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 I have a used Taylor 814ce.  I love the instrument except for one thing.  The 'B' string (only the B string) has a sitar-ish like sound on anything over a medium attack. I.e., the sound is immediate on picking.  Sitar-ish may be the wrong description because there is a high "ting-y" sound It occurs on multiple frets but seems most pronounced on 5, 6 and 7.  I have read the posts and replies by John Taylor on this site about B string Buzz, and I've been to the page (I forget the URL) for diagnosing string buzz.  In doing so, I think I've narrow it down to the bridge and saddle.

Here is what I've done to narrow down:

  •  New strings multiple times, using the factory recommended Elixer Bronze nanno web, .11-.53
  •  New b string from another maker with larger guage
  •  Verified relief
  •  Verified nut and fret heights, holding down the string at multiple frets and checking clearances..
  • Examined the nut.  The string definitely rests at the fret-side edge of the nut.  But I put a rubber damper under the string on the head side of the nut with no detectable change in the problem.
  • Tapped all over the body, neck and peghead.  No odd sounds.
  • Verified all string balls were seated, reseated
  • Verified the angle of the string from ball pin to saddle, good angle
  • Verified head hardware was tight
  • Examined for any structural cracks, separations, bracing
  • New sadle - height and seating are fine (I do not have low action, its about medium)
  • Different pick attack, flat, angled.
  • On the frets where the sound is most pronounced, I tried different finger pressure from very light to where it would buzz, to heavy with finger firmly pressing the wood of the fretboard, also pressing right behind the fret and further away from the fret.  No difference in sound.

Then I tried tapping the strings about a 1/2" from saddle comparing each string's sound.  That's when I noticed a slight difference in string timbers.  Though all had lots of overtone and highs, only the B string seemed to give a slightly rasp-y sound much like the sound I had been hunting down.  So I did the following:

  • Examined the saddle.  It is a Tusq saddle.  Height was right.  It is not grooved, strings just sit on the factory edge and make their own indentations from string pressure.
  • Check the saddle to see if it was loose.  Since it came out a little too easy, I scored a hash pattern on both sides of the saddle to knurlize it a bit.  This tighted up the saddle, but had no effect on the sound issue.
  • Reshaped the b saddle to round it (the Tusq has a special rest for B, factory is flat.).
  • Reshaped the front side of the b saddle to provide the 90degree drop off.
  • Put a piece of paper in the string ramp in the bridge.

I think I am in the right area because these last few things seemed to change the sound some.  That is, rounding the saddle seemed to make the problem more pronounced.  Putting the paper in the ramp seemed to lessen it some.

Has anyone run into something similar that they solved?

Can you provide more tips on how the saddle should be shaped?

Is it wrong for the saddle to not be cut/notched?

How should a proper ramp be cut?

So I am not a professional luthier or guitar technician.  I have some training setting up violins.  I've read and read and am comfortable with doing the checks myself.  But, mainly right now, I would like to know if I am missing something obvious, and if not, I want to be fully prepared to discuss the problem with the luthier or technician that I take it to,

By the way, I took it to a "Gold" rated factory authorized repair shop when I first got it used.  I wanted it inspected and adjusted as needed.  It came back with lower action and that may have been when the sound started happening, I can't say for sure because I only had it a few days.  But I think I would have noticed the sound I'm hearing.  Regardless, it came back with an E string buzz and I needed to adjust the relief and eventually replaced the saddle to get the height back.  So I don't want to take it there again.  So, I'll be looking for a reputable luthier in Northern Virginia.

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Hi Lester,

We have changed out Taylor necks for lesser evils than what you hear.   And, one of the properties of the way we do sound in our head is that once you concentrate on a single sound (sitting in a darkened room plucking the b sting endlessly) our minds will bracket it and literally integrate it to give us a predominant memory and instantaneous/highlighted  recognition of that particular sound.    I know poor souls who are dogged by this phenomenon and  I tend to hide under my desk when they come by.  

Try cycling the truss rod up and down a bit and make sure all the internal neck bolts are tight along with tightening up the tuner ferrules etc.  Lean on the neck a bit when this stuff is prevalent and see if flexing the neck against the trussrod makes any difference. 

Hope this helps,

Rusty. 

Sorry I forgot to reply having received many good suggestions so far.

Here are the results of some of your suggestions.  I tightened the truss till strings started resting on the frets, then loosened until the truss rod nut was loose, then tighten until it was snug (leaving me maximum relief, which is okay for now because I am playing mostly in the lower positions, will readjust later when this is figured out).  Maybe you meant for me to do that several times, I only did it once.  Checked the internal neck bolt, I only saw one, an Allen head bolt, it was tight.  Tuners and ferrules are tight.  Flexing the neck while playing changes the pitch of the buzz, possibly the amplitude, but does not stop the buzz.

My current favorite guitar, one I built, has the exact same phenomenon. I attribute it to 'it just makes that sound' and have found no explanation for it.  I'm sure there is one, but I have given up finding it. There is probably a resonance with some structure of the git.  I just ignore it, because it sounds fantastic anyway.  I wish you luck though, and if you do find a cure, please update this site so I can implement it.

It's always the 'b' string that is a problem if there is one. Hardest one to tune too.

It might be that the saddle is a bit soft. Try hardening/ reinforcing the top (under the b string) with super glue.

Will try super glue this evening and let you know.

Tried super glue, but not much (if any) difference.

Do you have bone in the nut and saddle? If not, try to replace them with bone.

No, I have the "Tusq" brand saddle that typically comes with the 814.

I will see about picking up a bone saddle. I found that just the normal string tension is enough to put an indentation into the Tusq saddle, which makes me super cautious about maintaining string spacing before tightening down for the first time. So, it may be too soft. But I am using light strings (.15 B string), and Tusq should be pretty hard so I thought it was normal for the strings to make their own dent.

You said "nut" and saddle, sorry I missed that.  I am willing to change the nut, but it will have to be taken in to a luthier for that, the way the Taylor head, nut and fret board fit together, I would not want to attempt that myself.  May take a while because I need the guitar right now, and I still need to find a luthier I trust.

If it's not the open string that is the problem, then it's the saddle you need to fix. A bone nut instead of plastic is always a good thing though on an acoustic guitar. Look at the saddle, maybe the string has made a groove in the Tusq with a sliver causing the buzz. Fine sandpaper (600 or higher) or fine steel wool followed by some hand polishing with a cotton cloth may be the ticket. The string should also have a small contact point on the top of the saddle bone, if the angle of the string is small due to a low saddle bone, that combined with a flat and wide "top" on the saddle bone can result in a buzz.

With a low string action and a straigth neck there can be a "back buzz". Try to dampen the string above the fretted note and see if the buzz disapear.

There is a pretty good angle from the saddle to the ramp and bridge pin.

The current saddle, I trimmed to fit, but the string resting surface is/was factory finish.  I tried rounding the B string rest without any improvement.  A Tusq saddle out of the box appears to me to be too flat.  Anyway, rounding over didn't seem to help, maybe made it worse.  So, I cut a sharp drop-off on the fret side of the saddle leaving the curve on the back side.  But that didn't help (but I'm not sure I did it right).

Right now there is lots of relief. Dampening the strings behind the fretted string does not help

FWIW, I have a bone saddle on order, should get here in few days and some new strings.  I am switching to 12-53 per the Taylor website recommendation for the Grand Auditorium body style..

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