Buzzing A and D Strings

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FurchMan
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Buzzing A and D Strings

Post by FurchMan » Sat Jan 06, 2018 7:57 pm

Is it my technique or my guitar? Or maybe both?

I've been playing for around two years on electric and steel-stringed acoustic and have just made the move to nylon. The guitar is a Furch crossover guitar and so more like a standard acoustic, albeit with nylon strings. This suits me as I have irritatingly short fingers and find traditional classical necks too wide.

The issue I'm having is that I'm finding that the D and A strings buzz when fretted. Having Googled the issue (it comes up a lot), there appears to be two camps: your guitar is set up incorrectly or your technique is wrong.

The guitar does have low action for a nylon but it was set up by someone who has a lot of experience and the guitar itself wasn't cheap and so I'd hope is unlikely to have problems such as raised frets. Also the problem occurs on just about every position on the neck. The other reason I'm sure it's not all the guitar's fault is that I do have a cheapo nylon stringed guitar in the cupboard, with a traditional classical neck. This guitar has insanely high action but even playing this I get the buzzing.

So, I'm back to technique. I'm aware that players should always hold as close to the fret being played as possible to get the best sound. Leaving aside the problems this causes for those of us with shorter digits, I'm wondering how I would play a chord such as an Fmaj barre? When I play it, my ring finger is some distance from the fret and so the A string buzzes. If I alter the way I play this chord, which isn't easy, by switching my ring finger for my pinky I then have the opposite problem: the A string is clean but now the D string buzzes.

Has anyone else faced and overcome this issue or have any useful tips?


Many thanks.

simonm
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Re: Buzzing A and D Strings

Post by simonm » Sat Jan 06, 2018 9:45 pm

I suspect that both steel strings and electrics are a bit more forgiving in regard to exactly where you are pressing the strings. On a classical you should be fretting as close to being on top of the fret bar as you can. This is not always easy especially as you move up towards the D and A strings. So I suspect that technique may be at least part of the issue. I am sure some experienced person will be along and suggest some remedy. I suspect the gist of it will be "get a teacher." :-)

FurchMan
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Re: Buzzing A and D Strings

Post by FurchMan » Sat Jan 06, 2018 10:07 pm

simonm wrote:
Sat Jan 06, 2018 9:45 pm
I suspect that both steel strings and electrics are a bit more forgiving in regard to exactly where you are pressing the strings. On a classical you should be fretting as close to being on top of the fret bar as you can. This is not always easy especially as you move up towards the D and A strings. So I suspect that technique may be at least part of the issue. I am sure some experienced person will be along and suggest some remedy. I suspect the gist of it will be "get a teacher." :-)
Thanks simonm. I do have a long term teacher, who is excellent, but he's as new to nylon as I am. The only comfort I have is that when he plays my guitar he gets the same buzzing; on his, which he has recently acquired, the buzzing is also there but not as pronounced.

Unless some kind soul on here gives me the golden ticket then I will take your advice and book a lesson with a teacher who specialises in classical guitar. At least they'll be able to tell me if it's me or the guitar.

...or both.

simonm
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Re: Buzzing A and D Strings

Post by simonm » Sun Jan 07, 2018 12:21 am

Does it buzz if you just fret just one string right up against the fret?

DerekB
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Re: Buzzing A and D Strings

Post by DerekB » Sun Jan 07, 2018 10:38 am

I would get a luthier to check the guitar out. Roger Williams, who lives in Litchfield, is excellent at guitar set up. If any work needs to be done he will give you a very reasonable price.
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andreas777
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Re: Buzzing A and D Strings

Post by andreas777 » Sun Jan 07, 2018 11:57 am

You can do some checks:
* What happens if you put the A string at the 6th position where the E string should be?
* What happens if you turn around the saddle on the bridge so the A and D strings are where the B and G strings should be (and the other edge)?
* What happens if you tune your guitar not at 440Hz but let's say 430Hz?
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OldPotter
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Re: Buzzing A and D Strings

Post by OldPotter » Sun Jan 07, 2018 4:34 pm

For the simplest check, follow simonm's advice. If you can follow that up by measuring the action on the 4th and 5th strings then we would have some figures to work from. I also wonder if the same person has set up your guitar and your teacher's?
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FurchMan
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Re: Buzzing A and D Strings

Post by FurchMan » Sun Jan 07, 2018 6:22 pm

Thank you all for the replies and assistance. My replies, as best I can, are below:-

Simonm - the buzz all but disappears when fretted 'correctly', i.e. finger tight up against the fret. I know this points to a problem purely of technique, but if this is typical and nylon stringed guitars allow no margin of movement within the fret, then I'm wondering how I'll ever play a chord such as Fmaj barre.

