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Stu

Posts: 1843
Joined: Jan. 30 2007
From: London (the South of it), England

Persistent buzz/vibrations 

So I've started a new thread here although it's kind of related to my fret levelling post. But I wanted to keep it separate cos I think this is a different issue.

I'm having some strange resonating/vibration along the whole of my A and D strings. If I fret the string I get the same odd after buzz/vibration down from the 1st fret all the way. It seems to be originating/localised at the saddle. I always cut off the tiny excess of each string as that can vibrate and make a racket. So it's not that this time.

If jI jostle the string along the saddle slightly the buzz seems to go away for a couple of plucks. But then once it has reseated itself the buzzing returns.
Could it be an issue with the tiny grooves the strings sit in on the bone?

Any thoughts?
Thanks for reading

Could try and make a little video
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jul. 31 2020 20:35:46
 
Flamingrae

 

Posts: 206
Joined: May 19 2009
 

RE: Persistent buzz/vibrations (in reply to Stu

quote:

Any thoughts?


Call the buzz detectives!! - No seriously, you will have to do this by eliminating one possible source after another. If external, you should be able to rectify - check height of strings at the frets etc. If internal - that will give you another challenge. Check if you can feel any obvious looseness. Try listening to a possible source. You will track it down. Might be an idea to take the top strings off and leave maybe just the A which should allow you to play and feel on the inside too. Feeling on the inside whilst pressing carefully and playing the string might help you to track further. Hopefully it will be external. If internal, and you track it down - you will have to work out the best solution to firm up the part. One of those mirrors with a light and telescopic handle can be helpful but track down first. Good luck.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Aug. 1 2020 11:45:57
 
Tom Blackshear

 

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RE: Persistent buzz/vibrations (in reply to Stu

Stu,

You may have what I call an anomaly which is motivated by certain top tuning. This comes about with the top's thickness and vibrating parts. I've seen this happen on some factory made guitars in the past.

This can happen with the way the top is graduated in its thickness, or possibly constructed with "out of balance" fan bracing that don't synergistically blend with other fan braces, harmonically.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Aug. 1 2020 16:10:06
 
mango

Posts: 135
Joined: Apr. 2 2019
 

RE: Persistent buzz/vibrations (in reply to Stu

hmm... most mysterious vibrations I had were due to bad string slots at the nut... but more with open strings... perhaps some loose parts of the tuning machines?
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Aug. 2 2020 13:31:50
 
JasonM

Posts: 1565
Joined: Dec. 8 2005
From: Baltimore

RE: Persistent buzz/vibrations (in reply to Stu

I think I’m having a similar issue myself right now. Seems to be worse when I use a capo. I get buzzing on the A and D strings that sounds like it’s coming from the saddle. It’s more like a fuzziness than a rattle

I was told that it could be that the string is vibrating on the hump of the saddle. In other words, the leading edge of the saddle is not a sharp enough breakaway. Not so sure about this. I have a feeling it might be because I didn’t add any relief into my fretboard.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Aug. 2 2020 15:15:52
 
Stu

Posts: 1843
Joined: Jan. 30 2007
From: London (the South of it), England

RE: Persistent buzz/vibrations (in reply to JasonM

Ha Jason. Your reply was like reading what I think about my issue.

Thanks rae and Tom and mango. I've been away camping this weekend and on returning the buzz seems to have gone!!! Haha. I don't know if thats good. Or a helpful indicator of what it could?

I'm gonna change the strings as the two in question look particular battered. I wonder if a damaged string (Nick or scratch on the metal) could cause some such buzzing.

I'll keep my ears on it and try and record a video/audio if the buzzing returns

Thanks guys
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Aug. 3 2020 14:12:26
 
JasonM

Posts: 1565
Joined: Dec. 8 2005
From: Baltimore

RE: Persistent buzz/vibrations (in reply to Stu

Ha! Well that’s good it went away. Hopefully it stays that way, humidity is always a factor. Strange how it’s only on those strings and not the low E! I need to make a new saddle to rule that out but higher tension strings also seems to help.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Aug. 3 2020 15:58:14
 
Stu

Posts: 1843
Joined: Jan. 30 2007
From: London (the South of it), England

RE: Persistent buzz/vibrations (in reply to JasonM

So new buzzing!!

In a very specific fingering.

Check the vid. Any ideas?



I thought maybe the fret was not Fixed Correctly and the pressure from fretting the A string was lifting it. But it isn't that.

