What the #&@! is this metallic ringing sound!?

Webmaestro

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I'm at my wits-end here folks.

When I received my new, amazing, gorgeous Ibanez RGD3127 a few months ago, I noticed an odd metallic ringing sound whenever chugging, palm-muted, on the open low B string. That's the ONLY time it happens: when playing the low B, open, with palm mutes. No other string or note, fretted or open, palm-muted or otherwise, makes this sound.

At the time, I didn't much care, because I knew I'd soon be swapping all the electronics and pickups. I figured the issue would disappear.

Well, I've now swapped all the electronics and pickups (and strings), and the #@$! noise is STILL THERE. Have a listen, and between the low B notes you'll here a bizarre metallic ringing:

https://soundcloud.com/guitar-answer-guy/weird-metallic-ringing

Hear it? WTF is that? What could be causing it?
 

Webmaestro

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Have you tried muting the trem springs and behind the nut?

Yep. Those two spots are always muted with foam... on all my guitars. But just to be doubly-sure I also tried further muting them with my other hand while playing, and there was no change in the metallic sound.

I've also ruled out:

Loose/rattling truss rod
Vibrating wires inside the guitar
Other loose/vibrating hardware

I've manually 'muted' every component of this guitar while playing, and nothing stops the metallic ringing.

I've no fricking clue what's causing this.
 

technomancer

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That is bizarre... my next guess would be a defective bridge saddle or lock nut that isn't sitting correctly and allowing the string or saddle to vibrate, but if you've tried muting the hardware that probably isn't it.
 
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Can you do the same recording without distortion? Also chugging AND without chugging AND on other frets? Like a growing chromatic scale.

Have you ruled out a possible 1st fret buzzing just a little?

Besides that, send the guitar over to me and I'll find what's the noise about :D
 

Webmaestro

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That is bizarre... my next guess would be a defective bridge saddle or lock nut that isn't sitting correctly and allowing the string or saddle to vibrate, but if you've tried muting the hardware that probably isn't it.

I've messed with the locking nut and pressure pad, as well as done the trick of pulling the string to one side of the nut groove while locking down the pressure pad. Didn't help. I've also played with the pressure pad completely off. No improvement.

Now, the defective bridge saddle is an interesting idea. When I have a little more spare time, I may try swapping that saddle with another and see what happens.

Can you do the same recording without distortion? Also chugging AND without chugging AND on other frets? Like a growing chromatic scale.

Have you ruled out a possible 1st fret buzzing just a little?

Besides that, send the guitar over to me and I'll find what's the noise about :D

I could record a clean version, but I'll tell you what you'll hear: a very subtle, almost undetectable version of that metallic sound. It's actually tolerable and you wouldn't notice it unless you knew to listen for it. However, add a little gain and it really jumps out.

Regarding playing other notes: it disappears as soon as I fret that C note in the 1st position. This sound doesn't happen anywhere else or on any other note on the neck. So, I at least have it narrowed down to THAT.

I suppose it's possible the string could be lightly touching that 1st fret, but Rich (the seller) did one of the best fret jobs on this guitar that I've ever seen. If I didn't know any better, I'd say it's been PLEK'd. I'll do some measuring, maybe raise the nut slightly with a shim, and see what happens.
 
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NateFalcon

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Does it make the noise when you’re unplugged?...If I’m hearing it right, then it sounds like a “ping” as if you were tapping your bridge with the volume knob up on your guitar with the strings muted. It doesn’t sound like a “rattle” from something being loose to me. Maybe a cold-soldered ground at bridge/spring claw? Where is your ground attached on your guitar? Try checking that...there’s certainly a culprit causing it
 

NateFalcon

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Beings it happens only when played “open” on your B string...it might not have to do with anything concerning “that” string -it could be a frequency thing only being audible on that string because of the low end vibration...it honestly sounds like a weak ground somewhere, or your pickups might be too close to the strings? Check that too
 
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(...)
I could record a clean version, but I'll tell you what you'll hear: a very subtle, almost undetectable version of that metallic sound. It's actually tolerable and you wouldn't notice it unless you knew to listen for it. However, add a little gain and it really jumps out.

Regarding playing other notes: it disappears as soon as I fret that C note in the 1st position. This sound doesn't happen anywhere else or on any other note on the neck. So, I at least have it narrowed down to THAT.

I suppose it's possible the string could be lightly touching that 1st fret, but Rich (the seller) did one of the best fret jobs on this guitar that I've ever seen. If I didn't know any better, I'd say it's been PLEK'd. I'll do some measuring, maybe raise the nut slightly with a shim, and see what happens.

I know Rich is famous for being meticulous when setting up a guitar and I'm no where downgrading him or his work. If you didn't say, I wouldn't have known. But it sounds like the string is singing 2 notes when open, therefore touching something in it's vibrating arch causing the parasite ringing.

I believe you when you say that clean it won't be noticeable and that it doesn't happen anywhere else on other strings or even on that string. However, in order for us, at distance, to understand better what we are hearing, those other recordings will deliver more data for comparison. The thing is to understand how the guitar sounds besides that open low B string.

