Fret Buzz after Levelling

Discussion in 'Tele Home Depot' started by Slowtwitch, May 20, 2019.

  1. schmee

    schmee Poster Extraordinaire

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    Get a fret rocker, they are like $4 on Ebay. I think my steel straight edge was $8 and came from Greece.
    BTW: Your leveling beam can be one sandpaper length long, doesn't have to be full length.
     
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  2. Slowtwitch

    Slowtwitch Tele-Meister

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    Remember I didn't change any of these parameters, and no my nut slots ain't cut too low
     
  3. The Angle

    The Angle Tele-Meister

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    If it's buzzing consistently from the 1st to the 12th fret, that sounds to me like insufficient neck relief and/or string height for your playing style. That's where I'd look first, anyway. Either that, or the 13th fret is high. Check the frets near the heel where the strings don't buzz with a fret rocker; a single high fret can cause problems all over the place.

    It's easy to become ultra sensitive to buzzing after leveling frets, especially if you're new to it and worried about the outcome. Does it buzz when you play normally, or only when you're thinking, "I wonder if it will buzz when I do this?" Because any guitar, no matter how well it's machined and set up, will buzz if you go at it hard.

    I say check the whole neck with a fret rocker for any high frets, then adjust relief and string height until the buzzing stops. If that setup is acceptable to you, great. If it's not, let us know what those measurements are and someone may have stronger advice.
     
  4. Treadplatedual

    Treadplatedual Tele-Holic

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    That's what I was getting at :D
     
  5. GPlo

    GPlo Tele-Meister

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    Well said. As a beginner, I too noticed this ‘problem’. After my best efforts i still had some buzz. The neck was as flat as i could get it with a notched straightedge. Checked the frets with a good fret rocker. All perfectly fine. So i checked the setup again and couldn’t find anything strange. At some point i got a little frustrated and just gave up for a sec and started playing the guitar through my amp. Couldn’t hear a single problem and all was well. Turns out some buzz is no big deal (at least for my playing style). I guess this is also part of the learning curve.

    So if you think all the variables are correct, make sure there actually is a problem before attempting to fix something that might not be broken.
     
  6. Treadplatedual

    Treadplatedual Tele-Holic

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    Also what I was getting at :)
     
  7. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Tele-Afflicted

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    There is a very good test to isolate a buzz and determine its cause. Play each string open, if they don't buzz the nut slots are high enough (the might be too high, that is another topic). If any strings buzz on the first fret, check the fret for being high, make a new nut.

    Fret the guitar at the first fret and play each string - does it buzz at the second fret? If so check the second fret for being too high, consider adding a tiny bit of relief. If it does not buzz, while fretted at one check the clearance at two.

    Now move down the fretboard fretting each string at each fret and checking the next fret clearance. If it is the same as the second fret (which didn't buzz) then it shouldn't buzz either. If it is less, determine why (high fret not enough relief in the first half of the board, too much relief as you approach the heel/body joint).

    You also want some "back fret clearance", when you fret at 3 (which also holds the string against 2) you want a hair of clearance or the string might rattle behind the fretting finger. Check that as you move up the board also, each time you fret check two frets back.

    Some rules of thumb:
    - if it buzzes at only one fret you might have a high fret or hump in the f/b
    - if it buzzes in the first 3 or 4 or 5 frets you might need more relief
    - if it buzzed in the upper frets approaching the heel you might have too much relief
    - it is common for set neck instruments to have a bump at the body joint (usually 16, rock this area carefully)
    - the fretboard extension above the body joint might be flat with the f/b plane (OK), drop away (OK), or rise up (not OK).
    - most necks are stiff enough from the heel on up that string tension doesn't pull in any relief
    - depending on truss rod and neck design, the truss rod may have minimum effect above the heel

    This little diagram is pretty simplistic but it tells a lot about guitar necks

    [​IMG]

    And if you really want to understand relief work your way thru three pages here

    http://www.bryankimsey.com/setup/neck_relief_1.htm
     
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  8. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Tele-Afflicted

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    I'll add one more thing that should go without saying, buzzes are not always associated with strings and frets. All kinds of things can make irritating buzzing sounds on your guitar. A common problem on acoustics (I work on lots of acoustics) is that the string balls aren't seated tightly against the bridge plate. Any piece of hardware that is loose can rattle - tuner bushings or bridge parts or pickups. If a pickup is too high the string might buzz against it. Loose wires in a control cavity can cause buzzes. I once had an acoustic guitar that the pickguard was coming slightly loose - the buzz drove me crazy.

