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Last Updated: March 8, 2021
“Why are my guitar strings buzzing?”
It’s one of the most common questions I’m asked by concerned guitar owners. People’s reaction to guitar string buzz varies widely. Some people flat-out don’t care or don’t notice. Others find it maddening–to the point that they can’t focus on just playing their guitar and having fun.
Guitar string buzz can happen for many reasons, and in some cases it can be due to an actual problem with the guitar. This includes things such as loose, uneven, or worn frets, an unnatural hump in the fretboard, or worse. Only a skilled guitar repairperson can diagnose and fix those types of issues.
On the other hand, there are a number of “normal” things, all within your control, that can cause guitar string buzz, and those are the ones we’re going to cover in this post.
1. Improper setup (or no setup at all)
Guitars have a few points of adjustment that are all interdependent in some way. Tweak one thing and it affects another. Tweak another thing and you’ll need to adjust something else to compensate. If they’re out of whack, then your guitar isn’t set up properly and string buzz can be one symptom.
A setup performed by a skilled guitar repairperson is the guitar equivalent to getting a car “tuneup” by an ace mechanic. It’s the best way to ensure all these points are adjusted properly and that your guitar is as naturally buzz-free as possible. It’s also how you can be sure there is nothing more sinister going on that could be causing unnatural string buzz.
Just as you can learn to do your own car tuneups, you can also (and probably should) learn to do your own guitar setups. However, getting a feel for it can take time so I recommend leaving it to a pro at first. Trying to jump right into it yourself can feel like a frustrating game of whack-a-mole, and you could damage something.
Want to Learn to do Your Own Setups?
If you do want to learn to do your own setups, there are couple resources I highly recommend:
- Sketchy Setups (Just guitar setups, no extra b.s.)
- The Guitar Player Repair Guide (very in-depth, with extra info on maintenance and repairs)
2. Not pressing the string down directly behind the fret
When you’re pressing a guitar string down to create a note, your finger should come down as close to the metal fret as possible. Otherwise, the further away you are, the harder you’ll have to press to ensure the note rings out cleanly without buzzing. I’ve shown this in the photo below:
This is easier to accomplish when playing scales or single notes, but chords can be a different story. With chords, press directly behind the fret wherever possible, but know that there will always be some situations where you simply can’t get all your fingers close to the frets, as shown in the G Major barre chord below:
3. Not pressing the string hard enough
In addition to not pressing the note down in the correct spot as outlined above, there is still the issue of needing to apply enough pressure to the string. Even with your fingers in the right positions, close to the frets, if you don’t press hard enough the note will buzz against the metal fret. If you’re finding it difficult to press hard enough, don’t worry. That’ll come with time and practice as you build your technique and hand strength, so for now just be aware that you need to work on it.
If pressing the string is still painful for you, that’ll eventually subside too as you continue to practice and build up the calluses on your fingertips. It’s something all guitarists have to endure for awhile. In the meantime, I recommend beginners use ultralight guitar strings while they’re building calluses and hand strength. Or, if you’re experiencing general or excessive hand pain, I wrote this article: 6 Ways Guitarists Can Reduce Hand & Finger Pain.
4. Low humidity (the air is too dry)
Guitars, especially acoustic guitars, are safest in an environment where the relative humidity is between 45% – 55%. If you live in an extremely dry climate or frequently have your heater or air conditioner running inside the house, your guitar can become too dry if you don’t take proactive steps to get more moisture into the air around it. If you’d like to learn more, I wrote an in-depth article on how humidity affects guitars.
Some of the more obvious symptoms of a “dry guitar” include sharp fret ends and, yep, you guessed it: string buzz.
If you suspect that this may be an issue, buy or borrow a digital hygrometer to first get a true reading of the humidity wherever you keep your guitar. Then, if necessary, buy a room humidifier or an in-case guitar humidifier (depending on whether you primarily store your guitar outside or inside a case, respectively).
Protect your guitar against low humidity:
The Humitar is what I use to protect my acoustic guitars here in the dry Arizona desert.
The Humitar for electric guitars. Same great Humitar, designed to fit in an electric guitar case compartment.
The D’Addario 2-way system protects against wet OR dry conditions and each packet lasts 4-6 months.
5. You changed your tuning (especially lowering)
Remember what we learned in #1 about setups? Part of the setup equation is having your guitar strings tuned to pitch (whichever tuning you prefer) and keeping it there. It doesn’t matter whether you normally use standard tuning, drop D, an open chord tuning, or something else, your guitar is typically set up to play optimally in one specific tuning you’ve chosen.
If you change that tuning on-the-fly (for one particular song, for example), your strings may buzz as long as you stay in the new tuning, because the string tension on the neck is now different than what the guitar was set up for. Once you go back to your standard tuning (assuming you didn’t change anything in your setup), the string buzz will disappear.
Players who are constantly changing their tuning on-the-fly have grown accustomed to this issue and either accept the buzzing or compensate for it by using thicker strings and/or higher action.
6. You changed your string gauge (thickness) or brand
Just as your guitar is set up to play optimally in a certain tuning, whoever set up your guitar also did so for the brand and gauge of strings you specified at the time.
So, if your guitar plays beautifully and buzz free with certain strings, stick with that same gauge and brand whenever you put on a fresh set. If you change to something else, your strings may buzz. There are a couple reasons for this:
- Strings of a different gauge exert a different amount of tension (pull) on the guitar neck. This tension determines how much the neck bends forward/backward.
- Various string manufacturers may use different manufacturing processes, materials, etc. in the production of their strings. These variables also play a role in how much tension the strings exert on the neck and can even affect the way the string vibrates.
This doesn’t mean you can never try different strings. It simply means that if you do you may need to have your guitar set up again so that it sounds and plays correctly.
If you’re comfortable doing so, simply making a minor adjustment to the truss rod will sometimes eliminate the new buzz, but not always.
If setups are a mystery to you and you’d like to learn how to set up your own guitar, check out the guitar setup guides I offer here.
7. You’re strumming or picking notes too hard
While not actually a mistake, this is also a cause of string buzz that is within your control.
Hit a note or chord with a certain amount of force and it may sound fine. However, hit it much harder and the strings may buzz. This is just the reality of physics: hitting the strings harder will cause them to vibrate in a wider arc and potentially make contact with the other frets. The resulting sound you’ll hear is a metallic buzzing along with your notes.
Have your guitar set up for how you pick/strum most of the time, and accept that you’re going to get some normal buzzing whenever you get lost in the moment and become heavy handed. If you’re normally a heavy hitter (you pick/strum hard most of the time), you may need higher string action to avoid buzzing.
8. Your pickups are too high
If you have an electric guitar, it’s possible your guitar’s pickups are adjusted too close to the strings. Electric guitar pickups are magnets; your guitar strings are metal. The pickups physically pull on the strings, so if they’re adjusted too close, they can actually pull the strings enough that they rasp against the frets while they’re vibrating.
Adjust you pickups so that the individual pole pieces are no closer than 2mm – 3mm from the string. You measure this distance while holding down the string at the 22nd or 24th fret (depending on how many frets you have).
In the photo, I’m using my handy PEC Tools USA Rigid Steel Rule. It’s perfect for these tiny measurements and has millimeters on one side and inches on the other.
