View Full Version : Developing a Buzz

02-14-2018, 09:46 AM
Three ukuleles I have purchased within the last 4 months have developed buzzing on certain strings/frets up at the nut end of the neck. All three are high quality instruments, 2 of them luthier built. None of them had any noticeable buzzes when I first obtained them.

These are wonderful instruments that I have grown to love, but the buzzing is getting worse and it is starting to concern me. I live in a temperate climate (northeasetrn US) and I have been keeping the ukes in hard cases each with a regularly filled and monitored Oasis soundhole humidifier.

Has anyone had anything like this happen? Is this kind of change normal? Is "winter buzz" a thing? Can it be mitigated?

Thanks for the feedback... I feel like my babies are getting sick. I need a diagnosis before it gets any worse!

02-14-2018, 12:11 PM
You don't mention whether the 12th fret action has decreased - has it? It's quite common on guitars for them to dry out in the winter, and have the tops sink a bit as a result - which leads to lower action. Even with humidification this can be hard to prevent. The solution for some guitarists is to have a separate taller saddle to use in winter. In your case if these ukes didn't used to buzz, you could try raising the saddle with a shim just to see if it helps. Use a business card or plastic from a credit card - anything just to get the string height up as a test. If that cures things, then you could get (or have made) a new taller saddle.

02-14-2018, 12:17 PM
The string height doesn't look or feel any different to me. I did not make any measurements of the action initially, but on all three instruments it was and is quite low.

02-15-2018, 12:19 AM
Generally, if a string buzzes at a lower fret, say the third, but not the fourth, the fret is high. Sometimes you can see this when you look down the neck. Or, you can try laying a straight edge over the frets to check whether the frets are level.

02-15-2018, 05:11 AM
I've had that Clip-on tuner buzz! Drove me crazy, til I figured it out. I've also had someone come to buy a Kamaka Pineapple, which she swore had a buzz. After a while, we realized it was her sleeve hitting the strings. Not that either of these issues is where your problem lies. But, it's tough to find the buzz sometimes.

The interesting thing to me is that three of them have developed a buzz within four months. That's a major change.

Recently, I feel that more new ukuleles have the strings dropped too low over the fretboard. It's like too much of a good thing. It muffles/deadens sound produced...and any atmospheric/environmental changes in the home have a better chance of negatively effecting the ultra-low set-up, which would cause a buzz. I've found this to be especially true with hand-made ukes, where the luthier has the ability to get the strings super close over the fret wires. Factory ukes usually don't get that kind of attention. I think raising the saddle corrected the last five set-up issues I've worked on.

I say to throw a piece of credit card under the saddle. If that fixes it, either leave it there or buy a taller saddle. ;)

02-15-2018, 05:38 AM
Thanks for the feedback. I guess I will have to try raising the saddles a bit and hope for the best.

Also I have made a mental note to get setups done in February... perhaps that will stem the issue of winter dryness causing future buzzes.

02-15-2018, 06:43 AM
Maybe still not getting enough H20, despite the Oasis? Maybe try a heavy humidification on one of them: place uke carefully in a sealable plastic storage tub, above lots of wet towels/sponges or even a dish or frisbee full of water below for a few days, all sealed up, and see what happens, compared to the other buzzers with only the Oasis?