Annoying playing issue with my J45 - help appreciated

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camfcamf Frets: 734
edited May 14 in Acoustics
Hi,

I'm mainly a singer and strummer and I've got a minor issue with a 2002 Gibson J45 that, otherwise, I really like. I seem to be getting an annoying pinging sound as I'm playing. I thought it was something with the nut or bridge but I've had them checked and they seem fine. So I've now come to the conclusion that I'm the problem. Specifically, I think I might be catching the base of my chubby first/pointing finger on the open E string.

Now this is probably down to a terrible technique on my part that I should get some advice on but my first call is to make the guitar take the blame instead.   To be fair, I've never had this issue playing other guitars and looking at the nut, the slot seems quite close to the edge of the fingerboard. Is it worth thinking about having a new nut cut that could bring the strings a little closer together and shift the strings away from the edge a little? Is this workable? Any thoughts or advice? (Other than get some lessons, get new hands or get your fingers to the gym to lose a few pounds? etc.)

I should say that other people playing it don't seem to have this issue - they love it! :/
 
Thanks for any feedback.

Best,

cam f
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Comments

  • BridgehouseBridgehouse Frets: 15730
    Do you hook your thumb over the low E side?
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  • Phil_aka_PipPhil_aka_Pip Frets: 9005
    If you're the only one that has the problem with the guitar then the chances are the guitar is fine. Have you recently started playing this instrument and noticed the problem, or has the problem recently developed when you didn't have it before on this instrument?
    "Working" software has only unobserved bugs. (Parroty Error: Pieces of Nine! Pieces of Nine!)
    Seriously: If you value it, take/fetch it yourself
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  • camfcamf Frets: 734
    Yep!  :3
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  • camfcamf Frets: 734
    I do it all wrong. :)
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  • camfcamf Frets: 734
    It just seems to be when I'm playing, so I'm sure the guitar is fine. But I am old and need all my remaining concentration to remember the words and to try to growl in tune, so altering the nut/bridge might be more effective and likely than improving my playing style.
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  • BridgehouseBridgehouse Frets: 15730
    Not necessarily wrong at all - but I bet if you let your thumb drop round the back a bit (just a bit) meaning you have to arch your fingers a bit more then it would dramatically reduce the zinging. 

    I have the opposite problem on bass - I play with finger on the back of the neck, and with my bass playing I like to mute every string that isn't being played so I'm fingers everywhere!
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  • camfcamf Frets: 734
    edited May 14
    If you're the only one that has the problem with the guitar then the chances are the guitar is fine. Have you recently started playing this instrument and noticed the problem, or has the problem recently developed when you didn't have it before on this instrument?
    I've had the problem pretty much all the time I've had this guitar. But again, it's really the only time I've had this issue with a guitar. I play all the same songs/chords on my old ES-125 and don't have the issue at all. I did notice that the nut of the ES-125 is a maybe a millimetre or so in from the J45. That's why I'm wondering if a new nut might help.  
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  • camfcamf Frets: 734
    edited May 14

    https://www.dropbox.com/s/mwcalyblochnsox/IMG_3632.JPG?raw=1 ;

    The J-45

    Thansk for taking the time to respond, guys. Much appreciated. 
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  • BridgehouseBridgehouse Frets: 15730
    camf said:
    If you're the only one that has the problem with the guitar then the chances are the guitar is fine. Have you recently started playing this instrument and noticed the problem, or has the problem recently developed when you didn't have it before on this instrument?
    I've had the problem pretty much all the time I've had this guitar. But again, it's really the only time I've had this issue with a guitar. I play all the same songs/chords on my old ES-125 and don't have the issue at all. I did notice that the nut of the ES-125 is a maybe a millimetre or so in from the J45. That's why I'm wondering if a new nut might help.  
    Might be that your technique is causing the e to buzz because it's closer to the edge of the board than your es-125.. or it could be that the neck is a bit thicker/thinner and means your hand is a different shape, also causing the buzzing.