Measuring my pickups to ensure they’re somewhere between 2mm – 3mm from the strings. Ruler: PEC Tools USA Rigid Steel Rule.
If you’ve addressed everything listed in this article AND had a professional rule out any serious problems with the guitar itself, yet you’re still getting some string buzz, there’s one final possibility: The buzzing is completely normal.
Yes, you read that correctly.
Setting up a guitar, especially an electric guitar, to have low action and be completely buzz free is sort of the Holy Grail for guitar players. It can happen, and when it does it’s a beautiful thing, but it’s the exception rather than the rule. I’ve seen some guitar players become obsessed and spend unhealthy amounts of time and money trying to completely eliminate string buzz. A much more realistic expectation would be a guitar that has low, comfortable action and plays mostly buzz free most of the time.
Do you have some string buzz and are wondering if it’s normal? Let me know in the “Replies” section down below.
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I just got a guitar strap for my acoustic guitar. When I’m playing sitting down, everything sounds fine, but when I stand up to play, there is a lot of extra buzzing. The only thing I could guess was that maybe the guitar resting againt my clothes was somehow affecting things. I wasn’t wearing any metal, though. Any ideas as to how I can fix this?
Hi Jen. Where does your strap connect? Does it connect to the butt of the neck (where the neck joins the guitar body), or at the headstock?
The latter can put extra tension on the neck, which affects the string height depending on how you’re holding the guitar, how much your left hand pulls on the neck, and how much your right hand/arm pulls or presses on the guitar body.
The more likely culprit is that the simple change in position is doing it.
If you pay careful attention to the tilt and position of the guitar between sitting and standing, you’ll notice that there are some differences… which can be very minor or fairly major depending on how you hold the guitar in each position. There’s probably something about the position of the guitar when you’re standing that’s altering the action just enough to cause some fret buzz.
When most people stand with an acoustic guitar, their forearm (on the top edge of the guitar) tilts the whole guitar backwards a bit. This tilts the neck back too. Gravity then pulls the neck backward just enough to make your strings buzz (because they’re a hair closer to the frets). It’s the same reason we never want to set neck relief or string height with the guitar on its back. Gravity screws with things.
If you play standing up a lot, you could try raising your action (loosening the truss rod and/or shimming the nut) a tiny but. This might fix the issue of buzz while standing, but the tradeoff is that your action might then be a bit too high for you when sitting.
When you’re standing the guitar strap is pulling the headstock of the guitar back towards you slightly. This in turn brings the strings closer to the fretboard which causes buzzing. Once you sit down you take the tension out of the strap, there is no longer any backward pressure applied to the headstock and the distance between settings and fretboard returns to normal an there is no longer any buzzing……..
Hi – I have an archtop that has no issues other than, when I play a specific note it makes the bridge pup buzz ? I can play that same note on other strings and it does the same thing. It’s not the frets because, it will do it on one string at one fret and another string at another fret. Just that specific note and octave will make this pup rattle. If I tape the pup down with tape, it stops or at least mutes the buzz ???
That sounds like it could be a good ole sympathy vibration. Sometimes the stars and moon align in such a way that one specific frequency causes a piece of hardware on the guitar to vibrate when you hit that note.
Count yourself lucky: you seem to have at least isolated the area that’s rattling, so now you just have to pinpoint exactly what it is (Pickup spring(s)? The cover? A loose pole piece? Maybe the lead/wire?).
Often times, when these mystery buzzes pop up, it can be a real chore trying to track them down, but you’ve at least narrowed it down.
when I play my thicker E string, not pressing on any of the frets, I hear a buzz coming from the tuning peg, how do I fix this? what would it be caused by?
Mystery buzzes can be difficult to track down, and it’s nearly impossible for me to speculate without having the guitar in my hands. Some buzzes might SOUND like they’re coming from a specific spot, but actually originate elsewhere. If the buzz seems to be in the area of the tuning peg, it could be a loose peg, or could actually be buzzing in the string’s nut slot (which is pretty common).
First, make sure the nuts and screws on the tuning peg itself are secure (you want them “secure”… don’t crank them as tight as they’ll go). Once that’s been checked, if you still hear buzz, investigate that nut slot.
If this is an electric, or an acoustic where the truss rod is accessed via the headstock, you may also want to make sure the truss rod bolt isn’t loose and rattling around in there. If that’s the case, you probably also have an issue with your action being too high due to excessive relief.
I have a brand new dreadnought acoustic, the action on the right of the fretboard seems pretty high, towards the body. The action toward the headstock seems pretty low. I’m getting a little buzz but it’s coming from the bridge area strangely enough. I feel like my novice playing ability May be contributing to the buzz, but does that factory setup sound like it could be contributing as well?
Hi Typingdude. If you’ve never had the guitar professionally set up, then that’s probably exactly what it needs. Even if your guitar did in fact get a meticulous, expert setup before it left the factory (not likely, btw), the rigors of shipping and climate differences between the factory and your house can throw the guitar a little out of whack. It probably doesn’t need much–just a good ole basic setup. For that first setup, take it to a pro if you know a good one in your town.
However, I encourage you to eventually learn how to do your own setups. For that, check out the downloadable acoustic guitar setup guide that I offer.
Hope that helps!
plz i rly need help i took off my low E string and and my A string and after that happened my B string started buzzing when i do not use it in a chord and i just strum it plz help!
Put another E and A string back on the guitar and your buzzing will magically disappear… as long as they’re the same gauge as the old strings.
When you removed your E and A strings, you relieved tension on the neck, which allows it to bow backwards a tiny bit. This will sometimes cause your remaining strings to buzz in certain spots.
I’ve had a set up done on a new mim strat. This included frets levelled, ends dressed trem set floating and a change of string guage. All is good. I have buzz just on 1 string, G, on pretty much most of the neck. Can I just raise the saddle on the one string just enough to get rid of buzz without adjusting anything else? I can’t speak to the guy who did it at the moment due to a bereavement.
You CAN raise just that saddle, but you generally want the arc of the saddles to match that of your fretboard. Here are a few things you can try before you raise just that saddle:
1. Wait. If the buzz just recently showed up, it might actually disappear on its own in a day or two. Or…
2. Loosen the truss rod just a TINY bit, then wait at least 24hrs before deciding whether it helped or not. The buzz may not disappear immediately because the wood needs time to fully bend/settle into the adjustment. If you loosen it just a tiny bit (we’re talking no more than 1/16th of a turn) it might be enough to stop that G string from buzzing without raising the overall action noticeably. Be sure to re-tune after making the adjustment, because loosening the rod will render your tuning a bit flat. You’ll probably need to retune again the next day, as the neck continues to bend forward. Or…
3. Lastly, as you said, you can try just raising that G string saddle. Before you do so, measure and write down its current hight. That way you can put it back if you need to. As long as it’s not sticking up above the other strings so much that it bothers you, and isn’t raising the action on the G string more than you can tolerate, this can indeed get rid of that buzz.
Hope that helps!
Hey. My A string on my squire strat (that I’ve own for a little over a year) has been buzzing ever since I changed strings from 56-11 i believe to 52-10 and right when I start tuning it, the a string buzzes, the other strings played completely fine but the a string is the only thing buzzing. I checked for fret contact and nut problems but nothing. I think it has to do with my bridge but what?
