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Strange fingerboard buzz... not scoop nor string height


ClefLover
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One of my son’s cellos has a strange buzz coming from the fingerboard.  It is not the string buzzing on the fingerboard, the string height is great and the scoop is perfect.  In order to correct it I place my finger underneath the fingerboard and press up (away from the top plate). It is also remedied by slightly pressing downward on the top of the fingerboard.  We have tried a little sticky-tac on the underside of the fingerboard to experiment with no effect.  So weird...

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23 minutes ago, ClefLover said:

One of my son’s cellos has a strange buzz coming from the fingerboard.  It is not the string buzzing on the fingerboard, the string height is great and the scoop is perfect.  In order to correct it I place my finger underneath the fingerboard and press up (away from the top plate). It is also remedied by slightly pressing downward on the top of the fingerboard.  We have tried a little sticky-tac on the underside of the fingerboard to experiment with no effect.  So weird...

How did you assess that the string height is great and the fingerboard scoop is perfect?

Deflecting both up and down on the fingerboard to relieve the buzz preliminary suggests a loose fingerboard.

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I’d recommend taking it to a luthier to have it checked out. There are a lot of different things that cause buzzing, and they don’t always originate from the place you expect.

David Burgess beat me to it, but I also thought it would be good to check the glue joint. If it is glued well and the only way to get rid of the buzz is to effectively bend the board a little, there may be an issue with the shape of the board that’s not immediately obvious. 

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24 minutes ago, David Burgess said:

How did you assess that the string height is great and the fingerboard scoop is perfect?

Deflecting both up and down on the fingerboard to relieve the buzz preliminary suggests a loose fingerboard.

Scoop: .9mm A side, 1.4mm C side. String height 5.5mm A, 8.2mm.  Finger looks flush. The “buzz” seems to be from middle harmonic area to the bridge side. Definitely not coming from the top plate. Stethoscope reveals all. ;) 

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Once had buzz on a £12K Italian Cello, that drove us crackers! Tried everything

Finally we removed the entire fingerboard and found that the original maker had inserted a fine strip of ebony into the base wood, which was, of course, hidden once the fingerboard was in place.

One tiny edge of this strip had become unglued and was vibrating.

Why would he have done that in the first place?

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1 hour ago, reg said:

Once had buzz on a £12K Italian Cello, that drove us crackers! Tried everything

Finally we removed the entire fingerboard and found that the original maker had inserted a fine strip of ebony into the base wood, which was, of course, hidden once the fingerboard was in place.

One tiny edge of this strip had become unglued and was vibrating.

Why would he have done that in the first place?

Into the wood of the neck?

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Just a warning from multiple experiences that a buzz can be starting somewhere far away from where you hear it, but the vibrations travel through the instrument until they find a spot that resonates at that frequency, and the buzz will appear to originate there. Damping that spot with the hand can make the sound go away but doesn't fix the problem. That said, the best place to start is where you hear the problem, so checking for a loose board is where to start.

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15 minutes ago, Don Noon said:

In order to try to diagnose a buzz remotely, it would be helpful to know if the buzz is only on open strings, or only on certain strings, or only at certain positions on the fingerboard, or if it happens all the time on all notes.

Only open C and a little on G.  

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21 hours ago, ClefLover said:

Only open C and a little on G.  

Many buzzes from anywhere on the instrument can be excited by pizzing the open C. It's the first thing I do when the client complains of buzzing. In my experience a buzz can start anywhere and seem to sound from anywhere with often no relationship between the two. I have never used a stethoscope in buzz hunting. Is it really that helpful? I have a hierarchy of things to check starting with open seams and ending WAY down the list with internal causes. 

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22 hours ago, Don Noon said:

I think that eliminates fingerboard scoop or waviness issues, and brings up nut slot issues.

If the buzz is only on the open string  there is a good chance that it's a nut slot issue. The first thing I would try would be to press with the nail on the string at the exit point of the nut and see if it goes away.

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On 3/19/2019 at 8:13 AM, Marty Kasprzyk said:

If the C string is tuned to a lower or higher pitch does the open string buzzing still happen?

Detuning did not eliminate the buzz.

 

15 hours ago, Davide Sora said:

If the buzz is only on the open string  there is a good chance that it's a nut slot issue. The first thing I would try would be to press with the nail on the string at the exit point of the nut and see if it goes away.

Still there, unfortunately 

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1 hour ago, Wood Butcher said:

Which one do you prefer? I’d imagine they are at opposite ends of the cost spectrum. How long might your son continue to use this cello,  is it full size?

My son is almost an adult, and although he has 2 cellos, this one is relatively nice.  I can’t see the harm in having my luthier glue for next to nothing, as the fingerboard can always be re done in the future. 

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