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Dec 7, 2022 - 2:49:58 PM

DWFII

USA

536 posts since 1/9/2022

So, I've been meaning to ask this for a long time. I am near-as-nevermind certain the fault is in my technique but I cannot identify where my problem lies.

i play twp finger index lead. When I play G, striking each string sequentially-- D, B, G, D, everything sounds fine. But if I play C, fretting the first string at 2, the second string at 1, and the fourth string at 2-- E, C, G, E, the third string seems to buzz. It buzzes after the strike. the only way I can describe it is to say that the 'linger is when it buzzes.'

If I play in E--E, B, G, E, again the third string develops a buzz. Again on the linger (sustain?)

Any other chord no problem only when the open G is sandwiched between to fretted strings.

And, if I play the C chord with the E unfretted until I actually strike the fourth string, the buzz seems to disappear. If I play very softly it also seems to disappear.

I have paid particular attention to my second finger to make sure it was not touching the third string. And additional attention to my index finger to make sure that it doesn't slide over to touch the third string. I cannot feel or see how the third string is being interfered with. It just seems to be a resonance.

So I am at a loss. If anyone recognizes a possible problem that may be causing this third string buzz I would appreciate any advice or tips on what to look for to eliminate it.

BTW, I had this banjo to may local luthier and he could not replicate the problem and for some reason neither could I. Worse, I didn't notice the buzzing when he played.

Dec 7, 2022 - 3:05:47 PM
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2938 posts since 2/12/2005

What is your action at fret 12?

Did this just start happening (with the advent of cold weather)?

How much bow is in the neck if you put a machinist straightedge down the frets? (Did he check that?)

Any chance that your tailpiece cover is a little loose? All the internal stuff (coordinator rod, dowel) snugged up? Is the nut on the truss rod secure?

Dec 7, 2022 - 3:15:18 PM

Wobba

USA

55 posts since 4/15/2020

Sounds like the cold weather has bowed the banjo neck back. Thats why they strings buzz when you fret them in 1st position. The action is too low. Does your neck have a truss rod? If so you can give it about a quarter of a turn to bow the neck more in the middle so that the action is higher. Or, if you head metal tension rods in the rim you could adjust them to tilt the neck slightly forward.

You can check if your neck is bowed enough by pressing a string at the first fret and then the same string at the 12th fret. Then look to see how close the string is to the frets at about the 6th fret. If it's touching or almost touching, that's too close. Time to adjust the neck bow using the truss rod.

Dec 7, 2022 - 5:40:04 PM

DWFII

USA

536 posts since 1/9/2022

So, this banjo was brand new in June or July. I started noticing the buzz not long after I got it. I had it in to the luthier about two months ago. He is very thorough...as far as I can tell.

It's a Pisgah Possum 11" short(er) neck and open back.

Full disclosure--I have been playing about a year total, with no prior experience with stringed instruments. So the truth is I am pretty sure it's something I'm doing...as I said, the luthier (who plays professionally) couldn't find any buzz.

I just can't figure what I'm doing wrong.

Dec 7, 2022 - 5:42:30 PM

8312 posts since 8/30/2004

Did you play for the Luthier? He/She may have been able to help you. Did He/She ask you to play for them?...Jack

Originally posted by DWFII

 

Edited by - Jack Baker on 12/07/2022 17:47:04

Dec 7, 2022 - 8:09:51 PM

DWFII

USA

536 posts since 1/9/2022

quote:
Originally posted by Jack Baker
Did you play for the Luthier? He/She may have been able to help you. Did He/She ask you to play for them?...Jack

Well, by the time I went to see him, I had narrowed it down to the specific circumstances when it was most apparent to me, and I tried to demonstrate the problem. But I am not very skilled (even after a year, I still don't have any song, not even Bile them Cabbages, down pat)  and I get nervous playing in front of people. So I just mostly... awkwardly and stiffly, I'm sure... played the chords I mentioned in the OP.

At one point, I got that buzz pretty good to my ears, and asked him if he had heard it. He didn't seem to think anything remarkable had happened and spoke to me about how strings could pick up harmonics from other strings (it does seem to happen more frequently and more noticeably right in the middle of when I'm trying to play a sequence (roll?) of eighth notes and a lot of sound is compounding on itself) and a little about how a note could be deadened depending on where your fretting fingers were positioned in relation to the fret.

