View Full Version : Buzzing on String Instruments: Causes and Cures

03-06-2009, 01:46 AM
After 35 years of playing and tweaking guitars and, more recently, mandolins and ukes etc, I've come across lots of different annoying buzzes. Not only do they turn out to have the same causes again and again, but I see the same questions about buzz over and over on forums.

So, just though I'd post a little summary of the causes of buzz that I'm familiar with, things to look for and how to fix.

First thing is to track down where the buzz seems to come from. Sometimes harder than you might think!

Here's a numbered list of symptoms. Under that is a list of causes that tells you which symptoms point to which problem.


1) Does it seem to be the headstock end of the instrument that buzzes?
2) Does it seem to be the bridge end that buzzes?
3) Does the instrument buzz or rattle if you hold the strings muted and shake it?
4) Does it happen just with open strings
5) Does it happen just when strings are fretted or with a capo?
6) Does it happen with open strings AND when strings are fretted or with a capo?
7) Do only certain strings buzz?
8) Does the buzz happen around certain frets?
9) Does the buzz happen only when certain notes are fretted?


Worn/damaged/old/faulty strings: Symtoms 1,2,4,5,6,7,8,9 from the list above.
A change of strings can't hurt. So if it seems possible that the strings may be the culprit, why not change 'em and eliminate that possible cause?
Loose hardware: Symptoms: 1 or 3 from the list above.
Firstly check for rattling tuners, loose tuner screws, worn worm gears, loose and floppy string-ends, loose tuner shaft bushes/washers. Tighten screws and loose parts, replace worn parts, trim strings.
Nut issues: Symptoms 1, 4, or 7 from the list above.
Check that nut slots angle back and down towards the tuners. Check that there is no loose plastic/tusq/bone in the nut slots. Check that slots are not too wide for the string gauges. Check that nut slots are not cut too deep causing unfretted strings to buzz against 1st fret.
If you don't have the knowledge/tools to adjust nut slots then seek advice from a music store, luthier or guitar tech. I recommend the use of purpose made nut files for adjustments.
Loose truss rod (rare in ukes!): Symptoms 1,2,3,4 or 6 from the list above.
Check to see if instrument has a truss rod (may be a cover on the headstock or a nut/screw at the body end of the neck as viewed from inside the soundhole). Check with appropriate wrench to ensure that rod is not completely slack and insecure. Tighten CAREFULLY until some bite/resistance is felt. This should stop most rattling rods unless the rod is faulty or incorrectly fitted. In that event, seek pro help.
Foreign matter inside uke body: Worth checking with any of the symptoms above!
Shake it about, look inside and clear the stuff out!
Loose/unsecured wires on electric models: Worth checking with any of the symptoms above.
Secure wires with ties or tape. If you need to anchor them to the uke body then try to fix to the instrument sides/ribs rather than the soundboard or back if you have a choice.
Bridge issues: Symtoms 2,3,4,5,6,7,8 or 9 believe it or not!
If bridge is slotted (uncommon) then check the same points as for nut issues, except if slots angle down they should do so towards the butt end of the instrument - down and away from the headstock. Check that bridge saddle is not too low, causing buzz/rattle against frets. If too low then either shim the saddle to the correct height or replace saddle.
Loose braces / struts: Symptoms 2,3,6,7,8 or 9 in the list above.
For some of these hard-to-locate buzzes, if you're sure they aren't vibrating pickup wires etc, they just may be loose braces. This is something you see quite a lot on old acoustic guitars - for some reason older Gibson acoustic guitars seem especially prone to it. Unfortunately, uke soundholes are harder to get your hands into than the ones on guitars, so it's not so easy to feel around. I'd suggest using a small light, a dental type mirror and something with which to prod at the various struts. Just check out for any obvious loose components. Shaking the instrument, or tapping the top can sometimes show up a loose brace.
A loose brace is not a disaster - it is usually a pretty easy fix for someone with experience and the right glue and clamps etc - but unless it is a very cheap uke, a trip to the luthier or guitar shop is the wisest way to get it put right.
Fret issues: Symptoms 1,3,4,5,6,7,8 or 9 in the list above.
NB: Unless you have experience of adjusting frets, and the right tools, it is best not to go at them with files etc. Seek pro assistance.
Even though neck and nut end buzzes that vanish when you fret notes at the 1st fret usually indicate nut issues, it is possible that they may also mean a high or crooked 1st fret. To check, take a steel straight edge and lay it across the frets lengthwise. You should be able to (gently, so as not to score gouges) be able to slide the steel back and forth along the neck without the end of it snagging or bumping over proud frets.

