FRETS.COM: Chasing the Mystery Buzz

This is a rare one, but it does happen
Dented String Winding

© Frank Ford, 2/13/99; Photos by FF, 2/13/99

Either as a result of a blow from a hard object, or from unusual wear, string windings can be deformed so deeply that the string actually sits abnormally low when fretted:

This string is dented at the fifth fret, and brother, does it rattle against the sixth!

It's easy to see, all you have to do is twist the string with and look at the bottom side, where you'll find prominent dents in the windings:

Here, let me twist the string a little more so the dent will catch the light:

Notice that there's another smaller dent over the fourth fret. I think the player of this guitar uses a capo much of the time. Strings held down by a capo tend to ring a long time when played open, and may scuff side-to-side a bit, so they generally wear themselves and the fret prematurely.

This kind of string damage is more likely to occur with the heavier bass strings, because the windings are thicker and the dent can be deeper before the winding actually breaks and becomes loose.

I first encountered this particular peculiar buzz on a mandolin. The player had a tendency to choke and slide the low G strings only at the seventh fret when fingering a complex chord. The resulting wear caused the G strings to sit quite low only at that position. In fact, the wear was so prominent there were metal filings gathered up around the fret. New strings simply eliminated the symptom.

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