Buzzing on String Instruments: Causes and Cures

mrsdepp

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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?
 

buddhuu

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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. :)
 

artcrocker

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Wow

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.
 

phanzo

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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!!
 

Chase

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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!

chase
 

buddhuu

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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?
 

Chase

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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!

chase
 

Chase

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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 ;)

chase
 

weegee

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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
 

buddhuu

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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...
 

Splat

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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:
 

SuzukHammer

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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.
 

byzkarl

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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!
 

j'uke'in

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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?
 

fromthee2me

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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.....
 

fa'a Junior

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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?
 

paeataa

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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. :)
 

Nickie

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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.