I'm no expert at all so would love to hear any ideas what causes this kind of very specific buzz.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Aug. 4 2020 22:06:53
 
RobF

Posts: 950
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RE: Persistent buzz/vibrations (in reply to Stu

Stu, try muting behind the fifth* fret on the A. I think what you’re hearing is the A string back-buzzing on the third fret.

If the buzz goes away from muting, then the solution is to raise the A slot on the nut a touch. You could do this using CA and bone powder to build up the material in the slot and then refile (I’ve heard of starch or baking soda being recommended in lieu of bone powder, but I can’t remember which).

* Sorry, I meant fourth fret.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Aug. 4 2020 23:01:13
 
Stu

Posts: 1843
Joined: Jan. 30 2007
From: London (the South of it), England

RE: Persistent buzz/vibrations (in reply to RobF

Thanks Rob. Ok cool I'll check that out. That might actually be the one thing I haven't tried...
Its 1am now so will have to wait until morning or I'll be for the Chop! 😄
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Aug. 5 2020 0:49:04
 
Stu

Posts: 1843
Joined: Jan. 30 2007
From: London (the South of it), England

RE: Persistent buzz/vibrations (in reply to RobF

ROB!! thats it!
Thanks. I've learned something there thankyou.

I was only checking for trouble areas this side of the fretting. It didn't occur to me the issue could've been up towards the nut. Thanks again. It was driving me a bit mad.

This sound is similar to the original buzz sounds that were occuring along the length of A and D that I outlined in my initial post. so hopefully it could be the same issue...perhaps one fret causing.

I've noticed a similar thing witha similar combo (which I forget now, E string) but might be the same fret thats causing it. will investigate further.

In regards to your solution.
Thanks. I'll look into that.

Could another solution be to take the troublesome fret down a teeny bit? or is that a bad idea? To start reducing a frets height when it may already be level relative to its neighbour??

Thanks again!!
Stu
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Aug. 5 2020 10:26:01
 
RobF

Posts: 950
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RE: Persistent buzz/vibrations (in reply to Stu

Great! Sometimes 90% of the battle is identifying the problem. Now it can be fixed!

quote:

Could another solution be to take the troublesome fret down a teeny bit? or is that a bad idea? To start reducing a frets height when it may already be level relative to its neighbour??

That could lead to a chasing your tail situation like you were worried about earlier and, unless the problem fret is high, would likely result in a full fret dressing, at least at the nut end of the fretboard. So, if the fret isn’t clicking, then addressing the issue at the nut is probably best.

Another way of looking at it is; eliminating the problem by dressing the frets is essentially not very different than raising the nut slot, as in both cases the distance between the string and fret is being increased. Doing it at the nut saves fret wear, is less work, and can address each string individually.

My vote is to try fixing it at the nut first. There’s no harm in it.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Aug. 5 2020 13:58:21
 
RobF

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RE: Persistent buzz/vibrations (in reply to Stu

Another thing that just occurred to me to mention is when weird buzzing problems occur on the upper three strings it never hurts to try swapping out the strings first, just in case they’re out of true. It seems the wound strings are less prone to having these problems, but I’ve run across some treble strings that were really out of whack, with bad intonation and buzzing like crazy.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Aug. 5 2020 14:30:00
 
Stu

Posts: 1843
Joined: Jan. 30 2007
From: London (the South of it), England

RE: Persistent buzz/vibrations (in reply to RobF

Cook thanks Rob.yes that makes sense regarding the tail chasing.

Also yes I've just had some new strings delivered. So gonna have a look (listen) work them on.

The other day when I spot levelled my frets. I didn't remove the (almost new) strings. I just loosened them right off and taped them out of the way. I didn't do a great job of that and definitely hit then a few times whilst filling/leveling the frets.
I wonder if I may have nicked one or two of them. Maybe damaging them and causing some of these buzzes?

Anyway.
Will try these strings and see.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Aug. 5 2020 15:36:16
 
Stu

Posts: 1843
Joined: Jan. 30 2007
From: London (the South of it), England

RE: Persistent buzz/vibrations (in reply to RobF

Hi.
So new strings on and the problem persists.

But good to know it's not the strings. So I can focus on the frets. (Gone and bought bronze bass strings by mistake 😭😔)
Urgh.

I've been having some thoughts regarding string contact with frets.
Firstly, how am l to be certain exactly which fret the strings are vibing against? I was fretting 4th and you suggested 3rd would be the one buzzing. Could it not also be maybe 1st or 2nd? If so, anything I can do to locate exactly which one it is?

I would have thought fret 3 would have a decent contact if I'm depressing the string between 3 and 4?

This got me thinking further.

