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fret buzz help

Discussion in 'Luthier's Guitar & Bass Technical Discussion' started by jlh, Oct 15, 2008.

  1. jlh

    jlh Member

    Feb 4, 2007
    Northeastern, North Carolina
    I have never adjusted a truss rod, My new R9 plays great, has great action and no intonation problems.
    Recently with a change of weather here on the southeastern coast this guitar has picked up a string/fret buzz at the top E A & D string around the top three frets / nut and when played open.
    when i apply a small amount of pressure, pushing the neck up, the buzz stops.
    Is this a simple truss rod adjustment I can do myself or is this a bigger issue and I should take it to my tech?
    any advice and help would be great, how to? would you?
  2. forestryguy

    forestryguy Member

    Apr 4, 2003
    East Texas
    You should be able to make minor adjustments yourself. I don't have a Les Paul anymore, but I believe the truss rod is tightened with a 5/16" hex nut. I got a hexdriver at NAPA auto parts that works perfectly. Remove the truss rod cover (usually attached with 3 small Phillips screws) and turn gently counter-clockwise about 1/8 turn. Easy does it, especially if it is bound up. I usually mark the starting position (before adjustment) with a magic marker so I can keep track of how much adjustment has been applied, and in which direction. Hope this helps.
  3. Chris Scott

    Chris Scott Silver Supporting Member

    Sep 1, 2006
    Playa Jaco, Costa Rica
    Your description of your symptom(s) isn't necessarily the result of a mis-adjusted truss rod. If the rod is too tight, typically the first 3-6 frets will buzz when fretting, due to the neck being back-bowed. The action, or string height, will be higher than normal if the truss rod has been loosened too much, although this is a generalization.

    However, you state that the problem went away when you pushed on the neck, so maybe I didn't totally get what you were saying.

    Forestryguy has laid it out well re. adjusting the rod, however I would say also try this little "trick" - With a capo on the first fret, (tuned to pitch, of course) fret any of the strings at the 14th fret, then with your other hand, reach over and "tap" the same string you are fretting at the 7th fret - just touch the string to the top of the fret, and observe how much distance, or "air gap" there is between the string and the fret top - we're using the string as an impromptu straightedge here. This distance should be a very small amount, roughly the thickness of a business card. This is what is referred to as "relief"

    This amount is variable, according to the player's taste. What you don't want to see is NO air gap between the fret and string, which would indicate a dead straight neck (if you are really lucky, and actually want one) or more likely a "back bowed" neck, which is what it sounds like you might have.
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2008

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