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Author Topic:  Buzz at first fret
Landon Johnson


From:
Washington, USA
Post  Posted 11 Feb 2018 8:01 am    
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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    
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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    
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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?
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Jim Sliff


From:
Lawndale California, USA
Post  Posted 11 Feb 2018 12:41 pm    
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^^^^^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    
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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
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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    
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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    
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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    
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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    
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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    
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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    
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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    
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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
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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    
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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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Glenn Demichele


From:
(20mi N of) Chicago Illinois, USA
Post  Posted 19 Mar 2018 8:00 am    
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Cool idea George:
What they should do is use non-gauged rollers, but put them above the strings.
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Franklin D10 8&4, Excel D10 8&5, Carvin BX500 or Peavey MiniMax to BW1501 neo speaker in open back or TT-12 in closed back, NV400, Rumble 40, Twin. Moyo or Goodrich pedals, homemade buffer/overdrive, GT-001 effects, and an elephant graveyard of empty speaker cabinets in my garage.
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Georg Sørtun


From:
Mandal, VA, Norway & Weeki Wachee, FL, USA
Post  Posted 19 Mar 2018 9:27 am    
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Glenn Demichele wrote:
What they should do is use non-gauged rollers, but put them above the strings.
Although that would solve the "buzz" problem, sliding the bar past the nut without letting go of the strings and make unwanted noise, would be impossible. I slide off that way a lot in certain tunes.
Individually adjustable roller-seats for both height- and length-wise adjustment of each roller – a true intonation nut, would be preferable.
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Ross Shafer


From:
Petaluma, California
Post  Posted 19 Mar 2018 9:55 am    
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Just something to keep in mind....even with perfectly gauged rollers for a given string set....that perfect plane (er, close tolerance plane) will only exist at the very top of the rollers. In this perfectly gauged scenario a bar not heavy enough to flex the strings on its own will have some minimal amount of buzz if lightly placed at the first fret.

Unless you also have "gauged" changer fingers (Paul Redmond has done this if I recall correctly) that plane starts to go away as soon as you get off the top of the nut....obviously bar pressure and the associated string flex make it all work even though the string tops aren't really level anywhere they're being played.

I'm really on the fence about gauged rollers. I use them, but there's plenty of great players that haven't over the years and it's not something that seems to have held them back much.
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Georg Sørtun


From:
Mandal, VA, Norway & Weeki Wachee, FL, USA
Post  Posted 19 Mar 2018 10:23 am    
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Ross, at some point "improvements" end up being ridiculous. Very Happy

I have gauged changer-tops for the thick in-between strings on my original "Extended E" steel, and it helps in keeping all strings in tune up the neck. I also have another PSG with the same tuning and strings without gauged changer-tops, and those thick strings are a little less in tune up the neck but not enough to disturb when varying bar-pressure and -angle to keep them in tune.

I would not dream of gauging the changer on my regular E9 PSGs, and the rollers on my older PSGs are different enough to be selected (switched around) for minimal to no "buzz" at first fret with hardly any pressure on a light (7/8​) bar. Even my GFI Ultra with its solid nut-bolt doesn't create problems in that respect, although the bolt causes other problems.
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Donny Hinson


From:
Glen Burnie, Md. U.S.A.
Post  Posted 19 Mar 2018 10:52 am     Re: Buzz at first fret
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Landon Johnson wrote:
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...Is there any other common reason for this string noise?



Yes, there is one other thing that hasn't been mentioned. When new strings are put on, there is a tendency for the strings to "arch" a little right in front of the nut. Therefore I recommend that you push down very firmly on each string just in front of the nut with your thumb or finger after you change strings. This makes the strings conform better to the radius of the rollers and reduces some of the unevenness, thereby reducing the tendency to buzz.
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Ben Elder


From:
La Crescenta, California, USA
Post  Posted 23 Mar 2018 4:11 pm    
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No helpful solutions here, just a me-too observation: My Sho-Bud D-10 Professional buzzes almost relentlessly at the first fret on E9th. I've never experienced this with any other steel I've owned--including two 6139s and a couple of Mavericks.
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Landon Johnson


From:
Washington, USA
Post  Posted 24 Mar 2018 7:09 pm     The arch was the culprit!
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Indeed I had just changed strings - this solved the problem - pushing the strings down at the rollers === perfect THANK YOU!
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Kevin Fix


From:
Michigan, USA
Post  Posted 25 Mar 2018 4:13 pm     Buzzing
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Paul Franklin says to have your string at a bit of a angle between the roller and the tuner. If it is on a angle it will hold the roller tight against the nut which will eliminate the buzz.
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Jim Palenscar


From:
Oceanside, Calif, USA
Post  Posted 25 Mar 2018 9:29 pm    
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Donny's reply is a good one. Even though the average tension on a string is roughly 27#, the strings will continue to hold some of the conformation that occurs when you push firmly down on them on the fretboard side of the nut- especially the thicker ones, obviating the need for gauged rollers. Coupled with adhering to the adage that you should never cover more strings than you have to (the 1st and 2nd strings on an E9th will lift the tip of your bar), usually gauged rollers are not necessary (even though I make them for folks all the time using a computer program developed for me to do so). The exception is universal tuning guitars which have a great disparity in the string gauges in the bottom end.
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