To check for high frets nearer the middle of the fretboard, see if the straight edge rocks at all as if a high fret were a fulcrum. The steel should lie flat and even on all frets.

Worn frets, especially in low positions can cause buzz on higher ones, so check for wear.

A point on the fretboard where the same note sounds when you finger a string on two adjacent frets usually (in my experience) means a low fret. This will need to be replaced or the whole fretboard levelled. Paradoxically, this same-note symptom can also (rarely in my experience) mean a high fret!

The brave may attempt to level frets by tapping with a light hammer to ensure they are seated properly, or levelling with a flat file or flat, unworn grinding/sharpening stone. After filing, frets will require rounding and polishing. Best done by the experienced.

I'm sure I've missed out loads, so I'll pop back and add as I remember stuff.

03-06-2009, 04:26 AM
+10 rep from me, good job man!

03-06-2009, 06:25 AM
Thanks very much, HaileISela. :)

03-06-2009, 07:50 AM
thanks for the advice. i had a feeling it'd be my bridge. where can i buy one from? ill search it up now. my C string lets off a weird buzzing sound when especially when playiong the g7 chord

03-06-2009, 08:15 AM
The simplest cure for buzzing on string instruments is to play sober.

Hippie Guy
03-06-2009, 05:57 PM
The screw-on endpin cap can be loose and vibrate. It's a buzz that has gotten overlooked by me on more than one occasion. Just tighten it up!

03-12-2009, 02:44 PM
I blame reading this thread for my newly acquired second string second fret buzz.

At least now i know what to do about it.

Take it to someone who knows what they are doing and play my concert in the meantime!

03-12-2009, 07:38 PM
Great observations but also missed one important thing .....Try new strings first. I have fret dressed checked nuts tuners pickups braces and watsed hours of time trying to locate a buzz only to just change the string and PRESTO no BUZZ......Strings are not perfect especially in the nylon flouro nylgut type and some just dont vibrate and swing arc correctly....Change strings first then seek out all other options...I change about 30 sets of ukulele strings a day and invariably I will find one or two just bad strings straight from a new pack....this happens to all and every brand

03-13-2009, 05:00 AM
Great observations but also missed one important thing .....Try new strings first [...]

Good catch, man. Why do I always forget the obvious? :D

Thanks - I've edited the original post to include strings!

03-13-2009, 07:00 AM
t change the string and PRESTO no BUZZ......Strings are not perfect especially in the nylon flouro nylgut type and some just dont vibrate and swing arc correctly....

I'd changed the wire wounds on my baritone twice and never the nylons, so i gave that a shot and it looked like it worked, I'll double check when I get home after they are done stretching out! :shaka:

03-16-2009, 09:56 AM
great job man. thanks!

03-16-2009, 04:50 PM
i have a continuous buzz on my C string frets 1-4, on my E string frets 1-4, and the rest of the strings buzz from 1-4 but radomly. I got my ukue re-setup and frets have been evened out, but it still buzzes.

03-18-2009, 06:55 PM
what is the height of strings above the 12th fret to botoom of g string and also if you loosen the strings and add a toothpick under the saddle and the buzzes go away your action may be too low....

03-19-2009, 03:30 AM
i have a continuous buzz on my C string frets 1-4, on my E string frets 1-4, and the rest of the strings buzz from 1-4 but radomly. I got my ukue re-setup and frets have been evened out, but it still buzzes.

If its random, I'm gonna bet that its not the uke-- make sure that you're playing as cleanly as possible, firmly holding the strings down between the frets and not on top of them.

I hope this helps.

04-05-2009, 10:57 AM
My A string buzzes on the 7th fret and the 7th fret only. Would that be the nut or saddle or what? It's really annoying. :wallbash:

04-05-2009, 01:15 PM
If you mean it buzzes when you fret it at the 7th, then it's unlikely to be the nut. If it is ONLY when you fret at the 7th then the first thing I'd check would be to see if the 8th fret is a tiny, tiny bit raised at the treble side.

Also, the 7th fret could be just a tiny bit lower than the others.

A straight-edge or steel rule laid along the fretboard will often show up any frets that stand high as it will rock on them. Low frets can be harder to spot without experience.

Oh, and also check for kinks in the string around there.