At that point, I just doubled down on my resolve to figure out what was causing the buzz  (this question is one of the results) and to just go on playing and hoping that sooner or later I'd know enough or get good enough to either outgrow the problem or figure it out. 

I dunno...

Dec 7, 2022 - 9:35:45 PM

34 posts since 6/19/2021

This might not help your problem, but I have seen it solve some unexplained buzzes before. Try putting a little graphite powder in the string slot on the nut, You can get it at a hardware store or Wal-Mart.

Dec 7, 2022 - 10:09:36 PM
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53 posts since 8/23/2022

Try putting a capo on the 1st fret and see if it buzzes. If it does, then it is something that a set-up will fix and not technique.

Dec 8, 2022 - 6:10:02 AM

DWFII

USA

536 posts since 1/9/2022

^ Thank you. I will try both of those suggestions.

Dec 8, 2022 - 6:27:09 AM
Players Union Member

janolov

Sweden

42035 posts since 3/7/2006

I think it sounds strange: the open third string makes a buzz when you fret first and fourth strings (C chord and Em chord) but does not buzz when all strings are open. And the luthier couldn't replicate the problem - he should have checked the action or if the nut is loose. I think it sound like you are doing something wrong. Perhaps the idea with a capo on 1st (or 2nd) fret may help because that will lower the strings closer to the fretboard and put your hand in another position (perhaps a minimal change but may be enough to avoid the buzz).

Edited by - janolov on 12/08/2022 06:36:43

Dec 8, 2022 - 6:43:04 AM

8312 posts since 8/30/2004

Ha, Hi Jan,
I never met a banjo than didn't buzz somewhere...Jack

Originally posted by janolov

I think it sounds strange: the open third string makes a buzz when you fret first and fourth strings (C chord and Em chord) but does not buzz when all strings are open. And the luthier couldn't replicate the problem - he should have checked the action or if the nut is loose. I think it sound like you are doing something wrong. Perhaps the idea with a capo on 1st (or 2nd) fret may help because that will lower the strings closer to the fretboard and put your hand in another position (perhaps a minimal change but may be enough to avoid the buzz).


Dec 8, 2022 - 7:06:49 AM

DWFII

USA

536 posts since 1/9/2022

quote:
Originally posted by janolov

I think it sounds strange: the open third string makes a buzz when you fret first and fourth strings (C chord and Em chord) but does not buzz when all strings are open. And the luthier couldn't replicate the problem - he should have checked the action or if the nut is loose. I think it sound like you are doing something wrong. Perhaps the idea with a capo on 1st (or 2nd) fret may help because that will lower the strings closer to the fretboard and put your hand in another position (perhaps a minimal change but may be enough to avoid the buzz).


Exactly!! That said, he he is very good and, to my eye very meticulous. I asked him to check string action and the bridge and so forth.

Like I said originally, I am pretty certain I am doing something wrong but I can't figure out what it is.

Dec 8, 2022 - 7:38:18 AM
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mbanza

USA

2539 posts since 9/16/2007

The buzz occurs when you fret strings one and four at two and play the third string, but it is not necessarily the third string that is buzzing. The intermittent nature of the problem suggests a problem with technique. Make sure your fretting fingers are up against the frets and that you are maintaining adequate down-pressure.

Also consider other possibilities. I once helped a friend solve a random buzz problem that turned out to have been caused by a button of a long-sleeved shirt sleeve.

Dec 8, 2022 - 10:10:16 AM

8434 posts since 3/17/2005

Hey DWII, haven't seen you on here in a while. Hoe you're doing well and happy holidays to you and yours :-)

Dec 8, 2022 - 11:16:06 AM

DWFII

USA

536 posts since 1/9/2022

quote:
Originally posted by chip arnold

Hey DWII, haven't seen you on here in a while. Hoe you're doing well and happy holidays to you and yours :-)


Hey, Chip! I'm still l pluggin'' away and hanging in there. I'm real glad to hear from you. I miss your posts. Seems like there are few 2FIL people around... sometimes I think I'd lose hope except I'm nowhere close to being even competent in what I'm already working on. lol

Thank you and Merry Christmas to you and yours.

Dec 8, 2022 - 11:26:44 AM
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76 posts since 5/7/2016

Something I had to get across to "some" students. How long are your fingernails on the
hand that frets the neck ? They should be as short as you can stand it.Does your fretting fingers come pretty much straight down ?
Have somebody other than the luthier play it, dont say anything about the buzz and see if
you hear it.