See #6 in this article.
If you went to lighter strings, then it’s natural that you might develop a buzz or two. The lighter gauge exerts less forward-pull on the neck, allowing the neck to bow backward just a little bit more than is ideal.
Sometimes you can alleviate buzzes by simply loosening the truss rod a very tiny amount (like… 1/16th of a turn). Do that, and then give the neck 24-48 hours to “settle” into the adjustment (don’t make further adjustments during this waiting period). Go ahead and play your guitar while you’re waiting. If you’re lucky, the buzz will eventually disappear.
However, when you change string gauges like this, a simple truss rod adjustment sometimes isn’t enough, and you need to give the guitar a full setup. If you don’t know how to do your own setups and would like to learn, check out the guitar setup guides that I offer here on the website.
I own an epiphone sheraton which arrived in around October last year. It arrived with 11s and fairly soon after I switched to my normal gauge or 10s. It sounded fine for a while but I’ve recently noticed a lot of buzzing across the neck. Do you think it’s a possibility that the nut slots are cut too deep and this is causing some of the buzzing? They cuts do look a bit big for the strings.
See “Reason #6” above, but I’ll summarize here:
What’s probably happened is that the neck has moved backwards a bit. You see, the 10’s you switched to exert less forward-pull on the neck than the 11s. So, when you switched to the lighter gauge, it allowed the neck to pull backward just a tiny bit. This is completely normal. The reason it didn’t start buzzing until later is because necks can take a few hours or days to fully settle after tension changes, or after a truss rod adjustment. In other words, they continue to bend for awhile before they come to rest.
You might get lucky and be able to simply loosen the truss rod just a tiny bit (no more than about 1/8th or 1/16th of a turn, counter-clockwise). This should allow the neck to move forward–back to roughly where it was with the heavier strings. After you make the adjustment, live with it for at least 24hrs before you pass judgement. As I said, it can take a few hours or days for a neck to finish moving… wood being an organic material and all. So, you might loosen the truss rod, but still have buzzing. That’s normal. Don’t keep loosening. Instead, retune the guitar (it’ll be a tad flat after the truss rod adjustment) and just play it for a day or two and see if the buzz disappears. If not, only THEN make another small adjustment (loosening it 1/16th of a turn more). After the second adjustment, you guessed it, wait to see if the buzz disappears. Don’t immediately pass judgement, or you may over-loosen it and end up with excessively high action.
You might also get lucky and the buzz will disappear immediately. That sometimes happens too, and it’s great if it does.
If this doesn’t do the trick, then you may need to have the guitar set up to play buzz-free with the new strings. Again, that’s not unusual. Any time you change string gauges (or even a different brand of the same gauge), you often need to have the guitar set up for the new gauge/brand of strings. This is an end-to-end process that accounts for the nut, bridge, truss rod, pickups, etc.
You can take it to a reputable shop for such a setup, or you can learn to do it yourself, though it does take some patience and practice. If you want to try and tackle setups yourself, check out the guitar setup guides I offer here on the website. Scroll down the page till you see “Sketchy Setups #3: Gibson Les Paul, SG, 335, etc.” That’s the one you want, because your Epiphone is most like the Gibson ES-335.
I’ve got a Jackson 7-string that is only a few months old. When I first got it, I swapped the factory strings for Ernie Ball 7 Power Slinkys (Not too much heavier than what the factory put on). It has had fret buzz on B to D (tuned down to B flat) from first to about 5-6th frets. I’ve tried a few little tweaks here and there at the bridge and truss rod. The odd thing is when I finger pluck those strings there is no buzz, but using a pick there is. What could be the reason that finger plucking doesn’t produce the same buzz as using a pick?
Hi Travis. I can’t explain the phenomenon of why strings sometimes buzz with a pick, but not with fingers (and sometimes vice-versa). I’ve experienced the same thing. It could have something to do with the direction you strike the string (up with your finger, vs down with a pick) and/or something about how the string “takes off” from the tip of a pick strike vs. the tip of your finger (which is soft and round) or fingernail. However, I can’t really tell you what’s going on–not at the microscopic level. I think you and I would probably need a super slow-mo camera and a physicist to explain it to us.
I have a 1978 Fender Musicmaster. It’s a little worn but plays nicely.
I had it set up 2 years and have moved a little since, but I don’t think the problem was completely solved after the last set up.
I get buzz whenever I play the G string on the 14th fret and buzz when i bend the 14th & 16th fret on both the B string & High E
Everywhere else is fine.
Any thoughts would be really appreciated.
Thanks so much for your help,
Hi Richard. I’m not as familiar with Musicmasters, but I know some of the older Fenders had a pretty tight (very round) fingerboard radius. If this is the case on yours, buzzing during bends is a known issue. It’s just physics, and why Fender eventually went to a slightly flatter fretboard radius when player’s started to complain about buzzing during bends.
It’s nearly impossible for me to diagnose problems like this without having the guitar in my hands, so I’m afraid I can only offer the reassurance that this isn’t anything serious.
It’s possible you have some uneven spots on your upper frets, but I’m betting that just having a good setup might do the trick to eliminate most buzzing that doesn’t involve bends. However, if my suspicion about your fretboard radius is correct, you’d need to take the guitar to a skilled guitar tech or luthier. If you’re willing to pay the high price tag, there are some fairly significant modifications they can make (re-radiusing the fretboard and/or frets) that can allow for buzz-free bends. However, you might not want to do this to a vintage guitar–and I’m unsure of how much your Musicmaster might be worth in that regard.
Your best bet, really, is to get the opinion of a pro–someone who can inspect your guitar and make a recommendation. After all these years, it may need a fret leveling to eliminate some of the normal wear-and-tear that happens, and put a fresh, level surface on the tops of those frets. That, combined with a good setup, should give you fairly buzz-free playability.
If you think you might like to learn to do your own setups, I offer downloadable guitar setup guides here on the website.
Check out my Sketchy Setups guides page, and scroll down to where the guides are listed. You want “Sketchy Setups #2: The Fender Telecaster.” The bridge on your ’78 Musicmaster is pretty similar (if not identical) to what’s on a Tele, so that’s the guide that’ll serve you best. All the other setup instructions in that guide are the same for your Musicmaster.
Hope that helps!
One time my cheap yamaha acoustic was buzzing an open string out of no where. I tap the guiatr with my finger tips until i found the rattle. It was in the head stock. One of the tuning pegs was loosening where the nut and washer clamp it to the front of the headstock
Guitars can buzz for many reasons, including loose hardware or other loose parts (bracing inside the guitar, loose binding, etc). Those are quite different than the kind of player-induced string buzz that this article about. Still though, it can be hard to tell the difference sometimes, so your comment is a good heads-up for the readers out there: guitar buzzes and rattles aren’t always coming from the strings or frets.
Got a BRAND NEW Stratocaster HSS yesterday, got home and the bridge pickup was loose. Took it back to Guitar Center and the tech fixed it.. except when he gave it back to me today, suddenly the A was buzzing…while OPEN!
