Custom 24 metallic ringing around 4k

Discussion in 'Electric Instruments' started by waaromhoorikniks, Dec 3, 2018.

  1. waaromhoorikniks

    waaromhoorikniks New Member

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    Hello everyone,

    I'm new to this forum, and I hope some of you skilled PRS aficionados out there can help me out with a long-standing problem with my PRS.

    Sometime around 2002 I bought a PRS Custom 24. I love playing it and I love looking at it, but it has also proved to be a terribly difficult guitar to record and mix. It has a very harsh, pronounced rattle between 3k and 4k that requires a lot of very specific notch filtering to get rid of. I play pretty clean, jangly stuff (think Johnny Marr, Nile Rodgers, etc.) and precisely with that type of sound the problem is most pronounced. Playing high-gain leads tends to be ok.

    By comparison, my wife has a cheap Squier that I end up using mostly for recording clean chords, because it simply sounds a lot less harsh. I believe the PRS should be able to do better than a cheap Fender knockoff, so there must be something wrong.

    Here's what I've tried and found out so far:

    - I do most of my home recording through a Kemper. I have also used a Focusrite Scarlett interface to capture the sound without any amplification or modeling in between. The problem is definitely in the clean sound, not in the amping. In fact, I can hear it directly when I play in the room, without any electronics in between.

    - The metallic ringing sound is not harmonically related to whatever notes I am playing. It sounds harsh and out of tune.

    - I have installed a sponge in my tremolo spring cavity to dampen the springs. That appears to reduce the problem somewhat, but it does not eliminate it.

    - The problem is most pronounced on the higher, unwound strings. My pickups are the stock HFS and Vintage Bass pair. At one point, I lowered them so far on the treble side I was at the end of the screw. It didn't help.

    - I have heard this exact sound in other Custom 24's, but not in all of them. Since I'm new to the forum I can't post links yet, but there's a French guy on Youtube with the account name 'Voron Guitars' who has a video titled "PRS 57/08 vs Modern Eagle vs HFS/Vintage Bass pickups comparaison". He plays some chords through a clean amp using various pickups, starting at 1 minute into the video. Right there, there is a very prominent, harsh mid sound around 3-4khz. There is another video by Rob Chapman called "PRS Custom 24 Demo (Clean)" where the rattling harshness is not present at all. I wish I could get that tone, but I just can't.

    I'm pretty much out of stuff to try. Does anyone have any new suggestions on how to find the source of this problem? Again, I cannot post links yet (I need three posts I believe), but once I do I can post a clip where I band-pass filter the problematic region, so you can hear it properly. Thanks in advance for any helpful comments!
     
  2. Tone-y

    Tone-y New Member

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    How low is your action and how straight is the neck? Could it be that you've got some fret buzzing going on (I find I tend to notice this on the unwound strings the most). Without directly hearing/seeing your guitar it is hard to say, but fret buzzing to me is a harsh metallic ringing sound over the top of the fundamental tone. I find this is specially noticeable when my strings are getting old
     
    Boogie likes this.
  3. Boogie

    Boogie SuperD

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    Ghost notes...pickup height, nut depth, fret wear, etc. This just happened to me on my DGT and I hadn’t noticed because I hadn’t played it acoustically for a while. Sitar-like buzzing. Of all places...open D??!! It needs a new nut. Just track it down or have a competent tech do the same.

    And welcome!
     
  4. waaromhoorikniks

    waaromhoorikniks New Member

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    Thanks for your responses! Tone-y: It doesn't sound like typical fret buzz, but I can't rule that out completely. I will measure the action and neck when I get back home. My guitar received a 'quick' setup from a highly regarded luthier in my area last year. He solved a lot of intonation problems I had beforehand. Boogie: I think I'm going to follow your advice and bring it back for a deeper inspection of this particular problem.
     
    Tag likes this.
  5. Tone-y

    Tone-y New Member

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    I would have mentioned pickups too high, but you said that you'd lowed them with no effect. I would also have said trem springs, but you've dampened them down too. Fret buzz is about all I've got left (unless you have a resonating truss rod).
    I think when the fret buzz is marginal it gives a different character of sound. When you've got obvious fret buzz, it's well, buzzy and obvious. If it's marginal it's like you're getting touch harmonics over the fundamental tone, but instead of a nice magical harmonic sound, you get a horrible metallic mess of frequency sound. If you've got access to a competent tech then it seems that's probably the best route.
     
