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View Full Version : Worth Clear Strings/ String Buzz



A.H.
10-18-2013, 11:50 AM
Sorry, hate to beat a dead horse, but I've sifted through many old threads and haven't gotten the answer I need......Anyway, I have two ukes that were professionally set up, a Pono MT and Kala Cedar top/ slot head tenor. No string buzz at all. Then I changed both to Worth Clears, both sound beautiful, and both now have an open C string buzz.

Both nuts and bridges have been shimmed during set up, and again, both ukes previously had Aquilas or Ko'olau golds with the wound C with no buzzing.

One old thread mentioned that the thinness and tight tension of the Worths may be prone to buzzing. And all this time I thought fatter strings would be more prone to buzzing.

So my question, should I go with a thicker string guage? Different strings? I really like the sound of flourocarbons, but the buzz is a buzz kill.

Brad Bordessa
10-18-2013, 12:14 PM
The Worths are way skinnier than Aquilas or Ko'olaus. That means they will probably sit lower in the nut - hence your open string buzz. An 'ukulele needs to be set up according to the strings you use. I expect that the setup you got was prime for Aquilas, but had you taken the uke in with Worths on it, your tech would have done a completely different setup. I would try the CH set (if you haven't already) to see if the higher tension gets the string off the fretboard.

hucklelele
10-18-2013, 12:59 PM
Not just sitting lower on the fret

your nylons are going to be limp-wristed panty wearing twangy soft little oscillating fret catchers now.

tangimango
10-18-2013, 02:34 PM
depending on which worth string set you got. most worths strings are smaller in diameter compared to Aquila and way skinnier then the golds. so youll probably have to get a new nut or try the fatter flouracarobons strings. plus fluracarbons are more buzzy then normal strings.

hmgberg
10-18-2013, 02:39 PM
Not just sitting lower on the fret

your nylons are going to be limp-wristed panty wearing twangy soft little oscillating fret catchers now.

Geez! Perhaps we should use an acronym for that description: LWPWTSLOFC. Even that's pretty long, um, LOL. Anyway, to the original poster, if you much prefer the thinner gauge strings, a luthier can fill in the nut slots and then cut new ones that are narrower. That will solve the problem.

bborzell
10-18-2013, 08:14 PM
Can't think of a better time to try out some Living Waters. They just might fill in any nut gap and give you great tone, too. Always good to have at least two reasons for doing anything.

Strumdaddy
10-18-2013, 10:42 PM
I had a funny experience with a C string buzzing on my Ko'olou tenor... I'd tried all sorts of strings, finally settling on Living Waters - fantastic sound and feel, but had an open C buzz when struck really hard. Annoying occasionally, but I decided to live with it as a healthy imperfection on an otherwise sublime combination. Then I discovered Saverez for my Pono tenor, which suited it more than Living Waters. So - being a constant tinkerer, I thought I had better give the Savarez a go on my Ko'olau.... Good - and no buzzing, but not as good as the Living Waters. So I put a new set of Living Waters back on the Ko'olau (same gauge), and BINGO!! No open C buzz.
I'm very happy, but a bit mystified. Bear in mind that I had tried all sorts of ways to eliminate the buzz in the first place. Everyone needs a little mystery in their lives.
Try a few different strings, if you like the sound of flourocarbons then get someone to look at the set-up. And pray for a little divine intervention! Good luck.

Teek
10-19-2013, 07:27 AM
I love Worth strings. The first thing I do if I get a buzz with a new string set is put my glasses on, get a magnifier and a bright light and take a look at how high the string clearance is. If it looks like it's pretty low and is probably vibrating against a fret, I put a very tiny thin piece of plastic or nylon into the nut slot under the buzzing string. Usually I use a flattened piece of the same string material. If that fixes it I either leave it there and play the uke, or I'll put a tiny bit of glue in and then after it's dry, smooth it with a welding torch cleaner of the proper size, so I put enough glue in to round it back down. Super glue gel seems to work okay.

