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BillC15

Gibson ES-175 buzzing problem

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BillC15    0

I recently purchased a new Gibson ES-175 from my local music store, Alto Music. It's a dual humbucker gold hardware beauty. When I took it home and plugged it in after playing it in the store for quite some time, I soon noticed a strange buzzing that appeared to be coming either from the bridge or inside the body near or in between the pickups, definitely not fret buzz. Somehow I didn't hear it in the store. Though slightly present with single note picking, chords, especially muddier ones that cause more vibration naturally made the buzzing louder and last longer (maybe 1.5-2.5 seconds). It also seemed to be present both amplified and acoustically, though I'm quite certain it's not the pickups themselves. My best guesses were either the pickup springs buzzing against their screws or simply a loose wire inside the body making contact with the top of the body. So I took it in and had them attempt to diagnose it while getting a setup done, moving up from the factory installed 10s to the Daddario jazz medium set (11-56). When I came to pick it up, I checked it out in the store before just walking off with it. It's a good thing I did. With the new setup, the guitar played like a dream, but the buzzing was the same as it had been when I dropped it off. I talked with the tech, and he said he'd taken out the pickups and checked them, checked the springs (I think he installed new springs, not sure though) yet he hadn't found the problem. However, he had to ask me if the buzzing was coming through the amplifier. Isn't that his job, to test it through an amp?? DUH. Then he told me that "It's a jazz box, they're gonna buzz," which I don't buy at all. We're talking about a $2600 guitar here. Do you think Joe Pass or Pat Metheny dealt with buzzing in their ES-175s? Listen for yourselves. So I left it there and both the head of the guitar department there and the tech said they'd look it over more. The guitar department guy gives me a call later that night with no solution. He said they'd swapped out the bridge, he'd played it for about and hour trying to figure it out, but no luck. He said that the Steve Howe ES-175 they had there (which I had played before making this purchase) also buzzes, and again insisted that it's simply the nature of the instrument. To get a new one shipped to Also Music, he said it would be around 60 days because they're on back order. That's way too long for me because I have multiple concerts and auditions coming up in a few weeks. So I'm going back possibly tomorrow to see what I want to do about this mess, but I want some more opinions on this matter before I do. Is it truly in the nature of archtops or ES-175s more specifically to buzz in the body, or is there simply a stupid wire just hanging loose vibrating against the top that got past Gibson quality control? (By the way, sorry for the long post, I appreciate your reading it.)

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karcey    42

Sorry I know nothing about archtop guitars. I don't think I've ever even held one. But if you suspect a loose wire, it shouldn't touch against whatever it's buzzing against if you hold it in a different position. Maybe if you were to lie on your back on the floor and play, theoretically the buzz should go away.

Please don't think I'm having a lend of you; I'm not. But if it buzzes in one position and not in another, then you're onto something.

I wish you a speedy recovery from this problem.

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starsailor    20

Hi BillC15, Sorry to hear about your problem, here's a comment in a review I lifted off this link.

Gibson ES-175: Harmony Central User Reviews

Action, Fit, & Finish : 8

This is always a touchy subject and just about everybody's experience seems to be different, but from my perspective having owned one of these before, I can honestly say my guitar was adequately set-up, constructed well and didn't contain any flaws, The frets and fingerboard inlay were particularly nicely done. One problem with all ES175's is noise from the wiring. Apparently, Gibson likes to give us lots of wire which occasionally relaxes against the underside of the top and vibrates. Any competent tech can fix this problem when you have the guitar in for any work. All in all, the quality of the laminate, finish and detail work on mine is good to excellent accross the board.

This in my opinion may be the problem your guitar's having, so your Concern isn't misplaced, I haven't read all the reviews but a couple did mention buzzes, the reviewer has over 30 years playing experience and knows this guitar well as it isn't the first one he's had and he identified it as a problem and knew it was fixable, this may be what's giving you that buzz so I assume they should be able to sort it out, don't know how much this helps but it does back up what you're saying.

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mynewguitar    0

Just wondering - do you hear the buzz when playing through an amp? Do you hear it when playing acoustically? These types of things can be maddening - like a car that has a rattle that only occurs when you drive it. So many factors can cause a "sympathetic" vibration, and it could be difficult to track down.

I'd say that if you like the guitar otherwise, then it would be worth it to follow through.

Hope the problem gets resolved!

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BillC15    0
Hi BillC15, Sorry to hear about your problem, here's a comment in a review I lifted off this link.