DerekB - thank you for the recommendation. I'll certainly bear this in mind for the future, but as the guitar is brand new I feel sure the dealer will be keen to make adjustments if they're needed.

Andreas777 - I haven't tried points 1 and 2 as it may well be that I ask the dealer to look at the guitar if I suspect the problem is anything other than my technique. I did try tuning to 432hz but it made no perceptible difference.

OldPotter - very hard to say with any degree of accuracy what the action is as I have no specialist tools - just a ruler and my eyesight! It looks to be 3.5mm at the 12th fret. This may be slightly lower than a traditional classical but I have a Valencia classical, which I've nearly really played, and I get some buzzing on this although the action is nearer to 5mm.

Rgds.

OldPotter
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Re: Buzzing A and D Strings

Post by OldPotter » Sun Jan 07, 2018 7:46 pm

3.5mm looks OK, but I still think the action is just a little bit too low. Perhaps your dealer would raise the saddle by 1.00mm at the 4th and 5th string and let you try again. Classicals with a low action often have problems on the 4th string, buzzing at frets 3,4 and 5. The usual "cure" is to raise the action a little bit, but not enough to cause a playing problem. The saddle may not need to go up so much but its hard to tell from here. When you press on a string firmly, just behind the fret, it raises the string by a very small amount just in front. If that stops the buzzing , then raising the action will do the same.

I see that the Furch has a radiused fingerboard so hope your luthier has taken this into account.

If you wanted to make a simple bore gauge to measure the action, cut a piece of thin stiff plastic (ice cream carton lid). Make it 100mm long and 10mm high at one end and tapering to zero at the other. Cut all the edges with a knife and straight edge. Make a mark on it where it touches the string at the 12th fret. Measure along it in centimetres from the zero, the height is in millimetres. So yours might have a mark 3.5 centimetres from the zero end. Or, Draper make a stainless steel bore gauge for a couple of pounds.
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FurchMan
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Re: Buzzing A and D Strings

Post by FurchMan » Sun Jan 07, 2018 8:00 pm

OldPotter wrote:
Sun Jan 07, 2018 7:46 pm
3.5mm looks OK, but I still think the action is just a little bit too low. Perhaps your dealer would raise the saddle by 1.00mm at the 4th and 5th string and let you try again. Classicals with a low action often have problems on the 4th string, buzzing at frets 3,4 and 5. The usual "cure" is to raise the action a little bit, but not enough to cause a playing problem. The saddle may not need to go up so much but its hard to tell from here. When you press on a string firmly, just behind the fret, it raises the string by a very small amount just in front. If that stops the buzzing , then raising the action will do the same.

I see that the Furch has a radiused fingerboard so hope your luthier has taken this into account.

If you wanted to make a simple bore gauge to measure the action, cut a piece of thin stiff plastic (ice cream carton lid). Make it 100mm long and 10mm high at one end and tapering to zero at the other. Cut all the edges with a knife and straight edge. Make a mark on it where it touches the string at the 12th fret. Measure along it in centimetres from the zero, the height is in millimetres. So yours might have a mark 3.5 centimetres from the zero end. Or, Draper make a stainless steel bore gauge for a couple of pounds.
Thank you for the advice and I'll get myself a gauge as it will be useful for the future. I wasn't present when the Furch was set up but I spoke to the luthier in the shop and he has a lot of experience. As such, I'm sure he will have catered for the fingerboard radius.

One question: just as a test, could I fashion something approximately 1mm thick - for example a piece of plastic - loosen the A and D strings and pop it onto the saddle? I wouldn't want to do anything that could damage the guitar. Although I appreciate it will prevent proper sound transference into the body, it would at least allow me to temporarily raise the action and see if this could resolve the issue.