  6. gush

    gush New Member

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    Welcome, if it has wing tuners check that those don't have a loose component.
     
  7. waaromhoorikniks

    waaromhoorikniks New Member

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    That's a pretty spot-on description, actually. Ok, back to the luthier it is.

    It does have wing tuners, but they appear to be ok. I don't hear any sound coming off them when I listen up close at least.

    Thanks again everyone! I'll take it around to the tech once more, and I'll let you know what he finds for future reference.
     
  8. Rider1260

    Rider1260 New Member

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    On my 24 fret PRS I found them to be a bit touchy with neck relief, try adding a bit more relief it worked on my Santana , CU24s , Mira and Brushstroke 24
     
  9. AP515

    AP515 Mostly Normal

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    One more idea, trem springs.
     
  10. LSchefman

    LSchefman Hears Tones

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    OP, like you, I’m a recordist. I do it for a living (you seem very knowledgeable, too).

    I found what I call a certain “plinkiness” or ringing with some clean amps with a couple of the older PRS pickups. Could have been simply a frequency they resonated at (all pickups are to a degree resonant filters). I think we may be talking about the same thing.

    I don’t know if it’s the pickups in your case, but I haven’t had any issues with ringing since moving to the 5x/0x pickups when they were introduced.

    But of course, pickups aren’t all that’s been improved on PRSes. Another factor is that Paul is constantly working on nut materials, tuner and bridge designs. That may matter. Anything that touches the strings probably matters.

    What I can say is that I haven’t heard the “plink” on any PRS played clean in quite a few year, even if I goose the treble EQ. There’s a good chance your guitar can be updated to current specs by the PTC. It’d certainly make sense to check on whether that’s a feasible idea.
     
    Andrew Paul likes this.
  11. dogrocketp

    dogrocketp I drank the PRS kool aid, and it was tasty!

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    I've had the same problem with 2 PRS. In both instances it was the pickup springs. Can you believe it? It cost me about 8 bucks each time. I did put wooden pickup rings on at the same time, because I almost always do.
     
    AP515 and HANGAR18 like this.
  12. Alessandro

    Alessandro New Member

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    If you did the sponge thing and it helped a bit it definitely sounds like the springs are causing it which happens on any guitar with a trem. Definitely much more noticeable to me though through a high gain sound but if the sport thing helped I recommend cutting up some old thiner patch chord and putting a piece inside each spring. Always helps for me
     
    Tag and dogrocketp like this.
  13. waaromhoorikniks

    waaromhoorikniks New Member

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    Hi everyone, thanks so far for all your additional replies. I brought my guitar to the luthier yesterday. We were in a busy shop with loud music on, so initially he couldn't hear it. After plugging it in and playing around for a while he managed to focus on it, and as he said 'once you hear it, it cannot be un-heard'.

    He pretty much excluded nut- and tuner- problems on the spot, due to the fact that the problem persists when fretting notes all the way up the neck. He was confident he'd be able to find the source and fix it.

    I think LSchefman's and dogrocketp's suggesions are very interesting. I have suspected 'something with the pickups' and more precisely resonating pickup springs myself. I think I'll hint the luthier on them. I'll let you all know how it develops. Thanks a lot for all the support so far!
     
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  14. Tag

    Tag New Member

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    Listening to Vorons clip, I think its the trem. The guitar with the stop tail does not have it. I heard the strange sound right away. All Trems give you strange metallic ringing at times, in different places. Thats the bad. The good is they add an additional resonance to the guitars, and to me, a softer, easier to play feel from the give. Kind of like a tube rectifier in an amp. Also, the fact you it was reduced when you dampened the springs shows thats it. Try blocking the trem, or following Allesandros advice above. I am 99.9% sure its the trem, and at times you get more of this with a trem and semi hollow body.