Brian W
10-21-2013, 06:57 AM
Funny, I had the opposite experience. The set of Aquila's and Fremont Blackline (hard tension) strings both buzzed horribly on my Ohana SK-35 soprano, with the Aquila's being the worst of the two sets. However, when I put on a set of Worth Clears (mediums), the buzzing on the C and E strings completely went away. I actually liked the tone of the Aquila's the best, but the buzzing they caused was impossible to deal with. I have found that string type as well as brand will make a huge difference to overall sound and playability per instrument; one set that works beautifully on one uke, may have horrible results on another. This is truly peculiar to the ukulele, and from my experience, far less of an issue with the guitar. But to me this is also part of the instrument's charm. After purchasing a new ukulele, I actually like experimenting with the different strings to ultimately find the one that fits my uke the best.

RichM
10-21-2013, 07:52 AM
Funny, I had the opposite experience. The set of Aquila's and Fremont Blackline (hard tension) strings both buzzed horribly on my Ohana SK-35 soprano, with the Aquila's being the worst of the two sets. However, when I put on a set of Worth Clears (mediums), the buzzing on the C and E strings completely went away. I actually liked the tone of the Aquila's the best, but the buzzing they caused was impossible to deal with. I have found that string type as well as brand will make a huge difference to overall sound and playability per instrument; one set that works beautifully on one uke, may have horrible results on another. This is truly peculiar to the ukulele, and from my experience, far less of an issue with the guitar. But to me this is also part of the instrument's charm. After purchasing a new ukulele, I actually like experimenting with the different strings to ultimately find the one that fits my uke the best.

Strings don't buzz on their own; they buzz because they are vibrating against something (a too-wide nut slot, a fret because the fret is too high or the action is too low), or because they are causing something else in the uke to buzz (ie, a loose tuner screw). Most problems with string buzz can be tied back to setup, so if you prefer the tone of a certain string set, problems can generally be addressed with setup.

I will agree that string tone is unique to the individual uke. My Michael Dunn Maccaferri-style uke sounds wonderful with Worth Browns, but I find them too mellow on other ukes. I like a good string heft and a bright tone, so Aquilas continue to be my go-to string, but the pure tone of Living Waters has begun to grow on me...

How wonderful to have so many choices!

Brian W
10-21-2013, 08:56 AM
Strings don't buzz on their own; they buzz because they are vibrating against something (a too-wide nut slot, a fret because the fret is too high or the action is too low), or because they are causing something else in the uke to buzz (ie, a loose tuner screw). Most problems with string buzz can be tied back to setup, so if you prefer the tone of a certain string set, problems can generally be addressed with setup.

I will agree that string tone is unique to the individual uke. My Michael Dunn Maccaferri-style uke sounds wonderful with Worth Browns, but I find them too mellow on other ukes. I like a good string heft and a bright tone, so Aquilas continue to be my go-to string, but the pure tone of Living Waters has begun to grow on me...

How wonderful to have so many choices!



I will agree with you that improper uke setup will play a big factor at contributing to string buzz and intonation problems. However, the way a string vibrates, the way the wood reacts (resonates) to that vibration, and, more importantly, neck relief all can contribute to unnecessary fret buzz. I do my own instrument setups (I'm far too picky to put it in the hands of some else) and made several adjustments to the frets, nut, and saddle to afford it great playability and intonation. However not every string I put on that uke will vibrate the same way, so where a good clear fluorocarbon will not buzz, a thicker Nylgut will. I spent a few hours trying to get the Aquila's to play without buzz (I do like their tone), but to no avail. However on a Kanilea super-soprano that I played at a local music store, with the same Nylgut strings, there was no fret buzz. The Kanilea had a longer scale (concert length) and different tonewood (Koa) and bracing pattern for the body. The setup on that instrument was very similar to what I did on my Ohana SK-35, with the exception of the string height at the nut--I made my Ohana a little lower so I could bar chords more easily. Obviously the action at the nut will play no factor in string buzz on the 5th and 7th frets.