    Sometimes a single string can be funky - don't ask me why. I'm always suspicious when a guitar starts buzzing after the strings were just changed ("it didn't do that before..."). I'm suspicious when the string gauge gets changed.

    Last, and far from least, guitar woods move with relative humidity and temperature changes. It is not uncommon for an acoustic or hollow body guitar to get buzzy during the winter while we have our central heat on in our houses - that dries the air, wood shrinks, guitars get wonky.

    Finding (and fixing) buzzes is not always easy - take your time, take careful measurements, think about what you are seeing and hearing.
     
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  9. RickyRicardo

    RickyRicardo Friend of Leo's

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    A good friend and longtime guitar tech told me that no matter how much you try to remove any buzz it will not totally go away. Sometimes it does and sometimes not. If it isn't fretting out then I wouldn't worry about it.
     
  10. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    Tools used are just gear and do not provide good results on their own.

    I don't mean to be rude at all, but the fact that something is wrong and you cannot identify what it is tells us that operator error is the problem.

    I agree that it was odd to set the neck dead straight, then change the truss rod setting from straight when you got more cut at the ends of the neck than the middle.
    Where were your hands on the leveling beam?
    At the ends?
    If the beam can flex .005" then your hand positions will be where the most material is removed. Keep your truss rod setting if you feel you set it straight already!

    I would agree that a more rigid leveling beam is needed.
    I do not agree that a notched straight edge is needed, since no matter where you set the truss rod, you will then as you said, level the fret tops, if your leveling beam and technique are good.

    You need to identify what the problem is, we cannot see or measure from here!
    Curious how low you set the action?
    You say leveling was to set the action lower.
    Are you trying to get the lowest possible action?
    When I do a setup for a shredder, they might actually prefer action so low that you can only play with a light touch, or you will get some buzz.
    The lowest possible action is not compatible with all styles and techniques.

    But again, we don't know what if anything is wrong with the setup.
     
  11. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    Not changing the rest of the setup after a level and crown will be a problem of its own.
    You need to do the setup all over again.
    Bear in mind that any truss rod adjustment needs to get a corresponding bridge height adjustment, and often also an intonation adjustment.

    If you lowered the fret heights but left the nut at the former height, then adjusted the truss rod until the action seemed good with your old saddle heights, what you have is the strings too low at the bridge and too high at the nut.
    So as soon at you fret any string, the action will be too low over all the rest of the frets.

    Lower the nut slots to the new fret height, and you'll find the action too low at your new truss rod relief setting.

    You may have concluded that you set the truss rod the same as before the level and crown, based on the feel of the action height nearer the bridge.
    But with the changed fret heights, the bridge action setting is not a good gauge of relief, and even eyeballing relief as being "the same" is just not accurate enough to be able to have the dressed frets play well when you, as you said: "didn't change any of these parameters".
     
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  12. Slowtwitch

    Slowtwitch Tele-Meister

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    I'm not trying to get super low action, just normal playing style trying to get zero/ minimal fret buzz.
    I'm not quite sure why the nut plays any part here when checking for fret buzz.
    Relieve is set by fretting 1st fret and say 17th and checking relieve at say 8th fret with a feel gauge

    Checking fret buzz you each string at each fret
     
  13. Slowtwitch

    Slowtwitch Tele-Meister

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    Having said this, I went back and used a notched straight edge to straighten the neck, then re-levelled the frets after checking each fret across the fret with a fret rocker.

    There were a few minor high spots, which I levelled and then I put the beam across the neck again to level all the frets

    recrown

    Afterwards I checked again CAREFULLY for fret rocking. I can't pick up any rocking anywhere

    Restring and set relieve to 0.08 at the 6th fret with a highish action - so no crazy low stuff

    I still get fret buzz on e-string 2nd to 12th, and B-string 5th to 10th fret.