Do try shimming the nut and please report back.

(...) or your pickups might be too close to the strings? Check that too

If the string is hitting the pickups, it would be noticeable in the entire neck range.. I think... However, String Pull has its strange effects and could be forcing the string to hit some fret, so maybe lowering the pickups a bit could be something to also try.
 

NateFalcon

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Pickup height can be picky with low frequencies, I’m sure it’s not actually touching the pickup(s) themselves...my EMG’s are prone to pinging when they get too close to the strings -there’s definitely a “sweet spot”. Just tossing an idea
 

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It’s important if it does it unplugged or not...1. if it only does it when amplified it’s a ground/electrical issue (clean, or distorted)...I mentioned the bridge/trem claw because people usually hook it up in the electronics cavity, but don’t check the joint at the ground point itself...2. If it makes the sound unplugged as well, then you can eliminate the electronics as the cause and look at the hardware...Fret buzz usually doesn’t make the “ping” that I hear and think you’re (OP) referring to
 

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But it sounds like the string is singing 2 notes when open, therefore touching something in it's vibrating arch causing the parasite ringing.
This.
i listened to your soundclip and it sounds like there's something somewhere touching the string. Since it's only doing it on the open string i'd say the nut is the problem. Inspect your nut with a magnifying glass, it might be a very small defect on the nut causing an unwanted contact with the string
 

cardinal

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My ear isn’t good enough to tell just from listening, but try to figure out what is that secondary note that we’re hearing.

Once you figure that out, go around the guitar trying to replicate that note by whatever means you can think of (striking behind the nut, up and down the string, etc).

It sounds to me like ringing from one of the strings against something that you should be able to reproduce independently from chugging on the low B, and once to find it you can work to stop it.
 

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Is the guitar new? One guitar I bought used had pickups swapped and instead of the good old "foam under the pickups" they were actually suspended on springs. So when playing, they springs between the pickups and body wood would resonate. It took me a while to figure that out...
 

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Lots of good ideas here, so rather than try to respond to everyone's questions/comments independently I'll just spend the weekend troubleshooting and report back.

I emailed the sound clip to Rich and he had an interesting comment: "Have you noticed you can’t hear it for the first few seconds in that recording?"

He speculates that I may be bouncing the string off a fret somewhere higher on the neck when I'm palm-muting (effectively pushing down slightly on the string). Recommended that I vary my downward pressure and see if it changes the sound.

So yeah, I've got a lot of homework to do this weekend. It's a puzzler, for sure.

Thanks for all the input thus far!
 

bostjan

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If you try a different tunning, is it still there?
Heh, we have a theard somewhere about tunning, I think. ;) ...

I was going to recommend this. Drop A, does is still ping?
If yes, then it's the string and position. If not, then try the second fret and see if it still pings.
If yes, then it's resonance, if not, then something moved due to tension, probably.

So, if it's string and position, it might be some ringing going through the nut to overpower the foam, or else maybe the foam isn't making good enough contact on the lowest string. Or it might be the first fret buzzing (which it doesn't really sound like to me).

If it's resonance, then, for me, it'd be the most puzzling wild goose chase to try to figure out what is resonating. Maybe just tune A=432 Hz :lol: and hope it goes away (I keed, I keed).

If no and then no, I wouldn't expect the problem to be such an easy fix, as it might be a "daffy duck problem." You remember the cartoon with daffy duck, where he gets glue on his wing, and he keeps wiping the glue off, but getting stuck more and more each time? Yeah, that's the way I see that sort of problem, where you just keep fixing stuff only to find another thing that was caused by fixing the last problem. In that case, I don't know what to tell you.
 
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Lots of good ideas here, so rather than try to respond to everyone's questions/comments independently I'll just spend the weekend troubleshooting and report back.

I emailed the sound clip to Rich and he had an interesting comment: "Have you noticed you can’t hear it for the first few seconds in that recording?"

He speculates that I may be bouncing the string off a fret somewhere higher on the neck when I'm palm-muting (effectively pushing down slightly on the string). Recommended that I vary my downward pressure and see if it changes the sound.

So yeah, I've got a lot of homework to do this weekend. It's a puzzler, for sure.

Thanks for all the input thus far!

A little more of neck relief then...? or higher action at the bridge? pretty small steps...
 

Webmaestro

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Update.

Regarding the questions about whether it does it in other tunings...

This guitar has a floating trem, so rather than try to retune I instead slowly dumped the trem with my left hand while playing the palm-mutes with my right.

The sound was still there and... more interestingly... the frequency (of the metallic sound) stayed exactly the same. It didn't drop or change pitch along with the string. Ditto for when I pulled UP on the whammy bar and raised the string's pitch. The metallic sound stayed exactly the same.

FYI, I can't hear the sound acoustically (unplugged). I'm not sure if that's because it's just too faint or what, but I can't hear anything unplugged.
 


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