04-10-2009, 03:53 AM
thanks a lot for that,i've got the opportunity to buy a pono tenor for a fraction of the price cos it has buzzing issues (i wouldn't be able to afford it otherwise).i've been humming and haaing about it but now i feel a bit more confident its worth the gamble, i know its not the strings cos they have been replaced, but i believe that pono tenors have a truss rod which may have been overlooked,(the part you wrote about truss rods got my attention) so i think i may go for it(even if i can't fix it i wont have lost that much and i'll have a spare set of grover tuners).
thanks much kudos

09-18-2009, 05:18 PM
Hello, My symptoms aren't quite described in your list. But I am hoping you can help.

I have a very resonant uke. I have been noticing intermittent buzzing and now that I have changed to worth clears (which makes the uke sound really great) the buzzing is even more pronounced. Dinking around I have found that if I partially fret something on my G string and it is a note I am playing on my A string, I get a buzzing that sounds like it comes from the bridge area. I don't have to strum the G string at all. I can just pick the A string and the buzz will occur either open (if A note on g is partially fretted) or any note on A fretted with a corresponding unison note on G string partially fretted but not strummed.

Further, I am finding that this happens when any unison note on another string is partially fretted even though that string is not played (i.e., there is a buzz when playing the A string that will vanish if I take my finger off that other string).

Have you any explanation or cure?


Hidden Character
09-25-2009, 11:35 AM
Does amount of pressure applied count as an issue? I get a buzz on my C string second fret, but its not all the time. What i do notice is that it doesnt buzz when i just put enough pressure to put it down, but it does if i put too much.

Joe Beamish
09-25-2009, 05:37 PM
Hidden Character: See buddhuu's post just above. Since you're getting a buzz on the second fret, you might check the third fret to see if it's a bit loose, or if it's sitting higher than the second fret. I just had a similar issue on my vintage uke and discovered several loose, springy frets which I'm having a shop glue down. When you're playing the C string on the second fret, it's possible that the extra pressure is bringing the string down juuust low enough to graze that third fret. You shouldn't have to worry about applying too much pressure when you're fretting notes. On my uke, I also noticed that the buzz was more noticeable when I strummed harder, which makes sense: the greater vibration was causing the string to come in contact with the next fret up the neck. Good luck!

Hidden Character
09-25-2009, 09:40 PM
Thanks alot Beamish :D I'll get on that

09-28-2009, 08:46 PM
I am having issues with my A string too.
It sounds very odd but the tuner says that there is no problem with the tuning..

It buzzes occasionally and the tension of the string feels kind of loose( as compared to the other strings), so do I need to restring it?

09-28-2009, 11:14 PM
I am having issues with my A string too.
It sounds very odd but the tuner says that there is no problem with the tuning..

It buzzes occasionally and the tension of the string feels kind of loose( as compared to the other strings), so do I need to restring it?

A change of strings is always a good place to start before making adjustments to the instrument.

An occasional buzz can be down to technique issues. For a clean tone with no muffling or buzzing, the fretting hand fingers need to be just behind the fretwire. On low frets especially, if the finger is too far back it can allow a buzz.

Even if the tuning is right, there will normally be some noticeable variation between the tension of the different strings.

Just to double check what your tuner is telling you, you could visit http://www.get-tuned.com/ukulele_tuner.php and check by ear.

If you're happy that your fretting technique is good and that your instrument is at the proper tuning/tension, then a change of strings would be my recommendation for the next thing to try.

If that doesn't do it then you may need to work through some of the other possibilities listed in the original post, or come back for more ideas.

Hope you manage to get it sorted. :)

10-30-2009, 06:29 PM
Thanks a bunch for the expanded insite to my string buzz issue. Had no idea there were so many variables. And of all things, the possibility that a change in strings could solve the problem.

01-09-2010, 12:58 PM
This thread is one of the reasons he is now a mod. Just awesome. If we still had rep points, they'd be all yours!!

01-17-2010, 10:21 AM
Hey Buddhu! First of, this is an awesome thread and thanks!

Alright, so I am having a major issue with virtually all 4 strings right now...the buzz started on just the E string, and now is happening in all 4, especially when played open. I have tried fiddling around with the wires on the inside of the sound hole that connect to the electric pick-up, and that doesnt seem to help, BUT whenever i listen really closely next to the pick up itself, the buzz sounds as if it is coming from that area...however the buzz ALSO sounds very pronounced at the headstock/nut area...i checked at the first fret, and no strings are touching it when played open. So what is more probable, something to do with the pickup, or something to do with the nut? ANY help is appreciated!!! I am totally in love with this uke, and its is only a month old, so i'd really like to keep it in pristine condition if you know what i mean...Thank you!