This most likely will only be solved when it happens while you are playing it and another
more experienced player catches it.

best of luck

Dec 8, 2022 - 12:00:57 PM

2016 posts since 2/9/2007

Buzzes can be a right puzzle to track down. If the open 3rd string buzzes only when the other strings are fretted at certain places, the buzz may be coming from the sympathetic vibration of one of those other strings, or some other part of the banjo altogether-- There are lots of screws and nuts on a banjo, any one of which may be loose. If your tailpiece has a hinged cover, check that. The "dead ends" of the strings (between bridge and tailpiece, and to a lesser extent between nut and peg) each have a resonant frequency, each potentially causing all sorts of unwanted influences on your sound. The shape of the nut and bridge slots has already been mentioned. Do you have any loose string ends hanging off your pegs?

Dec 8, 2022 - 12:02:57 PM

DWFII

USA

536 posts since 1/9/2022

quote:
Originally posted by Eric-Johnson

Something I had to get across to "some" students. How long are your fingernails on the
hand that frets the neck ? They should be as short as you can stand it.Does your fretting fingers come pretty much straight down ?
Have somebody other than the luthier play it, dont say anything about the buzz and see if
you hear it.

This most likely will only be solved when it happens while you are playing it and another
more experienced player catches it.

best of luck


Thanks. I have my fingernails trimmed near-as-nevermind to the quick. There is less than a millimeter of 'white' nail showing right now.  My fretting fingers come pretty much straight down... I've been working on it for a considerable time. Not always perfect but a considerable improvement since i began a year ago. I thought that might be the problem but I look at my left hand when it happens and I don't see any fingers touching the open third string.   

I don't really know any other players. There must be bands and so forth, but I don't know any and I'm pretty much a stick in the mud. I don't have a teacher either.

Dec 8, 2022 - 12:09:39 PM

DWFII

USA

536 posts since 1/9/2022

quote:
Originally posted by Dan Gellert

Buzzes can be a right puzzle to track down. If the open 3rd string buzzes only when the other strings are fretted at certain places, the buzz may be coming from the sympathetic vibration of one of those other strings, or some other part of the banjo altogether-- There are lots of screws and nuts on a banjo, any one of which may be loose. If your tailpiece has a hinged cover, check that. The "dead ends" of the strings (between bridge and tailpiece, and to a lesser extent between nut and peg) each have a resonant frequency, each potentially causing all sorts of unwanted influences on your sound. The shape of the nut and bridge slots has already been mentioned. Do you have any loose string ends hanging off your pegs?


"Sympathetic vibration" is it. Or maybe it just seems that way to me.

No loose strings hanging off the tuner. No loose bolts nor nuts, etc..  Asked the luthier to check those things and he did adjust the bridge position a little bit and checked the head tension. Like I said this was just a little while ago.

Well my ear isn't anything to write hone about and I am getting the mechanics (slowy, slowly) so maybe it doesn't really matter. I'm only playing for myself, anyway.

Dec 9, 2022 - 10:11:48 AM

1332 posts since 8/7/2017

It (the buzzing) matters because it bothers You. Finding the source of the buzz is a hassle, no doubt about it. Seek out another banjo player...you'll each learn from the other, so it's worth doing just for that reason, buzz or no buzz. You need another player to check for buzz being due to you, or due to something non-you, this should become a priority. Call local guitar teachers and see if they know a banjoist; ask (or post a note) at local music stores. Good luck, I think you'll figure it out eventually (or it will go away due to change in weather/humidity).

Dec 9, 2022 - 11:08:56 AM

Wobba

USA

55 posts since 4/15/2020

OK, since the luthier couldn't find anything that would cause a buzz, and considering you current beginner status. I'm gonna say it's probably how you are positioning your fingers when you fret a string. I remember way back when I started off that when I fretted a string, my finger would be a little too close to an adjacent string, which would cause it to buzz against my finger. It took a lot of practice to get my fingers to place properly on strings without being close enough to another string to cause a buzz. Since I went through this, I'm pretty sure it's what you're experience. Especially since it's a random thing. Was for me as well.

My suggestion, take a little time each day to practice finger placement. And if you hear a buzz. Stop and notice how you finger is placed. Move it over to be centered on the string better and see if that stopped the buzz.

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