    I think with a new nut you need to be careful you aren't fixing a symptom rather than the problem - otherwise you could be severely restricted in guitars you can play in the future...
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  • earwighoneyearwighoney Frets: 1649
    camf said:
     Is it worth thinking about having a new nut cut that could bring the strings a little closer together and shift the strings away from the edge a little? 
    What is the string spacing at the nut as it is and what is the nut width? 
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  • camfcamf Frets: 734
    edited May 14
    The nut is standard 1 3/4" I'm not really sure how I'd measure the spacing. 
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  • BridgehouseBridgehouse Frets: 15730
    Any chance you could take a pic of your hand in a typical chord position on the J-45 when it would buzz?
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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 32858
    That's a *big* difference between the 125 and the J-45. I think you may have identified the problem. Personally, I think the top E looks slightly too close to the edge on the J-45.

    Worst case scenario is you have a new nut fitted with the 125 spacing and it doesn't fix it - you can always put the old nut back.

    Who put the low E string on the J-45? :)
    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone."
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  • BridgehouseBridgehouse Frets: 15730
    ICBM said:
    That's a *big* difference between the 125 and the J-45. I think you may have identified the problem. Personally, I think the top E looks slightly too close to the edge on the J-45.

    Worst case scenario is you have a new nut fitted with the 125 spacing and it doesn't fix it - you can always put the old nut back.

    Who put the low E string on the J-45? :)
    I still think it might be a technique issue if others don't have a problem with the j-45. 

    I wonder if the 125 has pushed you to hold your hand in a certain way @camf ?

    I'm only pushing down this line as I had a similar issue 20 years ago which I had to teach myself to correct.. and I've spent a lot of time on hand position and muting with bass.
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  • camfcamf Frets: 734
    Thanks @ICBM. Looks like a new nut might be worth a try. I suspect for some more refined players the string spacing might be fine but it does look quite a bit closer to the edge than the ES-125. I think something with a spacing more like the ES-125 would suit me a lot better although I'm guessing that might also entail a fret dress (although I think that was done not so long ago), a check of the bridge and maybe a general setup too. Are you busy? :)  

    Sadly, I think I might have been guilty of the low E offence too. 
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  • camfcamf Frets: 734
    You're probably right @Bridgehouse and I might look at getting some general advice and see what I can do but if a new nut helps, then at least I can enjoy the guitar as I'm addressing the playing issue. Up until today, I was considering just selling it, but I really like the guitar and it records really well - so much so, that the engineer in the studio said it was one of the most naturally nice sounding acoustics he'd recorded - one mic straight in front and virtually no EQ. (But that wasn't with me playing it!)

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  • BridgehouseBridgehouse Frets: 15730
    camf said:
    You're probably right @Bridgehouse and I might look at getting some general advice and see what I can do but if a new nut helps, then at least I can enjoy the guitar as I'm addressing the playing issue. Up until today, I was considering just selling it, but I really like the guitar and it records really well - so much so, that the engineer in the studio said it was one of the most naturally nice sounding acoustics he'd recorded - one mic straight in front and virtually no EQ. (But that wasn't with me playing it!)

    To be honest, given how you like the 125 so much, I'd be tempted to say get the j-45 done just so it feels the same - regardless of the issue. If you think the nut swap might make you love the j-45 all over again then for the money it's worth it.

    My concern was I didn't want you to mask a potential issue that might rear it's head in a few years when you come to try another new (to you) guitar and it manifests itself again..
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  • camfcamf Frets: 734
    I appreciate the advice @Bridgehouse and I will have a look at it, because I think you make a good point. But I do think it must be the guitar to a degree. I'm a bit rough and ready as a guitarist but I've been playing for 40 years and this is the first time I've ever had this issue. That's one reason it's taken me so long to trying figure what the strange pinging was in the first place. I might still be wrong. But I'll be wrong with a nice new nut and set up. :) 
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  • BridgehouseBridgehouse Frets: 15730
    camf said:
    I appreciate the advice @Bridgehouse and I will have a look at it, because I think you make a good point. But I do think it must be the guitar to a degree. I'm a bit rough and ready as a guitarist but I've been playing for 40 years and this is the first time I've ever had this issue. That's one reason it's taken me so long to trying figure what the strange pinging was in the first place. I might still be wrong. But I'll be wrong with a nice new nut and set up. :) 
    Don't let me stop you doing the nut - it's the right thing to do! And if it means it plays as well for you as the 125 then you'll be quids in and happy as Larry.

