Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

Discuss the Guitar lesson: Be An Educated Guitar Buyer

Buying an instrument can be an intimidating process, especially when you don’t know the folks you’re buying from! In this series, Jake gives us an education on the basics to look and listen for so that you can have confidence while shopping! (Or, you can just buy from my General Store and not worry about it.)

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That’s great stuff, Jake! Mostly common sense when you think about it, but a lot of things I never thought of.

Checking for trolls under the bridge… Why haven’t I been doing that?!

@Mark_Rocka I guess @Jake didn’t want to worry the folks out there about the Leprechauns that might sell you a dodgy banjo. Do you note any resemblance ? I don’t just mean the red haired boy. :man_red_haired:


Excellent review. Well worth watching even if you don’t plan on buying. There are a lot of ‘experts’ on instruments out there, but if you listen to Jake you will be close to the right explanation for any instrument you’re looking at.

Hi Mark/Jake/anyone… How to (detect) fix sting buzz from guitar defect or improper setup? Or what should be the normal action? Because when I have low action, I get this buzz. But then I need low action or even lower than what I have for ease of playing.

If the action is too low, I start looking for the buzz at the first fret. There’s a good chance the string is vibrating against the 1st fret. Find the string that’s buzzing and starting picking it and fretting it from the 1st fret up. If the action is too low at the nut, you’ll find out really quick. If the action is too low at the bridge, you might find buzzing at several frets down the neck.

Let me know what you find and we can go from there.

Thanks for the help, @Mark_Rocka! I just measured and the action is 2.5mm on 1st fret and increases gradually to 5.5mm on the last fret. High, low, normal?? I’m guessing it high to affect playing ability, 1.5 to 2.5 I think would be nice. No string buzz on open strings but I get the buzz when I play the 2nd fret on the G (3rd string). I think this is the only place I get it when I don’t use a capo. Does this mean there is chances the string is vibrating against the 3rd fret when this happen? I believe there was cloth type material underneath the bridge. Should I try removing that (if there was that cloth) to lower the bridge height, and thereby the last fret action height, to make the action even - more or less - through out the fret board??

Are those measurements above the fretboard or above the crown of the fret itself?

It does sound like you might be able to lower the bridge a bit, but definitely have to figure out that buzz first.

If it’s only on that one string and fret, it could be that your frets need to be leveled in that spot. It could also mean the truss rod needs adjusting. Less likely, but also possible, there could be a loose brace inside the guitar that responds to that note’s frequency. I’ve been surprised how many times I’ve seen that over the years.

When you fret the G string at 2, hold it down and press the same string with your right hand between 3 and 4. Can you tell if the string moves down toward the 3rd fret? If there’s no room for movement, it’s either a fret leveling or truss rod adjustment job.

Mark, I tried your suggestions and looks like when hold down G string at 2, the string comes in contact with fret 3 too as there is hardly any room left to move down to touch fret (like 0.1mm distance) unlike with other strings while doing similar exercise. We can rule out the other possibilities (truss rod, loose brace) for this issue. The buzz noise went away on its own though for now or in the last couple of days but it may come up, Truss rod adjustment helps but then I will have to increase the string-fret distance which makes it harder or almost impossible to play freely.

The action measurement is from fret board to string, not from the crown. Is the gap ok or should be adjusted to narrow the gap as far as possible? OK I will also try to lower the bridge a bit if it allowed.

It was not a cloth, it turned out to be the wire for the electric pickup beneath the bridge. Just left it as is, and so could not reduce the gap. If I adjust truss rod to narrow gap, I might get more buzz from other strings/frets. Current truss rod adjustment looks optimal but is the string-fret gap normal or high?

It sounds like it might be a bit high, but if you could post pictures looking at the side of your neck it might help.

From what you’re saying, it sounds like the truss rod might need to be loosened to give the neck some relief. You might want to loosen it a quarter to a half turn to see if it helps. It may raise your action, but then you can lower your bridge.

Some reason it complains of huge file size while it is not. I’ll try uploading tomorrow.

Oh yeah. That’s a known issue with the forum software. I’ll PM you my email address. You can send the pix there.

Great, and emailed you!!

I would use a known, true straight edge, loosen the strings, pull them to the side, and check the frets with the straight edge, correct all frets as needed to insure they are aligned properly. (a fret may have to be hammered down to re-seat it or may have to be replaced)