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May 7, 2021 - 9:02:17 AM
191 posts since 5/3/2004

Long time picker and banjo tinkerer, but I'm stumped.
When I play any roll open the 2nd string causes a buzz in the 4th string. If I do a roll using all four strings and immediately mute the 2nd string, that stops the buzz. Things I have tried--changed bridge, strings and head. Closely examined 4th string frets, all fine not touching string. Examined 4th string slot in nut, looks fine to me. Bridge is properly placed by fretting and harmonics at 12th and and 19th frets.
The problem/buzz is most noticeable when strings are picked open, but also noticeable but less so with the Em chord (1st and 4th strings fretted at second fret, 2nd string open).

I hope this is clear.

Any ideas? Anyone cured this problem?
Thanks much.

May 7, 2021 - 9:03:31 AM

191 posts since 5/3/2004

Forgot to mention banjo is a 6 year old Sullivan V-35.

May 7, 2021 - 9:09:35 AM



824 posts since 8/9/2019

Just spitballing here...

Have you changed strings lately by any chance? If everything on the set up looks fine, maybe that's a good place to start.

Beyond that, maybe experiment with a different 2nd or 4th string gauge? Or maybe the bridge itself is the culprit? transferring lots of vibration somehow from 2nd to 4th?

May 7, 2021 - 9:14:11 AM
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191 posts since 5/3/2004

I guess I wasn't clear--I have changed strings and bridges several times, as well as the head.

May 7, 2021 - 9:43:59 AM

4 posts since 8/29/2006

It could buzz at the nut or the bridge when played open.
I would try a small piece of folded aluminium foil in the nut slot
as that is most likely end to have an issue. It might correct a small
imperfection that is difficult to see.
Also check all metal parts inside and out as it may actually be a
loose part rattling. Good Luck on the hunt!

May 7, 2021 - 9:51:04 AM

191 posts since 5/3/2004

Thanks Dave, I'll try the aluminum. All parts on the banjo are tight.

May 7, 2021 - 11:10:52 AM

22 posts since 1/1/2009

"If the commies don't get us, the B strings will." --Grandpa Jones

May 7, 2021 - 11:20:54 AM

191 posts since 5/3/2004

Yeah, and they're probably the reason the aluminum foil didn't work either. It's the damndest thing. Aggravating.

May 7, 2021 - 11:37:33 AM

Alex Z


4277 posts since 12/7/2006

I had a similar difficulty with a guitar - 2nd and 3rd strings. 

The strings did not buzz separately.  That's the puzzle. Only when played together, both open and octave harmonic.  

Play together, hear buzz. Stop one string, buzz goes away. My guess it was not a real buzz, but rather a difference tone between harmonics of the two strings, which was amplified by the guitar top. 

I'd be interested if anyone has solved this problem. (Not so interested about try this or that. smiley )

May 7, 2021 - 11:59:12 AM
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6765 posts since 12/5/2007

You might try tightening the head j-bolt nuts a quarter turn. Head could be tuned to some pitch that is causing that string to respond.

May 7, 2021 - 12:45:20 PM



357 posts since 6/26/2004

Check the tailpiece and the 4th string as it exits the tailpiece. I assume it is a Presto or a Clamshell. Sometimes I have placed a real thin piece of leather between the strings and the front edge of the tailpiece (the part that puts the downward pressure on the strings).

May 7, 2021 - 12:59:45 PM
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156 posts since 12/21/2012

Sounds like it may be what I call the "phantom rattle". Certain frequencies cause random parts to vibrate and buzz. Then sound like they're coming from somewhere completely different due to an instrument's acoustic nature. It may have everything to do with that B note at that octive, but zilch with the B string itself or the 4th string. It might be the harmonic vibration of the phantom vibrating that 4th.

Even if it seems silly, mute every part that could be loose with your hand and see if it goes away. Tuners, tuner buttons, strings above the nut and below the bridge, tension hooks, neck bolts, coordinator rod, tailpiece, truss rod nut, etc.

On good example is cheap guitars that come in to my shop. It sounds 100% like there's something in the body rattling, but it's often junky tuning machines. The illusion is because the body amplifies the sound, not the headstock. and it's the loosest tuner vibrating, not necissarily the one connected to the string producing the frequency. There by the buzz/rattle throws it's voice.

This may or may not be the problem, but it is not uncommon.

Good Luck!

Edited by - Red Squirrel on 05/07/2021 13:06:55

May 7, 2021 - 1:34:06 PM



22371 posts since 7/6/2005

I believe it is a sympathetic frequency buzz. I'd re-shape the nut slot, check the truss rod for tightness, check the truss rod cover and tuners and even check for a loose fret end, tailpiece vibration, armrest vibration. have you checked the head for any tears aln

May 7, 2021 - 2:02:15 PM

Bill H


1596 posts since 11/7/2010

Have you tried a straight edge on the frets?

May 7, 2021 - 2:19:20 PM
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191 posts since 5/3/2004

Thanks much everyone. Appreciate your time and thoughts. I will try all these suggestions I haven't already tried (I didn't think of the truss rod) and will let you know in a future post if I ever definitively figure it out.

May 7, 2021 - 2:39:25 PM

Alex Z


4277 posts since 12/7/2006

Two strings together produce a buzzing sound. Each separately does not produce a buzzing sound.  Mute one string in the middle of a buzz, and the buzzing ceases. 

Talk to me about what the sympathetic frequency might be. 

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