I then made a minuscule adjustment to the middle pickup screw, the bridge screw, re-tuned and was fine. Now in the middle of a song, the E string is buzzing on the 7th & 9th frets…
I know you say it may be “normal”, but my guitar played PERFECTLY yesterday..
now this just seems like an uphill battle I can’t win.
The frets are too new to be worn down/needing to be filed, none of them have come loose, I’m scared to adjust the pickups, and I definitely don’t want to take it back to that “tech”.
Well, remember that guitars are made of wood–an organic material that’s constantly swelling and contracting depending on temperature and humidity. Even taking your guitar across town can have an effect on the wood… though it usually takes a couple hours for any symptoms to manifest. The seasons DEFINITELY will require you to tweak your setup a few times a year… depending on how extreme the seasons are where you live.
As a result, a guitar that is buzz-free one day can develop a buzz a day or two later. The reverse is also true. Buzzes can sometimes disappear as mysteriously as they appeared. However, it’s no mystery; It’s temperature and humidity variations.
You made a comment about the frets being worn. However, worn frets aren’t the only kind of frets that can buzz.
Brand new, right-from-the-factory frets are sometimes (often) not perfectly level with each other. This is why it’s sometimes necessary to get a fret leveling performed on a brand new guitar to get it to play relatively buzz free. Most low to mid-range manufacturers don’t do this at the factory, due to the time and cost it would add. In fact, very few high-end manufacturers do fret leveling at the factory either. It’s really only the expensive premium guitars that get this kind of TLC before they ship out to customers and music stores (which is one reason they’re so much more expensive).
Whenever I buy a new guitar, I have to get the frets leveled to remove excessive buzz… unless I decide I can live with a certain amount of it.
So, all this to say, I think what you’re experiencing is the result of the normal movement of the wood (mainly in the neck). The neck’s relief (bow) reacts to temperature and humidity, as does the fretboard wood (which swells and contracts). Very minute differences from day-to-day or from location-to-location could result in some buzz one day, and none the next.
It’s hard to know for sure without playing your guitar and hearing the type of buzz for myself.
If I had your guitar, I’d probably check every fret to see if any are a tad high or low. This is one type of evaluation a good guitar tech would perform as well.
If you could spend the money for a fret level (it’s expensive, btw), it might help eliminate some of this day-by-day variability with buzzing. I wouldn’t recommend Guitar Center for such work. If you decide to go this route, look for a good luthier or shop that specializes in guitar repairs and maintenance.
Hi, I own a Steinberger Spirit bass. I changed the strings to double ball tapewounds. Now I have a buzz on the D string at the 11th fret. The issue is only there, nowhere else. Can you advise at all please?
Hi Andy. If you’ve changed to a new brand/gauge/type of string that you didn’t use before, you probably just need to adjust your setup slightly. I’d recommend giving the guitar about 3-4 days with the new strings… to see if the buzz goes away on its own. If it doesn’t, and you aren’t comfortable doing your own setups, then take it to a trusted shop. They’ll set it up so it plays properly with the new strings.
I don’t think there’s anything wrong with your bass, since the buzz wasn’t there before. You just need to adjust your setup for the new strings. Totally normal.
Your advise would be appreciated. One of my guitars, a Harley Benton HP-42, has an annoying metalic buzzing on the open g string. At first I suspected a low cut nut slot but comparing with feeler gauges at the first fret this doesn’t appear to be the case. While messing around trying to find something loose I discovered that muting the string behind the nut stops the buzzing. Is there anything else I should check before sending it off to a luthier?
Hi Kris. If muting behind the string stops the buzzing, then my guess would be that the nut slot is potentially misshapen in some way. Because of this, the string might be vibrating against the slot somehow.
If you want to avoid (or delay) a trip to the repair shop, you might try inserting a piece of foam under the strings behind the nut. I do this to all my guitars to stop sympathetic string vibrations, but it just might work for your buzzing issue.
Hi, I have an unusual issue based on the comments here. Bought a Casino Hollow body guitar and it has a ‘sympathetic’ rattle when releasing the second fret E and B strings. The tinny noise appears to come from the sound hole area. I have had it setup by a well respected expert and have also taken it back to the dealer. He spent a couple of hours on it but to no avail. Very strangely it does the same on my old acoustic.
I am able to reproduce it by sliding my finger back towards the first fret.
Any ideas would be appreciated
Hi Loyd. Sympathetic ringing can be a real b**ch to track down. If you’ve had a respected guitar tech/luthier inspect the guitar in-person and THEY weren’t able to isolate it, I doubt I’ll be of much help over the internet. I’m also struggling to imagine what you’re describing, so the 1st step in my troubleshooting would be to actually hear what you’re describing or, even better, play the guitar myself. Without that, I can only list-off a bunch of possible causes, which I’m sure you’ve already seen across other websites:
That last one is an important one. I can’t tell you how many friends have come to me saying “my guitar is rattling/buzzing when I play [X]”, and I discover that it’s not actually an issue with the guitar. It turns out to be the normal sympathetic string noise that all us guitarists have to learn to tame–using the dark art of muting unplayed strings with the left-and-right-hands WHILE playing.
Again, it’s hard for me to speculate without seeing and hearing (and playing) your guitar, but hopefully this at least helps somewhat.
I use Elixir light gauge strings. After a new set of strings, the guitar sounds great. But soon, my 3rd string (wound) starts buzzing played open. It’s nothing to do with the frets, it’s the string itself. That the coating appears cracked? Strange it’s only the one string? Perhaps it’s my playing style, but this has never been an issue in the past and I have been playing for decades. Perhaps I need to get a non-wound 3rd string?
Hi Barney. I have to give my usual disclaimer here: it’s impossible for me to know for sure without having your guitar in my hands, so I can only speculate.
One thing you might try is very slightly loosening your truss rod. And I mean SLIGHTLY. We’re talking like 1/16th of a turn, otherwise it’ll raise your action more than you might be comfortable with. One possibility is that, as the strings stretch and settle-in, the neck is flattening ever-so-slightly as the strings relieve some tension, which may be lowering that G string… slowly… until it eventually starts buzzing.
Whenever you make a truss rod adjustment, give the guitar a good 24-48 hours before passing judgement. The neck wood needs a little time to “settle”… so if you don’t hear improvement right away, don’t keep adjusting the truss rod further. Leave it be for a day or two, and see if the buzz eventually disappears.
It’s possible that, due to weather or humidity changes, your neck has adjusted slightly (as the wood contracts/expands), which could account for why this hasn’t been an issue in the past. This is normal, and why slight truss rod tweaks are sometimes necessary during certain wet/dry times of the year.
It’s also possible that the nut slot has naturally worn down–to the point that the G string is now just a tad closer (lower) to the frets than it should be. Nut slots do gradually wear down… becoming deeper or wider (or both) than they should be over time. Eventually, they have to be repaired or the nut replaced completely. Not a big deal. It’s bread-and-butter work for a repair shop.
The same can be said for the bride saddle, assuming this is an acoustic guitar we’re discussing. Have you inspected the bridge saddle to see if the G string has worn a notch in the bone/plastic? If the string has worn a notch, and it’s deep enough, it can lower the string just enough to make it buzz. Again, having this repaired or replaced is routine stuff for a repair shop. Bridge saddles are consumables and will eventually need to be repaired or replaced after many years of use.