Upwards of the fretted fret. Which other frets do (should) the strings come into contact with? I'm thinking maybe just the immediate upwards fret and one more perhaps? Or maybe only the two either side of the finger?

One more thought leading on from that one....

I'm thinking there are 3 states that could exist.
1. String firmly resting on the fret = No buzz
2. String no where near the fret = No buzz
3. String in between 1 and 2 = BUZZ!

Your solution was to create state number 2 by raising the nut string slot.
I guess that made me think. Would a fix also be to create state number 1 ?
(Which I guess could be done by lowering the whole nut a 100th mm or so. Or raising the naughty fret by replacing it)

Or..!! 😄 ....Could I achieve number 2. By raising the whole nut?

Or are they silly ideas? I guess those solutions may throw up other issues...?

Stu
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Aug. 5 2020 18:33:18
 
kitarist

Posts: 1178
Joined: Dec. 4 2012
 

RE: Persistent buzz/vibrations (in reply to Stu

I like how you think. Following this as I've also had annoying fret buzzing on some of the low position frets that I can't figure out.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Aug. 5 2020 18:43:36
 
Tom Blackshear

 

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RE: Persistent buzz/vibrations (in reply to kitarist

If it is not a back buzz, then I repeat that it may be a harmonic anomaly that may be causing it. This can happen with age or present in a fairly new guitar. I noticed it in a Ramirez guitar's G string brought in for repair and the 4th string on a well known less expensive one, both classical models.

To a less knowledgeable player, this may sound off course but to a well trained repairman, it makes sense.

The best link I can give you is my web site, for this matter. Most other web sites have to do with tap tuning.

https://tomblackshearguitarbuilder.weebly.com/fine-tuning.html

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Aug. 5 2020 20:27:17
 
RobF

Posts: 950
Joined: Aug. 24 2017
 

RE: Persistent buzz/vibrations (in reply to Stu

Hi Stu, I put responses after some of your thoughts.

quote:

I've been having some thoughts regarding string contact with frets.
Firstly, how am l to be certain exactly which fret the strings are vibing against? I was fretting 4th and you suggested 3rd would be the one buzzing. Could it not also be maybe 1st or 2nd? If so, anything I can do to locate exactly which one it is?
I would have thought fret 3 would have a decent contact if I'm depressing the string between 3 and 4?

I thought you were fretting the A string at the fifth fret? In which case, the third fret is the likely suspect. If you were fretting between three and four then, yes, it’s the second fret that would be the probable culprit. But the main point is that the string is too close to a fret and is buzzing against one somewhere between the nut and the fretted area while vibrating in sympathy with the plucked note.

quote:

Upwards of the fretted fret. Which other frets do (should) the strings come into contact with? I'm thinking maybe just the immediate upwards fret and one more perhaps? Or maybe only the two either side of the finger?

You’re right, it is not necessarily going to be the fret adjacent to a fretted note which buzzes. Thinking of how a string vibrates, there is generally a peak in the area corresponding to the area where the string is plucked, and then one would expect it would also peak at the midpoint after it settles. So, it would make sense that it could also buzz against higher frets. That’s one of the reasons I mentioned to check the fret job on the tongue.

quote:

I'm thinking there are 3 states that could exist.
1. String firmly resting on the fret = No buzz
2. String no where near the fret = No buzz
3. String in between 1 and 2 = BUZZ!

Your solution was to create state number 2 by raising the nut string slot.
I guess that made me think. Would a fix also be to create state number 1 ?

If this is achieved by lowering the nut then it could lead to buzzing when the open string is plucked. If it is achieved by lowering a fret then it’s likely going to end up back at tail chasing time. I don’t think this is a viable solution, although there’s no harm in trying it by lowering the nut, as a learning experience. It might require making a new nut if it doesn’t work, however. Assuming the fret job is good, I wouldn’t recommend pursuing this idea by filing or replacing frets, that’s got disaster written all over it. Although, I guess I don’t really know, as I’ve actually never tried it, lol.

quote:

Or..!! 😄 ....Could I achieve number 2. By raising the whole nut?

Of course, and that is the sensible thing to do. Then, if it works, the individual slots of the nut can be fine tuned, or a new nut made, using the old one as a reference.

quote:

Or are they silly ideas? I guess those solutions may throw up other issues...?

No, they are definitely not silly ideas! That’s what it’s all about. I used to have a professor in college who would say “If you want to be an engineer, you got to start thinking like an engineer.” He had little respect for students who wanted pre-fabricated solutions, he wanted people to develop their problem solving abilities.

