Fret Buzzing, New Player

SadElijah75

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I just got a new player series telecaster. I've been playing acoustic for a year and a half, and this is my first electric. It felt pretty good out of the box, but I could tell that it needed a little work to get the intonation right, plus there was some fret buzz here and there. I had it set up at a guitar center(there are no other guitar stores nearby, and I don't know a tech).
The intonation after set up is much better, but it appears that the tech lowered the action. While that feels really nice and it plays super well, I'm getting more fret buzz than I did originally. I know that I play pretty heavy handed on my acoustic, and I know that I still need to develop a more delicate touch. But I also feel as though the guitar is buzzing worse after the setup than before.
Should I A) call the technician and ask him to raise the action a bit, and deal with the draw backs of a higher action or B) Wait and see if the issue gets better as I improve my technique?
 

Steve Holt

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I just got a new player series telecaster. I've been playing acoustic for a year and a half, and this is my first electric. It felt pretty good out of the box, but I could tell that it needed a little work to get the intonation right, plus there was some fret buzz here and there. I had it set up at a guitar center(there are no other guitar stores nearby, and I don't know a tech).
The intonation after set up is much better, but it appears that the tech lowered the action. While that feels really nice and it plays super well, I'm getting more fret buzz than I did originally. I know that I play pretty heavy handed on my acoustic, and I know that I still need to develop a more delicate touch. But I also feel as though the guitar is buzzing worse after the setup than before.
Should I A) call the technician and ask him to raise the action a bit, and deal with the draw backs of a higher action or B) Wait and see if the issue gets better as I improve my technique?

Couple of options here. If it were me I'd politely ask for my money back explaining that you're not a big fan of the fret buzz...or just forget the money spent at guitar center and move on down the road.

Now is a good time to learn to do this yourself. Minimal investment in tools and once you figure it out, you'll never need to pay guitar center to do it again.

There are all kinds of tutorials and youtube videos that would serve you well.

Just for fun, I would just raise the strings a hair at a time at the bridge and see if the buzzing stops. My neighbor was a tech at guitar center before he became my neighbor. I asked him to set up a guitar for me just because I wanted to see how a 'trained' tech did it vs me, self-trained in my basement. My instructions were I like the action as low as I can get without buzzing. Had a few beers while I watched him work. He did it all on feel with little to no measuring tools like I use. At the end of the night he had all my strings at 3/64" above the 12th fret and it played great. I couldn't believe how low he got it. The next day I noticed how much it buzzed and how it would fret out immediately on any bend.

I'd still say he's a solid tech and knows his stuff...but things have a way of working when they're on the bench and being off days later.
 

Jensen

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Electric guitars in generel will buzz quite a lot more than acoustic guitars. What is important is not so much how it sounds when you play it when it is not plugged in because almost all electric guitars will have some buzz in those situations. What is important is IF this has any bad effect on the sound when it is plugged in. If not, I would not worry.

If it was setup by a tech I would at least give it some time and see after a while... Most likely your guitar is perfectly fine and you just need to get used to the difference.

Hope you will enjoy it.
 

Slim Chance

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Are you hearing the buzz when playing amplified or unplugged, too. If only unplugged, then maybe don’t worry. If you hear buzzing when amplified or any buzzing bothers you, call the GC tech and make an appointment for a readjustment. It maybe just a slight turn of a screw or two. If you have high frets, that is a bigger problem where you could return the guitar. Probably just needs an adjustment, though.
 

SadElijah75

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Electric guitars in generel will buzz quite a lot more than acoustic guitars. What is important is not so much how it sounds when you play it when it is not plugged in because almost all electric guitars will have some buzz in those situations. What is important is IF this has any bad effect on the sound when it is plugged in. If not, I would not worry.

If it was setup by a tech I would at least give it some time and see after a while... Most likely your guitar is perfectly fine and you just need to get used to the difference.

Hope you will enjoy it.
Does the fret buzz amplify or can it only be heard when you play unplugged?

This is a good thought... I'm not sure, mostly because I've been stuck playing at a pretty low volume, where I can hear both the actual strings and the amp. I think some buzzing is coming through the amp, but when I get the house to myself I'll turn it up and make sure. I've only had it a couple of days, and from some tinkering I've done with my acoustic, I can tell that things tend to settle a bit in the days after the work, so I'll play with it a couple of more days before I make the call.

Being new to this, it does make me feel much better to know that the instrument will be more buzzy than an acoustic.
 

SadElijah75

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Couple of options here. If it were me I'd politely ask for my money back explaining that you're not a big fan of the fret buzz...or just forget the money spent at guitar center and move on down the road.

Now is a good time to learn to do this yourself. Minimal investment in tools and once you figure it out, you'll never need to pay guitar center to do it again.

There are all kinds of tutorials and youtube videos that would serve you well.

