Fret buzz

Terrygh1949

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Hi all! First post here. I have a 3 month old FMT HH set neck Tele. Purchased from Sweetwater. Sound is exactly what I'm looking for. Problem is I cannot get action as low as I would like for this guitar. I have a fairly aggressive playing style at times. I've tried different amounts of neck relief and have settled at .010"/.25mm but that puts action on the low E at 8/64"/3.16mm.
I use 10's for strings. I still get some buzz in frets 1-3 when I'm hitting the strings hard on the e,a &d strings. Only really noticeable when I'm playing the amp clean. Little dirty and it's not an issue.

Is this reasonable or should I be able to get lower action? I would normally go back to where I bought it but I live in NY. Want to avoid sending it back to Indiana!
Thanks in advance for looking.


I have always played with low action and, I use a thin pick. I have never had an aggressive playing style hence not much fret buzz. Let the amp do the work. The harder you strum or pick the more the string or strings vibrate. It's common sense. I Love low action because it allows more articulation and, finesse in a professional playing style. If you are going to keep playing aggressively I would suggest to keep your action high or fret buzz will be there.
 

teleplayer99

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These people have good ideas. Now just take mine to tech. But I have been playing 47 years and never could do things with hands very well. I admire you for that ability. Don't get replicon one either. I like original. So forget my post...I am old school and stupid.
 

Jakedog

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I have not read the entire thread, so apologies if this has been covered-

Without looking at the guitar, I’d bet hard cash you need a fret level. You’ve got high frets. I say “frets” and not “fret” because it’s probably more than one. Over 3mm at the 12th and you’re still getting buzz on a word that flat? That’s utterly unacceptable. You should have HALF that string height with no issues. If your measuring from the bottom of the string to the top of the fret, which is what you should be doing.

I’m positive about the fret level because I have only seen one Fender guitar in several years that didn’t need one right out of the box. I don’t know when it happened, but it seems to me that they just stopped giving a crap about level frets a while back.
 

Frankentronics

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Hi all! First post here. I have a 3 month old FMT HH set neck Tele. Purchased from Sweetwater. Sound is exactly what I'm looking for. Problem is I cannot get action as low as I would like for this guitar. I have a fairly aggressive playing style at times. I've tried different amounts of neck relief and have settled at .010"/.25mm but that puts action on the low E at 8/64"/3.16mm.
I use 10's for strings. I still get some buzz in frets 1-3 when I'm hitting the strings hard on the e,a &d strings. Only really noticeable when I'm playing the amp clean. Little dirty and it's not an issue.

Is this reasonable or should I be able to get lower action? I would normally go back to where I bought it but I live in NY. Want to avoid sending it back to Indiana!
Thanks in advance for looking.

By means of introduction, I am a luthier and I also work as a guitar repair tech in a busy store, in a major metropolitan city. And I want to help you with some advice.

Also, sorry, but I did not read through all the replies. I just skimmed through.

One important thing to understand is that fret buzz is a symptom of various issues.

1 - The most common issue that always comes to mind is a high fret. To determine if that's the case you'll need a fret rocker. Then to fix it, you'll need a fret kisser (permanent marker, masking tape, sand papers, steel wool...).

2 - The one thing that you do need to check right away is the relief of the neck and also check if the relief is the same on both sides of the neck. It is not the same thing to set the action to an exact height if there's more or if there's less relief.

3 - Going back one step, related to high frets, is if the frets are in fact properly leveled. In other words you can't spot level the entire board.

4 - If the frets are leveled but not properly crowned you will have intonation problems as well as possibly fret buzz. That kind of fret buzz is more like a sitar sounding buzz that you might get at the saddle. I don't think that's your case because that kind of buzz would usually be present if the action is higher. Basically, the string has two pivoting points as it vibrates. You can also get that kind of buzz if your neck suddenly develops a bit more relief and the frets are a bit worn to a flattened surface. Again, I don't think that's causing your buzz but I am listing it just to mention it.

5 - I did mention buzz coming from the saddle, in the previous paragraph. It happens if the saddle is not properly shaped or if the height screw(s) are loose.

6 - Fret buzz can come from the string itself. Most often if a wound string deteriorates and the winding is no longer tight over the core. But it can also come from plain strings. Sometimes there's a miniature kink on the plain string and it makes that exact point of the string a bit lower, closer to the fretboard and it can happen right over a fret. You can also have buildup of rust on the underside of the string.

7 - There is a difference between perceived buzz and true buzz. Perceived buzz in electric guitars is only heard when you unplug it but does not amplify through the amp. All electric guitars will produce perceived buzz because the strings are looser and action is lower. You mention that your buzz is heard through a clean amp.

8 - Someone mentioned using the baking soda and superglue trick on the nut. I did not read that reply but I do want to mention that this trick is just a quick fix to get you through a gig. It does not hold up over time, no matter what any tech might have told you. If you want to set up actual nut action to be precise and low, this will not hold up. If you set it up with a higher nut action, it might. But I set up my nut action as low as physics will allow. If I have to build up a nut string slot I make an insert and carve a new slot. The work is invisible and it holds up over time.