And yes, with both nut and bridge wear, it’s possible that the string won’t buzz when first installed, but begin buzzing a little while later as everything settles and stretches.
There are other possibilities too, but these are a few of the things I’d look into first… before worrying about fretwear or anything more sinister. I don’t think you have anything seriously wrong with your guitar–I think there’s probably a simple/routine answer or fix for this.
Hope that helps!
I have done the setup: action, and relief as per the book.
However any note from the 12th result in a buzz at the 22nd fret.
Im not sure is that the 22nd fret is high and need leveling? Or my setup is missing something?
Hi Walid. Unfortunately, it’s impossible for me to know what might be going on without having your guitar in my hands and inspecting it in-person.
Guitar setups take a little time and practice to master. If indeed you’ve done everything correctly, then your guitar may need some fretwork to get all the frets perfectly level.
Probably there is too much relief in the neck. Check and adjust
My B And E strings are slightly buzz after 12 frets…I had relief it but still remain ? Thx
Hi Garry. I’m sorry, but with so little information, and without being able to inspect your guitar myself, it’s nearly impossible to speculate.
Is this an acoustic or electric guitar? Fixed bridge, or some type of tremolo?
It could be too much relief, an improper neck angle, high fret(s), rising tongue… Or, your guitar may just need a complete setup by a skilled tech/repairperson.
Adjusting ONLY one aspect of a guitar’s setup doesn’t always fix problems (and sometimes creates problems). Relief, bridge height, individual string height, neck angle (if it’s a bolt-on), nut height, pickup height, intonation, etc. all need to be dialed-in together. This is what we call a “setup”, and I wrote an article about what goes into a setup and why everyone needs one:
Guitar Setups: What They Are and Why You (Might) Need One
If you have your guitar setup, and your frets are all perfectly level and in good shape, you can hopefully get the setup where you like it with minimal or no string buzz.
Hi Bobby. Very good article. I’m having some buzz issues on my LTD EC-256 (a mid-range LP style electric). I’ve discovered that the majority of the buzzing is coming from the very next fret up from whichever one I’m fretting. It happens on all the low and mid frets but not the higher ones. The buzz occurs briefly, and only when I pick with moderate force. My action is super high (about 4.5mm at the 12th fret), and the relief is about the height of a business card (at the 8th fret with the 1st and 17th frets pushed down). I’ve checked for high frets and found none. Any ideas?
Hi Chris. It makes my fingers hurt just hearing the words “4.5mm at the 12th fret.” With action that high, you really shouldn’t be getting any buzz. However, what I mention in this article about picking force (how hard you pick) is still a factor… no matter how high your action is. It’s just physics, unfortunately: pluck hard enough and you can make any guitar buzz. The main question is: does it buzz when you’re playing normally? Because, at the end of the day, that’s what you care about.
Also, just FYI, it’s not uncommon for a string to buzz on the initial attack. It’s sustained buzzing that you mainly want to avoid.
Suffice to say, I think you need to take this to a pro for an inspection and setup. Unless you checked all 132 spots on the neck (6 notes per fret x 22 frets) with a fret rocker, I’m betting you’ve got a high fret or two… somewhere. High frets aren’t always obvious–they don’t necessarily stick way up in an obvious way. You could have a number of frets that are just a tiny bit high, and the cumulative effect can cause buzzing.
Whatever the case, I’d really need to inspect your guitar in person… maybe tweak a few things… to say for sure what’s going on. So that’s why I’d recommend taking it to a pro if you can, so they can look things over.
Thanks for the reply! Knowing that buzz on the initial attack is normal helps me a lot. In fact I just lowered my action down to 3mm at the 12th and the issue is about the same (no sustained buzz with normal playing). I think a part of my problem was wrong expectations!
Bobby, first time on your site. Nicely done! Article on string buzz. I have a fender acoustic, steel strings. In the past I had used a medium weight string. Went to ultra-lights and noticed a twangy- buzz from the high E and B. Could not figure it out but FINALLY noted that the larger strings appear to have widened their slots in the nut, now the ultra lights are so thin compared, these two upper strings don’t appear to fit snugly in their respective slots and I think it causes a loss of correct tone and the twangy- buzz. I will try to put a soft wedge in the slots and see if my assumption is correct. Have you run a crossed this issue?
This can happen, yes, but it’s usually less the result of switching to heavier strings and more due to simple wear-and-tear (or, it can be a combo of both).
After a few years, the bone or plastic of the nut just gradually wears away. The slots can become deeper, wider, etc. It doesn’t always result in buzz, but it can. A lot of times this manifests as a light, sitar-like ringing, but it can be more severe and pronounced than that. How quickly this wear-and-tear happens depends on how much the guitar is played, with full-time musicians going through a lot more nuts (and other parts) than us bedroom players.
The sad fact is, nuts just wear out over time, as do bridge saddles, frets, etc… and these consumables are the bread-and-butter work of repair men and women.
And it’s not just bone and plastic nuts–I’ve had weird buzzes coming from the V-groove on Floyd Rose locking nuts too. In fact, it seems to happen MORE on those locking nuts.
Before you go replacing the nut, you should MAKE SURE that this is actually what’s causing your string buzz. I’m focusing on Reason #6 in this article.
Anytime you switch string gauges–especially if it’s a dramatic change in gauge as you’re describing–the guitar needs to be complete re-setup for the new strings. Going from a heavier gauge to a lighter gauge will often result in fret buzz. Going from lighter to heavier strings will almost always raise your action beyond what’s comfortable for you. Heck, sometimes even just changing brands (but keeping the gauges the same) will require a new setup–or at least a few tweaks.
So, I would recommend simply getting the guitar setup for this new gauge of strings before you consider replacing the nut.
It’s actually not a huge deal that the strings don’t “fit snugly” in the slots. A little room is usually okay as long as it’s not really excessive (I’d have to see it to know for sure).
My gut is telling me you just need a thorough setup for the new gauges.
Here is one I have not seen or heard anyone talk about. I have a Fender Tele that the low e string buzzes on but it’s only objectionable when it is picked by the thumb! And it doesn’t matter who is playing it. It buzzes when picked with the thumb. With a pick you can at times hear a slight buzz but it doesn’t carry through the amp. I’ve had the frets leveled by a reputable luthier and a setup done. I’m going crazy with this and have tried to alter the picking angle but there is only so much you can do with your thumb! Help! It seems to have something to do with the string oscillation caused by the thumb versus the pick.
Hello, i kinda have the same problem with pablo but my string buzz only happens on the G string from the 2nd fret untill the 20th fret. It does not buzz when its string is played open.
My A string buzz everywhere.
I set up truss road, action, pickups according to factory specifications. And only de 5th string buzz. I put as high as I could the action and lower as much as I could the pickups and still buzz. Also change for a new string.
The other string sound excelente.
Hi Pablo. As I usually say in these situations, it would be impossible for me to diagnose the cause of your buzz without actually being able to inspect your guitar in-person. However, if only one string is buzzing, I have a question that might help me narrow down a few possibilities for you.
Which fret, or frets, do you hear buzz on? Also, do you hear the buzz with the string played open (unfretted)? Do you hear it ONLY when the string is played open?