Just for fun, I would just raise the strings a hair at a time at the bridge and see if the buzzing stops. My neighbor was a tech at guitar center before he became my neighbor. I asked him to set up a guitar for me just because I wanted to see how a 'trained' tech did it vs me, self-trained in my basement. My instructions were I like the action as low as I can get without buzzing. Had a few beers while I watched him work. He did it all on feel with little to no measuring tools like I use. At the end of the night he had all my strings at 3/64" above the 12th fret and it played great. I couldn't believe how low he got it. The next day I noticed how much it buzzed and how it would fret out immediately on any bend.

I'd still say he's a solid tech and knows his stuff...but things have a way of working when they're on the bench and being off days later.

I learned to do truss rod adjustments with my acoustic, so that kind of adjustment wouldn't be a huge deal to me. I just want to make sure that's the problem, rather than something else. I'm also worried about throwing the intonation off again if I do make the adjustment. If that's likely, is adjusting the intonation an easy DIY?
 

KokoTele

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I bet if you google "luthier," "guitar tech," or "guitar setup" along with your town, you'll get some options. The people who work at GC rarely have any real technical knowledge or experience.

There are lots of threads here about how to do a setup, as well as lots of good videos on youtube. Fender's setup guide is good too. It's all pretty much the same information, so one source isn't necessarily better than the other. It's not rocket surgery, so anyone who knows which end of a hammer to twist can do a decent job.

Before doing anything else to the guitar, you need to diagnose the setup. You need to get the neck pretty straight, or at least within the allowable range of relief, and then measure the action. 4/64" is pretty standard, and you may get some fret buzz but it shouldn't be audible through the amp or choke out any notes. 3/64" is starting to get pretty low, and if you play on your fingertips like a ballerina dancing on her toes, you can still play cleanly. 2/64" is shredder territory and you absolutely can't play cleanly, but you can play loud or with overdrive/distortion and not notice all the buzzing.


Here's my video on truss rods. It's part 1 in a series that I never finished :)

 

Jensen

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This is a good thought... I'm not sure, mostly because I've been stuck playing at a pretty low volume, where I can hear both the actual strings and the amp. I think some buzzing is coming through the amp, but when I get the house to myself I'll turn it up and make sure. I've only had it a couple of days, and from some tinkering I've done with my acoustic, I can tell that things tend to settle a bit in the days after the work, so I'll play with it a couple of more days before I make the call.

Being new to this, it does make me feel much better to know that the instrument will be more buzzy than an acoustic.

Thanks. My experience is that things tend to settle as well. As with many other things this is a subjective thing where preferences differ and where a good compromise is important since low actions is what most players prefer. If that causes fret buzzing here or there with little or no impact on the amplified sound that is usually a good option.
 

chris m.

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Check relief and if it’s correct then adjust action by raising saddles at bridge. As you raise saddles, follow the fretboard radius. You can do this visually- don’t need special tools for it.

To check relief, capo first fret and hold down low E string at the highest fret 21 or 22) with your left hand. Now your low E is a straight edge.

Take your right hand and tap the low E string against the 8th fret. 0.001” relief means it’s almost touching the fret, but not quite. So when you tap on the string you can feel/see/hear it move just a tiny bit and then it hits the fret.

Stewmac recommended action in photo below. I’m usually around 0.060 for low E and 0.050 for high E at 12th fret for electrics using 10s and I don’t get buzz even acoustically unless I really whale on the strings.
 

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Steve Holt

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I learned to do truss rod adjustments with my acoustic, so that kind of adjustment wouldn't be a huge deal to me. I just want to make sure that's the problem, rather than something else. I'm also worried about throwing the intonation off again if I do make the adjustment. If that's likely, is adjusting the intonation an easy DIY?

I bet if you google "luthier," "guitar tech," or "guitar setup" along with your town, you'll get some options. The people who work at GC rarely have any real technical knowledge or experience.

There are lots of threads here about how to do a setup, as well as lots of good videos on youtube. Fender's setup guide is good too. It's all pretty much the same information, so one source isn't necessarily better than the other. It's not rocket surgery, so anyone who knows which end of a hammer to twist can do a decent job.

Before doing anything else to the guitar, you need to diagnose the setup. You need to get the neck pretty straight, or at least within the allowable range of relief, and then measure the action. 4/64" is pretty standard, and you may get some fret buzz but it shouldn't be audible through the amp or choke out any notes. 3/64" is starting to get pretty low, and if you play on your fingertips like a ballerina dancing on her toes, you can still play cleanly. 2/64" is shredder territory and you absolutely can't play cleanly, but you can play loud or with overdrive/distortion and not notice all the buzzing.


Here's my video on truss rods. It's part 1 in a series that I never finished :)



If you take one piece of advice from me, it's listen to @KokoTele

He knows what he's talking about.
 

