Jazzmaster pick guard buzzing

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brendan_mke
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Jazzmaster pick guard buzzing

Post by brendan_mke » Mon Feb 22, 2021 11:31 am

Hi all,

I'm dealing with a buzzing issue on my Player Jazzmaster and wondering if anybody has solved a similar issue. More details below, but the short version is the strip of the pick guard between the cutouts for the bridge and the bridge pickup is warped and comes away from the body of the guitar. I'm virtually certain this is the source of the my buzzing problems. Has anybody else had this problem and if so how did you solve it?

Here are all the things I checked first:
- Is it an electronic buzz? No - it occurs both plugged in and unplugged.
- Is it regular fret buzz? No - string height measurements and relief are all normal as measured with a string height gauge. Also the problem occurs for several strings at various points on the neck and has a distinctly "plasticky" rattling sound, not the metallic buzz from contact with frets.
- Is it coming from the bridge? No - I've replaced the stock bridge with a Mustang style bridge (with 9.5in radius) and shimmed the neck. Adding additional downward pressure on the bridge doesn't solve the problem.

And here's why I think this is coming from the pick guard itself:
- The strip of the pick guard between the cutouts for the bridge and the bridge pickup is visibly warped (it's hard to measure with strings on, but a 0.6mm pick will slide in, so it's probably somewhere between 0.6 and 1mm)
- Downward pressure that reduces the gap reduces the buzz
- Downward pressure that eliminates the gap eliminates the buzz

So assuming this is the right diagnosis, what's the solution? Three come to mind, but I don't like any of them:
1. Add some dampening material into the gap (foam or otherwise). But adding anything that could exacerbate the problem by creating additional upward force seems like a bad idea.
2. Add additional pick guard screws (probably two, maybe three) to this strip to force it down and flush with the body. Apart from generally not wanting to drill holes in my guitar, I dislike this approach out of concern that the warped bit will exert greater than normal upward force on some short screws, eventually pulling them out and leaving me back at square one and with new visible holes in the pick guard. (Also not sure if adding new bits of metal under the strings and so close to the pickups could cause problems.)
3. Buy a new pick guard. I'd like to avoid this cost if possible. I'm also worried that the problem could actually be caused by some minor flaw in the body that would result in the exact same problem again.

Any insight here would be greatly appreciated!

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schoolie
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Re: Jazzmaster pick guard buzzing

Post by schoolie » Mon Feb 22, 2021 1:57 pm

Seems like option #1 is free, and if it stops the buzzing, will confirm that the pickguard is the issue. Never run into that one myself. Easier test, maybe tape something like a coin there, and see if it affects the buzz.

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brendan_mke
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Re: Jazzmaster pick guard buzzing

Post by brendan_mke » Mon Feb 22, 2021 6:34 pm

Yeah I think that's the smart way to go. I've tried shoving some foam under the part that sticks up and that seems to solve the issue, but it definitely also pushes the pick guard up even more. I'll have to look around for something that's both dampening and not overly springy. Thanks!

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Re: Jazzmaster pick guard buzzing

Post by timtam » Mon Feb 22, 2021 6:39 pm

Never heard of such a problem having a sonic effect on the amplified sound. Since you say the buzz is there acoustically, the definitive test for it being something with or on the pickguard would be with the pickguard removed. The fact that you say it's there amplified as well is particularly unusual, as there is no obvious mechanism for pickguard vibrations to influence string vibrations in an additive way.

When you say you can invoke it at several points on the neck, are they distinctly different notes (ie different vibration frequencies) ? Does it occur when you fret the last fret on each string ?

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Re: Jazzmaster pick guard buzzing

Post by August » Mon Feb 22, 2021 7:43 pm

If it's the pickguard, a strip of gaff tape affixed to the underside of the high portion will probably do it. I've had a similar issue on several occasions and it was always the mess of wiring somewhere under the pickguard. Pressing the pickguard down could stop this kind of rattling and give you a false positive. I always rewire and twist and tape everything down where appropriate whenever I get into an electric these days. I'd also check that the bridge post points are properly seated in their cups as well, and that the bridge isn't resting either forward or back as that can cause annoying sympathetic rattles also..

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Re: Jazzmaster pick guard buzzing

Post by brendan_mke » Mon Feb 22, 2021 7:51 pm

Sorry Timtam, should clarify - the buzz itself isn't amplified when plugged in, only that I can hear it in both cases and that it's definitely present when not amplified.

The two biggest offender notes were the same frequency (B played open and fretted), but other notes caused problems as well. The highest fret wasn't a problem. What would that indicate if it was?

I took out the packaging foam I'd tried at first and replaced it with some weather stripping. I cut the stuff as thin as I possibly could and just used the adhesive on there to attach it underneath the pick guard. The problem seems solved for now at least - fingers crossed it'll last.

Thanks for the suggestions August! The bridge is seated correctly as far as I can tell but if I continue to have issues the next thing I try will be to tape all the wiring as snugly as possible.

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Re: Jazzmaster pick guard buzzing

Post by timtam » Tue Feb 23, 2021 12:14 am

brendan_mke wrote:
Mon Feb 22, 2021 7:51 pm
Sorry Timtam, should clarify - the buzz itself isn't amplified when plugged in, only that I can hear it in both cases and that it's definitely present when not amplified.

The two biggest offender notes were the same frequency (B played open and fretted), but other notes caused problems as well. The highest fret wasn't a problem. What would that indicate if it was?

I took out the packaging foam I'd tried at first and replaced it with some weather stripping. I cut the stuff as thin as I possibly could and just used the adhesive on there to attach it underneath the pick guard. The problem seems solved for now at least - fingers crossed it'll last.

Thanks for the suggestions August! The bridge is seated correctly as far as I can tell but if I continue to have issues the next thing I try will be to tape all the wiring as snugly as possible.
A buzz triggered mostly by a particular note frequency does tend to suggest a physical resonance. Structures have resonant frequencies at which they 'want' to vibrate, and if they have room to move they are most easily excited to vibrate by that note frequency (regardless of string).

Your damping will have reduced the whole pickguard from vibrating to some extent. So presumably it was something associated with the pickguard or something attached to it that was vibrating. Hopefully it's fixed.

Fretting at the last fret removes the rest of the frets from the equation. So buzz when fretted there tends to point the finger away from the neck towards other structures like the bridge. Conversely a lack of buzz when fretted there, but buzzing when fretted elsewhere on the neck, would normally tend to push the weight of evidence towards the other frets.

But your evidence of buzz provoked by the same note in two unrelated locations probably overrides any useful evidence coming from the lack of last fret buzz.

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