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Thread: Is it me or the strings?

  1. #1

    Default Is it me or the strings?

    I asked for strings suggestions in another thread (higher tension or wound C), but then I started thinking that maybe the issue is just me / technique.

    Here's the problem: When I pluck the 3rd string (C string) multiple times in a row (like when plucking that same string 3 times in a row at 1 beat, for example), it buzzes for a second right at the very moment when my thumb touches the string to pluck again (since it's still vibrating from the immediate previous pluck). This is an issue on both ukuleles I have, one with Worth Browns, one with Aquilas. Both are concert ukuleles, if that matters. The sound really bugs me.

    It does not bother me when strumming, only noticeable with finger style when that string needs to be plucked more than one time (as in example above).

    I've tried varying how much pressure I'm using while plucking the C string, but it's still bugging me. It happens with open string or with first 3 frets most noticeably, and a bit at 4th and 5th fret. The further down the fret board towards the body, the less I hear it. My recent uke was just purchased in January from Mim, so I don't think it's a set up issue.

    So I'm wondering if it's just me that has this issue. I'm not sure what I could do differently technique-wise. I've watched James Hill videos on how to finger pluck and it seems I'm doing so correctly. To me, it really just feels that the 3rd string is too loose. I understand that it's the string that's going to be relatively looser anyway. But I'm wondering why it seems to be an issue for me finger picking, when I don't really hear others complaining of that. So it must just be me.... ?
    Last edited by hollymichele; 02-09-2019 at 03:26 PM.

  2. #2


    I just tried with my index finger and it's less noticeable buzzing, but still bothers me.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    JoCo, NC (near Raleigh)


    Standard troubleshooting technique says to eliminate one variable at a time.

    Is it you? Have someone else play your uke and see if it buzzes for them too. If not, it's you. If so, probably the string.

    Is it the string? Try your technique on different strings, for example see if you get the same sound playing someone else's uke - or try different ukes at a music store with your same technique and see if you get the same buzz. Do all the ukes buzz? Then it's you. If not, probably the string.
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  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2017
    SE Connecticut, USA


    If the problem is caused by your finger moving back on to a string that's vibrating, as you suggest, I can only think of two ways to address the buzzing. Either learn to damp the vibration after you lift your fretting finger off the third string, or learn to attack it more quickly when you move your finger back onto the already vibrating string.
    Last edited by Swamp Yankee; 02-10-2019 at 10:57 AM.
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  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Oak Park, Illinois


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  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Capital District, New York


    It sounds like you are pushing the string, ever so slightly, down to just barely hit the frets, and it then buzzes.

    My gut agrees with Steve (firefighters have to stick together, after all...), and says it is you, and I do like Jim's suggestion - have someone else play it, then listen to hear what happens.

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  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Pickering, ON, Canada


    Two different ukes with two different set of strings that are doing the same thing, the only variable is the player. It sounds like (pun intended) your thumb is making light contact with the vibrating string just before you pluck it. A quicker attack might solve this, thumb above string then come down quick. Also check your fretting finger is not slightly releasing pressure on the string between plucks. That will cause buzzing everytime
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  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2018
    Owen Sound, Ontario, Canada


    Can you take a video of yourself playing? Maybe do some playback analysis to see if you doing something unusual.
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