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Ye Ole 2nd String Wolf Tone
Hi there and thank you for all you do.
    I have a martin dreadnaught guitar that sounds good. I am trying to record an acoustic guitar and vocal album. 2/3 of the time when I play the guitar I get a tinny and harsh sound on the second string (b string) -- but only on the third fret. 1/3 of the time the string sounds normal in that same third fret position.
    I did sand the saddle down in the past to lower the action, and that may be contributing to my problem.
    I can't put a spacer beneath the saddle because the active pickup actually lays in the saddle groove and may not pick up if I mess with it - unless it is a perfectly flat piece of wood spacer.
    Do you think a careful administration of a half drop of super glue in the nut would help? I would lightly press a string up and down on the wet super glue gel until it dried.
    I sure hope you can give me an idea of what to do because I don't enjoy playing when I hear that sad harsh cheap tone on the b string third fret. I think you know what I mean -- we musicians enjoy playing a nice sounding intsrument that has no problems.
Have a pleasant day!

    Put your super glue down, slowly and back away with your hands in the air. The nut only controls buzzes on the first fret, and nowhere else. If your buzz is at third fret only, that means that your third fret is low. When you press the string down to the third fret it buzzes against the higher fourth fret. The proper fix to that problem is to file all of the frets down to the level of the third fret, then round and polish them all. Or, to replace the third fret, then do the leveling. What you need is called an action set. We straighten the neck, level the fret tops, round and polish the fret tops, and set the height of the strings at both ends. If you change one variable you have to readjust the others. Someone who is willing to address your action problem by tweaking one variable is to be suspected.

    The proper way to use superglue in a nut is to file on a piece of bone until you have a nice little pile of bone dust. You fill the low slot with bone dust and touch it with thin superglue. The superglue turns the dust into bone concrete and sticks to the sides of the old slot. When the glue has had two or three hours to harden, you re-cut the slot with a gauged nut file. When this technique works, it works fairly well, for a fairly long time, but the glue won't stick to plastic, or graphite, or the various waxes, oils and crud that might be in the slot. And the support of the string comes not from the glue but from the bone dust. The glue's job is just to hold the dust together. Eventually the superglue fails and the bone concrete pops out. Also superglue reacts instantly and horribly with your finish, so any slot overfilling can go quickly wrong. If we have a low slot, (which you don't) we like to start over with a new bone nut.

    An action set is the most common repair job done by professional luthiers. They get very good at it with practice. You should get your guitar to a professional and they will fix you right up. If professional help is not available you can always stop a buzz by raising the saddle or loosening the truss rod, trading high action for no buzzes. These are the only tools in the bag of your local music store. Don't fear raising your saddle. The trick is to use a hardwood shim. You are right that it needs to be flat. Go to your favorite barista and get a maple or birch coffee stirrer. With a sharp knife, cut it to size and put it in the saddle slot, on top of the pickup and under the saddle. Under the pickup works too but it carries a slight risk of breaking the pickup.
Steve Mason

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