Finally, here’s an idea for a handy little tool you can make out of an LED, some wire, a battery pack and an alligator clip. This only works on the wound strings of the guitar (or the unwound strings of a steel string guitar). The battery pack is going to need enough batteries wired in series to provide sufficient voltage to turn on the LED. It’s basically just a continuity tester, so it’s wired alligator clip-wire-battery pack-wire-LED, with one leg of the LED attached to the wire and the other free. The alligator clip is clipped to a wound string behind the nut and the free leg of the LED can then be touched to a fret while the string is plucked. If the string buzzes against the fret it will complete the circuit every time the string hits the fret and the LED will momentarily light up. Just an interesting little device for identifying where a buzz might be occurring. Simply capo and pluck, then walk the LED up the frets and see which ones light up - wherever it blinks, it’s buzzing.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Aug. 5 2020 20:36:35
 
kitarist

Posts: 1178
Joined: Dec. 4 2012
 

RE: Persistent buzz/vibrations (in reply to Tom Blackshear

quote:

If it is not a back buzz, then I repeat that it may be a harmonic anomaly that may be causing it.


In my case I've noticed a pattern of more buzzy A and D strings around the 3-4th frets when the strings are brand new, but the buzz diminishes or almost entirely disappears after 1-2 weeks.

Just seems counter-intuitive. If anything, the tension on these strings after re-tuning them for 2 weeks is a little less than as -new, because there is a little less linear mass due to the thinning of the strings as they stretch. On the other hand, they are a little less in diameter. So somehow the diameter reduction wins over the lowered tension in terms of the strings just clearing wherever they were touching when new, while being fretted around frets 3-4? (But how - isn't the string surface still the same distance from the other frets when vibrating? I am getting confused) And it cannot be harmonic anomaly as it seems to depend on the string state?

I'll investigate more about back buzz but the above seems relevant information that I don't know how to interpret. Hopefully it makes sense to you or others.

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Konstantin
Foro cante accompaniment practice tracks (zip file)
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Aug. 5 2020 20:42:08
 
RobF

Posts: 950
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RE: Persistent buzz/vibrations (in reply to Tom Blackshear

quote:

If it is not a back buzz, then I repeat that it may be a harmonic anomaly that may be causing it.

Alan Carruth has spoken about this phenomenon at some length on a different forum. It’s well worth being aware that such behaviours can occur.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Aug. 5 2020 20:42:36
 
Stu

Posts: 1843
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From: London (the South of it), England

RE: Persistent buzz/vibrations (in reply to RobF

Rob thanks for responding to each of my points. Appreciate that very much.

Btw. My mistake regarding the fret numbers. I did say 4th G. 5th A. ...I think?! 😄
Then I confused matters by moving everything back a fret in my responses.

Thanks also for the home made continuity tester.
Might give that a go when I get a chance.

Yes regarding the mindset. I do enjoy thinking through these kinds of issues. I suppose its what helps us analyse and evaluate all possibilities. However I sometimes over think the thinking and start to think I'm just falling down the rabbit hole!

Anyways. Onwards.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Aug. 5 2020 23:04:10
 
JasonM

Posts: 1565
Joined: Dec. 8 2005
From: Baltimore

RE: Persistent buzz/vibrations (in reply to RobF

quote:

Finally, here’s an idea for a handy little tool you can make out of an LED, some wire, a battery pack and an alligator clip. This only works on the wound strings of the guitar (or the unwound strings of a steel string guitar). The battery pack is going to need enough batteries wired in series to provide sufficient voltage to turn on the LED. It’s basically just a continuity tester, so it’s wired alligator clip-wire-battery pack-wire-LED, with one leg of the LED attached to the wire and the other free. The alligator clip is clipped to a wound string behind the nut and the free leg of the LED can then be touched to a fret while the string is plucked. If the string buzzes against the fret it will complete the circuit every time the string hits the fret and the LED will momentarily light up. Just an interesting little device for identifying where a buzz might be occurring. Simply capo and pluck, then walk the LED up the frets and see which ones light up - wherever it blinks, it’s buzzing.


Your a genius, Rob!

Would a resistor for the LED be necessary to limit the current in this case? . Maybe I’ll try this with my multimeter first. Although on second thought I guess the continuity setting is not enough?... probably not as fast as an LED
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Aug. 6 2020 4:29:19
 
Ricardo

Posts: 12680
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From: Washington DC

RE: Persistent buzz/vibrations (in reply to Stu

Just to add, there is the famous mystery buzz that naturally occurs if the nut is too low and you use a capo...certain frequencies ignite the 6th string to rattle between the capo position and the nut. The old studio fix is to put rubber bands on the neck to squeeze the Low E down, but the main fix is to shim up the nut.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Aug. 6 2020 12:33:10
 
RobF

Posts: 950
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RE: Persistent buzz/vibrations (in reply to JasonM

Yeah, I tried a garden variety hardware store continuity tester with an incandescent bulb and also a multimeter and you need the speed of the LED.

