The Acoustic Guitar Forum  

Go Back   The Acoustic Guitar Forum > General Acoustic Guitar and Amplification Discussion > General Acoustic Guitar Discussion

Reply
 
Thread Tools
  #1  
Old 06-27-2009, 12:58 PM
TokyoNeko TokyoNeko is offline
Meow.....
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Southern California
Posts: 1,536
Default "Fret Buzz" -- Picks or Playing Style?

As I attempt to expand my playing capabilities -- mainly on fingerstyling and using thumbpicks -- I began noticing what I considered a fret buzz issue on my Larrivee OM-50. (Background: I had the guitar worked on at Larrivee's Oxnard factory three months ago to fix similar issues.) So after messing with different picks all over the fretboard, here's what I found.As you can see, I tend to use picks with lighter gauges, so with the latter two picks there were no surprises. But when using a thumbpick for fingerstyling, I noticed some rattles that were a bit annoying.

So I took the guitar to Tecolote Guitar Works and had Bill Meyer take a look at it.
  • He was able to duplicate the buzz when he played with it, but only when using picks much thicker and stiffer than what I use (and driving the strings pretty hard to boot). When he used my Kelly thumbpick, he couldn't duplicate the buzz with "normal" fingerstyling.
  • He did find some uneven fret heights, but ironically they weren't the frets where buzzes were found. Overall, he felt that the fret work was excellent for a factory guitar.
  • He wasn't totally confident that spending the time to work on the frets would bring a noticeable improvement, given what he observed. He wanted to prevent a "lose-lose" situation in which 1) he would spend a lot of labor time on something and not get any discernable result and 2) I would be out of some cash and wait for the guitar to finish.
  • He was even hesitant to call this a "fret buzz," saying that he would usually qualify that term for a situation in which the buzz can be readily duplicated with many different picks and playing styles. In his opinion my guitar was actually in pretty good shape, where any little improvement probably couldn't justify the cost of repair.
  • He said that sometimes it's just a matter of a player's right-hand technique (or left-hand if you're a lefty), specifically the "attack" and the "angle" at which the pick strikes a string, that can cause a string to "buzz" or not. He suggested that I adjust the thumbpick positioning a little bit as a trial to see if that will cause the buzzing to go away.
So in the end, I took his recommendation and took the guitar back without having anything done to it. Given his reputation in town and the fact that he gave up an opportunity for income, I felt that he was honest and forthcoming on the whole issue. For the time being, I'm trying to be a little more gentle with the thumbpick and finding the right combination of volume and clarity.

So has anyone here experienced similar situation? Agree or disagree with Bill's assessment?
__________________
'11 Simon & Patrick Showcase Folk Rosewood A6T (Adirondack / Indian Rosewood) w/ B-Band A6T
'10 Simon & Patrick Woodland Pro Folk Spruce HG A3T (Adirondack / Honduran Mahogany) w/ B-Band A3T
'12 Blackbird Rider Steel String (Carbon Fiber) w/ Fishman Matrix Infinity
Reply With Quote
  #2  
Old 06-27-2009, 01:52 PM
Brent Hutto Brent Hutto is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 4,944
Default

I've mentioned in several threads my lovely fingerstyle guitar, a cedar-topped Jim Worland Prairie model. When I started trying to learn to use a pick (couple months ago) I knew that it was not really suited to flatpicking, it is pretty much purpose-built for a light fingerstyle touch which is why I bought it in the first place. It also has super-low action, the lowest I've ever seen on an acoustic guitar and a good bit lower than I used to have my Telecaster set up.

Not only do the frets touch the strings unless I hold back on my picking force, there are also rattle that seem to come from nowhere near the fretboard as well as harsh overtones and metallic attack noise when the pick strikes the strings at certain angles. I think that's because the guitar is built to really amplify overtones and it's acting as an amplifier that "overloads" when the transients from my pick attack get strong.

So I went out and got a guitar more or less just for flatpicking. Red spruce top, L-00 type body but still very lightly built and braced. When I brought it home, the action was sort of in-between. Pretty much ideal for fingerstyle but a lot higher than my Worland. I had frank buzzing on the D-string all the time and occasional buzzes on other strings when I really dig in. So I bumped the action up pretty darned high (about 0.107" low-E to 0.072" high-E at the 12th fret) which settled down the buzzes but I still have some harsh or rattly tones at certain times.