HBolte
10-21-2013, 09:46 AM
This may sound crazy but the C string on my Kanile'a concert ukulele buzzes in the summer with humidity at around 50%. Now that the heat has run a few times humidity is down around 40%, no more buzz.

Brian W
10-21-2013, 10:02 AM
This may sound crazy but the C string on my Kanile'a concert ukulele buzzes in the summer with humidity at around 50%. Now that the heat has run a few times humidity is down around 40%, no more buzz.

I don't think you sound crazy. Variations to neck relief will occur with changes to temperature and humidity. Though I have found that fret buzz will generally increase under lower humidity (under 40%), as the wood begins to shrink. Is the C string buzzing when you play open or as you fret up the neck?

HBolte
10-21-2013, 10:40 AM
You're right, my guitars tend to buzz as it gets drier. The c buzzed mostly open or the first few frets.

Brian W
10-21-2013, 03:34 PM
You're right, my guitars ten to buzz as it gets drier. The c buzzed mostly open or the first few frets.

You have a strange one. I usually see that type of buzz in the winter when the heat is on in the house. That happened to my daughter's uke last winter. She has a Mitchell concert, which has a laminate body. I never thought to use a humidifier on a laminate wood instrument, until I stated getting string buzz, just as you did, on the C string, and only on the first couple of frets. I added a humidifier to the case and placed it close to the neck. After a few weeks the buzz went away. It's possible that with the increase in humidity, the fretboard may be expanding just enough to cause the buzz, though usually the neck will also begin to forward bow. You can try adding a desiccant to the case in the summer to reduce the humidity level, just be careful and make sure the humidity in the case doesn't fall much below 40%.

A.H.
10-22-2013, 08:14 AM
So I called Edgar at Aloha Wherehouse in San Francisco. He recommended D'Addario T2s. They're wider than Worth Clears and not flourocarbons, but they look like it. As several here mentioned, my ukes were set up with thicker strings than Worths, causing them to sit lower in the nut. The D'Addario's sound great to me, feel great, and don't buzz!! Problem solved!

Millbrook
10-23-2013, 09:31 AM
You can cut a small strip of something (paper, plastic) to slip into the nut slot under the string. I use a bit of the string package for this. Fixes the buzz without a whole new setup.

wendellfiddler
10-23-2013, 05:27 PM
Or you can fill in the slot with clear epoxy and re-file it when it dries. Works great!

Rick Turner
10-23-2013, 06:51 PM
As many of you have noted, you cannot change from one brand, gauge, or type of string to another without it affecting the instrument setup. This is like changing to a new kind of tire on a racing car without adjusting the suspension. But I see a lot of suggestions here that are temporary solutions at best and are gold coins in the eyes of a luthier down the road when you finally get fed up with how bad the open string(s) sound or you get frustrated with dropping your bit of plastic scrap or match book cover. Why not do it right? Try to ignore problems at the nut, but decide on the tone of the strings that work best for you and your uke. Then and only then get the uke properly set up...or learn to do it yourself, but do it right, not half-assed. It's either worth learning to do right yourself, OR it's worth paying someone who knows how to do it properly. Anything else is just inviting long term frustration into your uke playing life.

The best easy filler for over-sized or too-deep nut slots is baking soda and a carefully applied tiny drop of low viscosity (aka "thin") superglue. It cures nearly as hard as bone, and harder than the cheap plastic nuts found on a lot of inexpensive ukes.

BTW, a pro should be able to fabricate a new nut from a rectangular un-shaped bone blank and have it shaped, sanded, polished, slotted and on your uke with a decent setup in less than 30 minutes. Any more than this is amateur hour...hours, if you will. That's real "bench time" and does not include talk story time and paper work. I do them in well under 20 minutes, but then, I've done hundreds.