Good point about the resistor. I didn’t current limit mine, just jerry-rigged it together to see how it’d work. I guess if you were using a 9V battery, then putting a few hundred ohms in series to drop the voltage and limit the current makes sense and is the correct way to do it. I did this a while ago, but I think I just used an LED I had laying around and a battery pack with two 1.5V AA batteries, I guess the lower voltage and pulsing of the buzz saved me.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Aug. 6 2020 12:34:55
 
constructordeguitarras

Posts: 1439
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From: Seattle, Washington, USA

RE: Persistent buzz/vibrations (in reply to Stu

Sounds to me like it could be that the angle on top of the saddle is not steep enough.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Aug. 6 2020 14:15:15
 
Stu

Posts: 1843
Joined: Jan. 30 2007
From: London (the South of it), England

RE: Persistent buzz/vibrations (in reply to constructordeguitarras

Thanks Ricardo and Ethan,

I'll keep that stuff in mind when I get round to this again. It's definitely not only that fret combo that's buzZing. There's something more Going on. 🤔

Pushing 36° here in London today so doing anything other than getting in my daughter's paddling pool is out of the question!
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Aug. 7 2020 13:31:08
 
JasonM

Posts: 1565
Joined: Dec. 8 2005
From: Baltimore

RE: Persistent buzz/vibrations (in reply to constructordeguitarras

Lots of great info here! And thanks for the vid Stu.

When I get a chance I’ll dust off my old Radio shack electronics lab and give the buzz tester 2000 a try!


quote:

Sounds to me like it could be that the angle on top of the saddle is not steep enough.


This is what I’m thinking might be the problem in my case - maybe. A while back, I read an old post about a luthier complaining about seeing saddles that have a sharp edge on them. I also remember reading that Al Caruth? Said that less saddle contact area is better.. which seems counterintuitive.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Aug. 7 2020 15:50:12
 
Pat Foster

 

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Joined: Oct. 24 2019
 

RE: Persistent buzz/vibrations (in reply to Stu

If I may jump in here as a lurker.

I've had lack of neck relief cause problems like this.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Aug. 8 2020 21:39:12
 
Stu

Posts: 1843
Joined: Jan. 30 2007
From: London (the South of it), England

RE: Persistent buzz/vibrations (in reply to Pat Foster

quote:


If I may jump in here as a lurker.

I've had lack of neck relief cause problems like this.


Aha! ...but by contributing, you are a lurker no more!

Thanks for that. I've been thinking further on all this and def have a few options to solve this.

Some perhaps crucial info I've not really offered up until now.
I built this guitar in 2015. In Granada, under supervision.

Back in the UK the sides of the finger board came away from the neck/soundboard 12th fret and towards the sound hole. ( I probably posted on here about it)
(Poor glueing job maybe?)

Anyway I eventually replaced it also under supervision/instruction.

Once I'd fixed the new ebony. We realised the nut was too small (previous ebony must've been thinner)
So the nut was shimmed to give the correct action.

Nothing was done to the saddle.
And I've just found out it possibly hould have had some work on it too, to be compatible with the thicker fingerboard.

Any thoughts?
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Aug. 8 2020 22:53:36
 
RobF

Posts: 950
Joined: Aug. 24 2017
 

RE: Persistent buzz/vibrations (in reply to Stu

quote:

Nothing was done to the saddle.
And I've just found out it possibly hould have had some work on it too, to be compatible with the thicker fingerboard.
Any thoughts?

It might be time to damn the torpedoes, bite the bullet, start from ground zero, and make a new nut and a new saddle.

Also, while you’re at it, maybe have a closer look at the tongue area. Is the fingerboard still well adhered? Is it heading in the right direction? How are the frets seating in this area, any clicks? Also, check the relief from the 12th to the first, and then again from the 19th. Does this show the tongue is rising? If yes, then consider pulling the frets above the 12th and dropping the tongue a bit towards the soundhole. Do you have enough fret wire on hand to do a full refret, if necessary?

Chin up, knuckle down, whistle the old ‘Colonel Bogey March’, stride purposefully to the bench, and get the job done. There’s no point crying over spilt milk. Just look at the bright side, what you learn from this will be for the benefit of that new short-scale flamenco you’ve started. If you play your cards right, everything will be fine.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Aug. 9 2020 15:12:37
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