I'm convinced that the very occasional bad sounds I get now are entirely my technique. Not surprising as I'm still learning to control the pick. But with the extra headroom of this guitar (mostly the soundboard) and the higher action any rattles or "buzzes" can be eliminated by choosing a different pick. And none of it happens unless I'm consciously trying to "dig in" and emphasize certain notes or chords in a song.

So my advice is to crank the action as high as you dare, your OM-50 ought to have plenty of capacity for some strumming and moderate flatpicking. But you may find that with beginner's Hands Of Stone you just need a lot higher action than a good player would and it gets real picky about pick selection. I also found, counter to intuition, that the sound cleaned up a bit when I dialed out most of the neck relief with a truss rod adjustment. I'd swear that the bad-picking sounds with the relief at 0.009" became much less with it at 0.004" and that's with no change in action height at the 12th fret. Odd, that.
__________________
Here today and gone tomorrow
Life's too short to borrow sorrow
Life's too short for me to worry
Over you
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 06-27-2009, 02:07 PM
Brackett Instruments's Avatar
Brackett Instruments Brackett Instruments is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Nov 2003
Location: Grover NC
Posts: 6,076
Default

You're looking at your right hand for the source of the buzz. Take a good look at your left hand too. When I'm tired I have a tendency to get sloppy, and fret too far away from the fret. It takes alot more pressure to prevent a buzz if you're fretting more than 1/2" from the fret. Lower action will actually help prevent this type of buzz. Put a capo at the position where you usually get the buzz. If the buzz isn't there with the capo, it shouldn't be there with your finger fretting the note.


.004" relief sounds right to me. Too much relief will actually cause buzzes above the 7th fret or so.
__________________
woody b politically incorrect since 1964
Brackett Instruments Handmade Acoustic Guitars.
Big companies build guitars for profit. We build them for musicians.
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 06-27-2009, 02:35 PM
Brent Hutto Brent Hutto is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 4,944
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by woody b View Post
.004" relief sounds right to me. Too much relief will actually cause buzzes above the 7th fret or so.
Interesting. That's just about what I found. There was not so much frank buzzing as interference with the strings and it seemed to be up at the higher frets. When I cranked the truss rod about 1/8 turn and got the relief to around 0.004" it went from kind of intermittently sounding good, depending on where I was playing, to just solidly sounding good all the time, everywhere.
__________________
Here today and gone tomorrow
Life's too short to borrow sorrow
Life's too short for me to worry
Over you
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 06-27-2009, 02:39 PM
TokyoNeko TokyoNeko is offline
Meow.....
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Southern California
Posts: 1,536
Default

Thanks for the comments, Brent and Woody. I think my neck relief is where it should be, and the aforementioned rattles take into account proper left-hand techniques. I guess I'll just have to get better at "digging in" without causing too much rattling.

As far as action goes, it's .09" on the bass E and .08" on the treble E (thanks to Larrivee's fretboard/saddle design), and I don't want to go much higher than that. I do have a yet-to-be-fitted Colosi saddle handy, though, so I may experiment with that at some point.
__________________
'11 Simon & Patrick Showcase Folk Rosewood A6T (Adirondack / Indian Rosewood) w/ B-Band A6T
'10 Simon & Patrick Woodland Pro Folk Spruce HG A3T (Adirondack / Honduran Mahogany) w/ B-Band A3T
'12 Blackbird Rider Steel String (Carbon Fiber) w/ Fishman Matrix Infinity
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 06-27-2009, 02:45 PM
Brent Hutto Brent Hutto is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 4,944
Default

My newest guitar was right around 0.090" on the bass side and it didn't take much digging in to get rattles on the low-E, A and especially D strings. But you don't have to go too much above that to get uncomfortable and affect intonation. There is definitely no reason we shouldn't be able to play with a pick on a guitar with the action of yours (I'm just not there yet!).

I'm actually going to fit a temporary higher saddle to mine for a few weeks or months and hopefully go back to the original action once my technique cleans up...
__________________
Here today and gone tomorrow
Life's too short to borrow sorrow
Life's too short for me to worry
Over you
Reply With Quote
Reply

  The Acoustic Guitar Forum > General Acoustic Guitar and Amplification Discussion > General Acoustic Guitar Discussion

Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off


Loading

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 02:04 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, The Acoustic Guitar Forum
vB Ad Management by =RedTyger=