How to Fix Fret Buzz on Your Guitar

When most people notice that some of their frets are buzzing they immediately assume that the guitar is faulty. The truth is that numerous things can cause fret buzz, and you'll have equally as many opportunities to fix those issues pretty easily. The hard part is noticing what exactly is causing it.

These would be our topics of the day, so if you want to learn more about fixing your guitar's buzzing issue stick with us for a while longer:

In a nutshell - what is the main cause of fret buzz?

Basically, improper guitar setup takes the prime spot while poor maintenance and storage share the pedestal of second place. Factory guitars are all set up in the same way, which means that if your guitar faces fret buzz problems even when brand new it probably earned a couple of nicks and bruises along the way.

Generally speaking, setup, maintenance, and damage are the main causes of fret buzz. These three issues further 'branch out' to inadequate fret level, bad string action, and improper neck relief. Let's start addressing these issues.

Guitar setup

In essence, guitar setup refers to a variety of different things - fretboard level, string action, and relief are all absorbed by this term.

While setting up your guitar anew shouldn't be too difficult, it's recommended that you put aside some cash to find a professional to do it. Basically, this process involves re-stringing, readjusting the action, and in worst-case scenarios fixing the fingerboard connectors (to the body).

Needless to say, this process usually takes place in a workshop as you'll have plenty of hardware pieces to cater to before you can even begin.

Raising the action

The action should be the easiest solution that you can start with. Basically, use an Allen key (of appropriate size) to raise or lower it on your guitar's saddle. Now, innately high action typically does not cause fret buzz, so if it's high already you should stick with alternatives.

A great way you can tell if the action is low is by the feel of the strings. If they seem dangly even if the guitar is not tuned in dropped tunings, the action is lower than average. Raise it manually and check if the fret buzz persists. This method is often capable of completely resolving the issue, but in some cases, you'll simply fix one or two frets while a couple would still buzz.

Fret Level

Essentially, leveling the frets is closely related to the bridge being straight. If it's curved (we refer to it as 'warped'), the frets near the warped end will buzz.

Sadly, locating the problem requires a trained eye and professional skills, so you shouldn't attempt to resolve this problem on your own if you haven't done it before. The fretboard refinement procedure involves processing the frets themselves (sanding), readjusting the action numerous times on the fly in small 'doses', and ultimately fixing the neck.

Neck relief

Generally speaking, neck relief is the 'angle' of the neck when sighted from the perspective of the body. Almost every guitar on the planet is warped to some extent, and this is a process that naturally takes place no matter how great you're taking care of your guitar.

The 'warping' occurs when you are switching tunings often when you're switching over to different string gauges, but it's also happening when temperatures, humidity, and elevation levels shift. This does not mean that you will avoid or counter warping by not changing strings or tunings; however, doing it often will simply hasten the process.

Improper storage

The easiest way to learn more about guitar fret buzz firsthand is to not store it properly. Many people have guitars lying around their homes in various spots such as on beds, under beds, leaning next to a wall, and such.

Guitar stands are invented for this very reason, and using them will significantly improve your chances of never hearing any buzz on your guitar's frets. A great alternative is a padded and layered guitar case while guitar gig bags can substitute for short periods.

Playing frequency

Believe it or not, not playing your guitar can actually cause fret buzz. Simply put, playing the guitar keeps both your fingers and the instrument 'warmed up', which will increase its resilience to warping and wear.

Physical damages

Lastly, fret buzz is sometimes caused when the guitar itself is damaged. Take a close look and inspect your guitar whenever you start noticing odd and unfamiliar sounds. An obvious indicator of a damaged guitar is a different 'feel'; the strings, frets, and the entire neck of your guitar will respond differently to you if any key part is damaged.

Obviously, this issue is easily resolved by maintaining and storing your guitar properly, but should you have missed doing so, taking it in for repairs will resolve it.
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