How to Fix Fret Buzz

fret-buzz

Fret Buzz is Annoying!

Fret buzz is one of the most common problems to effect guitars. If you are experiencing it, you’re not alone. As a full time luthier and shop owner, I’ve probably fixed several thousand cases of fret buzz. In this article I’ll share the top 8 causes of fret buzz and I’ll also share the secret that I’ve learned about fret buzz (a secret so obvious that most guitarists completely overlook it).

The Top 8 Causes of Fret Buzz

1. Back Bow in the Neck.
2. Forward Bow in the Neck.
3. Action too Low at the Nut.
4. Action too Low at the Bridge.
5. Your Picking Attack is Off.
6. Using Alternate Tunings.
7. Uneven Frets.
8. Any Combination of the 5 Possible Causes Above.

The “Secret” About Fret Buzz

The secret about fret buzz is that it’s usually caused by mechanical or structural problems with the guitar or bass. More specifically, fret buzz is usually the result of a bowed neck or low action. The good news is that these problems are easily fixed by running your instrument through a setup. The bad news is that most guitarists don’t know how to fix these problems.

The Number 1 Way to Fix Fret Buzz

The number one way to fix fret buzz is to run a guitar through a setup. It’s that simple. A setup will correct mechanical and structural problems in a guitar or bass. Among other positive effects on your instrument, a setup can straighten a bowed neck, raise the action to the correct level, improve intonation and, overall, make a guitar a whole lot easier and more enjoyable to play.

How to Do a Setup

Doing a setup is pretty easy. It only requires, desire, knowledge and a few common tools. Now that you know what a setup can do for your instrument, and playing, you probably have the desire to get your guitar or bass setup.

Find a Luthier

A luthier is the name of someone who works on stringed musical instruments (some luthiers build them too). There are many talented luthiers who will do an excellent setup for you, but finding one can be a big hassle. If you can find a professional luthier to do a setup for you, it will cost you between $50.00 to $100.00 to get a professional setup done. Of course, if you’re not happy with the results, you’ll either have to haggle with the luthier or just except the results you get. Also even though there are some standards in a setup, every guitarist has certain preferences for how their instrument is set up. It will take some time for a luthier to become familiar with your personal preferences.

DIY (Do-It-Yourself!)

As a counterpoint to paying someone to do a setup for you, you can also do one yourself. An electric guitar or bass setup is five steps. An acoustic guitar setup is just three steps. The first time you do a setup it might take you an hour or two (compare this to taking your instrument to a shop and waiting 24 to 48 hours for a setup to be done). By setting up your own instrument, you’ll learn how to do it in such a way as to suit your own preferences as an individual player.

Each time you do a setup you’ll get better at it and become more competent. Chances are, before too long you’ll have your guitar humming and playing like never before.

Learn How

Now back to the problem: knowledge. If you’re still reading you definitely have the desire you’ll need to be able to learn how to setup a guitar or bass, but you might not have the knowledge you need. If this is the case then you’re in the right place. This website is full of information on how to setup a guitar or bass from start to finish.

DVDs

Most people are visual learners. Watching a DVD is one of the best ways for you to learn how to do a setup. Books tell, videos show and tell. For that reason, we’ve put together a couple of DVDs which will teach you the entire setup process from start to finish. The DVDs are full of insights which I’ve gathered over my thirty plus years of setup experience, (plus a few added bonuses and extras). In these DVDs I’ll show you how to get rid of fret buzz, straighten a guitar neck and set the intonation, action and pickup height properly and much much more.

Each one of these DVDs will individually cost you less than the cost of a having a professional setup done.

Electric Guitar and Bass Setup and Maintenance DVD–>

Acoustic Guitar Setup and Maintenance DVD–>

Free Setup Tutorials

Click the Links Below for Free Setup Tutorials:


How to Improve Your Sound

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My name is Orion Kubow and I want to explain a simple method which I used to completely improve the sound and feel of my guitar. Rather than just throw a bunch of information at you, I thought I’d begin this post by asking you some questions.

