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 Post subject: String buzz 4003
 Post Posted: Mon Aug 09, 2010 5:19 pm 
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Joined: Mon Aug 09, 2010 5:08 pm
Posts: 1
Location: Germany
Hi,
After almost 30 years of dreaming (yes, I am that old) I've finally got my (first) 4003.
The bass was built in 2007 and apart from one tiny scratch (which I made) is in mint condition.
So, what's my problem?
I've fitted Elixir strings (45-105) which I use exclusively. After fitting the strings, I had my local RIC dealer check the action. 4 days later and I'm getting string buzz mainly on the first 3 frets on all strings when I play harder (fingerstyle). When I play softly I can detect very little string buzz. Above the 5th fret, there is no string buss regardless of how I play.
The bass hangs on the wall at home. Temperature is ca. 21°C and humidity is between 60% and 70%. The action is fairly low and looking at the neck it looks to be fairly straight with maybe a very slight concave bow. Frets, fretboard and neck show almost no sign of wear suggesting this thing has not really been played either much or indeed, on a regular basis.
I've read through the various forum threads and see that RICs are meant to be set up with the neck dead straight however, wouldn't that actually make my problem worse?
I'm reluctant to keep taking the bass to various dealers/technicians to be set up. Unfortunately, my previous technician has retired and I haven't found another good one yet!
Can anyone steer me in the right direction as to what I should be looking for in order to get rid of this string buzz?


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 Post subject: Re: String buzz 4003
 Post Posted: Mon Aug 09, 2010 8:25 pm 
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Joined: Mon Mar 05, 2007 12:33 am
Posts: 3403
Location: Denver
Quote:
I've fitted Elixir strings (45-105) which I use exclusively. After fitting the strings, I had my local RIC dealer check the action. 4 days later and I'm getting string buzz mainly on the first 3 frets on all strings when I play harder (fingerstyle). When I play softly I can detect very little string buzz. Above the 5th fret, there is no string buss regardless of how I play.


That sounds extremely clear to me (but my word is not the last): your nut is cut too low, but only just slightly. This is possible with a factory nut or after a luthier sets your bass up for what he thinks will be better playability. You just need to gain probably not even 1 mm on each string to fix this, although if you aren't hearing through an amp (i.e. it's only audible unplugged) then it's not really a problem and you'd be better off just accepting it.

Quote:
I've read through the various forum threads and see that RICs are meant to be set up with the neck dead straight however, wouldn't that actually make my problem worse?


Probably, but if your nut was cut better, you'd likely be able to set the neck dead straight. Bear in mind I think I have some very light fret buzz on the same frets you do on all of my fretted Rics (which have straight necks) but it's really a non-issue because it can't be heard through the amp.

Quote:
I'm reluctant to keep taking the bass to various dealers/technicians to be set up. Unfortunately, my previous technician has retired and I haven't found another good one yet!


So did you have someone cut the nut earlier or do you think the previous owner did? I believe that's the culprit, or you got unlucky and the normal tolerances all went in the negative direction this time (i.e. all the slots went slightly lower than average).

I believe you just need a new nut, cut very similarly but with a little more material left behind. The vast majority of luthiers can do this very well; in fact I think nut work is a big part of what keeps players from going 100% DIY. It's certainly not something I've leapt into on my own.


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 Post subject: Re: String buzz 4003
 Post Posted: Wed Aug 18, 2010 6:26 am 
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Joined: Sat Sep 27, 2008 10:49 pm
Posts: 573
Location: Stanstead, QC
You can temporarily mimic a slightly taller nut by loosenng the strings, putting a strip of aluminum foil over the top of the nut and then re-tightening the strings.

If your buzzing problem is diminished or disappears, then you will know the nut is the culprit.

However, there is no substitute for having a straight neck.

The nut is really fret zero. So if it's been adjusted too low while you have a bow in the neck, you have frets that are too low, much too low, much too low, too low, then OK as we count from zero up to 20+, a recipe for buzzing, tuning and perhaps intonation problems, most especially in the area where the fret height is not right.

It surely will not cost a lot to get the neck straightened out when you get the nut replaced. It cost me about $35 and a few days's wait last year to get a twisty 4003 neck straightened on a luthier's rack.



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