Gibson ES-175: Harmony Central User Reviews

Action, Fit, & Finish : 8

This is always a touchy subject and just about everybody's experience seems to be different, but from my perspective having owned one of these before, I can honestly say my guitar was adequately set-up, constructed well and didn't contain any flaws, The frets and fingerboard inlay were particularly nicely done. One problem with all ES175's is noise from the wiring. Apparently, Gibson likes to give us lots of wire which occasionally relaxes against the underside of the top and vibrates. Any competent tech can fix this problem when you have the guitar in for any work. All in all, the quality of the laminate, finish and detail work on mine is good to excellent accross the board.

This in my opinion may be the problem your guitar's having, so your Concern isn't misplaced, I haven't read all the reviews but a couple did mention buzzes, the reviewer has over 30 years playing experience and knows this guitar well as it isn't the first one he's had and he identified it as a problem and knew it was fixable, this may be what's giving you that buzz so I assume they should be able to sort it out, don't know how much this helps but it does back up what you're saying.

Thank you for finding this. I really do think that this is the exact same mindset I have about the guitar as a whole, and the exact same problem I'm having. There's just one thing. "Any competent tech can fix this problem when you have the guitar in for any work.": However, the tech I took it to couldn't even locate the buzz, mind fishing around for wires through the f-hole, because I'm quite certain I heard nothing from him about searching for loose or touching wires in the body. When I go back, do you think I should cite this review and tell him to look at the wires (which I shouldn't have to do, that's his job) or should I take it home and find a way to do it myself?

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konabob    0

Guess you're starting to figure this out, but you just need to find a competent tech to fix this problem for you. I've had an ES-175 for over 5 years and have never heard the buzzing your describe, but it must be relatively simple for someone to isolate and fix.

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BillC15    0
Guess you're starting to figure this out, but you just need to find a competent tech to fix this problem for you. I've had an ES-175 for over 5 years and have never heard the buzzing your describe, but it must be relatively simple for someone to isolate and fix.

Yeah, you'd think so wouldn't you? Apparently the "tech" I'm dealing with can really unscrew them pickups and do a mean string replacement, but he just puts it back in the case and calls me to pick it up as if it's done, when the buzzing is still clearly audible. I mean, this is the first archtop I've ever owned so I don't know much about it's nature, but I took it to the store I bought it from because you get a free set up within a year of purchase. I figured I'd get this fixed for free, which was my main purpose in having a tech look at it, and move up from the factory 10 gauge strings to a 13-56 jazz set, which I think required widening of the nut slots (though he probably didn't). The guitar is still there and I'm going tomorrow to compare it's buzzing to the apparent buzzing of a Steve Howe ES-175 they have there which I've already played and don't recall buzzing, but I'll see. However, that fact that you've never had a problem like this in the past 5 years you've owned your ES-175 tells me that this tech is possibly bs-ing me in saying that it is the nature of Jazz boxes to buzz.

So, thus far I've read an account of someone with seemingly the same problem as me which was easily fixed and your account of ownership which was flawless. Is this Alto Music tech just making excuses or do archtops actually tend to buzz in the body? I need to know whether to 1) Deal with it and possibly try to find loose/touching wires myself because this is a common problem among archtops/ES-175s or 2) Request a new one from Alto Music/Gibson or find a real guitar tech because buzzing from a $2,600 Gibson is simply unacceptable.

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karcey    42

Don't be too hard on the tech. Obviously he's out of his depth and this will be a learning experience for him. Tell him what you know, show him the review if you can and hopefully he'll do what an experienced tech would've done in the first place.

But your last sentence in your previous post may be the real answer.

"... buzzing from a $2,600 Gibson is simply unacceptable." If tomorrow doesn't bring results, go straight to Gibson with that line. Explain to them that guitarists across the world are hanging for the answer to this buzz. Tell them that there must be a better answer than dealing with dealers who don't know about the product. I for one would love to know how good Gibson the firm really are.

Keep in touch.

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Col F    0

Buzzing/vibration are most typically associated with guitar nut, frets (action and/or neck relief and/or fret dressing and/or high or loose frets), bridge (retainer wire on Gibson ABR's), or sympathetic vibration of anything that can "move" (vibrate) including wires, pickguard, hardware, trim, etc. However, other than some "tolerable" fret buzzing that we might accept for our unique/preferred action/setup, other buzzes/vibrations are not acceptable. Although I would also ascribe to the potential of a wire vibrating inside, since you said that you hear the buzz when amplified (are you certain?), that reduces the likelihood of that being the source (since pickups sense vibration of metal (strings) within their limited magnetic field, and are not true "microphones". If it is a wire, it would have to be very close to a pickup. If you have a small inspection mirror (either dental mirror or automotive type) you can explore the interior with the mirror and good light source and actually carefully move/manipulate wires slightly to see if you can isolate the vibration. If you have an ABR bridge with retaining wire, address it first, since that is a well known buzz source on Gibsons (like the ES-335s). Try a little careful investigation before giving up on the guitar.