Questions:

  • Have you ever wondered why some guitars have fret buzz?
  • Have you noticed that chords sound out of tune on some guitars even when the guitar is perfectly tuned to pitch?
  • Have you ever noticed that some guitars just feel better than others to play?

The reasons for these problems used to be a mystery to me. I assumed that some guitars were just better than others and that was that.

Let’s go back in time to 2007:

I was playing guitar on a regular basis, but I didn’t know much of anything about the mechanical elements of my guitar. I had a Fender Stratocaster and I was always a little unhappy with the way it sounded. The intonation was always a little off, the low E string tended to buzz a lot and one of the tone knobs never seemed to work. One day I was playing it in my living room when my roommate walked in . . .

“Nice guitar,” he said.

“Not really” I griped and proceeded to complain to him about all of the problems that I was experiencing with it. My roommate was a guitarist too and he told me to take my guitar to Al Markasky and ask for a setup. Al, he happily explained, was a local luthier with a shop in Santa Cruz. I took my guitar in to Al the next day and asked him to do a setup. I wasn’t really expecting much.

I picked up the guitar a couple of days later and was amazed!

All of the problems were gone and the guitar sounded better than ever. It also seemed easier to play and I could play faster than before. I asked Al what he had done to make the guitar so much better and he proceeded to tell me all about his setup work. A few weeks later I came back to Al and asked him if he’d like to co-produce a DVD on guitar setup. He thought about it for a while and then eventually agreed.

Al and I produced two DVDs and created this website to help share the knowledge that completely changed the sound and feel of my guitar for the better. We’re sharing this information with you in three different formats:

1. DVDs

Our DVDs sell for the incredible value of $29.95 on CreateSpace.com (less than the cost of a professional guitar setup) and both come with a 100% satisfaction guarantee. If you’re not absolutely satisfied with our DVDs we’ll refund 100% of your purchase price. Just send us an email at editor (at) fretmd (dot) com within 60 days of your purchase and we’ll send you instructions on how to get your refund. More information on our guarantee here.

As you can see, we’re passionate about our products and believe in their value. Our money back guarantee is proof of that. If you’re still not convinced, just browse our product reviews on Amazon.com to see what others have to say about us.

Please make use of this website to the max and don’t be afraid to sign up and post a comment if you’ve found our site useful.

2. Video Clips

We’ve taken some great clips from our DVDs which you can view for free here. Some of the clips are embedded in our interactive tutorials.

3. Free Tutorials

We wanted to give our customers a way to read all of the information that they learned in the DVDs. One of the weaknesses of the DVDs is; it’s hard to remember the numbers of certain measurments and the various types of tools that Al uses in the DVDs; (and you don’t really want to keep rewinding). For this reason we decided to publish tutorials. We spent hours writing and rewriting these tutorials together. They’re now available to you, 24/7 free of charge.

I hope you make maximum use of all of the resources we’ve made available to you on this website. Please leave comments and make use of our share links to share our articles and tutorials with friends when you find them useful.


How a Truss Rod Works

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Not quite sure how that steel rod in your guitar neck works? The video clip below should explain things.The same principles apply to electric guitars, bass guitars and acoustic guitars with truss rods.

As the clip shows, a guitar truss rod is a steel rod that runs down the length of most guitar and bass necks (with the exception of classical guitars). Loosening it or tightening it can help to straighten out a bowed neck.

The Adjustments

- Loosening a truss rod relieves tension on the neck and allows the pressure exerted by the strings to pull the neck forward and correct any bow, in most cases.

- Tightening a truss rod increases pressure and can straighten a forward-bowed neck by increasing its resistance to the pressure exerted by the strings.

Accessing the Truss Rod

There is a lot of variation in terms of the access point to a truss rod. In general, most Acoustic guitar truss rods can be accessed through the sound hole of the guitar (although some may be accessed at the head of the guitar). Most electric and bass guitar truss rods can be accessed at the head of the guitar.

Straightening a bowed neck is the first step in any guitar or bass setup and is an essential element in gaining the best sound and feel possible from your instrument. The clip above was taken from Fret MD: Acoustic Guitar and Bass Setup and Maintenance and was narrated by the video’s host, Al Markasky.