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Quick Fixes - Buzzing Open String on Floyd Rose Nut

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Had some free time today (in these weird times, who hasn't?) and decided to fix something that had been bugging me for a while on one of my old builds.

The open high-E string on this guitar has always had a sitar-like buzz. The instrument has a made-in-Germany Floyd Rose Original double-locking tremolo with matching locking nut. A quick Google reveals that this is not an uncommon problem with the nut, mainly due to the nut being a cast metal item where, unlike a traditional nut where each slot is cut by hand, there is essentially no further refining to the slots after it has been powder coated at the factory. This can lead to the possibility of non-uniform paint coating in the slots and/or minor casting imperfections that can change the height of the break point of the nut slot enough to cause buzzing on the open strings.

The video below illustrates the issue. By pinching the string into the nut slot with a flat-bladed screwdriver it is possible to make the buzzing noise disappear:

Under Superman-vision, it may be possible to see that the string has rubbed through the black plating immediately behind the slot, leaving the black coating in the gullet of the slot unworn. This indicates that the edge is ever so slightly lower than the string as it leaves the nut, which is where the source of the buzzing is occurring:

Quick Fix 1.jpg

By carefully filing the back of the nut slot with a downwards angle using a 0.013" nut slotting file it is possible to re-introduce a slight ramp up to the nut slot. This gives the string a chance to exit on the leading edge of the slot again, hopefully eliminating the buzz. If you don't have access to nut slotting files this narrow you could probably get away with some 400 grit sandpaper folded over a razor blade. Superman vision again:

Quick Fix 2.jpg

The above shot shows the filed area in the gullet of the high-E slot extending towards the tuning peg by about 1mm; probably no more than about 6-8 strokes of the file is enough to add the required ramp. After making the above tweak the buzz is gone for good:

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I had a Yamaha Pacifica 721 many years ago that developed a sitar buzz on the high E. Like you, it was the saddle that was causing it. The 721 was the lower-end version of the more premium 9xx and 14xx series, and the double-locking tremolo fitted to it was also a correspondingly lower-spec unit. The plating and/or casting was probably suspect on the more basic guitar, and it eventually developed a flat spot on the break point of the high E saddle.

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