Let me know and we can continue to try and troubleshoot.
I hear the buzz with the string played open (unfretted) AND when the string is pressed all over. And it is a weird strong buzz, and definitely not fret buzz.
Hi Djalma. Unfortunately, with such little info, I’ll have to ask a few more questions:
1. What kind of guitar is this? Acoustic or electric. If it’s electric, does it have a locking (Floyd Rose style) nut?
2. You reference “string”… but didn’t say which string is buzzing. Can you tell me which string it is?
3. How do you KNOW it’s not fret buzz?
Get back to me on those questions and hopefully I can help. Guitars can buzz and rattle for many reasons. Obviously, fret buzz is the most common reason, but loose hardware, loose bracing (inside acoustic guitars), loose binding, and even a loose truss rod can all cause rattles and buzzes. Sometimes only certain notes/frequencies will cause certain hardware on a guitar to rattle in sympathy with the frequency of the vibration.
Not likely I’ll be able to diagnose your buzz over the internet, but those are all things you can check.
Some guitar bridges like certain TuneOMatic variants have a retainer wire on the saddles that will buzz when it’s not pushed down properly. You didn’t mention what type of guitar you have, but you should check to see if this might be the problem: https://www.guitaranswerguy.com/14-string-buzz/
Bridges like those found on Telecasters and Strats can experience buzzing with open strings if the height adjustment screw(s) are loose. Easily fixed with a dab of silicon sealant applied to the thread, immediately reinstalled and allowed to cure. A little goes a long way and won’t permanently secure the screw so it can still be adjusted.
I just cleaned my string with this hand held string cleaner and after it started buzzing. It’s an acoustic electric guitar and I’m not sure if it’s the temperature of my room or what.
Hi Erika. Can you give me a few more details about the string cleaner you used (brand)? I’ll try to help if I can.
Just bought a new Taylor 220ce Koa deluxe
Dreadnought. I am in a grace period and am ready to return it do to a buzz, which seems to be at the saddle. Dreadnoughts have a big sound and I understand some string buzz. I have played professionally for over 30 yrs. However, this buzz is only open strings. Really just the a,d and g strings. Not fret buzz. Just get a distorted sound like it’s overdriven kind of. It happens at the initial pick strike and raises and lowers immediately but it’s like a grinding sound. Like one of the beads on the string end was up against the guitar. Perhaps a loose nut on the pick up? The guitar did come from Missouri to California. In April though when humidity shouldn’t be an issue. Perhaps a truss rod adjustment? Thanks in advance..
Hi Johnny. It’s impossible to definitively diagnose a buzz without having the guitar in my hands. However, buzz at the saddle like what you’re describing–if it’s indeed coming from the saddle–is often the result of a flat spot on the saddle. The top of the saddle should be rounded, so that the strings only contact it at a single point that is very small. If the saddle is too flat, the result can be a sitar-like buzz. It’s the exact same thing that happens when a fret is too flat. This can be fixed easily by simply rounding over the top of the saddle for each offending string. If done carefully, you won’t remove much material at all nor affect the action.
Thank you so much for the reply. The guitar store is extending my grace period and I have an appointment with a Taylor repair technician this week. I hope that is the problem. Would really make my day. Thanks again so much. Johnny
Great! Let me know what the diagnosis turns out to be.
Really appreciate this feed with tip perspectives on what are causes and conditions for fret buzzing. My scenario does baffle me a-bit as my guitar (Stock 1989 Charvel Model 4.5 \ Floyd Rose) was set up professionally mos ago. It plays in perfect tune, stays there, no fret buzzing and action is perfect. The guitar is kept in a fairly stable environment, in and out of a Gig bag, temps ranging from 60 to 70 degrees relative humidity not changing much. I just re-stringed with exact same strings as set up with, D Addario 9.5 to 44 gauge. I am using same tuning, D#. I now am experiencing fret buzz on the high E string only from the 12 to the 22 nd fret for some reason. I raised the action on the high side up a half turn attempt to rid of and it didn’t help. I am not sure what would cause this as only change was a new strings exact same gauge and brand. Any tips \ replies appreciated.
Hi Joe. My guess is that something about the weather (namely, humidity) has changed just enough to have affected your guitar’s setup. Totally normal. It’s not uncommon to need to give the truss rod a very tiny turn… like only about 1/16th of a turn… in either direction to compensate for weather changes. In fact, this is exactly why I leave all the truss rod covers off my guitars. I have to tweak my truss rod 1-2 times a year depending on changes in seasons, humidity, temperature, etc.
I would recommend first putting your action back to where it was, and instead try loosening the truss rod just a very tiny bit. If weather is the culprit, it should only take about 1/16th of a turn (counterclockwise, to loosen). Note, I keep saying “1/16th of a turn”… but that’s not an exact measurement. I’m just trying to emphasize that it’s a very tiny amount that you’ll need to adjust.
Once you’ve done this, wait about 24 hours before you judge the results. It can take a few hours for the results of a truss rod adjustment to fully reveal themselves. So, if you loosen that bolt a bit and don’t immediately hear an improvement, sit tight, and wait till tomorrow to decide whether it worked or not.
If you’ve still got buzz after that point, you can try a couple things:
1. Loosen the rod just a tiny bit more (and again, wait)
2. Raise your action just a tiny bit
3. A combination of #1 and #2
Come back and let me know how it goes.
The Guitar Answer Guy has given you the most likely cause–humidity often causes swelling on the wood (especially at the heel since it has screw holes and often truss rod hole access where moisture penetrates in humid environments. Maintaining constant levels of humidity for guitars has always been important–even more so for acoustic guitars. Dan Erlwine teaches about this his book. I also did what he recommends when it comes to creating fall away at the end of the heel when filing frets which also reduces the amount of buzzing on fretted notes due to string oscillation. Years ago I posted info. and illustrations about this on my web site that may prove helpful — you can find them at this link: anatechresources.net/wilkatguitars/git_tips1.htm
Good Luck and Happy New Year!
Great advice, as usual Bill. Hey, along those lines, have a look at this: Guest Post for The Guitar Answer Guy
… and let me know if you might be interested in writing a guest post for me. As a luthier, I think there’s a lot of cool stuff you could teach my readers (and me).
I would be happy to provide some input that can help out your readers. Like yourself I’m a busy guy, (even in retirement LOL!), but I’ve always believed in paying it forward, and that’s best done by sharing what I have learned. Hope to share something worthwhile in the near future.
Great article! I have one particular guitar that I’ve named Buzz. I can’t seem to get rid of it. I raised the action relatively high (~2mm bass side measured at 12 fret open and 1.5mm treble side) after getting it back from a reputable luthier. He had it set up with 1.75mm bass side and 1.25mm treble side, which is what I would love to have, but the darn thing buzzed on every string at just about every fret. Really bad on the bass side. I was actually surprised it was like that given I took it too him for buzzing. However, when I took it too him, it was buzzing with super high action. What I’ve always wondered is how the nut being too low would cause buzz on a fretted note. I completely understand open string buzzing from a nut cut too low but would it also affect a fretted note?
Thanks so much!
No, once you fret the string you’ve taken the nut out of the equation. Any buzzing you hear when fretting is the result of something else… like neck relief, uneven frets, bridge/saddle height, etc.