OldPotter
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Re: Buzzing A and D Strings

Post by OldPotter » Sun Jan 07, 2018 10:08 pm

One question: just as a test, could I fashion something approximately 1mm thick - for example a piece of plastic - loosen the A and D strings and pop it onto the saddle? I wouldn't want to do anything that could damage the guitar. Although I appreciate it will prevent proper sound transference into the body, it would at least allow me to temporarily raise the action and see if this could resolve the issue.
Yes, this is one of the suggestions to try. It might be easier to cut a strip to fit under the whole saddle, just as a temporary measure. In the long term, sometimes a strip of suitable material can be glued to the bottom of the saddle, but as the saddle is radiused it will probably mean a new saddle. I'm not sure it would be possible to shove some plastic under two strings and expect it to stay, it could cause some buzzing issues of its own. No harm in trying, but just take a bit of care....
"When I was younger, I could remember almost everything, whether it happened or not." Mark Twain

AndreiKrylov

Re: Buzzing A and D Strings

Post by AndreiKrylov » Sun Jan 07, 2018 10:25 pm

FurchMan wrote:
Sat Jan 06, 2018 7:57 pm
Is it my technique or my guitar? Or maybe both?

I've been playing for around two years on electric and steel-stringed acoustic and have just made the move to nylon. The guitar is a Furch crossover guitar and so more like a standard acoustic, albeit with nylon strings. This suits me as I have irritatingly short fingers and find traditional classical necks too wide.

The issue I'm having is that I'm finding that the D and A strings buzz when fretted. Having Googled the issue (it comes up a lot), there appears to be two camps: your guitar is set up incorrectly or your technique is wrong.

The guitar does have low action for a nylon but it was set up by someone who has a lot of experience and the guitar itself wasn't cheap and so I'd hope is unlikely to have problems such as raised frets. Also the problem occurs on just about every position on the neck. The other reason I'm sure it's not all the guitar's fault is that I do have a cheapo nylon stringed guitar in the cupboard, with a traditional classical neck. This guitar has insanely high action but even playing this I get the buzzing.

So, I'm back to technique. I'm aware that players should always hold as close to the fret being played as possible to get the best sound. Leaving aside the problems this causes for those of us with shorter digits, I'm wondering how I would play a chord such as an Fmaj barre? When I play it, my ring finger is some distance from the fret and so the A string buzzes. If I alter the way I play this chord, which isn't easy, by switching my ring finger for my pinky I then have the opposite problem: the A string is clean but now the D string buzzes.

Has anyone else faced and overcome this issue or have any useful tips?


Many thanks.
change strings
make action higher 1 mm
if this will not help - change guitar

Rognvald
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Re: Buzzing A and D Strings

Post by Rognvald » Mon Jan 08, 2018 2:17 pm

Hi, Furch,
There have been some excellent responses from our members which detail the possibilities for your string buzz. However, I learned a lesson years ago from a friend who was a tradesman. He said whenever he encountered a problem, he started with the simplest fix first. If that doesn't work I go to the next step. So, my approach would be similar to Andrei's:
1. If you have low or medium tension strings, change to the next higher level.
2. Check string height above the fret at the 12th position. It should be close to 5/32"
3. Check string height at the 1st fret. It should be close to 1/8"
4. If this doesn't work when playing, fret each string in its proper position and play a single note at a time.
If your sound is clear when playing each fret with a medium to forceful stroke, it's undoubtedly your technique.
You have mentioned that you are "new" to the CG and therefore time and seasoning will improve your tone.
Some things just require time. Also, working with a qualified CG teacher not someone who just started playing a CG
will be very beneficial. I hope this helps. Playing again . . . Rognvald
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Re: Buzzing A and D Strings

Post by zupfgeiger » Mon Jan 08, 2018 3:38 pm

Best thing is to let a luthier check your guitar. If necessary, he can install a slightly higher saddle which still allows convenient playing. There should be one available in the West Midlands.
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FurchMan
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Re: Buzzing A and D Strings

Post by FurchMan » Mon Jan 08, 2018 4:52 pm

I would like to extend my thanks to you all for your fulsome replies. Forums aren't always this supportive/cooperative.

Having read through your comments and tried out some of the basic things, I have decided that the best approach will be to arrange a 1-2-1 lesson with a classical guitar teacher in order to understand how far my inexperience is contributing to the problem. If the answer is '100%' then there is nothing more for me to do than work on it. If the answer is that the guitar is partially or completely to blame then the supplier has made it clear that they are happy to make any changes required.

Right, I'm off to practise now...

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