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beeejums
01-11-2010, 01:49 PM
I'm extremely frustrated with this buzz... I'll start with the problem and what I've already tried, then explain why it's so frustrating.

On my Cordoba20 TM-CE (http://www.cordobaguitars.com/101.php), I have a buzz on the C string that stops at the 6th fret (as in, there is no buzz at the 6th fret and up, but everywhere else). The buzz appears to come from the neck. There WAS buzz on the 1st and 2nd frets of the E string, but I fixed that with a shim under the bridge. I need help figuring out what to do about this buzz.

I have done the following already:
-Changed the strings
-Shimmed the bridge to unplayable (for me) heights (there was still a buzz on the first few frets of the C string)
-Rapped on the body to make sure there are no loose parts
-Tightened all screws on the headstock
-Checked every other place on the fretboard for buzz, and found none
-Checked with a straightedge to make sure the frets are level, and they are

Here's why it's so frustrating:

I got this uke at a local music shop. I traded in my Flea and paid a little more money to get it, because I really loved the look and the feel of it, and I fell in love with the way it played. And I love that it says "hecho a mano" on the label instead of "made by hand." It sounds great plugged in. And it's a good thing I love it, since the only disposable income I'm going to have to myself this year (I'm underemployed and we just had a baby) is going to be used to go to UWC. This is my "nice" uke. I'm on a supertight budget, so there's no new uke on the horizon for quite some time, and if I were to pay actual money to have this thing repaired, it might break the bank. It's only an option if I'm 100% sure the buzz would go away permanently... and my experiences with having instruments repaired hasn't exactly been wonderful.

On top of all that, I just received as a Christmas gift a really nice case (http://shop.mainlandukuleles.com/product.sc;jsessionid=CC905692B67C43D8E47F76A49D03 B336.qscstrfrnt03?productId=58&categoryId=4) to keep it in, just in time for it to start buzzing horribly.

I'm really afraid the neck is warped, and there's really nothing that can be done. I've sighted the neck several times, and I just can't tell. I know I don't see the neck bowing at all towards the body, which is apparently desirable.

Anyway, I'm long winded. Opinions?

ukeatan
01-11-2010, 02:06 PM
Have you checked the action at the nut? Maybe the C string is slotted too deeply. (Actually, that wouldn't explain buzzing from fretted notes, but it's worth checking anyway.)

How did you fix the buzzing on the A string?

beeejums
01-11-2010, 02:21 PM
Have you checked the action at the nut? Maybe the C string is slotted too deeply. (Actually, that wouldn't explain buzzing from fretted notes, but it's worth checking anyway.)

How did you fix the buzzing on the A string?

I hadn't checked it, but I'm happy with the action on the lower frets... Unless you're thinking I could shim the bridge higher and then lower the nut action? I suppose that might work, but it would make it difficult to play on the upper frets, wouldn't it?

The action was pretty low when I got the uke, and I fixed the buzz on the E (not the A, oopsie) by adding a flat toothpick shim under the bridge. It didn't fix the C string buzz, but I left it because the E string stopped buzzing.

ukeatan
01-11-2010, 03:30 PM
I actually meant raising the action at the nut -- if it's too low, you can get buzzing when playing an open string. You can quickly "shim" the nut slot by loosening the C string and slipping some paper into the slot beneath it.

But since you get buzzing up to the fifth fret, I'm not sure. Buzzes are so annoying! I feel your pain.

beeejums
01-11-2010, 04:29 PM
I actually meant raising the action at the nut -- if it's too low, you can get buzzing when playing an open string. You can quickly "shim" the nut slot by loosening the C string and slipping some paper into the slot beneath it.

But since you get buzzing up to the fifth fret, I'm not sure. Buzzes are so annoying! I feel your pain.

That didn't work... But it was worth a shot. Tomorrow I'm going to take it to the local guitar shop for an opinion, but I haven't found a local guitar tech (and I seriously doubt there are any luthiers) that I trust. I have a sinking feeling they're going to want to take the uke and experiment and then charge me a bunch of labor for a fix I could have done at home and actually been able to afford.

After doing some reading on frets.com I decided that the problem very well may be the neck relief, as in there is too much relief. When I hold down the first fret and the fret where the neck joins the body, the string lays on the frets. On my other tenor, there's a bit of clearance, and I can't make that uke buzz no matter how hard I try. Unfortunately, it doesn't sound half as nice as the Cordoba would if it weren't for the buzzing. And I've put so much effort into trying to fix the problem by shimming the bridge, there's no way that's the problem.

Ukes don't have truss rods... so are there any other fixes for neck relief on a ukulele?

I had a bass once that my fourteen year old self left in the basement and the neck became so warped the truss rod could no longer fix it... The guy at the repair shop charged my mother a sum of money that seemed ridiculous to me at the time (I can't remember what it was) to "steam the neck," whatever that means, and the neck warped straight back within two weeks... which is one reason why I tend not to trust guitar techs for actual repairs. I don't live near any large cities, so it's hard for me to find someone who's really a professional.

Not sure where I was going with that...

beeejums
01-12-2010, 05:47 AM
Before I go out and spend money on one... Do you think it's possible the uke is too dry from the processed air in our house and I should try a humidifier?

buddhuu
01-12-2010, 08:12 AM
Is the C a wound string, beeejums? They are more prone to rattle and buzz.

I'm assuming there's no truss rod to rattle.

