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fret buzz no matter what action as high as it goes done truss rod

Discussion in 'Tech-Talk' started by guitarstoomany, Jun 8, 2016.

  1. guitarstoomany

    guitarstoomany New Member!

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    Hi guys,

    first off big thanks in advance to anyone who might be able to help me out. I've just bought a guitar for my wife and its causing me a huge headache. The low E and A strings buzz absolutely no matter what is done to the guitar.

    I'll walk you through what I've done so far and my observations. I've tried to search all the threads on all the forums I could find before being annoying and registering and posting! but I just can't get any headway on this. Ive been tinkering for about 4 hours.

    Guitar in question is a squire jagmaster. the one that's basically like a double HB strat (strat style trem) but with the offset body of the jazzmaster/jaguar. the guitar was purchased second hand but was sold "like new", it still had the pickguard plastic on it. looked like it had not really been played. there were definitely no changes or modifications made. the nut is def original. theres no fret wear. the frets dont look to be lifting or anything weird like that. The finish of the guitar in general seems almost perfect, the fret ends especially feel great.

    the bad:

    - Low E/A strings buzz like CRAZY. its just absolutely intolerable. All the way up until 12/13th fret and also when open.
    - Guitar had medium-high action when I got it
    - First thing I did was try the truss rod as the action was already quite high. I increased the relief slowly trying to play each time in between. I think I completed at least 1 1/2 turns by the end but no change whatsoever. The buzzing remained exactly the same.
    - Then I thought ok maybe it was already too far into relief ??? so I went the other way. This time I made sure to check with a known straight edge at each stage of the process up until the neck was dead straight while under tension from the strings. The buzzing sound remained constant. no improvement or any change really no matter what curve or lack of was applied to the neck. I played it to check each appx 1/8th turn all the way back up to dead straight and then back down again to slight relief.
    - Ok so I was getting really frustrated by this point and decided the heck with it, lets max out the action and see what happens. I brought both saddles up to the absolute max and the buzzing ? NO CHANGE. still buzzed exactly the same. the action was ridiculously high. highest action possible, then cycled through lots of relief, medium, dead straight, slight relief, doesnt matter. sounds exactly the same no matter what! can't get rid of that buzz

    observations:

    - cocking the guitar sideways and looking down the neck like a gun barrel under a good room lamp I can't seem to see any warping or obvious twisting of the neck. I'm not exactly an expert in this but I feel like I'd probably be able to see it if it was there. I would assume that it would also affect the other 4 strings but curiously they don't buzz at all.

    - playing each fret on each of the both affected strings, and putting my ear to the guitar, it really sounds like theyre buzzing out on the fret directly in front. I've played and then moved my ear across the fretboard and I really think it's almost always coming from the fret directly in front. so if I fret the 3rd, the 4th buzzes, 5th then the 6th buzzes, and so on. this may be why changing the relief doesnt seem to do much as of course the curver of the neck over space between each fret would not meaningfully altered.

    - there are no loose parts on the guitar, I have checked to make sure that its not something else that is rattling or buzzing around. I have had this issue on other guitars with a tuner and I think something else at some point - but that's not what is causing the buzz this time.

    I can't imagine what could be causing such a weird problem. I also really dont think anyone messed with the frets beforehand. The guitar is basically new so I can't make a probable case in my mind for why or how a previous botched fret level could have been attempted. especially a botched fret level which somehow perfectly staggered the frets down increasingly towards the nut to cause this particular 1 up fret buzz.

    I don't know, I'm totally baffled. Does anyone have any ideas ? Any input would very very much appreciated. the guitar is unplayable as is it sounds absolutely awful.

    for comparison ive got another strat copy, with way way lower action, that only buzzes out a bit on the low e. It's 40 years old and has been banged around a lot. I know some fret buzz is to be expected but what is happening on the new Squire is just ridiculous

    thanks!
     
  2. Lone Woof

    Lone Woof Senior Stratmaster

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    What gauge strings do you have on it, if you know?

    If it's like my Squier Jaguar, .11 gauge strings solved a lot of problems.
     