    It's probably a combination of both. Worth looking at the hand position as well just in case.
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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 32858
    camf said:
    Thanks @ICBM. Looks like a new nut might be worth a try. I suspect for some more refined players the string spacing might be fine but it does look quite a bit closer to the edge than the ES-125. I think something with a spacing more like the ES-125 would suit me a lot better although I'm guessing that might also entail a fret dress (although I think that was done not so long ago), a check of the bridge and maybe a general setup too. Are you busy? :)
    I should be able to do it fairly soon - the workshop is a bit full of large amps just now.

    Maybe next week...


    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone."
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  • camfcamf Frets: 734
    Cheers John, that would be great. See you then.

    cam
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  • p90foolp90fool Frets: 8564
    If the top E string is not actually slipping off the fret end then I'd be looking at the string sliding along the saddle as the source of the pinging tbh. 

    I know you said you checked the bridge saddle, but can you reproduce the exact sound by deliberately moving the string from side to side at the saddle? 
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  • earwighoneyearwighoney Frets: 1649
    edited May 14
    camf said:
    The nut is standard 1 3/4" I'm not really sure how I'd measure the spacing. 
    If you have digital calipers then use them to measure the E to E spacing at the nut. 

    But I'd like to add that a new nut with narrower string spacing could be the solution.  If you have calipers yourself and can do a few mods yourself then you could get a premade one from Christ Alsop Parts like this

    I bought one myself with wider spacing than I had before.

    I just saw you have ICBM as your local repairman, take the guitar to him instead! 

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  • camfcamf Frets: 734
    p90fool said:
    If the top E string is not actually slipping off the fret end then I'd be looking at the string sliding along the saddle as the source of the pinging tbh. 

    I know you said you checked the bridge saddle, but can you reproduce the exact sound by deliberately moving the string from side to side at the saddle? 
    I'd actually had @ICBM have a look at the bridge before, when I was still trying to identify the problem. He gave it a clean up and smoothed a couple of rough spots but it still hasn't solved the problem. At that point I hadn't considered that the problem might be at the other end.
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  • camfcamf Frets: 734
    edited May 14
    Thanks @earwighoney. It will be off to @ICBM next week for some TLC. 
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  • meltedbuzzboxmeltedbuzzbox Frets: 7660
    camf said:
    p90fool said:
    If the top E string is not actually slipping off the fret end then I'd be looking at the string sliding along the saddle as the source of the pinging tbh. 

    I know you said you checked the bridge saddle, but can you reproduce the exact sound by deliberately moving the string from side to side at the saddle? 
    I'd actually had @ICBM have a look at the bridge before, when I was still trying to identify the problem. He gave it a clean up and smoothed a couple of rough spots but it still hasn't solved the problem. At that point I hadn't considered that the problem might be at the other end.
    Isn't that something he should have checked by default?
    The Bigsby was the first successful design of what is now called a whammy bar or tremolo arm, although vibrato is the technically correct term for the musical effect it produces. In standard usage, tremolo is a rapid fluctuation of the volume of a note, while vibrato is a fluctuation in pitch. The origin of this nonstandard usage of the term by electric guitarists is attributed to Leo Fender, who also used the term “vibrato” to refer to what is really a tremolo effect.
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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 32858
    meltedbuzzbox said:

    Isn't that something he should have checked by default?
    If I had actually noticed a problem I would have :).

    Chasing this kind of thing can be tricky if it's caused by - and this is not a criticism, we all do things slightly differently - the player's exact technique.

    I just had another one where the owner was finding a choke at around the 15th fret on a Tele. I couldn't get it to do it at all, but when I handed him the guitar it was really obvious. All in the different ways we attack the notes, I think.
    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone."
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  • camfcamf Frets: 734
    edited May 19
    Yep, update on this. As I should have done before, I recorded some songs on the J45 and did some proper analysis. Consequently, I realised the problem was occurring pretty much only when I was playing an open D chord - which, as a singer, is quite often. I think I just need to check my wrist position and see how it goes. Although I’m always going to leap to @ICBM’s defence - he doesn’t need it but he’s been a huge help to me for around 30 years - he’s entirely right on this again. Even with just knowing where the issue was, I’ve been virtually able to erradicate it. Even I couldn’t work it out or demonstrate it when I took the guitar to him. When he played it, it sounded fine. 
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