Possible Tuning Machine Buzz?

I’ve only reached Module 6 but I’m wondering if I can get some help for the more experienced bass player in my home.

My husband has been playing his Fender Jazz 24 Bass for over ten years now, but never got into the maintenance part of being a bass owner. (Bad bassist! No biscuit!) Now that the coronavirus lockdown has closed up our local local guitar repair shops, he’s in a bit of a bind.

When he plays his open E string, or certain frets elsewhere (E string 8th fret or D string 11th fret, for example) he gets this thin buzzing noise. It’s not fret buzz. I mean, he has a little fret buzz, but this is a separate issue. Near as either of us has been able to tell, the buzzing or rattling is being caused by his G string’s tuning machine. We’ve tried lowering the action, it had no effect. The washer on the tuning peg seemed a tad loose, so he tightened the nut on top of it with a wrench, it had no effect. The actual knob isn’t loose, he checked that. In the course of trying to figure this out, we discovered that his D and G strings were not actually in the slots of the string tree, but putting them in the slots didn’t help. He’s still getting that buzzing when he plays.

So we’re at a bit of a loss as to what to try next. Any thoughts?

4 Likes

Did you check and adjust the truss rod?

3 Likes

Yes, I forgot to mention that. He tightened it a touch (quarter turn). Manufacturers always give dire warnings about leaving the truss rod to professionals so he didn’t want to get over enthusiastic with it.

3 Likes

They do? Oh, I didn’t know. I always set up my basses and do the action and truss rod, and have never had any problems, but if it is outside his comfort zone, then I guess he should leave it to the pros.
Maybe you guys should scoop up a few cheap project basses and start playing whit setting them up and do some truss rod adjustments, string action adjustments, intonation adjustments, and then re-sell them for a small profit. even if you only break even, good way to learn

3 Likes

Standard Fender clover leaf tuners? Does the buzz stop if you grab the tuner? If yes and yes, you may find that one or more of the clovers are loose in the split shaft that holds them.

You can fix them temporarily (may last a week, may last a year) by carefully wicking thin superglue into the joint on both sides and letting it dry. You can fix it more permanently by removing the tuner from the bass, applying the superglue and then clamping the end of the shaft in a vice to force the prongs closer together to pinch the clover.

Or you could just get new tuners. :smiley:

3 Likes

Yes, to the standard clover leaf, but no to the buzz stopping if he holds the tuner (any of them, we tested all four).

This is turning into quite the mystery. :mag:

2 Likes

Hmm… did you tighten the screw that holds the gear as well?

3 Likes

He tried giving it a turn with a manual screwdriver and it didn’t budge. It seems pretty tight.

The mystery deepens. :thinking:

2 Likes

Maybe try completely detuning the G string so that it is loose, to take it and its tuner completely out of the picture, and see if it still happens? That would at least convict the G string of this crime :slight_smile:

2 Likes

Guilty!
We did what you suggested and when it’s loosened…no buzz. When the G-string is tuned, the buzz is back. Now… how to fix it. :thinking:

3 Likes

is the nut too low for this string?

2 Likes

Investigation pending. :wink:

2 Likes

Old strings, loose outer coils maybe?

3 Likes

You can probably shim under the string with something to raise ONLY that string up just a little bit. Suggestions for what to shim with would be helpful. Paper might even work, just a tiny pc, just to raise it a tiny bid

2 Likes

I don’t believe so. We don’t have precision measuring tools but we did the hold-at-the-third-fret-slip-a-piece-of-paper test and I could fit a sheet of paper through. :straight_ruler:

He changed the strings about two weeks ago. (The replacements were the same brand / gauge as the previous sets.)

He compared the give of his pickups versus mine (Yamaha) and they seem about the same. If you mean something different by “outer coil” you’ll need to educate me. :slightly_smiling_face:

I’m beginning to feel like I should change my user name to Enola. :rofl:

1 Like

That’s what I usually do (minus the paper, I just eyeball it) and yeah, sounds like your nut is fine.

2 Likes

Did you have the string buzz before you changed to strings?

3 Likes

He says that it was present, though not as noticeable/loud.

2 Likes

Do you know if the same gauge of strings are being used ? And is there any room for the string to vibrate in the nut ?

2 Likes

Yes. Same brand (GHS), same gauge, same type.

It doesn’t look/feel like it to me, but how does one know for sure?

2 Likes