SadElijah75

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I bet if you google "luthier," "guitar tech," or "guitar setup" along with your town, you'll get some options. The people who work at GC rarely have any real technical knowledge or experience.

There are lots of threads here about how to do a setup, as well as lots of good videos on youtube. Fender's setup guide is good too. It's all pretty much the same information, so one source isn't necessarily better than the other. It's not rocket surgery, so anyone who knows which end of a hammer to twist can do a decent job.

Before doing anything else to the guitar, you need to diagnose the setup. You need to get the neck pretty straight, or at least within the allowable range of relief, and then measure the action. 4/64" is pretty standard, and you may get some fret buzz but it shouldn't be audible through the amp or choke out any notes. 3/64" is starting to get pretty low, and if you play on your fingertips like a ballerina dancing on her toes, you can still play cleanly. 2/64" is shredder territory and you absolutely can't play cleanly, but you can play loud or with overdrive/distortion and not notice all the buzzing.


Here's my video on truss rods. It's part 1 in a series that I never finished :)



Thanks for the video! I might have to give it a try.

I actually did google luthiers, and couldn't find any. I even asked around a bit. The closest guitar shop that I can find is the guitar center, which is still 40 minutes away. Not a lot of musicians in my area, evidently.
 

Steve Holt

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I learned to do truss rod adjustments with my acoustic, so that kind of adjustment wouldn't be a huge deal to me. I just want to make sure that's the problem, rather than something else. I'm also worried about throwing the intonation off again if I do make the adjustment. If that's likely, is adjusting the intonation an easy DIY?

Adjusting intonation is easy peasy on an electric guitar. You just need a good tuner.

Tune all the strings.
Really really tune the string you're working on. Play it open
Play it again at the 12 fret. If the note is now flat move the saddle toward the neck of the guitar (shortening the string) - if the note is sharp move the saddle toward the bridge (lengthening the string)
When the string is in tune open and played at the 12th move on to the next one.

at this point it's a good idea to tune all the strings again. Just to make sure.
 

SadElijah75

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This problem above is actually one of the biggest problems that I've had even with my acoustic: I don't know hardly anyone who plays. The people that I do know who play only play acoustic (usually only strum chords at church). I don't have any buddies to jam with. On the few instances that I've been able to meet up with some out of town friends, it's been very helpful. I wish that I had some knowledgeable friends who could actually see what I'm doing and offer insight, but alas, it's an imperfect world we live in.
 

JL_LI

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I’d check relief first. When fretted at the first and last frets, does the low E string rest on the frets or is there about a business card of clearance at the 12th fret. That’s an easy adjustment with a tool that should have come with the guitar if the truss rod adjustment is at the headstock. Do all strings buzz or just one or two of them? That’s a saddle height adjustment. The adjustment tool for my MIM Telecaster and both MIA Strats is a 0.050” Allen wrench. That’s a cheap tool at Ace Hardware. The neck may need to be shimmed if the problem exists only on the higher frets. That’s a job for a better tech than the one you paid to do the setup. A first rate tech should have caught that. Good luck. I agree with everyone who said to learn this basic maintenance yourself. You’ll have to make adjustments as the temperature and humidity in your home change. Making those adjustments requires about the same level of skill as many home repairs you probably do on your own. Don’t be afraid of simple mechanical adjustments.
 

TelePlank

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I really hate fret buzz. I love low action with 9s so it tends to be hard to remove it. I also don't do my own setups. My only guitars are worth $1,500+ so not something I personally feel comfortable learning on. When my guitars get setup the guy who did it let's me noodle on the guitar a bit. If I don't like it he tweaks it until I'm happy with it.

If I were you I'd just call them tell them it has more fret buzz than you like. Just ask ask if you can bring it in and have them check/tweak it. Just my 2 cents! I'll have to learn eventually though. Truss rod scares me the most!
 

Boreas

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If you can play any note WITHOUT fret buzz, there is a good chance you are just picking the strings too hard. If the buzz occurs regardless of how lightly you pick, the action is likely too low. Raising the saddles slightly should help.
 

jays0n

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As others said, try playing each note lightly. Try each note on the fretboard. This is probably what the tech did.

To see if it is coming through the amp, if your amp has the option, try playing with headphones on. Turn up loud enough that you can only hear the amplified sound.
 

kbold

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2 options:
1) lighten up on your playing .... let the amp do the voluming.
2) If you're determing to be heavy handed, you need to raise the string height until buzzing stops.
I'm assuming that, since a techie looked at it, that the truss rod adjustment is correct.

Different players have different setups, dependent on their playing style. There is no singe correct setup.
When I'm setting up my electrics for a low action, I spend time going up each string fret by fret to check for any buzzing at what I consider would be my heaviest playing (where I would consider a minor buzz as acceptable). Where the buzzing is determines the remedy. Not text book stuff, but it works for me.
 




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