Buzzing in two frets only.

Mivo

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I have a Chinese made solid tenor that I got a few years ago. I haven't done anything with it as I got the Barron River tenor not much later. I've been thinking about gifting it to someone, so today I took it out of its bag to see how it sounded. It actually had a great sound, very sweet acacia tone.

However, when I fret the A string in the third and fourth fret, it buzzes (fourth fret buzz is more intense). Open and in the first two frets, and in the fifth+ fret, it is fine. It is only the A string, the others are fine. I swapped strings, but there was no change.

Is it safe to assume that the buzz is caused by the fifth fret divider? It doesn't look raised, but the symptoms seem to indicate that this might be the issue. How do I fix this? If I need to buy a tool, what exactly will I be looking for? I'm not crafty, but I can follow instructions. :)

The uke may have been exposed to dry air in the winter. It was stored in an unheated closet where I didn't measure humidity.
 

strumsilly

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several things you can try. put a piece of paper/cardboard under the A string at the nut[the nut slot may be too deep]
raise the action at the saddle[a sliver of an old credit card placed under the saddle]
put a straight edge down the neck and see if the fifth fret is high, tap it down [or file/sand it] if it is. The first 2 are temporary possible fixes to see if that's the issue. a new nut or filling the slot and recutting, and /or a new saddle are the right way. you can buy professional tools, or improvise. I use a mini hacksaw blade with the sides ground down [thinner cut] and/or welding tip cleaners for the nut. For fret leveling, I mark the frets with a black sharpie and use my super flat diamond wetstone to see if the frets are level. Use this at your own risk, I am not a pro.
 

cml

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It can be difficult, I easily spent 2 hours on my latest uke, and I was SURE everything was level. Apparently not, hah. You need something that you KNOW is straight, sandpaper 400 to 1000, steel wool and some needle files.

My first two ukes, the setup was perfect within 15min. Mystical for sure :).
 

jer

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I would guess the same you did that the 5th fret would be the problem.

The nut is only in play for the open string, so I'd rule that out...and since the other frets are fine I don't think the action is too low technically. Although, raising the action at the saddle may still fix the problem. The lower the action, the more level the frets have to be to avoid buzzing. I hope you get it figured out.
 

BlackBearUkes

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The culprit is the 5th fret, it needs to be filed down a bit, re-crowned and polished. Not a job for a beginner IMO.
 

Mivo

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Thanks everyone for your answers. :)

I think this is likely beyond my ability to fix, so I reached out to local music store with a repair workshop to inquire if they would fix this and for how much. Might be a good opportunity to get a pickup installed, too. The instrument was relatively inexpensive ($300-ish), but it would be a shame to leave it like that. Does have a sweet sound.