To know guitar fret buzz causes and repair is crucial for a guitarist. One of the most annoying problems with a guitar is fret buzz. Even how good your electronics are, or how good your guitar is, if you have fret buzz, you and your audience will not be happy. Notes will be choked, dead or choked while on a bend.
I am going to share my knowledge and my experience about fret buzz causes and repair being a guitar player and a guitar technician.
What Causes Guitar Fret Buzz, What Is The Repair Needed?
1) One or more fret wires are higher than the others
It is usually caused by a fret or frets higher than the one next to the fretting finger towards the bridge. This scenario is true if the neck relief is good.
I am not recommending that you do your fret leveling unless you have a guitar technician watching you do that as a hobby. I have to re-fret my friend’s guitar because he kept filing until his fret wires are too low. By the way, I am not trying to scare you into not doing it because nobody teaches me at first. I just use common sense.
2) Nut slot is too low
If the guitar fret buzz happens on open strings, it could be caused by the nut. String slot too low or too wide can cause fret buzz. If the string slot is too low, the nut could be shimmed or changed with a new nut to remove the fret buzz.
If the nut slot is too wide for the strings, then the nut should be changed to remove the string buzz. This problem is actually different from fret buzz as the guitar strings will rattle even if it is not touching the frets.
3) Guitar neck has no neck relief
A guitar without neck relief will have fret buzz. To check this, put a capo before the first fret and press the string after the last fret. Do this on both lower and higher strings.
There should be a gap between the string and the eleventh fret wire. If the string is touching the fret wire, then the truss rod should be adjusted. The truss rod is turned counterclockwise to add neck relief thus removing the fret buzz.
4) Bridge saddles set too low
This issue mostly happens when a player needs a low action setup. If you raise the bridge saddles and the fret buzz is gone while the string action is still acceptable, that solves the problem.
5) Loose frets
Guitar fret wires have a barbed tang to keep it in place in the guitar fret slots when installed. Some manufacturers will just install the fret wire utilizing the barbed tang to keep it in place.
Some manufacturers have their fret wires glued in the slot of the guitar fretboard. This method is better because you have the barbed tang plus the glue to keep the fret wire in the slot. Fret wires sometimes become loose in the guitar fret wire slot.
This issue can be checked by tapping on the guitar frets using a small piece of wood (the handle of the crowning file is very suitable). The frets should sound solid. If you hear like a rattling sound, then that fret wire is loose. The subject fret wire should be re-installed.
Can We Just Live With Fret Buzz?
If the string action is raised and the fret buzz disappears, and the string action is acceptable to the guitar player, it does not matter. If you are a shredder, then those frets are better leveled so you can have a low action set up and yet you will not have fret buzz.
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