01-17-2010, 12:10 PM
Hey Chase.

Ok, a few things to test and check.

Firstly, if you put a capo on the 1st or 2nd fret and the buzz is still there, then the problem isn't the nut.
Secondly, if you shake the uke, does anything rattle?
Thirdly, if the buzz disappears when you put a capo on, then check this: put yr capo at the third fret, how much space is there between the top of the first fret and the strings?
What strings are on your uke? Did you try changing them?
Lastly, for now, do you have long ends on the strings that might cause buzzes by vibrating against anything?

01-17-2010, 03:31 PM
alrighty, There isss a rattle if i shake the uke around a bit, but i can see what it is, its all the wiring for the pick up. The strings are brand new Aquilas (and were installed by MGM, so they look fairly perfect to me). I actually do not own a capo, but just barring the strings makes it go away some.

What I've done so far was make sure all the screws were tight on the geared tuners, then also on the active pickup, and that alsooo seemed to help the buzz. I'm pretty sure that is where its coming from, the wires vibrating against the inside of the body.

Is there anyway I might be able to safely secure those wires down to the inside of the body? Can i just reach underneath the strings and tape them? I've gotten the buzz to mostly disappear per string, unless i am strumming a chord rather forcefully.....so maybe just securing everything will get rid of it for good?

Thank you for the assistance, Rick, I truly do appreciate it!


01-19-2010, 06:00 PM
Alright, so I am really really convinced that the buzz is coming from inside the ukulele somewhere...
I've tightened all the screws, and made sure everything is sitting right in the nut. all seems well there, and also i dont see any fret issues, all riding the same height. When just strumming open, the buzz has disappeared, BUT while strumming on basically any chord that uses the 1st thru 4th or 5th frets, there is still a major buzz. (especially 2nd fret-based chords...worth noting.)

Perhaps it isss a loose wire somewhere vibrating against the interior of the uke?

Again, I really appreciate the advice. It does ALL of us here on UU a great deal of favors to have professionals like you to rely on ;)


01-26-2010, 01:33 PM
Just got a new uke (Cordoba 20TM-CE) and it buzzes on the E string, but only on the 1st fret. and C string but only on the eleventh fret. Now I have no clue. I don't think the wires are hitting because there is a brace for the wires on the inside. It's really starting to bug me now.
(brand new, came with nylguts)

thanks for all the info

03-26-2010, 01:19 AM
Weegee's use of the word "brace" reminded me of something I think I forgot to put in the original post.

Although I think Weegee is referring to a cable retainer, the other kind of braces - the wooden structural ones glues to the tops and backs of your 'ukuleles - can sometimes come loose and buzz.

Some of these hard-to-locate buzzes, if you're sure they aren't vibrating pickup wires etc, just may be loose braces. This is something you see quite a lot on old acoustic guitars - for some reason Gibsons seem a little prone to it. Unfortunately, uke soundholes are harder to get your hands in than guitar ones, so it's not so easy to feel around. I'd suggest using a light, a dental type mirror and something with which to prod at the various struts. Just check out for any obvious loose components.

Another thing to check is the bridge saddle. Sometimes a nick in the saddle can produce a buzz where the string doesn't break across a clean edge. I currently have this issue on my mandolin, so the sandpaper and files are coming out at the weekend...

07-29-2010, 01:34 AM
I just got a new Kala tenor and in my haste to get a new set of aqillas on them, I royally messed it up and now need to buy a new set of strings for my stringless tenor which I can now only look at :(

But when I did put a new Aquillas on, specifically the G and C, even though i made sure they were wound downwards they made a buzzing sound when played open. But when i held onto the tuning peg the sound went. Does that mean all I need to do is screw the peg in tighter, even though the buzzing sound originates from the nut?

Many thanks
Splat :cool:

08-02-2010, 05:19 PM
I hadn't seen this before; but I was getting some buzzing on my Cordoba and my Bell shaped Oscar Schmidt.

Very erratic buzzing.

As I'm looking for the buzz, I can't find it. Once I gave up finding the buzz, I went about finger picking and got a buzz.

It turns out my pick fingering technique was causing a buzz. I was leaving the finger too close to the string after picking and the string buzzed on my fingernail.

I didn't see that posted before here so this might help out newbies like myself who've never played strings and not trained to finger properly.