    All jazz guitars have this at some frequencies due to resonating inside the guitar. Gibsons with metal tailpieces like L5s and Super 400s are known for it. Some people like it, others dampen the strings behind the bridge and tailpiece. Ebony tailpieces cut back on that ringing, but can also make the guitars sound a little "dead" compared to metal. I have an L5 P right now that rings back there like a MFer, but its SOO alive!!! I deaden it at times by simply putting rolled up kleenex between the strings behind the bridge. It not only stops the ringing, but comes in handy when you have an allergy flair up or bad cold as well!!
    :D
     
    bodia likes this.
  15. LSchefman

    LSchefman Hears Tones

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    You probably know this already, but just in case...

    Most DAWs come with a multiband filter (many include a realtime frequency analyzer) that can be set to a very narrow notch frequency. Once the offending frequency is identified -pretty simple, actually, especially with the RTA - it can be notched out.

    Waves also makes a very effective plugin that does this, as do no doubt others. These filters are a breeze to use.

    Any frequency can be notched out with almost no audible effect on the audio, except getting rid of the ringing overtone. If you have a ring in a recording, this is a very good way to cure it. I do it to eliminate ringing drums all the time.

    If your DAW doesn’t have one, I think the Waves plugin has been going for $29.
     
  16. MarshallMike

    MarshallMike New Member

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    To OP: I have had this same sort of thing on two different PRS SE models. The culprit was string chirp/ringing behind the nut. This is easy to test for. Just pick the strings open and while doing so, touch the strings behind the nut. If it goes away or quiets....You have solved what the problem is. Now, next solve the problem....with some foam or rubber/cloth to place under strings at headstock. This actually sucks because now I have this shitty looking stuff on my headstock.
     
  17. waaromhoorikniks

    waaromhoorikniks New Member

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    Yep, tried that. The problem is that the ringing isn't a single frequency. It is a whole bunch of them between 3 and 5 khz, producing something of a faint 'jingle bells' sound. I can notch most of it out, but when I stop to think what kind of facelifting I'm doing it's kind of ridiculous, really. Ultimately, this has to be fixed at the source.

    I checked that, but the problem persists when I dampen the string ends with my fingers.

    Collecting everyone' suggestions and my own research, I think there are a bunch of possible causes (in no particular order):
    1. Neck arch causes the strings to buzz very lightly at the top frets.
    2. Tremolo springs.
    3. String fragments at the headstock.
    4. Defective tuners.
    5. Pickup springs.
    6. Saddle problems at the bridge.
    So, with the guitar at the luthier and coming back by the end of the week... place your bets! ;-) At this point, I strongly believe the pickup springs are the source. The effect of the ringing was accentuated by the tremolo springs. Anyways, I hope to know for sure in a few days.
     
  18. alantig

    alantig Sassyless pants

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    Question - not so much for the OP as anyone who knows - if you push on the pickups when the ringing occurs, will that change or stop the sound? I'm thinking that's a whole lot easier than pulling the pickups to see if that's the problem.
     
    Tim S likes this.
  19. Tone-y

    Tone-y New Member

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    My 53/10 ltd occasionally gets some pickup buzz. I'm not sure if it's the springs or the pickups against the pickup rings. But sometimes, with the neck at a certain relief and the pickups at a certain height there's a buzzing which stops if I press down on a pickup. It's not the same sound as the metallic buzz on the strings I sometimes get if the action is a bit low and it normally only happens on certain notes, rather than up and down the neck.
     
  20. Dirty_Boogie

    Dirty_Boogie Still got the ol' tagger on it

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    I think you can eliminate (or narrow down) everything from the nut back through the headstock by simply putting a heavy sock or two over the headstock to the nut - that should dampen everything there at once, and let you focus on the lower part of the guitar. Then extend the sock over the first couple of frets as well just to eliminate possible micro-buzz on the first few frets.

    Next, stuff the trem cavity with soft rags or other damping materials (while the headstock is still socked up) and test.

    Next, fill the electronics cavity with damping material (while leaving the damping material in both areas above).

    Then remove the damping in the same order as adding, testing after each removal.

    My though process on this is that it might be an interrelation between two areas of the guitar. And if the ringing disappears with any or all of the above, you can now focus on the pickups/springs area and the bridge.

    And one last wacky thought - any chance something got introduced into the truss rod cavity that might be causing problems?

    And one more event wackier thought... maybe this was the PRS one-off DTG model (Dreadful Tone Generator) - not to be confused with the wonderful DGT model ;)
     

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