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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This picture shows the hole when the ball is removed.  Fairly large looking to me.


I don't like the look of that! I understand that the plate is there to ground the strings for the pickup. Is it really necessary?

For all other purposes it would be better to remove the plate. The bad fit gives all kinds of problems and it will affect the tone. Unslotted pins may be an alternative, at least the ball ends will sit better on that plate.

You can glue a piece of thin rosewood/ebony veneer inside the hole in the bridge with hot hide glue. I have done that a couple of times on old guitars with oversized holes. I cut a strip of veneer as high as the bridge is thick and cut it to the length of the inner hole circle. With the grain in the direction to be bendable. Then use HHG and plastic string pins wrapped in plastic wrap to press the veneer firmly against the bridge as the glue sets. HHG is easy to remove even when dried, so you can make a mess. And soaking some thin superglue on the the veneer when it's dry. A bit tricky but works. There are oversized pins to find too.

I haven't tried your suggestion with veneer strips in the bridge pin holes.  I may still do that.  First, I wanted to try a less elegant test.  I wrapped all the bridge pins with scotch tape using 2 or three layers until the pins were snug or protruded 1/8" on top.  The ball ends look like they seat better, too.

Of course, the tone of everything has changed because of the scotch tape, so now I am ready to try a permanent solution.  I have been playing the guitar for a few weeks now with wrapped pins and am satisfied the problem has been identified pretty well.

To summarize, the sound is due to the string ball or the string itself vibrating against the metal string ground when bridge pins fit loosely.

The sound occurs with stronger attack and is pronounced on certain frets due to the B string being just the right weight and tension (possibly break angle) to set the right harmonics in play.  The sound can also occur on other strings (with multiple string changes, the same but much subdued sound occurred at times on high E, G and D but went away with restringing).

If anyone runs into this problem, they should check the seating of the balls on the string ground (or Plate Mate if present).  Undersized pins will be obvious and worsen the seating.

The first thing I will try with my guitar is to find over-sized pins since padding the existing ones with cellophane tape has solved the "buzz" or metalic noise.  I may also try custom cut pin slots to keep the ball from pulling into the slot.  I will also try to curve the edge of the string ground to avoid cutting strings after I get a better fit.

If none of these are completely satisfactory, I will consider cutting slots in the string ground, and last resort, remove the string ground completely.  I prefer not to do that because I play plugged in and I do not want to risk getting hum.

It may take some time, but I will follow-up this post with my final results.  In the mean time, thanks to Roger and others for reading and providing help in diagnosing this.

Glad that the mystery is solved :-)


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