture this summer!
Too dry an instrument can cause the sounding board to become concave. As the front of the instrument drops, the strings get closer to the frets and buzzing starts.
My Martin couldn’t survive without being kept in its case with a humidifer in the case (this is a common problem with new Martins, I swear they need to dry the wood more before they build them, as the old instruments don’t suffer the same problem). Humidifiers are pretty cheap and simple, and consist of a small piece of sponge inside something to keep the sponge from touching the instrument directly. You can get them at most music stores nowadays, or even craft something of your own.
Again, being in the case with a humidifier is something you can try for a few days without worrying about any harm, and if it helps, you know you are on the right track.
Good luck.

Re: buzz at 2nd,6th,11th, and 18th fret, on one high E string.

Thanks very much for the replies, everyone. Upon further inspection, I determined the slight buzz was coming from near the back of the body, and I just realized that the rattle is coming from the tailpiece. If I lightly place a finger on the tailpiece and play that string, no buzz! Unfortunately I don’t know how to look under there to see if there is a small bit of something that might be causing it.

Does this give any clues as to what the issue could be? Just lightly touching on the tailpiece causes the issue to not happen.

Re: buzz at 2nd,6th,11th, and 18th fret, on one high E string.

Also, if I lightly play a string between the bridge and tailpiece, it makes the expected noise (mystery flick plot twist sound effect), until I get to that string, where it makes just a muted
"ts" noise. This is when plucked between the tailpiece and bridge, though. When actually playing the instrument, I only get a slight buzz on the aforementioned frets. Folding a sheet of paper and putting it under that string near the tailpiece completely fixes the issue. Just wondering what that issue might be. Something is going on underneath the tailpiece, I know that much.

Re: buzz at 2nd,6th,11th, and 18th fret, on one high E string.

Okay, I tried to give the string a bit of a nudge with my finger to see if it was coming off the bridge slot, and now the other E course is rattling a tad, and both are rattling when played open now. This is really aggrivating the p*ss out of me. I have taken good care of this instrument, always kept in case, not played too hard, and also I should mention I do have a dehumidifyer in this basement level of the house.

I am thinking the person who set it up might have done some things wrong. I just had a bad feeling about the person. First off, after they set it up (which they promised they would do "perfectly" ) , they told me they had never seen a "baritone mandolin before" . Also, they told me it came with a wound A string… which I am pretty sure trinity college does not, unless they started doing that recently. I am looking around the bridge to make sure it isn’t going concave or anything, but I honestly can’t tell any difference between now, and when I got it. I have no basis of comparison for what it should look like. The paper thing works, but now it seems it’s gotten worse, in the matter of 1 hour!

I am definitely heading to a mandolin forum, and calling the guy who set this up tomorrow, not that I expect he will be able to do any good for the issue. I guess the enjoyment I was getting from the instrument had to be too good to be true, and something had to mess up with it. Grrr

Re: buzz at 2nd,6th,11th, and 18th fret, on one high E string.

Apologies for the excessive ranting. But, I suppose I was wrong about it worsening and the other one rattling too. It was simply more noticable becuase i brought it into a room with different acoustics. And i thought the other one was rattling becuase i struck the string below it when i tested it out. Anyway, for now I will just remedy the situation with a bit of rolled up paper under that string, and just take care with it, until I can find somebody to help me resolve the issue. Perhaps go play some whistle for awhile and worry about that problem tomorrow. Sorry again for the ranting… I get worked up over this type of stuff :p

Re: buzz at 2nd,6th,11th, and 18th fret, on one high E string.

Well if the tailpiece has any hardware, like bolts that are holding it in place. make sure that there is no play in the bolts. I had something similar in my banjo and the tailpiece was held up by pure string tension and the bolts that sit on the side of the instrument were not screwed in all the way. Just make sure any adjustable hardware on the tailpiece has no play.

Re: buzz at 2nd,6th,11th, and 18th fret, on one high E string.

Turns out, I just needed to keep the instrument in better tune. The buzz only occurs when I let it go too flat! I just got it well in tune, and no buzz! Whew. That is a relief! Thanks for the help, all! I was keeping it just barely flat (but in tune with itself), to put less stress on the instrument. Turns out, this was what was causing it!