  3. Steve112

    Steve112 Senior Stratmaster

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    No expert here but the neck angle may be the culprit, a shim may be needed in the neck pocket.
    Also, check the clearance of the strings at the first fret, the nut could be cut too low. This would result in substantial buzzing and the action needing to be set unnecessarily high, as it was when you got it.
    Yes, they can come from the factory like that, the nut on my buddy's Gibson Les Paul that he bought new was cut too low, the action was way high and I had my tech build it back up for him.
    There may also be some high and/or low frets as well, a fret rocker will sort that out.
    Whatever the problem, aside from a warped or damaged neck, it's fixable.
     
  4. guitarstoomany

    guitarstoomany New Member!

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    I'm not sure. The lady that sold it to me threw in a pack of ernie ball "regular slinky 10 13 17 26 36 46"

    It is quite possible however that the guitar currently still has the stock strings that came from the Squire factory. I'm not very good with judging strings as I'm into guitars mainly for the fun of collecting, painting, putting together from parts or making bodies from scratch (ive never made a neck though!) - I'm not really a big player. I can play to maybe a low-intermediate level and it's certainly an element of "guitar" that I enjoy very much - but only part of the whole mix for me.

    Anyways, the point of that explanation is that consequently I really don't break strings often! and consequently to not breaking I dont replace them very often either and thats why I don't really have such a developed "feel" for them. Whatever is on the guitar now I would say feel somewhat on the lighter end. but thats just a guess from my limited experience. they could very well be medium

    What I can say though is that this thought definitely came into my mind - I forgot to mention in my original post that one of thing that popped into my head was to try was to tune the guitar up to a higher pitch than normal in the hopes that it would simulate the higher tension of heavier strings. unfortunately that didnt seem to make any difference either. then again I dont know if the tension difference I achieved doing that was equal to that of heavier strings ?
     
  5. nadzab

    nadzab Peace & Love, my Brothers & Sisters... Strat-Talk Supporter

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    Is the buzz audible when amplified, or only unplugged? And, when you have the saddles at maximum height, what's the action at the 12th fret?

    It would be helpful if you could post a quick video so we could see/hear what's going on.
     
  6. guitarstoomany

    guitarstoomany New Member!

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    forgot to mention as well that I went along the neck with a small straight edge (small enough to go over 3 frets at once) and tried to look for rocking, didnt see any indication of rocking anywhere.

    the nut could be one problem but I think it's fine, the reason that I say this is as soon as you fret a note the nut kinda falls out of the equation right, and its still doing it all the way up the neck

    if the neck angle was off I'm guessing youd be thinking it was tilted backwards and needs to be pushed back in the angle of relief ? would that have been caused by a sloppy routing job at the factory ?
     
  7. guitarstoomany

    guitarstoomany New Member!

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    Hi Nadzab - many thanks for the response!

    I did put it through a practice amp just quickly and I dont think the buzzing goes through to the amp - at least not nearly as much as is audible unplugged. unplugged is like a typical fretbuzz sound with overtones almost like a cymbal, if that makes sense

    It's 1am where I'm living now (im overseas) so ill crank up the amp again in the morning and double check but I think at this point I would say no, it sounded much cleaner through the amp

    I'll try to measure the height really precisely in the morning but just as a quick answer.. it was "really high". higher than I have ever seen a guitar have that I've owned or anyone else's I've played. I was maxed out on the saddles and the guitar visually (to me at least) looks "normal" - whatever that means. its not like its a case of being maxed out on the saddles but abnormally low at the 12th or anything weird like that.

    I will definitely post a video tmw as well, Im guessing the preferred format is a link to a youtube video upload ?
     
  8. fumbler

    fumbler PhD-Stratology

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    I know you said you checked for loose/rattling parts but check again. Sky high action should solve any fret buzz issues (as long as you have "typical" relief set and it's not in backbow). Try tapping the guitar all over with the strings deadened (or removed.)

    You said it doesn't buzz above the 12th fret. Buzzing more at low frets is an indication that you have too little relief. Do you know how to measure relief? Fret a string at the 1st and last fret and measure the gap above the 8th fret. (You'll need a capo or a third hand.)

