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Post new topic Buzz at first fret
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Author Topic:  Buzz at first fret
Landon Johnson


From:
Washington, USA
Post Posted 11 Feb 2018 8:01 am     Reply with quote

Hi, I have noticed lately that my PSG buzzes with the bar at the first fret - I assume that is likely due to the strings not being entirely in plane, with the added constraint of little flexibility so close to the roller nut. No buzz on an open E...

In order to troubleshoot or repair this, I'm thinking of replacing the rollers... all 10. Is there any other common reason for this string noise? Could it be the bar I am using?

This is a BMI S-10... plays great after the 2nd fret...

Thank you!
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John Swain


From:
Newberry,SC
Post Posted 11 Feb 2018 8:11 am     Reply with quote

It's typical but usually not a problem on E9. C6 side it's much worse, and the solution is gauged rollers. The grooves are machined to the diameter of the strings. A very nice feature standard in Emmons Legrande steels.
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Landon Johnson


From:
Washington, USA
Post Posted 11 Feb 2018 8:20 am     Reply with quote

So are you saying that, while the centerpoint of the strings is level, their tangents are not?
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Landon Johnson


From:
Washington, USA
Post Posted 11 Feb 2018 8:36 am     Like this? Reply with quote

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Jim Sliff


From:
Lawndale California, USA
Post Posted 11 Feb 2018 12:41 pm     Reply with quote

^^^^^That.

It's not really a problem for me on pedal steel -= and on my old Fender there's really no practical way to offset the depth anyway..

But I'm really anal about "string plane" on resonators. Luckily, I do my own "Dobro" setups.

Virtually every other player that's brought one over here, though, has had a badly-cut nut and saddle. Very few techs seem to understand how to cut the nut for a squareneck instrument to both eliminate bar buzzes and facilitate playing ease/smoothness.

If it's a problem on a "normal" pedal steel I suggest having a steel guitar tech make gaged rollers for the nut end.
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Donny Hinson


From:
Glen Burnie, Md. U.S.A.
Post Posted 11 Feb 2018 4:35 pm     Reply with quote

Landon, this should not be a problem on a 10-string guitar, and I would not recommend changing your guitar. This is likely to be mostly a problem of technique and needing more practice, as players eventually learn to just press a little harder when playing down low, and also to only bar the strings being played. (I would guess that less than 10% of all guitars made have gauged rollers.)

Spend your time learning to play, and deal with little things like this by advancing your skillset. IMHO, it will help you more as a player than re-engineering every little quirk that you come across.
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Bobby D. Jones


From:
West Virginia, USA
Post Posted 11 Feb 2018 5:14 pm     Buzz at first fret Reply with quote

Did this problem just show up? Did it show up just after a string change.
My first suggestion would be remove the shaft and nut rollers. [b](KEEP THEM IN ORDER) Clean the groves in the rollers, With a tooth brush and some degreaser. Check the rod and polish with 0000 steel wool. Lube and replace. It could be a small deep place in one of the rollers, Or something in the grove of an adjoining string that has it raised and not allowing the bar to be in good contact with all strings. Good Luck in finding the cause and a good solution.
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Bill Moore


From:
Manchester, Michigan
Post Posted 11 Feb 2018 5:41 pm     Reply with quote

One thing to be aware of, your bar only needs to cover the strings that are being played. If you pick the 3rd string, the bar should not be touching string 2. As you pick, the bar tip only needs to touch the highest string that is picked. If you pick string 5,6 and 8, for example, move the bar back from the higher strings. If you need to pick string 3 then string 1, then string 4, move the bar forward, pick 3, then move the bar forward to cover string 1, then move the bar back to only cover 4. If you look at the BMI rollers, you will see there are different sizes, the larger strings have a deeper groove. It's not the rollers, it's technique.
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Landon Johnson


From:
Washington, USA
Post Posted 11 Feb 2018 5:43 pm     Reply with quote

I figured as much - just want to be sure I am not fighting a losing battle. It is not really bad, just a minor annoyance. One more thing to add to the pile of stuff to keep ,track of while playing...
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Jim Sliff


From:
Lawndale California, USA
Post Posted 11 Feb 2018 6:18 pm     Reply with quote

Quote:
If you pick the 3rd string, the bar should not be touching string 2


I'd reword that "might not"...