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starsailor    20

Hi Bill, Judging from the most recent comments and that review I think you have enough in your favour to go back to the tech. and ask him to check it out again, wouldn't personally mess around with it much myself but that's your call, as it's a new one might be worth getting it replaced but I know that as you have gigs it's not the ideal solution for you, might be that that one is just the bad one in a batch, at the price you paid you should expect a guitar in top condition, there isn't any room for excuses, if you want a guitar without a buzz that's what you should have, if it was a low end guitar people may expect them to need a bit of fine tuning but one that price should be spot on.

Like Karcey's idea of contacting Gibson that's another way to go, would be interesting to see how they deal with it. Does the Steve Howe one appeal to you as you said you didn't remember it buzzing don't know what the price difference is but you may get a deal on it, that's the only other quick solution I can think of if they can't solve the buzz.

Hope you can get this sorted, keep us posted on how you get on, think everyone here agrees with you.

All The Best

Chris

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SkyNet    1

Well if the store is unable to make it right, I would demand my money back. No fooling around.

Seeing as you need a guitar in the near future, is there any place that will rent you something for a month or two?

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BillC15    0

Some good news. I went to back today and played my ES-175 side by side with the Steve Howe ES-175 they said was also buzzing. As it turns out, after the head of the guitar department there swapped out bridges and reinserted the original, tightened everything he could, and checked the pickguard all on the night I brought it back, the buzzing is barely audible now. As for the Steve Howe, it buzzes the same, if not more than mine originally did, and in the same exact place and manner, from what I heard. And I found out that the very slight buzzing that does occur doesn't come through amplified, which is a big plus. I even got a free leather strap for the trouble ;). So I took it home and I'm much happier with it now, though if it does get worse again, I'll probably end up taking it to a different tech.

Thanks for everyone's help and concern with this!

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shonie777    3
Some good news. I went to back today and played my ES-175 side by side with the Steve Howe ES-175 they said was also buzzing. As it turns out, after the head of the guitar department there swapped out bridges and reinserted the original, tightened everything he could, and checked the pickguard all on the night I brought it back, the buzzing is barely audible now. As for the Steve Howe, it buzzes the same, if not more than mine originally did, and in the same exact place and manner, from what I heard. And I found out that the very slight buzzing that does occur doesn't come through amplified, which is a big plus. I even got a free leather strap for the trouble ;). So I took it home and I'm much happier with it now, though if it does get worse again, I'll probably end up taking it to a different tech.

Thanks for everyone's help and concern with this!

I would have taken it to a different tech if the first one couldn't fix it the first time around. A Gibson is a massive investment, you don't want just anyone tinkering with it. Take it to someone with experience, a reputable reputation, and knows what they are doing.

Anyway, I'm glad the problem with your guitar is somewhat fixed.

Shonie

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axbender    0

I had exactly the same buzzing on my ES-175. The problem seems to be with the screws in the bridge - they fit loosely and rattle. A local luthier recommended small amounts of wood glue on each screw. It stopped the buzzing completely. I need to reapply the glue once in a while.

Apparently this is has been an issue with this style bridge for many years. Thinking about a solid wood bridge as a permanent fix.

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dblacker    0

Sorry to hear about your experience, which definitely sounds pretty frustrating. Personally, I would hate to have a guitar worked on for a specific problem and then given back as fixed, but with the problem remaining. As far as the tech goes, if he was unexperienced which it sounds like he was, I would just prefer someone say "sorry but I was unable to fix the buzzing issue", rather than trying to make you believe that all 175's buzz. Anyway, below is a link to a site with a bunch of info on the es 175 and maybe you could find out more there:

Gibson ES 175 - Archtop Electric.com

Best of luck...

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Hi folks! I'm glad to find this topic, I have a 175 with the same problem, and I'd like to share my experience.

The Buzzing on my guitar is exactly the same as BillC15 described. I've found out that the noise was coming from the bridge pickup cavity because I could stop it by pressing my finger against the PU. I also noticed that there is a space between the Pu and the Pu frame because the frame is slightly arched. So, when you press the Pu or slightly move it the noise stops! The solution I had for it was to put together several pieces os electrical insulation tape to make it thick enough (and keep the glue side hidden from the PU metal and PU frame) and then fit it on the space so that the Pu couldn't vibrate against the frame/body. It's not the most professional solution, but it worked and I'll keep it until I find a better one.

Any one have this buzz coming from the PU cavity?

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