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Old 12-12-2019, 03:14 PM
Caesar5262 Caesar5262 is offline
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Default What does a loose top brace sound like?

Hi gang ,
I have a 1943 0-17 that I have owned for 10 years. I have had the neck reset and a refret done 9 years ago. I was playing it today and I noticed today that playing the open g, b , and high e String there’s a buzzing . It’s not the frets or the bridge pin. When I fret it up the neck it doesn’t change much. I loosed the strings and inspected the braces and they all seem fine. Any suggestions??? I have a luthier that lives about an hour away . I was wondering what you all might think?? Dale
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Old 12-12-2019, 04:10 PM
Parlorman Parlorman is offline
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Have you checked to see that the string ball ends are fully seated?
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Old 12-12-2019, 04:30 PM
stormin1155 stormin1155 is offline
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It could be any number of things. First thing I'd check is the neck relief. Hold down the high e string on the first fret and the fret where the neck meets the body (a capo makes it easier). Observe if there is any space between the string and fret at midpoint. If the string is laying on the fret, that is likely what is causing the problem. Since there is no adjustable truss rod on that guitar, it isn't easy to introduce relief. Heavier strings might do it, or you may have to raise the action. If there is a bit of space between the string and fret, that's probably not the problem.

You say you get buzzing on open strings and fretted? Is there some point where the buzzing stops? If so, it could be a high/low fret. You can check that using a straight-edge that spans three frets at a time. If you get any rocking motion, and it doesn't take much, that indicates a high or low fret. A credit card works as a straight edge.

Check that your tuners aren't rattling, or any other hardware... Yes, it could be a loose brace, but you've already checked that, so you'd need to have a luthier look at it to see if he could find it.
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Old 12-12-2019, 09:49 PM
Ben M. Ben M. is online now
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The first thing I would check is the tuners. One little screw coming loose can cause a buzz.
It can be hard to tell if a brace is loose by feel. Just because it doesn't wiggle doesn't guarantee it's not loose. If you run your fingernail along the top of the braces (if you can reach all of them) you should be able to tell if there's a gap.
If you can get the end pin out you can peek through the hole while running a flashlight along the braces to see if there's any light coming through where it shouldn't be.
It could be a back brace too.

Those old mahogany Martins are something special. I hope to own one someday.

Best of luck to you
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Old 12-12-2019, 11:36 PM
charles Tauber charles Tauber is offline
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A loose top brace has a characteristic buzzing sound emanating from the top. One test you can try is to apply light pressure to various parts of the top to see if the buzzing stops while you do so.

As others have said, the buzzing could be from a variety of sources that aren't a loose brace.
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Old 12-12-2019, 11:55 PM
Wade Hampton Wade Hampton is offline
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Dale, loose braces can cause a number of different noises: they can buzz, they can rattle and sometimes if you strum the guitar hard enough they can make it sound as though you’re playing the instrument through a fuzztone.

Seriously. I’ve had a brace pull loose and give me a “BRAAAAAP” kind of sound.

Which can be kind of cool on the right songs....

Sometimes braces can loosen in the middle, not at their ends, and it can be really hard to detect. Sometimes the braces will detach along one side and not the other, and - again - that can be quite difficult to see.

There have been three or four occasions when I’ve had braces come loose on guitars, and each of them have presented just a little bit differently. Perhaps the noises they’ve made have sounded different because the braces have come loose in different spots along their lengths.

The good news is that it’s usually an inexpensive repair to have done, and the other piece of good news is that every time I’ve had braces reglued they’ve never, ever troubled me again. So the chances are that if this is a bracing problem and you get it repaired, you’ll never have to deal with the same problem again.

At least not on that one brace, anyway!

So the best advice that I can give you is to make that hour drive to the luthier and have the guitar assessed by him.

Hope this helps.


Wade Hampton Miller
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Old 12-13-2019, 02:11 AM
Halcyon/Tinker Halcyon/Tinker is offline
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Do a gentle Bootsie Collins over the bracing layout. If one is loose, it’ll show itself.
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Old 12-13-2019, 04:41 AM
Wade Hampton Wade Hampton is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Halcyon/Tinker View Post
Do a gentle Bootsie Collins over the bracing layout. If one is loose, it’ll show itself.
Okay, now that’s kind of obscure advice there. Are you suggesting that he gently slap the top with the side of his thumb over the lines of bracing? Whenever my repairman checked for loose braces he would gently press down with his thumb and forefinger, flexing the top as he went along.


whm
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Old 12-13-2019, 02:13 PM
1Charlie 1Charlie is offline
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My suggestion is to slacken the strings enough to get a cellphone in the soundhole with the flash on. Take a bunch of photos of the top bracing from different angles, and see if any are loose anywhere along their length. Send those photos to your luthier before you make the trip.

My experience with '30's and '40's guitar braces is that they usually fail at the edge, near the kerfing.

The good news is that they are attached with hide glue, which makes the re-gluing process much easier (new hot hide glue can be applied over the old glue, and they melt in together to form a new bond).
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Old 12-13-2019, 05:13 PM
Wild Bill Jones Wild Bill Jones is offline
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For what it's worth my Walker got a buzz on the 1st and 2nd strings one day. Up the neck a few frets too. Seasons had changed and I had moved back East from Montana. The minutest truss rod adjustment took care of it. I was surprised. If you haven’t already it could be worth a look.
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Old 12-14-2019, 01:23 AM
Wade Hampton Wade Hampton is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wild Bill Jones View Post
For what it's worth my Walker got a buzz on the 1st and 2nd strings one day. Up the neck a few frets too. Seasons had changed and I had moved back East from Montana. The minutest truss rod adjustment took care of it. I was surprised. If you haven’t already it could be worth a look.
A 1943 Martin 0-17 won't have an adjustable truss rod. As a guitar built in the middle of WWII, it might not even have an embedded steel truss rod at all, but an ebony substitute, which is what Martin used for a while during the war. Metal was scarce during the war, and they couldn't obtain any to put into guitar necks.


whm
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Old 12-14-2019, 11:40 AM
Neil K Walk Neil K Walk is offline
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Tap lightly around the top and listen. The difference in sound will be unmistakable; it will make a dull thudding sound.
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Old 12-14-2019, 02:46 PM
Wild Bill Jones Wild Bill Jones is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wade Hampton View Post
A 1943 Martin 0-17 won't have an adjustable truss rod. As a guitar built in the middle of WWII, it might not even have an embedded steel truss rod at all, but an ebony substitute, which is what Martin used for a while during the war. Metal was scarce during the war, and they couldn't obtain any to put into guitar necks.


whm
Oops. I should have known that. Thanks Wade
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Old 12-14-2019, 03:05 PM
Wade Hampton Wade Hampton is offline
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Not a problem, I just smiled when I read your post. It was good advice if the guitar had an adjustable truss rod!


whm
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Old 12-14-2019, 03:15 PM
Silly Moustache Silly Moustache is offline
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I often get similar sounds from my Collings guitars from time to time, usually, when they are cold!- not dry - cold! Let them get to room temperature ... fine!
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