FWIW it's not a "rule" and many players do not play that way. I never do and have never had buzzing issues.
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Glenn Demichele


From:
(20mi N of) Chicago Illinois, USA
Post Posted 11 Feb 2018 6:28 pm     Reply with quote

I had the problem on strings 7 and 6 on my c6 when I changed gauges. I fixed it with a tiny piece of foil between the roller and string. It's Not permanent
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Bill Moore


From:
Manchester, Michigan
Post Posted 12 Feb 2018 4:15 pm     Reply with quote

Here is a video that shows the technique that I mentioned,
Mark Dunn playing "Borrowed Angel"

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XcDfJPiQG8E
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Fred Treece


From:
California, USA
Post Posted 12 Feb 2018 11:37 pm     Reply with quote

Chords are harder to play at fret 1, just like regular guitar. But, there could be crud on the rollers too. So, clean them up and then work on your technique. Try to play the arrangement of Greensleeves in the Winston/Keith book. It is an excellent first fret workout.
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Fred Treece


From:
California, USA
Post Posted 13 Feb 2018 9:52 am     Reply with quote

btw Landon, your graphic is very good, and self explanatory. You can see that string 1 and especially string 2 are the real culprits. 10 through 3 gradually decrease in gauge. If the rollers are grooved so the bottom of the strings sit perfectly flat, the bar should lay flat across 10 - 3. When you get to string 1& 2, there is a minute increase in string gauge. Slightly more pressure on the bar is needed to even out the tops of the strings and stop the buzz.
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Billy Carr


From:
Seminary, Mississippi USA
Post Posted 17 Feb 2018 5:41 pm     Psg Reply with quote

Try a drop of oil on the rollernut w/ string attached. Always worked for me.
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Georg Sørtun


From:
Mandal, VA, Norway & Weeki Wachee, FL, USA
Post Posted 17 Feb 2018 11:00 pm     Reply with quote

When I modified my PSG and its tuning back in -88, I went for what can best be described as "excentric rollers" for the few strings that was too high.
"Excentric" means the groove grows gradually deeper towards one side, so it is just a matter of rotating one or two rollers when replacing strings, until the string that would otherwise be too high is perfectly leveled with the others. I check leveling by moving the bar with no pressure applied, across all 10 strings, down from third fret to beyond the rollers, and rotate the excentric rollers if necessary until every string is buzz-free.

As those rollers barely rotate when pedaling, the height-change during changes is unnoticeable. And, as long as those rollers rotate freely so strings don't slide on them, the leveling stays fine till it is time to change strings again.

Borrowed (and modified) sketch to show more clearly what I had to deal with…

… as it is literally impossible to play that PSG tuning variant in tune – not to mention buzz-free – below third fret without gauged rollers.

With me having the thickest strings (7 and 9) in between the others, obviously the excentricity for the rollers under those strings is more than "slight", as they can cope with string-gauges all the way from normal 7 and 9 string thicknesses for E9 tuning, to well beyond the gauges I use for my "Extended E" tuning.
Rollers for string 1, 2 and 6 are only very, very slightly excentric so I can lower those strings just a little. The other rollers are left with original (non-excentric) grooves.


Most E9 players will only need gauged rollers for the strings that don't buzz near the nut, to get the bar down to those strings that do buzz under low bar-pressure. While gauging all rollers for a given string-set will work, changing to different gauges may make the buzzing start again and you'll be back to square one and need new rollers.
My "excentric rollers" do not have that weakness … it is literally a "tunable nut" in more ways than one. Don't think any builder delivers PSGs with "excentric rollers" though, and I'm not sure if everyone in need of them is comfortable with filing their own. So, just an idea, that has worked to my satisfaction for the last 30 years.
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