Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

String buzz

I am new to playing the mandolin but not new to stringed instruments I have been playing guitar since I was seven. OK to the question at hand I received a mandolin for Christmas (fender 53s) I have a string buzz when I play the ninth fret on the D string set. I do not have on any other fret and I am certain I am pushing the strings down correctly and firmly. Help!

Hey Magnum,
It sounds like there is a fret issue. If it is a new instrument, talk to the place where it was purchased… that’s the easyiest answer, but beyond that it shouldn’t be an issue that is too difficult to address. Examine the ninth and adjacent frets to ensure they are not damaged. Also tap the 10th fret to ensure it is not loose and springing into the way (a tapped fret will often sound different if not set correctly). If nothing is found there, try to get a straight edge that will span three frets in that region (it would need to be pretty small to cover 3 frets in that range). Set the straightedge over the 7th, 8th and 9th. Check to see if it can rock back and forth (if the frets are level, it should not). Then check 8, 9 and 10. Then 10, 11 and twelve. If the 9th fret is low and the others are even, it could be driven in further than it’s neighbors. A luthier might opt to re-set that fret. If the 10th fret is set fine but is too high, a fret level will take care of that. In fact, a fret level, crown and polish will take care of the problem regardless (unless there is a problem such as a loose fret). Plus, a fret level will allow you to get the best playing out of just about any instrument. However, if the 9th is just way low, you may not want to take the rest of the frets down to compensate.
I kind of just fired it all at you rapid fire. If my explanations need clarification, just let me know.

Thanks, it is a new insturment purchased from a local reputable store. I wondered if it was something to do with the tail piece but never thought the frets. Thanks for the information I think I will drop by and let them fix it or break it and replace it for me not sure which will happen one of the other I am sure. Again thanks for the information.

Hey Magnum,
Glad to hear you can just take it back and let them deal with it. If the buzzing sounds like it is coming from the tailpiece, it could certainly be something rattling there on certain notes.

Maybe your mando neck is bowed out where it meets the body.

I like this guy’s videos, and here, he talks about the different reasons for fret buzz:

I thought that was interesting.

In this video, you can see him using the short straightedge as a diagnostic tool that Mreisz mentioned:


— Begin quote from "mreisz"

If the buzzing sounds like it is coming from the tailpiece, it could certainly be something rattling there on certain notes.

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I got tired of the tailpiece cover on my mando buzzing and finally removed it and stored it with my Telecaster bridge cover. I figured it was mainly there for cosmetic reasons, but lately I’ve been wondering if it might serve some other purpose since, unlike with the Telecaster bridge cover, most people don’t seem to remove the tailpiece cover on their mandos. Anyone got any insights on the function(s) of the tailpiece cover?

I do agree with you there I wonder if it is buzzing from there. No idea though I thought about removing it but now you have me to doubting that any other thoughts.

I had Weber replace my tailpiece and cover with one of their nickle filled tailpieces. No more rattles or surface scratches on the mandolin from trying to remove the cover. I chose the black nickle filled one and it looks great. Strings are easy to change because their is no cover to remove. Others may have similar replacements.

You can see this one by using this link:


They did not charge me the full price that is listed.

I also saw this one at stewmac. I didn’t think about it until I saw your post:,_ta … =3&xsr=379