I'm sure I'm forgetting some other causes of fret buzz, but I nee to run out to the store before it rains. So, I gotta run.

Good luck...
 

telecastasaurus

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Hi all! First post here. I have a 3 month old FMT HH set neck Tele. Purchased from Sweetwater. Sound is exactly what I'm looking for. Problem is I cannot get action as low as I would like for this guitar. I have a fairly aggressive playing style at times. I've tried different amounts of neck relief and have settled at .010"/.25mm but that puts action on the low E at 8/64"/3.16mm.
I use 10's for strings. I still get some buzz in frets 1-3 when I'm hitting the strings hard on the e,a &d strings. Only really noticeable when I'm playing the amp clean. Little dirty and it's not an issue.

Is this reasonable or should I be able to get lower action? I would normally go back to where I bought it but I live in NY. Want to avoid sending it back to Indiana!
Thanks in advance for looking.


Did you look at the neck angle? If you use a straight edge, does your neck run a little lower than the parallel plane of the body?
 

rubylv

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Thx for all your replies. Though some did not answer my question a few did. In both cases I truly appreciate the input and advice.

My setup is playable right now. Just frustrating because it's not ideal. I'm going continue to tweak and see if I can get it where I want it. If I can't I'll either send it back to Sweetwater or just suck it up and take it to my local Pro.

Thx again!!
 

Cali Dude

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Hi all! First post here. I have a 3 month old FMT HH set neck Tele. Purchased from Sweetwater. Sound is exactly what I'm looking for. Problem is I cannot get action as low as I would like for this guitar. I have a fairly aggressive playing style at times. I've tried different amounts of neck relief and have settled at .010"/.25mm but that puts action on the low E at 8/64"/3.16mm.
I use 10's for strings. I still get some buzz in frets 1-3 when I'm hitting the strings hard on the e,a &d strings. Only really noticeable when I'm playing the amp clean. Little dirty and it's not an issue.

Is this reasonable or should I be able to get lower action? I would normally go back to where I bought it but I live in NY. Want to avoid sending it back to Indiana!
Thanks in advance for looking.
I could be wrong, but in my experience, super low action can be the cause of the problems that you are reporting. I would take it to a good luthier, and get their opinion. Then, let them set the guitar up for you.
 

Thebluesman

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PARAMOUNT:A low action,the lowest attainable... requires the frets to be ''Equal in there height''=Perfectly level[ed].if not fret buzz will arise!just because.If the gtr can be made to be 'playable' at its lowest action without fret buzz arising then to raise the action to 'taste' should be problem free!
 

Thebluesman

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Temperature fluctuations [Affects the neck,its constantly under deliberate tension via the rod+the strings[their tension when strung to pitch]...combined etc]can cause issues because temp affects.The lower the action the more obvious the effects of variable temp fluctuations will be.,more so than a [higher action etc] but it will still be felt via the fret fingers etc.Wood moves accordingly etc .One must know how,when,where to adjust etc because of.Applying guesswork will only further frustrate rather than resolve!
 

schmee

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Hi all! First post here. I have a 3 month old FMT HH set neck Tele. Purchased from Sweetwater. Sound is exactly what I'm looking for. Problem is I cannot get action as low as I would like for this guitar. I have a fairly aggressive playing style at times. I've tried different amounts of neck relief and have settled at .010"/.25mm but that puts action on the low E at 8/64"/3.16mm.
I use 10's for strings. I still get some buzz in frets 1-3 when I'm hitting the strings hard on the e,a &d strings. Only really noticeable when I'm playing the amp clean. Little dirty and it's not an issue.

Is this reasonable or should I be able to get lower action? I would normally go back to where I bought it but I live in NY. Want to avoid sending it back to Indiana!
Thanks in advance for looking.
Most of my guitars (10-46 strings) are about where you are on the low E string. ~ 1/8" +. Anything lower rattles, especially if you do the "boogie sweep picking" thing on the low E ala SRV. The high E is lower though.
 

Thebluesman

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Most gtrs from the factory will not be 100% perfect,especially the newly installed frets being uneven!Once the action is deliberately made to be lower[according to playing preferences etc] any..defects now become more apparent.A Medium/high[er] [Factory specs] action only temporarily ''masks'' the errors.Its down to the purchaser to rectify & resolve or find one who can=Further costs incurred!Or LEARN to diy it etc.
 

Thebluesman

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Uneven fret height has to be traced/confirmed etc & resolved.If not the fret buzz will only worsen over time,with playing use etc.Hence why every gtr requires assessing in full & then any''defects'' traced,..eradicated/resolved..to allow the set up that now suits to proceed.To dismiss /ignore a fret issue will only magnify later=Could lead to an avoidable expensive refret!& all newly installed frets require L & C'ng etc etc etc.
 

rubylv

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So Sweetwater has offered a pre paid shipping label for a warranty check. Question for me is packing the guitar. I have asked them about it and I’m awaiting a response but wanted some opinions. Should I send it in the hard shell case I have for it? Unfortunately I do not have the original packaging which was awesome btw. Thoughts?
 

Collin D Plonker

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It's not really that complicated.

- Adjust the neck as straight as you can get it.
- Set your action to where you'd like it to be.
- Play.