09-14-2010, 04:07 AM
Just a note others may find helpful: make sure the strings come out of the bottom part of the tuner, so that there is an angle going into to the nut. I have a new Riptide tenor that had a buzz, and it turns out the string was coming in too high. I restrung it, making sure that the string wound to the bottom of the peg, and no more buzz! Hooray!

10-27-2010, 02:58 PM
I have a question for you, buddhuu. I have been checking out different tenor ukes at various stores and I am finding a consistent problem, even in some higher end ukes of the C string alone buzzing when playing the frets closer to the head. This seems to be an epidemic. Do you have any idea what it is? The Flukes don't seem to do it but most of the Kala's even the better solid wood models, most of the Lanikai's, every Cordoba I've tried. Any ideas? Anybody?

05-02-2011, 02:15 AM
I had string problems so I searched for info on this UU Forum. FYI I have written down today's exercise. I have two Tenor Ukes.One of which I wanted to change one Tenor to a LOW G string configuration. Tried Fremont low G, and the Fremont low G was too over powering (Booming), took the Fremonts off and replaced with Aquila Tenor strings. Recently bought Worth Low G (colour dark), started to fit them and found the Worth Low G string sounded fine,......BUT, the low G string buzzed on five fret positions. I shimmed the nut (raised it) with a slim sliver of brass shimstock, BUZZ still there. Tried another slightly higher bridge insert in the slot....it still buzzes. It is frustrating, because I can clearly observe the increased spacing between the nut and the fretboard. The credit card trick, hardly holds, due to gravitional pull. This little exercise took me well over 3 hours, and my conclusion is that the Worth low G string must be too floppy, or the peak value of the string (as it oscilates), is so high, that it touches somewhere on the fret board . I removed the brass shim, brought the bridge back to its initial position, refitted the Aquilla (High G)Tenor Strings, and the Buzz is not there anymore. The search continues.....

08-07-2011, 09:38 AM
Oooohhhhhhh thank you thank you thank you thank youuuuuuu

fa'a Junior
09-11-2011, 02:27 AM
I see that many say technique can cause buzzing. My picking technique is usually over the soundhole. I get buzzing there but when I approach more towards the fretboard, I get no buzzing. Is this normal?

09-15-2011, 12:09 PM
My new cheap ukulele has a buzzing problem too. But it only buzzes on the A string, 2nd fret. And only that. I have no idea where to look for cause(s).

Any advice would be much appreciate it. :)

09-18-2011, 08:37 PM
My Cordoba Concert came with a buzz. It's only on the C string, just the first 4 frets. Not being a techie, and owning just one uke, I was afraid to mess around with it, so off to the shop it went. The Luthier turned that string around because it was grooved, and it stared to sound better, so I took it home. No good, it still buzzed, so I went back the next day. He replaced that string, and raised the action. It started to sound a little better, then OOPS, no good, still buzzes. So now, it has to go back again and stay over night (wah) and have the frets filed? Sounds ominous, but he swears it's no biggie... I'll keep you all posted.

09-21-2011, 10:25 AM
Well, it's in the shop. The luthier explained what happened to it. I was right to take it in to him, there wasn't a damn thing I could have done to improve it, short of buying a new ukulele.
His explanation: The C string buzzes, of course, when the other ones do not, because it is the fattest string, and makes the largest orbit when struck. We're talking about thousandths of an inch!
My ukulele neck has begun to arch "backward" away from the top, toward the back of the instrument, making the frets at the end lower, therefore making the middle frets higher, in effect. He said this happens because wood is organic and it changes. He said if guitar and ukulele necks were way thicker, maybe this wouldn't happen so much, but then they wouldn't be much fun to play.
That is why guitars and even some expensive ukes have rods going through the neck (like my GF'S bass) that can be adjusted. As long as I have ukuleles that are made of wood, this can happen. I don't know when mine was made, but I've only had it since December. It happened that fast! Maybe it's because of how humid it is in Florida, and I'm always taking it outside to work with me. Even though my car has AC, and so does my condo, it still might get pretty "moist" in my gigbag. I'm going to ask him if I should shop for a good case, even though it's a cheap uke, it;s the only one I have right now, and UAS hasn't hit me (thank the gods!)
So it will be in the shop for a day or too, having the neck/frets "filed" with a really flat file. Then it will be good as new until it happens again. If necks were made of carbon fiber, this wouldn't happen, but then luthiers might be unemployed, and ukes would double or triple in price. Plus, carbon fiber has no "soul" like wood does!

