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Apr 22, 2019 - 5:14:50 PM
14 posts since 1/17/2019

I had my bishline patriot professionally setup a couple months back with medium weight strings. I now get a bit of vibration on strings 1 and 3 only when played open.

The action is very low. I figure if I raise it just a bit the vibration will cease? If so how do I raise it just a bit and what will I experience if I go to a lighter string.

Aspiring intermediate player here. Thanks

Apr 22, 2019 - 5:26:12 PM

1744 posts since 4/7/2010

If you get fret buzz only when the strings are played open, it is very likely the nut is too low. There are several ways to cure that problem, but our favorite is to remove the nut from the banjo, superglue a layer of manila folder to the bottom, then reinstall the nut. It raises the nut slightly and unlkie filling the slot with superglue and dust, keeps the bone (or other nut material) as the bearing surface.

Bob Smakula
smakula.com

Apr 22, 2019 - 5:46:45 PM
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14078 posts since 12/2/2005

When was the last time you checked head tension? A quarter crank all around could do wonders.

And are you talking about those strings resonating in response to other instruments (normal on a well-set-up banjo) or strings that buzz on frets?

Apr 22, 2019 - 6:39:11 PM

14 posts since 1/17/2019

Thanks for your replies.

I don’t feel confident raising the nut on a new banjo...both my skill and the need to do that on a new instrument has me shying from doing that.

I believe I am getting fret buzz since the action is very low and only happens on open string play.

Apr 22, 2019 - 7:36:45 PM
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Players Union Member

rudy

USA

13885 posts since 3/27/2004

quote:
Originally posted by stevebsq

Thanks for your replies.

I don’t feel confident raising the nut on a new banjo...both my skill and the need to do that on a new instrument has me shying from doing that.

I believe I am getting fret buzz since the action is very low and only happens on open string play.


Often a "professional setup" will include lowering the string slots in the nut. All "professional setups" aren't the same, so the slots being too low could very well be your problem, as bob related.

Throw a capo on the first fret and then play the things that result in the string rattle that you have noted.  If they don't rattle when capoed at the first fret you'll know where the problem is.

Raising the overall string height may indeed "cure" your problem, but your "action" will no longer be as ideal as it could be.

DO use whatever method you normally use to make sure your head hasn't sagged a bit.  Since you state this is a new banjo then the head will more than likely need to be tightened slightly.

Apr 23, 2019 - 2:18:48 AM

Emiel

Austria

9099 posts since 1/22/2003

Yes, first check your head tension.

Wood changes with changes in air humidity. It could also be a problem with the neck bow. Maybe the neck has gone too flat; in that case you can cure it by adjusting the truss rod in the neck to give the neck a bit more bow.

Apr 23, 2019 - 5:38:24 PM

11710 posts since 6/29/2005

quote:
Originally posted by stevebsq

I had my bishline patriot professionally setup a couple months back with medium weight strings. I now get a bit of vibration on strings 1 and 3 only when played open.

The action is very low. I figure if I raise it just a bit the vibration will cease? If so how do I raise it just a bit and what will I experience if I go to a lighter string.

Aspiring intermediate player here. Thanks


Sounds like the buzzing just started.  I would check things that could happen on their own:

(1) Maybe the head needs to be tightened, which would raise the string action.

(2) Neck bending would make the action higher, not lower, but maybe something odd happened that caused a backbow.  I'd check the fingerboard with a straightedge and see if it rocks.

(3) While checking the neck with the straightedge see if any frets have come up.

Bob Smakula's idea of putting a slip of manila folder under the nut couldn't hurt if for no other reason to see if you can maintain the really low action and eliminate the buzz on the open strings.

Apr 23, 2019 - 7:27:35 PM

3973 posts since 6/15/2005

You say the action is "very low." Have you measured it? If so, what is it at the 12th and 22nd frets? As a benchmark, Gibson factory specs were 7/64" at 12 and 9/64" at 22. But it's very common to depart from those measurements, both lower and higher.

I'd look at the easy steps first: head tension for sure, as others have suggested, and also the tailpiece (benchmark for that is around 1/4" clearance).