I’ve had many guitars that buzz when played open, but stop buzzing once I fret a note. That’s a dead giveaway that the nut is too low, though it’s not always that obvious.
It’s 100% true/correct that sting relief is the key thing but naturally if the slots are too low at the nut you’ll see this right away as it reduces string relief and buzzing of open strings will be immediately heard. Increase string relief a little and see if it improves. Fretting too far behind the frets can cause some buzzing too, especially on jumbo frets that are not always well crowned providing a larger surface contact area for the string to hit while vibrating.
Yep, improper fretting is #2 on the list here 😀
Great article; I found out that playing too far from the fret can cause buzzing. However, I’m now having issues with buzzing on the low E string when I use a pick. Is this an issue with the pick or the string do you think?
I only bought the guitar a few hours ago and he put a brand new string on it.
It’s not an issue with the pick, and it’s highly unlikely that it’s an issue with the low E string itself. What I mean is: it’s unlikely that the pick or the string are physically defective. If this is a new guitar that’s just been handed to you with a fresh set of strings, there are a couple possibilities:
1. The guitar wasn’t setup properly.
I’ve no idea where you bought the guitar or who set it up, but just because new strings were installed doesn’t necessarily mean they did a quality setup (or any setup, for that matter) on the guitar. Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot of consistency in this area, and depending on the person’s skill, how busy they are, etc. it can sometimes be a crap-shoot when buying a new guitar from a music store. Some stores (who shall remain nameless) won’t even offer to install new strings as part of the sale price, and those that do may not go the extra EXTRA mile (nor have the skill) to give the guitar a high-quality end-to-end setup. So, this is one possibility. Bear in mind though: if you decide to have this looked into by a tech, they may recommend a fret level, which can be pricey. Sometimes this is necessary for near-buzz-free playing, if that’s what you’re after.
2. You’re simply picking the string too hard.
You didn’t say how experienced of a player you are, so I’m having to guess here. New players haven’t developed the fine muscle control nor experience to regulate picking pressure and dynamics. It’s a fact that if you hit a string hard enough it will eventually smack (buzz) against the metal frets, no matter how perfectly it’s set up. That’s what I refer to in #7 above. Now, don’t get me wrong, you shouldn’t have to play with an unreasonably light touch–that’s not good either. However, without seeing/hearing you play, it’s hard to know for sure–but consider this as a possibility.
3. It’s totally normal.
Playing off what I’ve said in the “Final Thoughts” section above. While a 100% buzz free guitar is the “holy grail” we all seek, the fact is that guitars just sometimes buzz a little. Nearly all my guitars buzz to some extent, unless I play very lightly. I only have 1 electric guitar that allows me to set the action insanely low without any fret buzz, but that’s the exception rather than the rule. Even on that guitar, if I play hard enough, some strings/notes will buzz. It’s just physics.
Hope that helps. Definitely post back here and let me know how things work out for you.
That was a great article. I needed to get my fingers closer to the frets. Really helped. Thanx
Hi Jonathan, glad to hear that this article helped you out. That’s the whole reason I write this stuff, so it’s good to know your got some benefit from it.
Keep up the good work. Every little bit helps. Started to take up the Mandonlin. Are there any articles relative to that instrument?
Hi Jonathan! Sorry, the Mandolin isn’t my instrument, but many of the basic care tips that I write about here (cleaning, humidity, etc) will apply to Mandolins as well.
I find out this is an old post, but nothing like that on my research, very detailed and informative. Here is my question: I have a Strat Am Pro with 10-46 Fender super bullet strings. Guitar has been checked by two tech, no problems on the neck, the nut, the bridge, the saddles. I have low action 1mm measured at 12th, pickup height set as Fender specifications (3,4 mm low side, 2,4 mm high side). Problem is I have fret buzz on G string from 7th to 10th fret. Everywhere else is ok. The buzz is more noticeable in 2nd and 4th pickup position. Any clue?
Hi Luca. First, I have a few clarifying questions:
1. Are you taking your 1mm action measurement at the 12th fret, or the 17th fret?
2. Are you measuring with the string open (unfretted), or are you placing a capo on the 1st fret before you measure?
3. Is your action 1mm under both the bass and treble sides? If not, let me know the measurements for each side.
While I’m waiting to hear back, I’ll just say this: 1mm is EXTREMELY low, regardless of how you answer the 3 questions above. Unless you have absolutely perfect fretwork performed by a PLEK machine, you would have to play with a feather-light touch to avoid any string buzz with such low action. However, the fact that the rest of your neck/frets are buzz-free leads me to believe that you’ve got one or more high frets between frets 8 – 11. But again, your action sounds INSANELY low, so it may be hard to eliminate that buzz completely without raising your action a little bit. If you’ve had two guitar techs check your guitar, you’re fretwork is probably about as good as it’s going to get. Unless, of course, you look into having your guitar PLEK’d, but even that is not a guarantee.
Remember: a 100% buzz-free guitar is extremely rare. Too many factors can cause string buzz, including how you play. Really, the only way to guarantee 100% buzz free guitar is to have your action uncomfortably high, but even then it’s still possible to get buzz if you hit the strings hard enough.
Hi! First of all I want to thank you for your reply and the time you dedicated to my problem. I’m measuring with no capo at 12th fret (at 17th is a little bit higher but less than half mm higher). Bass size I think it is 1,1 or 1,2 mm, treble 1 mm. Here is a picture https://ibb.co/cX5HWc.
I’m assuming it is too low and just 4 frets with a buzz is a good result from the last tech. You know, I always played Les Paul and I was used to such action, this is my first Strat and I’m learning is a completely different world.
Thank you again! I really appreciated!
That photo is helpful, and your action is still what I’d consider really low, but not as low as I originally thought. One thing I noticed: you’re actually measuring the 11th fret, not the 12th. However, the measurement between the two is basically the same, but just something to note.
Can you do me a favor? Take that same measurement on your buzzing string… at the 12th fret. Since a Strat has individually adjustable string saddles, it’s possible that your G string is too low, by itself. In general, you want the radius (the curvature) of your bridge saddles to match your fingerboard radius, and sometimes one or two saddles manage to become too high or too low, despite the fact that the two outer E strings are measuring normal heights.
What I’m hoping is that you can simply raise your G string’s saddle slightly and eliminate the buzz, without altering your overall action. However, you don’t want to raise it so much that it feels obviously different from your other strings.
Report back to me with that measurement. Also, if it’s easier, you can also work with me me directly at guitaranswerguy at gmail dot com.
Hi! Honestly your help will be priceless. I fear I’m following in the category guitar players who “spend unhealthy amounts of time and money trying to completely eliminate string buzz”, I’ll write you directly.
Sounds good Luca, I’ll check my email.
I am a retired luthier and I was pleased to see you explain this to people–I’ve had to do it many times as well LOL! One thing to take into account as well regarding saddle adjustment: follow the curvature of the fingerboard radius, but on the bass side you should be slightly higher. Dan Erlwine illustrates this really well in his guitar set up and repair books and it’s logical since the tension on the bass strings differs from the treble strings, requiring more clearance.