If it buzzes down at the first few frets, you need more relief (the neck is backbowed or too straight). If it buzzes up high, there's excessive relief (you have too much forward bow.)

You kind of have to go back and forth with these adjustments until you find a happy medium....and If you're a heavy handed player, you'll maybe need to live with action that's somewhat tall..or lighten your touch a bit.

Bottom line, if you can't hear buzzing with the guitar plugged in at a moderate volume, don't worry about it :)
Then set the intonation and check the nut slot depth.
 

Collin D Plonker

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You did the right thing to contact Sweetwater. Be sure to pad the box with styrofoam or something else that will absorb shock. Also it's a good idea to put paper between the strings and fingerboard. Be sure to tell Sweetwater you are heavy handed. IMO you could improve your tone by learning a lighter touch. But until you do, you will need higher action. It's a good thing you are learning to maintain your guitar. You will save a lot of money over the years. But first binge watch StewMac and Crimson Guitars tutorials on YouTube. There is a balance and an order for setups. Also buy a fret rocker.
 

rubylv

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It's not really that complicated.

- Adjust the neck as straight as you can get it.
- Set your action to where you'd like it to be.
- Play.

If it buzzes down at the first few frets, you need more relief (the neck is backbowed or too straight). If it buzzes up high, there's excessive relief (you have too much forward bow.)

You kind of have to go back and forth with these adjustments until you find a happy medium....and If you're a heavy handed player, you'll maybe need to live with action that's somewhat tall..or lighten your touch a bit.

Bottom line, if you can't hear buzzing with the guitar plugged in at a moderate volume, don't worry about it :)

Just for the record I've been through all of these steps and where I'm at is a "slightly" happy medium. Only thing I haven't done is check the frets for level. So I've decided to ship it back to Sweetwater and let them work it out. Thx for the advice.
 

telecastasaurus

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Thx for all your replies. Though some did not answer my question a few did. In both cases I truly appreciate the input and advice.

My setup is playable right now. Just frustrating because it's not ideal. I'm going continue to tweak and see if I can get it where I want it. If I can't I'll either send it back to Sweetwater or just suck it up and take it to my local Pro.

Thx again!!

You might look into a stewmac fret rocker. They seem expensive until they find your high frets. They're slicker 'n frosty cat poop. I've found a high fret on one single string on one fret with mine
 
Last edited:

Southboundsuarez

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You might look into a stewmac fret rocker. They seem expensive until they find your high frets. They're slicker 'n frosty cat poop. I've found a high fret on one single string on one fret with mine

I check the board with a level and measure the frets and never have used a rocker or understood the need for one. I have tried it before and I end up measuring the frets anyways.... I suppose if you cant identify where the string is fretting out , the rocker will help find those high spots.
But different strokes for different folks.
What do I know? I am a hobbyist and a hack but, I like the way my guitars play.

I like fairly low action and play light strings, usually 9's.
I play just what I FEEL (scotch whiskey not required). I am a tube amp guy more than a guitar guy. Techwise that is... I like to really just plug straight in and dime the amp for that mojo magic of being at one with the tone and really feeling it. The amplitude and volume comes from my playing and not the volume control. When I am in my zone, I can be a bit dramatic with lots of nuance. I dig hard into the strings and get my growl or I just touch and tickle the strings with finesse for the crystal clear clean and softness... Basically I am very into the "touch" sensitivity of the amp. What I am getting at is that I often play both very hard and aggressive as much as gentle and everywhere in between. I am not sure where my action measures on my Mex Tele but it certainly makes 4/64" (?) or actually 1/16" or .0625" as measured on micrometer pretty easily! No buzz here! I would guess that I am probably at 0.04925 (3/64) on the bass side and probably a few thou less on the treble side! (I measure with a dial caliper using the sliding depth rod on the butt end of the device). A string gauge also works just as well as a precision ruler too!
Honestly, I put it to spec and then just get it up or down to where it "FEELS" good. I only worry about numbers to give me a start point and a baseline of what is spec. If it feels good it will be good. No buzz, I hate buzz! I will sacrifice some action to keep the buzz out and let the strings ring. Buzz robs sustain.

Whether or not the factory does a "proper" L&C, the factory does in fact have a certain spec that each guitar must indeed be within to pass quality control. Outta the factory I believe .0625" all the way around is pretty much universal factory spec.... With a set of 10's and most all radius of necks should easily give ya 1/16 or 4/64 string height. Anything less is gravy.
You should get "4/64" all day long with no buzz. Definately send it back and have them get ya back to spec!

As for baking soda and super glue?
I dont get it? Either shim or get a new nut cut!
Baking soda is abrasive! I dont care what Erlwine's video says about about filling in a slot with soda and super glue. It is not where you want any abrasive type of substrate. You want the strings to glide on a super silky smooth base of solid dense material.
I give Erlwine the respect of a true master but that is a poor hack. He does some amazing things with cynoacrylic adhesives as repair resins but this is not his best use.
Jusr my two cents on this subject, take it for what its worth,,,, two cents isnt worth much but I do get 25 cents worth on the soapbox,, thanks for letting me share!
 




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