    Not hectic buzzing, but enough to clearly hear it's not a clean note

    If I don't get any rocking with a fret rocker by feel, does it mean the problem is rather a setup issue then, or can it still be a fret issue?

    I'm starting to run out of material, and don't want to do another levelling job on these frets
     
  14. Slowtwitch

    Slowtwitch Tele-Meister

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    I can see the string clears the next fret up by a hair, but when I pick the string anything more than a super light attack, it buzzes

    remember the action is already set what I'll call high and there's plenty relief at 0.08
     
  15. guitarbuilder

    guitarbuilder Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    Was the notched straightedge machined flat? Did you tighten the truss rod so that it engages the wood?
     
  16. telepraise

    telepraise Tele-Meister

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    1. What do you call high action? The action on some of my electrics is higher than on my best dialed in acoustic due to the lower tension/lighter gauge of the electric strings
    2. What does it sound like amplified? Some of the annoying sounds we hear acoustically on an electric don't show up at all coming out of the amp. This is something I struggle with, coming from an acoustic background.
    3. How loud do you play? The more drive and volume, the less likely you are to hear minor vibrations.
    4. How long is the plate glass you're using?. I use a machine ground steel beam from Stewmac, it's 16" long. If your beam is long, your strokes will tend run with a significant amount of the beam overhanging the ends of the fretboard. In that case, the weight of the beam makes you tend to sand the ends down more than the middle.
    5. Since you're not buzzing above the octave fret, dial out the relief (0.008" is a lot for light gauge strings) and raise the bridge saddles until it's clean. A partscaster buddy of mine likes his fingerboards flat, no relief. I also saw an experiment on YouTube where the guy demonstrated how less relief actually = less buzzing. I never would have believed until I saw it.
    ***I'm really just guessing here on all of this, without sighting down the neck, there's no way to tell for sure.
    consider taking it to a really good luthier and pay him to diagnose and fix the buzzing. If you can get him to leave you the crowning and polishing part of the job, it may save you a fair amount of $
     
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  17. Slowtwitch

    Slowtwitch Tele-Meister

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    The straight edge is flat to the point that no light shines under it on a piece of polished granite. The LP fretboard is not 100% like where the inlays are, so it's always going to be a judgement call when the neck is flat. This is a factory Epi LP.

    Yes the t/r was engaged

    I also used a new levelling beam - a polished pieced of granite with a piece of glass stuck to it. With the sandpaper stuck to it, I am very confident that there's more variance in the sandpaper (any sandpaper for that matter) than in the beam itself.

    The only thing left is whether the neck itself can flex. I support the headstock and at the body joint
     
  18. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Tele-Afflicted

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    I'm working on my setup tutorial but a few comments here.

    One, I don't use a notched straightedge. That will tell you what the neck (fretboard) is doing but once you have frets in place I care more about what the frets are doing. However if you put a notched straightedge on the board, what does it tell you? Are the flats between every fret sitting solidly on wood? Have you tried a 0.002 feeler to make sure? Have you put the flats on each fret and tried a feeler between all of them?

    Fret rocking is very valuable and it will tell you a lot about places like the neck to body joint, but remember, if you have two low frets and one between them rocks, if you file it down now you have three low frets. I rock frets but I'm also careful to keep it in the big context.

    I really hope your relief is 0.008 (8 thousands, not 80). If that is your 12th fret string action it would be slightly high for the high E, OK or even low for the low E.

    If your relief is 0.008, that is the high end of acceptable for me. I know its within Fenders specs (0.012) but in my opinion less is better (I will put a link to a very good article on the effects of relief in my tutorial). One of the little rules of thumb is "if your guitar buzzes in the first few positions you may need more relief, if it buzzes in the upper positions close to the neck heel then you might need less relief". We'll discuess that in the tut also.

    Have you tried actually measuring next fret clearance all the way down the board and writing it down? Also do back fret clearance.
     
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