Also nut adjustments are often too low causing buzzing. Lack of up bow in the neck is another issue that I frequently had to explain to people and I posted a slo-mo video on Youtube to show how the string oscillates to help clarify that.
And, too low action makes string bending difficult and none of us wants that! LOL! Guitars also wear in, and a little fret wear reduces some buzzing without negatively affecting playability–clients used to ask me to do fret jobs on guitars that did not need them and often a small truss rod adjustment resolved the issue–save your money and find a good guitar tech or luthier! Keep up the great tips!
Thanks for the reply Bill! It’s always nice to hear from and get validation, tips, etc. from a luthier (which I’m not). Regarding Dan’s books… I recommend those to folks all the time (and link to them in various places throughout this blog). I’ve bought so many of Dan’s books and videos over the years that I’ve probably put one of his kids through college 😀
I am an new acoustic player and I just bought a steel string Yamaha fg730s. I had them put new phosphor bronze strings on. The guitar is pretty and sounds beautiful. I notice that occasionally only when playing certain chords ( I think the treble/ upper strings) but I need to isolate, I get some string buzz- but only every so often. Is this normal or do I need an adjustment? Bought pre- owned from Guitar Center and I trust them- will I need a whole set up? The action seems great for me as is.
Hi Mike! Without playing the guitar myself, it’s hard to know for certain. However, I’d say that if you’re only getting string buzz occasionally, it’s probably normal.
I had a double cutaway les paul copy custom made! Mahogany body with bolt on maple neck. The neck was twisted after a few days, which I noticed after getting dead spots on the fret board. They removed the fret board, leveled the sitting and re-pasted the fret board. It was OK, but when I hit the G sting hard while fretting near the 11-12 frets, I get fret buzz. I have raised the action to about 3 mm on the 12th fret. I cant stand the buzz and I live at least 300kms from the nearest guitar shop. It freaks me out.
I am having buzzing coming from the nut on the D string and a little on the A, Can anyone help? or tell me what repair should fix this?
Hi Will! It’s nearly impossible to diagnose buzz without having the guitar in my hands, and trying to talk you (in writing) through troubleshooting would be tough. I’ve attempted this (and seen many others attempt it) on guitar forums, and it invariably leads the person down a miserable rabbit hole of jumping all over the guitar making adjustments… which eventually makes the guitar worse.
I don’t think you need a repair, you just need a setup. I’d recommend taking it to reputable guitar tech or repair shop and asking for a “full setup.” Part of a setup is diagnosing such issues, and getting the guitar as buzz-free as possible. Remember, some buzz is normal depending on variables such as how hard you hit the string, string height, string gauge, string brand, and more.
Before you take the guitar in, be ready to tell the tech:
1. Any issue(s) you’re having
2. What brand and gauge strings you use. Or, even better, include a new set of strings with the guitar when you drop it off (I always do this)
3. How high/low you want your action (string height). If you don’t know the exact measurement, just have an idea of what feels right for you–and understand that the lower you want the strings, the harder it’s going to be to make the guitar completely buzz-free
4. Specify that you’re only wanting a basic setup at this point, and ask that they call you before they do any other work–especially if it’ll cost more
I’m having a problem with one string not wanting to tune up every time I try to tune the string but just before I get to the point where it’s in tune it jumps past the mark to the other side and vice versa the guitar is a Stratocaster copy and I Tune half step down
I know exactly what’s causing this: the string slot on the nut is the issue. In plain language: the string slot is either too narrow for the string and/or isn’t shaped properly. So, the string isn’t sliding as freely as it should, which causes exactly the kind of behavior you’re seeing, and it can be maddening. Assuming you don’t know how to shape nut slots yourself, you have two options:
1. A temporary fix is to try lubricating the string slot. Use a proper nut lubricant like Big Bends Nut Sauce. Follow the directions to apply a TINY drop of it into the string slot on the nut, and see if that helps (I’m pretty sure it will).
2. For a permanent fix, you can take your guitar to a guitar shop and tell them what’s happening. It’s an easy fix for them, and they should be able to do it for a minimal charge.
If you’re unsure what the “nut” is that I’m talking about, simply do a Google image search for “Stratocaster Nut.”
you may have a nut slot that is too tight and the string is gripped and then pops free as you tighten the string. Lubricate the nut slots and first…. take the guitar to a repair guy to slightly widen the nut slot(s)
Which Brand strings is best for Ibenaz electric guitar?
There really is no such thing as the “right” strings for a specific brand of guitar. Whether you play Ibanez, Gibson, Fender, or something else, you can choose any brand of string you want as long as you like they way they sound and feel. All my electric guitars are Ibanez, and I use the following:
6 String: Ernie Ball Cobalt Super Slinky 9 – 42
I actually use the 7-string version of this set, since I play 7-string guitar exclusively. Again though, these are just the strings that I like and use currently, but you’re free to choose whichever brand you want. Sky’s the limit, so have fun experimenting!
I have also noticed that on some guitars (acoustic), the slot in the nut is too wide letting the string vibrate against the nut causing a buzzing sound. This is not only caused by a very worn out nut
but also a badly cut/designed nut- and not only on cheap guitars!
Very true, and that would/should be caught if they did #1 (had their guitar setup by a pro). A proper setup will catch any technical issues with the guitar itself that could be causing string buzz. Everything else can be addressed by the guitar owner, without too much technical knowledge.
See Luke Pick. I never even thought about that.
This is true, but the point of this article wasn’t to try and point out everything that can cause string buzz (bad frets, warped neck, loose bracing, bad saddles, bad nut, etc). That’s a whole different blog post (coming soon). Anything of that nature would’ve been caught and fixed if you did #1–got a pro setup. But imagine you did get your guitar setup, got it home, and it was mysteriously buzzing. In that case, it’s probably something that you’ve inadvertently done (or are doing), such as re-adjusting your pickups, letting the guitar get too dry, changed tuning, etc.
Just a couple things, and I’m referring to acoustic only. I don’t own an electric guitar (maybe one day).
Setting up a guitar is really best left to the professionals. I know at least 50% more about the workings of a guitar than the average person, most who play a lot better than I do, yet the only time I question myself is setting up a guitar. Most of the time it requires adjusting the bridge saddle and maybe the nut at the end of the fretboard. Really though, let a professional do that.
Secondly, when you were talking about open or alternative tuning, definitely some guitars handle open tunings better than others. I recently bought an Avalon (hand made in Ireland). The blurb said perfect for alternative low tunings. It is beautiful, very easy to play and sounds perfect; yet when I do an open B (about as low as you can go in open tunings) the sounds wobble a bit as you near the 12th fret. Most people probably wouldn’t notice the difference, but a lot would. YET I have a cheap 250.00 Washburn that handles the open B like a champ.
Thanks for all your great suggestions
Great points Don, thanks.
Properly setting up an acoustic guitar definitely requires a bit more hands-on skill and finesse. With electric guitars you’re mostly turning screws, bolts, and generally just “adjusting” things. So, you can usually reverse anything you happen to mess up. However, with an acoustic the only way to “adjust” certain things–such as lowering the nut or saddle, if necessary–is to physically file them down. Not something an amateur should attempt.
Great informative post, appreciate it. Thanks!
Thanks Joey! Really glad to know you found it helpful.