09-23-2011, 04:16 PM
It's home! My luthier would not take any money because he wasn't satisfied with the results, but I wanted the uke for a jam session tomorrow. He lowered the action a bit, it was too high for me. He replaced the Aquila C string with a string for a classical guitar. Classical guitar strings have more tension than ukulele strings. He said that if he had had a whole set of them, he would have strung the whole uke with them, but the store is out, because a Classical Guitar club from Tampa came over and bought them all. The guitar strings would keep the neck from warping away from the top, and maybe even correct it, he said. That string feels different, and the buzz isn't as pronounced now. I asked him if some "surgery", i.e., replacing the first four or five frets with slightly higher ones would work. He said, yes, and smiled at my savvy. It will look different, he said, because those frets will be fatter. I told him I don't care, if it will salvage the instrument. So it will go back soon to try that. I bought the hard case, not because of moisture problems, but because I am clumsy, and am taking it on a cruise this fall.
Has anyone else had this kind of result with this problem? After this, even though I like my Cordoba, I think it will be my last. I'm getting curious about other brands now...

Rick Turner
09-23-2011, 06:16 PM
Classical guitar strings do not necessarily have higher tension than uke strings...it's all a matter of the exact composition and diameter of each string. There is a wide range of tensions available for all stringed instrument strings.

Another more correct and permanent fix would be to pull all the frets out "plane" the fingerboard (usually done by sanding) flat or even put a bit of relief into it, and then refret the fingerboard with whatever fret size you prefer. It would be kind of odd to have two different sizes of frets in the instrument...that's kind of a 3rd World repair...

Refretting and correcting the fingerboard is not all that big a deal if the uke has any value at all and/or if you really like the sound of it.

My feeling is that folks shouldn't buy instruments that are NOT worth repairing and maintaining.

09-23-2011, 07:58 PM
"3rd world repair" LOL!
Hey, I was born a Redneck, I plead innocence!
I'm open to all suggestions...

09-26-2011, 01:21 PM
I'd never imagined that I'd have the same problem. My cheap ukulele has a buzzing problem on the C string (on the open string up to the first 4 frets). Although it is cheap, it was set up and restrung with Aquila. So, I expected that the uke should be at least playable.

Nevertheless, I am waiting for my seller to respond what we could do about it.

06-05-2012, 01:41 PM
I'm amazed how many things can cause a buzz. In my case, I replaced Aquilas with a thinner diameter string - first Martin, then Southcoast. This caused some buzzing at the nut. Placing a thin, tiny piece of eyeglass felt under the string in the bottom of the nut groove was what did the trick in my case. Maybe paper or pocket lint would work too.

07-05-2012, 06:55 AM
Hi everyone, I took my Kamaka gold label to a ukulele store to get the factory old strings taken off and Worths put on... after the procedure I didn't notice until I got home that the A string buzzed horribly. Upon further attention I inspected the bridge and the slot that the string sits in on the bridge (forgive my horrible terminology) was gouged to twice its normal size allowing vibrations. It looks as though the guy used a pair of pliers to cut out the old strings and gouged it. Its such a sad sight on this ukulele and I realize he was no professional even though he stated they do work on ukuleles all the time.

I just need clarification as to whether the gouge would cause this and it isn't something else, but the damn thing didnt do it before the injury.....but the strings perhaps too could be a reason?

I will take this to a real luthier this time but only wonder if the bridge is now able to be fixed without replacing.

Thanks, any ideas?

07-05-2012, 07:52 AM
Bridge or nut? The newer Kamaka tenors have a compensated bridge and I think they will send you a new one for a few dollars. The longest part of that "repair" will be loosening the strings and retuning as the bridge just slides out and in. Nuts are easy, too, but different Kamaka's use slightly different materials and types of glue. Call the factory. They won't recommend a luthier but they will advise you. There are other fixes for oversized grooves in nuts that you will find with a quick search. My Kamaka was at the factory two weeks ago and had the action adjusted and the bridge replaced. Lucky to live Hawaii.

Yestyn The Great
08-04-2012, 05:18 PM
I don't know if anyone will see this but I think some buzzing on my cordoba 25tk-ce may be caused by loose wires. How would you recommend fixing this issue? I know I should try attaching the wires better but how exactly?

