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Old August 17th, 2010, 07:39 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Fret Buzz!!

Hey guys, new to the forum, but didn't know where else to turn for help. I own an American Mahoghany HSS Strat, here is a link to my guitar

GuitarCenter

Anyways, I am about at my wits end, I took it to GC here in Virginia Beach, VA...guy said he fixed the shims in the LSR nut and set it up for me, at first I thought it was fine...little time passes and buzzing on E,A,D strings about 5-6th fret and up. So took it back and had the tech (older guy-seems reputable) redo it. Got it back a week later and still had problems with it...here I am a year later and just kinda "dealt" with it. Well as my experience level has come up through reading and what not I decided to attempt to set this thing up myself or at least start learning how to do it. So I bought D. Erlewine's repair book, read extensive articles on the web and equipped myself with some good knowledge.

So, I put some Ernie Ball 10's on and proceeded in setting up my guitar, I tuned to pitch and noticed the neck had some relief in it, I tightened a 1/4 turn and voila...straight as an arrow, next brought the bridge to 3/32, next brought all strings down to 4/64 as per Fender's specs, checked relief at 7th fret .012-gtg, intonated, and proceeded to try it out...holy cow buzz city!!(And heard through the amp as well...yes I've heard the ol' "Hey buzz is normal")

So I raised the the strings to 5/64...6/64...7/64's and finally was tolerable...it seems the only way I can get this thing half way manageable is around 7-8/64's which I just hate for an action height..I might as well whip out my acoustic. Also, of note, I have all 5 springs installed on the tremolo, didn't block it though.

This guitar is in pristine condition, hasn't been abused and could almost probably be mistaken for almost brand new. I just take good care of it. Frets look good (no indents, scrapes, etc..nice and smooth all around)

I own a Gibson Les Paul Silverburst and I got that thing dialed down to 3/64 with .010 at the 7th and that guitar plays like buttah (yes, I tried taking my own playing technique into account)

I love my Fender but it just pains me to see it just sit in its case because it pisses me off when I play it. I don't really want to part with it, kinda have bonded with the guitar so to speak.

I have a fairly strong attack (which is why I stepped up to 10's for strings) and do mostly rhythm work, galloping patterns, etc. Hard Rock, Metal..AC/DC, CCR, GnR to Metallica, Godsmack, TOOL... with the occasional lead playing if the situation calls for it.

So I guess I just call on you guys for your expert advice and years of knowledge which obviously trump what I "think" I know. Sorry for the wall of text, just wanted to be as informative as possibe and let you know I have attempted to do my homework on this matter.

Thanks in advance guys.

Dale

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Old August 17th, 2010, 07:44 PM   #2 (permalink)
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what frets is it buzzin on?...maybe you need to shim the neck...
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Old August 17th, 2010, 07:44 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Welcome to the forum, Dale.

It sounds like you've tried a lot of things. Maybe the guitar is just a dud? Fender's quality control is good, not great. I really don't know. My strat has super low action (the strings are practically touching the frets) but it only buzzes very slightly on the lower strings. It's not an issue, even when playing without an amp. That said, my strat is a '85 MIJ so it's a totally different bird.
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Old August 17th, 2010, 07:49 PM   #4 (permalink)
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You're sure the frets are level? Neck's straight? It doesn't need a shim in the neck pocket to angle it a lil' bit? How is the nut cut are the strings high there?

Lots of variables you know.

Welcome to the Strat-Talk forum btw.
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Old August 17th, 2010, 07:50 PM   #5 (permalink)
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If I set the string height at around 5/64's at the 17th it seems to only buzz from like frets 5-10'ish on the E,A,D strings the most...really noticeable when playing power chords...just makes me cringe. I really hope it's salvageable. I just have a hard time swallowing the guitar is a dud, there has to be a solution to the problem.

The nut is an LSR roller nut, stings do not buzz open, so that takes my thinking away from the nut. Nut action is around .020 at first fret.

Huh, the one thing you mentioned there Malikon has my interest..I haven't messed with the neck pocket at all, to be honest, is there much to adding a shim to that? Any concerns I should have about doing it myself? Just want to make sure I don't mess anything up.

Dale
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Old August 17th, 2010, 08:12 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Now that you're at ease with trying all the different adjustments, try putting quite a bit of relief back into the neck, and taking your action down to where you want it to be.
If it still buzzes after this, go fret by fret, plucking the sting as normally as you do from the lowest buzzing fret all the way up until it stops buzzing. That would point to a high fret just before the buzzing stops. Having a small straight edge on hand to verify this would help.
If all else fails, send it to me and I'll give you $150 for it.
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Old August 17th, 2010, 08:34 PM   #7 (permalink)
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You may have a bump or high fret in the neck heel area. A short straightedge
is good for checking this. An edge should not rock anywhere on the fretboard.
To check for a high fret, you need a very short edge, one that spans 3 frets
at a time. Try sighting carefully along the neck in the neck heel area. Something
may be visible. Also look for a twist in the neck.

How are you measuring relief?
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Old August 17th, 2010, 08:38 PM   #8 (permalink)
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If is hasn't been done, get the frets leveled... any and all guitars, unless the maker has said it has been done, require a fret leveling to optimize playability.

If say the 7th is .003 (the thickness of a sheet of paper) higher than the 6th fret, it will require the action be very high to eliminate buzzing...

Also, there should be a slight bow in the neck when tuned to pitch, fret the 3rd string at the 1st fret and the 20th and check the 7th - 10 frets, there should be about .010 clearance.

Oh, you got mail....

