The guitar is a very sensitive musical instrument and it is susceptible to issues such as fret buzz which can tamper with its overall sound performance levels and negatively affect your entire guitar experience. In this article, let us take a look at what causes fret buzz and how you can fix it when it happens.
Well, how much effort do you put in towards the maintenance of your guitar?
Have you ever been in a situation where you keep strumming your guitar but the strings keep vibrating against your fret board and begin producing a rattling sound instead of the refined sounds that you seek to achieve?
Fret buzz can be quite frustrating to experience but the good thing is that reducing fret buzz is quite an easy process.
All you need to do is fully understand the cause of fret buzz on your guitar so that you can fix it correctly.
More often than not, you can easily prevent and fix fret buzz by taking proper care of your guitar.
What causes fret buzz?
The three main causes of fret buzz are as follows;
A common guitar rule is that all the frets on your guitar should be at the same level with each other and should be of the same height.
However, there are times when some frets are much shorter and others are taller.
When the strings on your guitar come into contact with the taller frets, you will notice a fret buzz but a seamless strum on the shorter frets.
Extremely Low String Action
String action is defined as the height of your guitar string measured at a specific fret using a string action gauge.
Generally, it is very important for you know the string action measurements on your guitar and the specific fret at which those particular measurements were taken.
Commonly, most guitarists take string action measurements at the 17th fret, the 12th and the 1st fret.
You should also note that string action differs across different guitar players and techniques.
You may be among the guitarists that prefer relatively high action or among the category that prefers extremely low action.
Whichever the case, the strings need to have just the right tension to accommodate both action speeds, otherwise you may be forced to deal with fret buzz.
Limited Neck Relief
If anything, the neck on your guitar is supposed to be straight.
Once you string and tune your guitar to pitch, there should be a slight dip (neck relief) in the middle part, let us say around the eighth fret.
When the dip in the middle exists, it is known as a forward bow which is conducive for seamless and delightful strumming.
However, whenever there is no dip in the middle but there exists a hump, it shows that there is not enough neck relief thus could tamper with your strumming experience.
This is known as the back bow which causes almost all the open strings to continuously make a rattling sound on the first fret.
How to fix fret buzz
As mentioned earlier, fret buzz is a common if not inevitable problem with most guitars.
It is causes when the guitar strings vibrate against the frets on the fingerboard instead of over them.
This then produces an irritating buzzing/rattling sound.
To fix fret buzz, you would need to do the following;
Solution One: Ensure that the Frets are in the Right Place
You would need to ensure that you are fretting notes at the correct spot which is right behind the fret.
When your fingers seem to be far too behind the fret, you may notice a buzzing sound that tampers with the sounds you seek to achieve.
Solution Two: Apply the Right Amount of Pressure
When you do not press down on the strings hard enough, the strings will not make just the right contact with the frets thus the strings may begin to buzz.
This is mostly seen with barre chords which are slightly difficult to work around especially if you haven’t been able to work up enough finger strength and stamina needed to ensure that the strings are actively making good contact with the frets.
Solution Three: Try and Avoid Strumming Your Guitar Aggressively
Some guitarists tend to strum aggressively to match the hype and tones they seek to produce.
However, when you hit your guitar string too hard when you are strumming, the strings tend to vibrate up and down vigorously and causes a buzz that in turn affects the tone and sound quality of your guitar.
Try to play the guitar more gently so that you can successfully achieve clearer and more refined sounds that you seek to produce.
Solution Four: Check the Strings on your guitar
If you have recently replaced the set of stings on your guitar, the might be some kind of changes to the tension of the strings and the comprehensive shape of the neck on your guitar.
In the event that the new strings you have put are thinner than the previous then, then your guitar will have a much lower tension.
This causes a fret buzz which could tamper with your entire guitar playing experience.
In this case, you would need to always ensure that the guitar strings match those that were previously strung on your guitar. You’d would need to ensure that they are correctly placed and not too tight or too lose.
In addition to that, you can try and loosen your guitar strings a bit to relieve any kind of tension and then slowly increase the string action by making significant adjustments at the string saddles.
Solution Five: Check the Setup of your guitar
You would need to ensure that your guitar is set up and configured correctly.
To save a lot of time you can take it to a luthier who can determine whether the fret buzz is caused by either uneven frets, low action, a bent neck or any other unusual issue.
Once it is successfully set up, you should try and strum through and check whether the strings still buzz when you play. If the fret buzz continues, you may want to purchase a new guitar or consider a replacement from your manufacturer.
A Summary Table
|Fret Buzz||Uneven frets||Perform a full fret leveling procedure.
Ensure that the freting notes are at a proper spot right behind the fret.
Also, ensure you’re your fingers aren’t too far behind the fret.
|Low String Action||Loosen your guitar strings a bit to release the tension or tighten them a bit to increase tension. This depends on the situation.|
|Limited Neck Relief||Loosen the truss rod on your guitar to increase the neck relief|
We can conclude that fret buzz is an inevitable issue that most guitar players experience throughout their music journey.
The good thing is that you are able to reduce fret buzz individually before having to consult a professional luthier.
Keep these tips in mind so that you can enjoy a seamless guitar playing experience alongside a clean and buzz-free sound.
Can too much neck relief cause fret buzz?
Yes. Generally, incorrectly set relief has the potential to cause fret buzz.
How can I know if I have fret buzz?
You would need to look closely at the eighth or ninth fret to check whether there are any gaps between the fret and the string.
If there is none then that may be cause of your fret buzz.