09-14-2012, 04:09 PM
Hi, I had a problem with buzzing on the E string. My ukulele has a removable nut. Not as common, but ashbury ukuleles does it. So, the last time I changed strings I apparently turned the nut out of curiosity. (just looking at it) then when I put it back in, I put it in backwards. So the E string slot was therefore to wide causing the string to rattle in the slot. Meanwhile, the C string had slightly high action. So once I thought of what the problem could be, I loosened the strings so i could turn the nut back to where it was. Then, my E sting didn't rattle, and my C string action wasn't as high.

Also, the angled nut was facing the right way, so the intonation was a little more correct.

btw. my ukulele is an Ashbury AU-40 soprano. So you can look up pics. Wonderful ukulele!

01-20-2013, 04:29 PM
Wow, what a great thread! Thanks everyone for your input, especially the o p.

02-20-2013, 05:45 PM
Great thread!

I'm still having a buzz from my lanikai's pickup. When I touch the jack while its plugged into the uke, the buzz goes away...but returns once i stop touching it. Im assuming its a ground issue or the jack hole on the uke is faulty? What can I do to rig up a ground onto the jack hole or the wires inside? Im stumped and a rookie when it comes to these pickups! Thanks

01-18-2014, 04:30 AM
Thanks for a lovely and valuable summary. A few additions from a personal experience with a duplicate note at frets 1 and 2 on the G-string and what we heard as a G-string buzz at the saddle...

1. Buzzes ARE hard to find and may not be where they seem to be. I had a G-string buzz that two of us absolutely heard at the saddle. Actually it proved to later emanate from the 2nd fret, but the buzz was at the saddle. Which leads to my 2nd addition.

2. Testing a buzz can be done by pressing with a finger at a suspected source: nut, saddle, bridge, string end, etc. while playing the suspected string. If pressing thusly stops the buzz, you've found the source. This is how I eliminated the saddle, above.

3. Checking level with a ruler may not work. If only one fret is high, it will but if two frets are high, it won't. And so it goes. A couple steel rules, marked in inches and centi/millimeters, a 12" and a 6" are useful. A credit card can be used as a rough short straight edge to bridge 3 frets for a rocker test.

Still, analysis by rocking is an learned skill. A couple drams of a good rum will help. In my case the ruler test didn't help as there were multiple high frets. A ruler is very useful in measuring for intonation.

4. A far more informative tool is an inexpensive digital sliding caliper that measure OD, ID and especially height VERY accurately. Only by measuring fret height repeatedly was I able to determine that my problem was very localized to a 2nd fret a bit high under the G-string.

This then is an exception to your observation that duplicate notes are rarely caused by a high fret, thus the new rule is that "there are no rules", lol.

5. Although you recommend generally against leveling or filing, the fact that the ukulele played beautifully on all frets except the G-string first fret, that a good measurement made clear the problem was VERY localized to a slightly high 2nd fret under the G I decided to try.

Keep in mind my mechanical skills are better applied to tire changing, tune up, filing sparkplugs and mowing lawns. I thus proceeded as an overconfident fool, but a carefoole one.

Bought a cheep needle file kit from Harbor Freight for $3.99 which included a nice thin, flat, narrow mini-file. Didn't have to remove the strings, just lift the G enough to provide a little access for the tiny, thin file. Took three light strokes, test, repeat. After four careful rounds of very light filing, voila! Success.

The key: knowing exactly where the problem was. The video that inspired by filing daring-do?



1. Buzzes may not be where you think they are. Like a water leak that appears far from the source, sound can be transmitted.

2. Pressing with a finger at suspected locations is a good technique.

3. Rulers work better for measuring for intonation, but not so much for finding high frets

4. An inexpensive digital caliper is invaluable for measuring fret and string height, and finding localized problems.

5. Localized high frets can be corrected by you.

Again dear Buddhuu, an absolutely terrific piece, very much appreciated. May you have a life of moderate success, lol...

02-24-2016, 12:27 PM
Filling this out for myself, don't mind me.

1) Does it seem to be the headstock end of the instrument that buzzes?


2) Does it seem to be the bridge end that buzzes?


3) Does the instrument buzz or rattle if you hold the strings muted and shake it?


4) Does it happen just with open strings


5) Does it happen just when strings are fretted or with a capo?


6) Does it happen with open strings AND when strings are fretted or with a capo?


7) Do only certain strings buzz?

Can't really hear it on the A string.

8) Does the buzz happen around certain frets?

Higher frets.

9) Does the buzz happen only when certain notes are fretted?