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Old August 17th, 2010, 08:53 PM   #9 (permalink)
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I'm measuring relief by placing capo on first fret, depressing last fret, measuring distance from top of 7th fret to bottom of Low E string.
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Old August 17th, 2010, 08:59 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Make sure also that the pickups are not very close to the strings. The pull
can infuence the vibration pattern and cause buzz in an action that would
be just free of buzz otherwise.
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Old August 17th, 2010, 09:08 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Make sure the capo is not too tight. If it is pressing hard just behind the fret,
it can elevate the string beyond the fret. The relief could seem higher than
it actually is.
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Old August 17th, 2010, 09:09 PM   #12 (permalink)
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I know, its alot to take in.....got beer?
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Old August 17th, 2010, 09:22 PM   #13 (permalink)
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It seems like your going for too low action with a 9.5" radius. Your Les Paul is (I guess) 12" radius and much easier to get lower action. Plus, if you pick real hard with lighter strings the vibration of the string is wider. I'd say a flat radius (12 - 16"), lighter strings, lower action, and a light touch usually go together.
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Old August 17th, 2010, 09:41 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Take the Shims out... they may actually be the cause of your troubles? Leave them out! Put the neck back on and set up your guitar as normal. You don't need to use 5 springs in the body of the guitar unless you're using 11's or a higher string guage. Use 3 springs for 9's or 10's making sure that the back of the bridge is slightly raised off the body of your guitar about 3/64th. Shims can often give you more problems than you realise. They raise the whole neck upwards & put it at a different angle - one which may be the cause of all your buzzing problems. It was the same on mine. I just removed them!
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Old August 17th, 2010, 10:04 PM   #15 (permalink)
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ok, took some more measurements..

Pickups are good. 1/8" on bass side, 3/32" on treble side (Fender spec)

Now in regards to the action..not sure how 4/64 is too low of an action..that's the recommended spec from Fender. I would like to think that the "default" isn't too low. Right now string height is 5/64" for all strings, buzz occurs from 5th fret up.

I have tried removing the relief from the neck making it straight as an arrow to adding quite a bit of relief which both yielded same buzzing results.

I've tried considering a fret redress job..however, if all strings buzz from the 5th fret up the frets just don't jump out at me being the problem.

Should I mess with the micro tilt adjustment?

I'm just lost
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Old August 17th, 2010, 10:13 PM   #16 (permalink)
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8/64 is not a high action by any means. That is about 4/32. I don't see the problem.
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Old August 17th, 2010, 10:24 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 357mag View Post
8/64 is not a high action by any means. That is about 4/32. I don't see the problem.
I hear what your saying, but that may be for you. I am used to playing at around 3-4/64"...and when I can't achieve that on this guitar it leaves me puzzled when I talk to others that say they can get that low with no problems whatsoever. I don't think trying to get to 3-4/64" is too far fetched, I think that is rather reasonable. Especially when I play on my buddies American standard and it's that low with no problems...switch back to mine and it's a noticeable difference
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Old August 17th, 2010, 10:57 PM   #18 (permalink)
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One of the first things I try when there is a problem fret or two:


Then, after relief, nut and saddle adjustments fail, it's on to a fret level and crown.
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Old August 17th, 2010, 11:35 PM   #19 (permalink)
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^
I'm actually serious about that. Make sure the back of the neck is supported and padded and make sure the strings are off and the mallet is softer than the frets. Give 'em a whack and see what it does. It sounds like your problem is almost like some of the frets weren't seated. If it isn't that, it is possible the wood of the fretboard is not parallel to the level of the frets. This could be due to many reasons.

To start, release all the tension on the truss rod and see how level the tops of the frets are. You might have to mess around with the truss rod to get them as level as you can. Then, check how level the actual fingerboard is. I don't recommend those straight edges with the notches for frets but use a cheaper and harder to screw up method. I don't want to post a ton of info here but you can find what I do here. (scroll down to the Leveling section and read down to the second picture with a straight edge in it.) There's other info on that page but just pay attention to the parts about checking the levelness of the frets and board. That page is intended to help the "average Joe" to do work on their own guitars. They are definitly not the "accepted" practices, or even what I use much, but work well. YMMV

If the frets are level, but the board isn't, there's either an inconsistancy in the depth or height of the frets, or an inconsistancy in the fingerboard surface. Then, just address the FRETS. I only used caps on that part because the playing surface is the frets, not the fingerboard. Small dips in the fingerboard don't make much of a difference in intonation, especially if you fret close to the fret. Multiple, "waves" in fretboards can cause huge problems, but small ones aren't really a big issue. As long as the frets are level, you should be able to get it where you want it.

You notice I haven't talked about relief or shimming, or any of the other stuff usually talked about because, when faced with a problem not solved by usual methods. I start the diagnosis over by only addressing the neck so I can be sure that is not the problem. After that is addressed, the other things can be brought in to finish setting the guitar up.

As for the micro tilt, I'm not sold on them yet. They are great tools but are very misunderstood and overused. People that have fear of adjusting the truss rod seem to not mind reefing on the micro tilt.
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Old August 17th, 2010, 11:43 PM   #20 (permalink)
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The nut heght will have some effect, but I'm not sure if it's enough to cause
your problem.

If the nut is too high, you will end up making the bridge too low to get the
correct action height. Put the capo on the 1st fret. Is the action now
significantly lower? If so, reset the action height with the capo on and
see if the buzzing is gone. This could indicate too high of a nut.
You only need to readjust one problem string to test this. See if
it stops buzzing. Count the turns on the adjusting screws and you can
put it right back where it was.

If you press the string down to the 2nd fret, there should be just a bare
amount of clearance between 1st fret and string. (without the capo, of course)

If the saddles are at a reasonable height, not adjusted all the way up, or
all the way down, the neck tilt angle should be ok.
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