Bad fret buzz on my Strat...

Discussion in 'Luthier's Guitar & Bass Technical Discussion' started by atomheartmother, Jul 26, 2006.

  1. atomheartmother

    atomheartmother Senior Member

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    I'm getting some pretty noticable fret buzz (as in I can clearly hear it through the amp) on the 6th and especially the 5th strings. The most fret buzz seems to be happening in the first nine or so frets.

    Clearly, this would seem to be an issue with the straightness of the neck that could be dealt with by loosening the truss rod. However, there is a fair amount of relief. With my feeler gauges, it seems to be somewhere between .010" and .012" at the 9th fret; it's hard to tell what the exact relief is.

    The action is also a bit on the medium-high side. The 6th string is a little over 1/16" at the 12th fret. The fifth string is about the same as the 6th but a little bit higher (maybe around 1/64" higher) at the 12th fret.

    Also, the frets were leveled and crowned about a week and a half ago. I had them leveled because of the buzzing, which seemed to be reduced very slightly. The guitar also had a new bone nut put on and was also setup at that time too. The tech said that the frets were quite uneven prior to the fret level and that they are nice and even now.

    I took the guitar in yesterday to have the same tech look at it and he couldn't get the buzz out of the guitar. He said that this is how Strats are and sometimes you just have to put up with buzz.

    I suppose it's not a huge deal, but I'd prefer not to have the buzz. The guitar used to have a MIM Fender neck on it with no buzz. The neck on the guitar now is an older Allparts neck. It's too bad for the buzz, though, as this is the nicest feeling Strat neck I've ever owned.


    Any ideas?
     
  2. DiazDude

    DiazDude Member

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    Total BS...I've never had a tech tell me that. I'll bet if he didn't properly cut the string slot depth to match your string gauge.
    My tech, who I've used for over 10 yrs, pays alot of attention to this and I have ZERO fret buzz issues on all 3 of my Strats and all the other guitars I own.
     
  3. countandduke

    countandduke Member

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    Generally speaking, you really want your neck to be as straight as possible. At least that's how I like mine. I VERY VERY small amount of concaveness is acceptable but not much. I have often found that the nut slot may be cut too low which would certainly cause that buzz. Can you hear the buzz through the amp?? Is the buzz choking notes??? A little buzz is certainly acceptable but try raising your action a bit. Higher action almost always equals a better tone and less tendency to buzz. Good luck.....

    Chris
     
  4. Ken Swanson

    Ken Swanson Silver Supporting Member

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    I agree with DiazDude. Either he did a poor job leveling the frets, or the nut is cut too low. Check the string height on all the strings, as they should match the radius of the neck. I would suggest taking it to someone else. Get some recommendations for good techs around the area. Good luck!
     
  5. moozak

    moozak Silver Supporting Member

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    something to check though... make sure that when you measure the relief, that you're doing it against the "high E" side... not low E (low E side should naturally have a bit more bow). so, knowing this... if you have a relief of .010 on the low side then it's quite possible that you don't have that on the high side, which would boil down to... you might not have enough bow even though you may think so.

    ...guitar necks are "supposed" to have "some" bow to them anyway... they're not made to be "perfectly straight" as a lot of folks say. of course, i don't want to get flamed to death for saying that... so i'll say... if your playing style allows for a perfectly straight neck,,, then go for it.

    as far as buzz goes, in general, it really depends on a lot of factors... strings, setup, your picking style... etc. my strats are set med-high... and i still generally get "some" buzz... because my pick attack is generally pretty aggressive.

    good luck on getting it worked out though!

    oh... and here's some nice reading material...

    http://users.adelphia.net/~cygnusx_1/neck_bow.html
     
  6. tonezoneonline

    tonezoneonline Member

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    Your strat neck should have some relief.If it's buzzing on the first nine frets I would say your tech did not do a good job on the fret level .If you can't get any satisfaction from him I'd have someone else look at it.I work on strats almost daily and there is no reason for them to buzz when properly set up.
     
  7. atomheartmother

    atomheartmother Senior Member

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    How do I check if the nut was cut properly?

    I suppose I could try going back when the guy isn't there. There aren't any other guitar shops in town; there are a few small music stores that sell guitars, but I doubt they can do much repair work.
     
  8. Soapbarstrat

    Soapbarstrat Senior Member

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    Basic way to check , is to fret each string, one by one, at the 3rd fret and then look at the gap between string bottom, and fret top at the first fret, there should be a gap so slight, you have to press on the string over the first fret to see if it just moves a hair, then you know you have about the right amount. Now, if you find that the strings are touching the top of the first fret, the nut is probably cut too low, and/or the neck doesn't have enough relief, but I'm all about *slight* relief, actually "no relief" to many, because anything under .003" can be called " dead straight".

