Thursday, 22 March 2018
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Hi Sheldon,

i got myself a new Combustion 5-string (2017 model - serial no. 02606) and i love it :)
But one thing annoys me infinitely... i noticed a strange buzzing / rattling sound when playing without amplification. At first i thought this would be setup related problem so i followed your informations from the setup guide uploaded at youtube and thought everything will be fine. After a while i noticed the same rattling / buzzing when I was practicing - i usually practice, write and learn at home without using an amp. I tried to find and analyze the problem but had a very hard time locating the sound at first because the strings and the body resonated with the buzz / rattling and amplified and it, therefore it was audible at almost every spot on that bass. Taking out the cavity plates and the batteries, checking for loose parts in the electronics cavity and fiddling with the pickup-heights I almost gave up, was in a really bad mood, put the combustion aside and have not touched it for a couple of days.
After this short break i tried it one more time... and found the source of this noise that drives me crazy: It's the Bridge! When plucked / picked (especially when plucked near the bridge) - even with a moderate to light touch - the string vibration lets the single bridge pieces vibrate and this vibration seems to be enough to let the screws on which the piece sits rattle against its bottom plate. In my case this happens mainly on the open B-String and the E-String fretted in the first few frets... i confirmed my theory about the rattling by placing small pieces cut out of a shrink wrap underneath those screws - the rattling was gone.
What could be the reason for this? I thought myself it may be due to insufficient pressure on the bridge-piece, but i use the stock dingwall strings and even tuned them up a half step... so this cannot be the problem?
I think the bridge pieces are a little wobbly anyway because they do not get any support from the sites - especially if the string on top of it is downtuned from standard (if i push it at the height between the pickups to one side to simulate hart picking attack it slides or even tips over a tiny bit in that direction too) - is this normal or should i check the screws and the tiny "rails" they sit in? Am i doing something wrong or miss something completely or is this construction-related and I have to live with that - that would be a massive bummer since i am very picky about rattling, buzzing, humming and all other sorts of unwanted noises created by instruments and amplifications.
Another thing caught my attention: The newer combustion bridges are clearly based on the Hipshot Solo Bridge. Why are the rails / guide slots on your bridges not cut through the whole bottom plate like it is on the hipshot solo bridge? (https://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/1574/0577/files/5S100.PDF?13659447255581254112) I think this is the main cause of my problem since without being completely 'stuck' in the guide slot (like its shown in the linked image by hipshot) the screws have plenty of space to glide / tilt sideways because the guide slots-depth is only the size of a hair but wide like a highway and thus the screw sits only on its very tip and is eventually more prone to rattle with the vibration? Can the Hipshot Solos replace the stock combustion bridges without any drilling - maybe i should try this to prevent that i go completely mad about this?

PS: the old bridge looked more massive and i never had those problems... why were they replaced on the new models in the first place?

Two more small questions:
- Is there a reference point for finding the center for the D string for setting the correct string spacing of 18mm? From viewing straight onto it when standing above the bass it looks like the string spacings are not 100% even between all the strings and the bridges itself also don't have even spaces between them.
- What is the pickup-height / distance from the strings recommended by you for the FD3n pickups? The youtube video showed the older combustions with the square-corned shell? Has it changed since then?

Sorry for the wall of text but I hope you can help me. :)
3 years ago
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#30118
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Sorry for the slow reply.

We'll look into a solution for buzzing saddles. In the mean time, try filing the bottom of the screw flat to make the contact point wider.
It appears the problem might be the screw slightly touching the side of the track. Pushing the saddle to the side eliminates the buzz. However if you pluck hard in the opposite direction it will move the saddle slightly. Flattening the end of the screw makes it wider and will hopefully tighten up the tolerance.

The reason for switching was to gain more height adjustment and provide a screw adjust for intonation. We'd gotten a lot of requests for that. Hipshot solos are not compatible.

A string through option would add cost, make stringing more difficult and not result in a tone or sustain improvement.

Pickup height specs are the same with the round shells as the rectangular ones.
3 years ago
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#30118
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Sorry for the slow reply.

We'll look into a solution for buzzing saddles. In the mean time, try filing the bottom of the screw flat to make the contact point wider.
It appears the problem might be the screw slightly touching the side of the track. Pushing the saddle to the side eliminates the buzz. However if you pluck hard in the opposite direction it will move the saddle slightly. Flattening the end of the screw makes it wider and will hopefully tighten up the tolerance.

The reason for switching was to gain more height adjustment and provide a screw adjust for intonation. We'd gotten a lot of requests for that. Hipshot solos are not compatible.

A string through option would add cost, make stringing more difficult and not result in a tone or sustain improvement.

Pickup height specs are the same with the round shells as the rectangular ones.
3 years ago
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#30126
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Hi Sheldon, thank you for your reply :)
I tried your suggestion and filed the bottom auf the b-string saddle screws a little bit more flat and the buzzing / rattling has become a little less - but its not fully gone. Do you have any other suggestions on how I could tackle this problem? Is it likely that new bridges would help due to production tolerances and therefore the new ones maybe being a little bit 'tighter' and do you give them away separately? I tried raising the bridge saddles but that doesnt help unless they are set ridiculously high and get nearly unplayable for me.
In the meantime i noticed an other rattling sound that is IMHO definitely not string buzz because it doesnt have this metallic 'zing' sound in it. But rather it sounds like it is coming from inside the basses body. While i tried to locate the source of this rattling i noticed that it seems to be the loudest when you place your ear over the area of the neck-pickup / the lower cutaway / truss rod adjustment screw. Is it likely to be the same sound that the bridges produce and that is just amplified through / into the body woods or is it possible that a pickup-screw is able to rattle too in some way? This sound mainly occurs when plugging the B, E and A string, i think due to the higher energy transported by the thicker strings, and is loudly audible when fretting the first few frets, a little quieter on open strings and a little quieter again when fretting the upper frets. It is audible through the amplifier also and even the slightest plugging on the E or A string is sufficient to produce the rattling. I noticed the sound goes away when i push the strings really hard when fretting, that hard that they touch the wood between the frets - but i think that cant be the solution? I am using the Dingwall Stainless Steel 5 String Set tuned to A# F A# D# G# and had set everything up to your youtube tutorials but a tiny bit lowered the action since i like the really clanky overdriven sound when played with a pick. I set my guitars and basses up on my own since more then 10 years and never had a problem like this with any other bass.
I already tried raising and lowering the bridge saddles, tightening and loosing the truss rod a tiny bit, lowering and rising the string retainer, fastening the screws on the tuning pegs, removing everything not needed to play (pickguard, batteries, etc), checked the electronics cavity for loose parts and tied some cables together with small cable ties but nothing has worked yet - I spent the last 5 or more evenings and nights on chasing down those two problems and not on playing - that makes me really sad and i slowly begin to drive crazy. Please help me, the bass is only a few month old and i love the playability of it :(

Best regards
David
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