Lower notes

04-09-2016, 05:39 PM
I'm amazed how many things can cause a buzz. In my case, I replaced Aquilas with a thinner diameter string - first Martin, then Southcoast. This caused some buzzing at the nut. Placing a thin, tiny piece of eyeglass felt under the string in the bottom of the nut groove was what did the trick in my case. Maybe paper or pocket lint would work too.

I wish the heck I'd come back and read this post a long time ago. I got an Ohana concert uke for a gift. It started buzzing within a year. I took it back to the shop that it came from, and the owner would do nothing but tell me I was hearing harmonics. I told him he's a deaf baby boomer rocker.
I took it to my luthier, who dressed the frets, did a good setup, and noted that the very thin neck is warping. It wasn't bad, I did a string change to Aquila Lavas, which sounded good, but still buzzed. I took it back to the luthier. He looked it over, strummed it, scratched his head, and said "Just change the strings."
So I, wanting to make the uke sound more mellow, changed the strings to Worth Brown thins. Guess what? Hardly any buzzing at all. It's amazing how a change of less that a millimeter can make such a difference!

05-01-2016, 12:15 PM
First, thank you for the informative post! I'm wondering if the troubleshooting is any different for plastic ukes though. I have a Kala Waterman that I purchased new about 7 months ago that has developed buzzes and I don't know why. I tried going down the checklist in the initial post, but some of the solutions don't seem possible since it's an all-plastic uke. The saddle and bridge are all one piece, and I don't think it can be removed. The nut is also molded and doesn't seem conducive to modification.

The buzzing began when I changed the strings from the factory installed strings (Aquila, I think) to Martin flurocarbon strings. I was sure to position the strings at the tuners to look the same as ukes in my collection that still have factory-installed strings and are working properly. As per the suggestions on this thread, I tried switching back to Aquila strings as a first attempt at trouble-shooting, but buzzing still happens with the same intensity and frequency.

It was not buzzing prior to changing the strings, and I haven't changed my technique, so I don't think it's me. Also, I don't have buzzing issues on any of my other ukes, which I would be if it were my technique.

Specifics of the buzzing:
Buzzes at headstock end and bridge end.
Does not buzz or rattle if hold strings muted and shake.
Happens with both open strings or fretted strings.
Buzzing seems worse and happens most frequently on G and E strings, but happens on C and A strings too.
Buzzing is particularly noticeable around lower frets, near headstock.

I have also checked/done:
Checked tuners (open-geared) for loose screws, but none are loose.
Trimmed ends of string at headstock.

It is admittedly a cheap uke, so it may just be the nature of the beast, but I wondered if anyone else has experienced (and hopefully fixed) this problem on a Kala Waterman. I realize the response/solution might be "get a better uke," but I chose this one specifically to keep in the car where I thought the plastic would be impervious to extreme temperatures. Thanks for any advice!

08-20-2016, 06:46 AM
I have a 40 year old Tama which is just out of a complete rejuvenerization cure by a professional. Last night the Sol cord was buzzing when open. This post helped me understand the problem had to be somewhere in the head and the issue maybe with the nut (symptoms 1,4,7) but there did not seem to be anything wrong there. Testing further, I found that the buzz stopped when I pressed the cord tuning peg screw. Gently with the proper screwdriver, I tested if the screw was loose. It was! I then made sure all the tuning pegs' screws were screwed just tight not too tight. The problem with my Sol cord is solved and I find that the string sounds even better! Great post! Thank you:)

08-07-2017, 07:56 PM
Old thread I know; but always relevant.

My new Kala tenor arrived today (Kala KA-STGE-C). Not top drawer but suits my modest needs for a low G tenor. Plays nice, sounds good.......but had a slight buzz when played. After about 30mins of trouble shooting I narrowed it down to the internal spring washers and hex nut holding the o/p jack in place.

After an hour of bad language and persistant experimentation I was able to get the jack out through the soundhole....tighten up the washers and nut.....and pull the jack back through the hole at the back (using the dental floss I tied to the barrel). Replace external nut and end cap and it was done.

All good, operation was a success, and patient is doing well. Now I need a scotch!

Croaky Keith
08-07-2017, 10:49 PM
Congrats on a successful operation........

08-28-2017, 09:41 AM
How about buzz on a 40's Favilla soprano? I get C string buzz when played open and on most all frets. Sounds like it's coming from the bridge end. When I touch the top near the G string from the mid soundhole, down to and including the bridge, the buzz stops. This is with brand new Martin M600 strings, although I suppose it could be a bogus A string.