    The guitar I'm using now (because I'm FAR away from home), has around .001" to .003" of relief around 7th fret area. Action at the 12th fret is slightly under 3/64" high E, slightly under 1/16" low E. Nut action (over 1st fret) is about .009" for hight E, .014" low E.

    I play mostly unplugged and don't tolerate fret buzz.

    I don't even consider this guitar to be set-up extremely well (I usually can get action lower at the 12th fret), and that might have a lot to do with the fact that I leveled the fret back in 2000 with a 6" flat wood block. (because I did the fret-work away from home, and had minimal tools).
     
  9. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Member

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    If your neck has a slight relief to it, as most do, there is a certain chance that you're going to get some fretting out on the low strings due to the concavity of the fretboard from slight relief. Visualize a dish contour and the strings running across that dish. If you press down on a string in the center of that dish, what happens? the string hits the outer edge of that dish. This is an extreme comparison, but that's how to get a point across sometimes. A straight neck has less chance of fret out because the vibrating string has more clearance to do so. The straightening of the neck may require raising the bridge saddles slightly to allow clearance.
     
  10. seagate

    seagate Member

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    +1

    Find yourself a new tech...
     
  11. atomheartmother

    atomheartmother Senior Member

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    Thanks guys. I'll check the nut height and straighten the neck a bit.

    I've been using this tech for years and he is usually good. I don't know what's up.
     
  12. atomheartmother

    atomheartmother Senior Member

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    I spent a while tweaking the Strat today. I've got the strings radiused to the fretboard with all of them being about 3/64-1/16" (fret top to string bottom). The neck is a bit straighter now at around .007" +- .001" (on the bass side). The nut seems to be cut properly for height. When I hold down the third fret and press on the first fret, there is a slight distance on all strings (the same for all as far as I can tell).

    However, there still seems to be some buzzing on the 5th and 6th strings (the 5th in particular). It is mainly just frets 2-7 now. There really isn't too much at any of the other frets. So is it a high fret around this area (high 8th fret maybe). Wouldn't there be buzzing on the other strings though?
     
  13. Fireball XL5

    Fireball XL5 Supporting Member

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    Just a thought... but it's possible that the neck of your guitar might have a slight hump or twist that is making the bass side of the neck a bit higher than the treble side in the region where you are experiencing the fret buzz. This is common on many guitars. If this is the case it's possible that.... even though you get a relief measurement of .010" or .012" at the 8th fret... that the neck could still have a slight hump from the 7th or 8th fret down towards the nut.

    Try sighting down the neck of your guitar from the headstock towards the body (with the front of the guitar faceing up) to see if the neck twists a bit towards the left (treble side) thereby causing the bass side to be higher in the problem area.

    In any event... problems like this should have been addressed by your tech when he worked on your guitar.
     
  14. atomheartmother

    atomheartmother Senior Member

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    I don't see any humps or twists. The tech also sighted it several times and didn't see anything (I assume that that was what he was looking for).
     
  15. countandduke

    countandduke Member

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    Does it buzz on every fret?? Does the buzz appear to be worse on some frets?? How tall are your frets?? +1 on sighting down the neck looking from the headstock, I do this often and have found many a lame guitar playing much better with a "slight" relief in the neck but not much.....

    Chris
     
  16. countandduke

    countandduke Member

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    You can also ger a fret level checker from www.stewmac.com It's basically a straight edge that you can set across the frets to see if there's a fret that's too high....it'll be obvious cause it will "rock".

    C
     
  17. atomheartmother

    atomheartmother Senior Member

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    It just buzzes mostly at a few frets (mainly on frets 3-7) on the A and low E strings. There is some buzz on the other frets up to maybe 14 on those strings, but it is tolerable. On frets 3-7 on those frets, especially on the A string, it's a long sustaining buzz that can be clearly heard through the amp. If I play lightly, it is tolerable. But it really comes through when playing power chords and stuff.

    The frets are still fairly tall. They are medium jumbos that have been leveled once (when I did it), despite the neck being maybe twelve years old (the original owner only played it for a few of those 12 years, though).


    I've thought about getting a fret level rocker, but they are kind of pricey, especially considering that I'd normally just have a tech use theirs. However, I'd feel weird about taking the guitar back a third time. I might take the guitar back in when that tech is gone.
     

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