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:
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:
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.
Good suggestion. I looked and found a piece of low E stuck to the pickup. Removed it and then thoroughly inspected the inside of the body and found some steel wool (a 1/4 inch ball of steel fuzz) under the neck pickup. I also made sure all wires were securely held in place and not in any position to vibrate and make noise.
Unfortunately, removing the junk did not solve the problem. But unstringing and restringing the guitar appears to have move the fret on which it is most pronounced. It now seems most audible on 3rd fret.
You say the buzz is most pronounced at frets 5 - 7. Just out of interest, put a capo on at fret 3, and then play at fret 7 and see if that makes any difference.
I have never come across back buzz on a B string , but I suppose anything is possible ...
I've unstrung and restrung since writing, multiple times. So, 5-7 aren't the most pronounced anymore. If I use asterisks to indicate the difference I perceive between frets, it would be 1**, 2**, 3*, 4**, 5**, 6*, 7*. So, I put on the capo at fret 3. Relative to the capo, the pattern is about the same (all shifted up 3 frets).
Excuse my ignorance, could you define "back buzz"? Thanks.
Sorry I didn't have time to read all the replies but from your first sentence I know what I would be chasing and likely finding.
If a moderate or harder attack exposes the Ravi Cankersore sitar sound (His daughter Nora is an amazing talent...) that means that the vibrating wave is breaching one of the two terminations of the string's "speaking length."
If it happens on fretted notes this eliminates the nut slot which if the back angle is too shallow or there is a hump in the middle of the slot can cause the sitar sound on open notes. But as I said this eliminates the nut for now.
Tusq is not the hardest material around and I personally am not a fan when bone is so much harder, longer lasting, easy to obtain, cheap and beautiful when properly worked and unbleached. IME Tusq saddles can not only dent but go flat on the crown permitting the vibrating string wave to breach the initial break point and travel, while still vibrating further onto the saddle top causing that sitar sound. This can also be seen on strobe tuners at times, not always with a wavering reading that won't settle down until the amplitude of the string wave settles down.
The remedy is to use a file, sand paper, what ever you have to recrown the saddle top and then try it again and see what you have. Replacing the saddle with a properly crowned one can be the ticket too.
We see this commonly on Taylor guitars by the way because of the softer saddle material.
This sounds good. Replacing the saddle with bone has been suggested, and I am planning on doing that. I have also tried hardening the saddle with superglue. That didn't seem to help much. In my original post, I mentioned that I "rounded" the saddle top at the B string without much difference. But I am not sure that I had the right contour.
Note: I use the lighter strings (custom light 11-52), in case that matters. I am willing to try heavier strings if you think that will help.
Anyhow, I will Google for an image or precise instructions on proper shape of the top of the saddle, and will try the reshaping, probably this weekend. I've unstrung and restrung enough times now that I am worried a string will break and I need the guitar this weekend.
Thanks everyone for the comments so far. It's been a few days while I waited for the new bone saddle and an appointment with a local luthier. Here is what I have to report.
He didn't seem to think the sound I'm hearing is a problem, just "bright" strings.
Installed the bone saddle to the correct height.
Adjusted the relief.
Replaced strings with slightly heavier 12-53.
Cleaned the nut.
Inspected inside and out.
Checked that all hardware was tight.
The last thing we tried before I had to leave was to install a small rubber donut at the ball of the string, letting the string ball rest on that instead of the metal string ground. That definitely affected tone, but it also got rid of the buzz. We agreed it wasn't a correct or permanent fix, but I feel we found a good focal point for further investigation.
I've also noticed that the bridge pins seem very loose when there are no strings installed. There is back and forth play. If you turn the guitar over, they all fall right out (with no strings installed). I don't know if that is normal. However, with strings installed, all are tight and shouldn't be buzzing, but who knows.. I will try to replace or tighten them up. These and the ground plate and the string balls might be the culprit and I hope to have more feedback on it soon.
So, what is the "metal string ground"? Is it a Stewmac brass "plate mate"? Or some part of the pickup system?
I know that a "plate mate" gives the guitar metallic trebles I really don't like. I also know that the surface for the ball ends are important for both volume and tone. A hard surface will give better attack and volume. Hard wood is better for the sound than any metal where the ball ends rest on the bridge plate.
The plate is part of the "Expressions" electric pickup system. It's not the Stewmac plate. Yes, I am suspecting the sound is coming from the ball and plate and possibly the bridge pins. And, I am not so sure it is only the B string ball, but possibly any of the ball contacts. Only the B string pluck brings out the sound.
I just installed some Martin retro (nickle) 12-54 strings with the theory that nano-phosphor brass is too "bright" (the luthier let slip the word "harsh"). The result was that the B and the G string produced the same kind of "harsh" sound. Yes the tone has changed, but the sound was also present on the G string. All balls were carefully checked for proper seating. What helped the G string was to loosen it and while applying tension to the string by hand and twisting the G bridge pin slightly, tightened up the string and the sound on G disappeared. This further supports my theory that the bridge pins are abnormally loose. It also supports the theory that the string ground has something to do with it.
To me that pickup system has a bad design. A metal plate under the ball ends are no good.
As for the bridge pins. Changing to unslotted pins and making a notch in the bridge itself is better. The slotted pins saves time when making the guitar and all the factories ditched the time consuming "making a notch for each string" process the same day the slotted pins was invented. With unslotted string pins the ball ends will seat much better on the bridge plate. With slotted pins, especially if the pins are made of soft plastic, the bridge plate will be chewed up.
What is your opinion on what I described as "loose" pins? I put a pin in with no string and it goes down to the collar and has noticeable slop. I painted one with superglue and let it harden and it also fits loosely. Is this a problem? (I'm thinking it is).
I going to try and get out the micrometer tonight and see what size the pins are.
Measured a pin, it's .0210" at the shank/shaft. My reading on the web says this is the standard size. Hard to believe the pin holes have gotten excessively large, but I just don't know how they should fit.
Also, I've attached photos of the string ground with pins and strings installed under tension. The balls seem to sit funny in my opinion, like they're crawling into the pin slots. I'll take a string and pin out and take another look.