By the way, what did the professional set-up entail aside from new strings? New head? New bridge? If the latter, how high is the new bridge? If it's lower than the standard 5/8" bridge try a different one. And what are the gauges of your new strings (terms like "light" and "medium" are not consistent from brand to brand and are pretty useless as a basis for comparison).

Apr 24, 2019 - 5:11:06 AM

14 posts since 1/17/2019

Thank you all for your input.

Since this banjo is but three months old me thinks it best to bring it back to the set up guy and have him take a look. There seems to be many possibilities for the buzz and I am not confident to start a hit or miss approach. I thought perhaps I could just tweak something. My uneducated guess is that it being new it moved and settled in a bit.

In the words of Clint Eastwood “ a man’s got to know his limitations” and pulling parts off a new banjo is my limitation. Thanks again.

Apr 24, 2019 - 5:37:28 AM
Players Union Member

rudy

USA

13885 posts since 3/27/2004

quote:
Originally posted by stevebsq

Thank you all for your input.

Since this banjo is but three months old me thinks it best to bring it back to the set up guy and have him take a look. There seems to be many possibilities for the buzz and I am not confident to start a hit or miss approach. I thought perhaps I could just tweak something. My uneducated guess is that it being new it moved and settled in a bit.

In the words of Clint Eastwood “ a man’s got to know his limitations” and pulling parts off a new banjo is my limitation. Thanks again.


Hi Steve,

I think that's a very wise course of action.

As mentioned, there are a few things that could be causing your problem that are normally considered part of the responsibilities of the player relating to maintaining a banjo.

A few common "owner adjustments" are changing the strings, tuning, and tightening the head.  These are all simply a part of playing the instrument and don't require anything out of the ordinary, such as removing the nut or other things that can be considered repair work.

Here's a head tensioning aid if you haven't already tried that option:


Edited by - rudy on 04/24/2019 05:50:19

Apr 24, 2019 - 12:54:06 PM

Alex Z

USA

3464 posts since 12/7/2006

Strings 1 and 3 buzz when played open.  They don't buzz when fretted at the 1st fret.

Conclusion is -- as others have pointed out -- the nut slots for 1 and 3 are too low.

A second conclusion is that the neck relief is OK.

A third conclusion is that the nuts slots for 1 and 3 are lower than the 1st fret.

A fourth conclusion is that for all the other strings on all the fret and at the nut, the string height is OK.

While a buzz from a low nut slot height can be corrected by raising the string height at the bridge -- whether by increasing head tension or increasing the height of the bridge -- that may not be the right solution if all the other strings are playing OK and if the tone of the banjo is satisfactory.  Changing head tension will change the tone.  And who knows how high the string height will have to be raised to eliminate the buzz on the two open strings.

I'd agree with taking it back to the step person for a look.  It's not a difficult diagnosis and fix for an experienced repair person.  A "set up" involves several inter-related factors, and banjos can easily slip out of optimal adjustment.  If the banjo sounded fine before, and does not sound fine now, then something has changed.

Apr 24, 2019 - 1:41:19 PM

11710 posts since 6/29/2005

All good conclusions. My question based on the original question still is, why didn't it start to do this until a couple of months passed?  Something changed.  I don't think nut slots deepen on their own in 2 months.

Apr 24, 2019 - 5:47:25 PM

5748 posts since 8/28/2013

Nut slots don't deepen by themselves, at least over such a short time frame, but if one or two slots have been cut even .001 or .002 deeper than the others (pretty easy to do that), or if an individual string or strings has a somewhat greater amplitude than the others, a lowering of head tension could, in fact, adversely affect just those one or two strings.

As has been stated, something has changed, and I'd suspect head tension first. Adjusting that is something the O.P needs to learn to do himself, whether he takes the banjo back to his set-up man or not.

Edited by - G Edward Porgie on 04/24/2019 17:49:13

Apr 27, 2019 - 3:49:36 PM

14 posts since 1/17/2019

Problem solved. Truss rod adjusted a bit and no more buzzzzz.

Thanks for all your suggestions..got me thinking.

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