I wouldn't worry too much about the lack of neck relief (forward bow). None of my ukes has appreciable relief - maybe just a hint on my tenor, but not enough to make a difference in playing it. As long as your neck doesn't back-bow, dead straight is probably fine. If there was back-bow then you might detect it by putting a straight edge along the fretboard and checking for tiny clearance gaps between the straight edge and the 1st and/or last frets.

Another possiblility (but not a probability if it's just the one string) is a slightly raised 6th fret. If you lay something long enough to cover about the first 4 frets on the board and then slide it up the neck slowly and carefully, you may feel a very slight catch or bump as it goes over a raised fret.

I use one of these:

http://www.stewmac.com/catalog/images_1lg/0670_1lg.jpg


EDIT TO ADD: I just phoned a luthier friend to ask about the humidity thing...

If the RH in the uke's environment is much below 40% then it can't do any harm to try a humidifier. If it's much above 40% then you're into normal variation boundaries and most instruments shouldn't develop low-humidity symptoms unless they have been used to much higher humidity for a long time (possible), or there were problems with preparation of the wood before manufacture (really quite unlikely).

beeejums
01-12-2010, 01:30 PM
Is the C a wound string, beeejums? They are more prone to rattle and buzz.

Nope, I use the D'Addario's from the UU store.

And right, there is no truss rod.

I'll check for those things and let you know if any of it works. Thanks!

beeejums
01-12-2010, 03:22 PM
Alright... so...

When I used the short ruler, I found no high frets. That eliminates the easy solution.

The relative humidity in the house was set below 40%, so I made a humidifier out of a pill bottle and stuck it in the case. But it may not do me any good, because when holding a 12" sraightedge down on the 1st and 3rd frets, there was easily a 1/8 inch clearance over the top fret... and when I hold the straightedge flat on the highest frets, the other edge of the ruler hovers over the nut.

When I push on the ruler laying over the entire fretboard, the ruler pivots on the fret where the neck meets the body.

I'm pretty sure the neck is backbowed... I doubt there's anything I can do, but I figure I'll ask anyway...

Is there anything I can do? I have plans to take it to a guitar tech tomorrow, but I pretty much expect he'll shrug his shoulders and say "I guess I could take it and take a look at it" and then quote me the cost of labor. At every local music shop in my area, I end up being the one regarded as the ukulele expert (which I hardly am in reality).

beeejums
01-13-2010, 07:27 AM
I took the uke to a guitar tech who told me that the neck is most definitely backbowed, and he suggested that I contact Cordoba about a replacement. I'm afraid that it won't end well, but I've started the process. We'll see how it ends.

buddhuu
01-13-2010, 09:28 AM
Doh, sorry to hear that, mate. I kind of worried that might be the problem - which was why I put the bit about back-bow in bold earlier - but I hoped the odds were against it.

It can be remedied, but it can be expensive. One fix I saw done to a folk mandolin that had no truss rod was to have the frets removed and the fretboard planed flat. That meant reslotting the board and a refret, and only works if the neck is stable and not still deforming. A replacement neck would be another way, but that is also expensive. The guy who did the job on the mandolin is a local guitar tech, and it was his own mandolin. I think he really did the job mostly as an exercise.

I hope you have good luck getting it sorted out. I'm afraid a fix is likely to be a little pricey if you can't get a replacement.

beeejums
01-24-2010, 04:51 AM
Okay... so the issue is resolved.

The guy I bought it from wasn't a dealer, so he offered to pay for a repair, and I ended up taking the Flea back that I had traded in initially. I took that nice hard case back, too... so now I just have to save up for a Mainland tenor to put in it. :-)

I won't be buying another Cordoba any time soon, though.

buddhuu
01-24-2010, 07:38 AM
Glad you got it sorted and that the guy was cooperative.

Good luck saving for that Mainland!

weegee
01-26-2010, 01:03 PM
ouch, just bought a cordoba tenor like yours, no problems here...might be because I'm in CA, but it's only been 4 days. hopefully nothing bad happens, I do have a buzz on the e string 1st fret only.

beeejums
01-26-2010, 01:17 PM
ouch, just bought a cordoba tenor like yours, no problems here...might be because I'm in CA, but it's only been 4 days. hopefully nothing bad happens, I do have a buzz on the e string 1st fret only.

If you just got it and it's already buzzing, I'd advise you to return it and get a Mainland. Or a Flea. But that might be because after reading several reviews, lots of people have had trouble with their Cordobas... but then lots of people love them. I think they must be one of those hit-or-miss companies.

weegee
01-26-2010, 01:40 PM
I'm liking everything else but that fret...I'm so torn right now. I doubt I could return it because of the use of $65 worth of gift cards to buy it, maybe Cordoba has a warranty?

beeejums
01-27-2010, 01:52 AM
They do, AS LONG AS you bought it from a dealer. If you got it from a big chain store (guitar center, etc) you should be fine. Take it back to where you bought it (that's what Cordoba told me to do)

beeejums
01-27-2010, 01:53 AM
I'm liking everything else but that fret...I'm so torn right now. I doubt I could return it because of the use of $65 worth of gift cards to buy it, maybe Cordoba has a warranty?

Also... did you try changing the strings or any of that? Check out the sticky thread about string buzz in the tech support forum.

weegee
01-27-2010, 01:31 PM
Well I emailed them, and they told me to take it to the distribution center in CA, and I'm located in CA, so I might do that before changing strings...it's a little more convenient. I checked out the thread, but since it's under warranty and I am in no way a pro, I'll take it to them first.