FRETS.COM: Chasing the Mystery Buzz

Laminated instruments only
Loose Body Plies

© Frank Ford, 11/1/98; Photos by FF, October 1998

It's pretty rare, but it surely can happen. The plies of a laminated instrument can separate, either from moisture, mechanical damage or just plain lousy workmanship.

Usually the problem will be in the area around the bridge, or at the edges of the top of an acoustic guitar. Sometimes, though, the back can resonate at just the right frequency to rattle loose plies.

Here's the edge of the top of a string bass. It's a 60 year old Kay that has seen its share of duty in the school system, and some unfavorable storage humidity:

It's easy to see the loose veneer plies all around the edges of this instrument, and you can be sure that the looseness isn't doing the tone any good!

Regluing loose plies is usually not difficult once they're found, but it may require slicing through the outer layer near the bridge of a guitar to get the glue in between the layers so they can be glued and clamped. In virtually all cases, though, loose plies also have structural importance and should be reglued for that reason alone. Seldom do they actually rattle, but it's important to remember that they can.

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