    Try a new set of strings. A kink in a string can cause a buzz (Unlikely all over the neck but you never know.)
     
  9. Steve112

    Steve112 Senior Stratmaster

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    I'm thinking too much backward tilt on the neck, and the buzzing on open strings even with abnormally high action, says badly cut nut or ridiculously out of level frets. You should have been able to eliminate the open string buzzing by setting the action high. So there's something going on between neck angle, nut slots or fret level (which you've already checked)!
    I'd put a small paper shim at the back of the neck pocket (closer to the nut) to bring the neck forward, it can't hurt and is easily reversible.
     
  10. fumbler

    fumbler PhD-Stratology

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    Raising your action with a shim (or micro-tilt if the guitar has one, a Squier would not) is functionally the same as raising the saddles; at least in regard to playing action and fret buzz. If your actual string action as measured above the 12th or 17th fret (or whichever is your favorite) is sky-high then there's no reason to use a shim.
     
  11. Steve112

    Steve112 Senior Stratmaster

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    OP, after rereading your original post, I missed that the buzzing was only on the lower two strings, that the others have NO buzz at all. Not a neck angle issue, and as Fumbler has suggested, a shim is probably not the answer. I'd look carefully at the nut, re- measure the string height at the first fret, the relief at the 7-9th fret and fret levels.
     
  12. Guitaraxe

    Guitaraxe Strat-O-Master

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    iirc, Those guitars have a strat style trem? Me, I would deck the trem with 5 springs, put a new set of 11's on there, set the guitar up to Fender spec's and let it settle in neck wise with those spec's. After the neck has settled in, I would play it through the amp and take it from there. If anything it would give you a base set of spec's to work from.
     
  13. albala

    albala Most Honored Senior Member Strat-Talk Supporter

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    if you increase the down pressure on the nut (by pressing on the string beyond the nut), does anything change?
     
  14. henderman

    henderman Most Honored Senior Member Strat-Talk Supporter

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    Making 1 and a half turns on the truss rod concerns me. I would loosen it and start over completely use the method fumbler shared to measure relief.

    If I turned any of my truss rods 1 and a half times it would be VERY far out of adjustment if I did not break it.

    I hold the string down as he prescribes but I just look at the amount of relief, if it is half the size of the .046" string you are using as the checker you can just gauge with your eyeballs that it is about .023" of relief.
     
  15. sumran

    sumran Fan of Leo

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    It is worth carefully checking again for a high fret. You only want the straight edge to contact 3 frets at a time. Check it in the area between the A and low E string. Your description sounds like one of your fret ends is not fully seated.
     
  16. stratman in va

    stratman in va Most Honored Senior Member Strat-Talk Supporter

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    Could be neck angle, could be the nut is cut too low too. Maybe it had a really heavy gauge of strings before, and now a lighter, thinner set, so that the strings sit lower in the nut.


    I know some guys just set up by eye and feel, but I like to use the Fender specs as a guide. I always measure and check first before adjusting saddles or turning the truss rod. Keep in mind its a guide, not the law of the land. You may prefer the action and relief a little different from the Fender spec, but I think that they are really a good place to start.
     
    jimyjazz likes this.
  17. stratman in va

    stratman in va Most Honored Senior Member Strat-Talk Supporter

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    You can use picks or a stack of picks, as a quick way to measure, or a coin ( once you Google the thickness ) to measure action. The relief can be checked with a sheet of paper. The string height at fret one (string to fret) can be checked with a thin pick or a business card for the thicker strings.
     
  18. Lone Woof

    Lone Woof Senior Stratmaster

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    I'm gonna throw one other idea out there. Take a look at the clearance between your buzzing strings and the back of the bridge (just south of the saddle). On my Jag, if the strings are too close to the back part of the bridge, they'll buzz against it with a sound similar to a fret buzz. I think the Jazzmaster has the same weird bridge as the Jag, so it's possible this may be your problem, and not fret buzz. It's a balancing act between the height of the bridge (adjusted with the two small screws on either side of the bridge) and the height of each string saddle.
     
    stratman in va and jimyjazz like this.
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