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Fret buzz after doing fret jobs lately, Frank, you're the expert on fret work, any ideas?

Frank/Folks,

I'm about at the end of my rope. After the last several fret jobs i've done, I've been getting buzz on the e a and d strings. These are mostly electrics, though I've got the same buzz on a Collins that I did.

So, here are some specs. I've got the action usually set at 4/64" on the high e string fading over to 5/64" at the low e, measured by pushing the string down on the first fret and measuring at the 17th. I've got about .008 of relief in the fret board.

I finally made a fret buzz detector. It's a super bright LED, a 2.2k resistor, a 9 volt battery, an alligator clip on one end and a probe on the other. By capoing the strings at, say, the 3rd fret, I can pluck the string and touch the probe to each fret to find where the string is buzzing. What I'm seeing is usually that it's buzzing against the fret 2 to 4 frets above. So, the low e would be held at the 3rd fret, and be buzzing at the 5 or 6 or 7th frets or any combination thereof.

With a fret rocker I can't find any high or low frets. This is after I've already flattened the frets and recrowned them and buffed them out, first with sandpaper and micromesh, then buffed on the pedestal buffer.

All the tools and measurements show me as being perfect. Yet, I'm still getting buzz. If I do the fret job with guitar on the bench, or if I put it in the neck jig and do it, I get the same results. I even thought it was that I maybe wasn't crowning the frets enough and that it was buzzing against a too flat fret that it was being fretted against, but I came back in and redid a neck with my 3 way file instead of my diamond crowning file, and created a much sharper peak, and then continued on with polishing out the frets. I still get the same results.

Most of the buzz is inaudible through the amp, but some still comes through. And, it's sensitive to pick attack, if you brush the string straight across it gets better, but if you put any kind of pick attack where the pick digs in to the string at all, it comes back.

Any ideas? Or, is fret buzz just something we have to live with? I'm not setting these up with ultra low action, here. If it was 2/64" or 3/64" I'd understand, but his seems to be withing Fender spec....

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Kevin, I totally agree with taking the nut out of the equation for measuring action. The only time the string is affected by nut height is when the string is played open. Yes, the nut is an important consideration of the overall setup and intonation and so-on, but it's our responsibility to take care of any issues with said nut before getting to such crucial points in the setup, or leaving them how the client wishes to. Bringing the strings to rest on the first fret lays them even with the radius of your fingerboard and allows you to bring the action to a true radius when adjusting. I've been doing this for 3 years now, and found it soo refreshing and consistent compared to the latter.

As far as your fret buzz issue, I too have occasionally noticed a freshly fretted instrument that just buzzes like crazy. It's almost always strats, I have even heard it called 'strat-idis' before. It's incredibly frustrating, and have even gone all the way back to pulling the frets out in the past just to get some peace-of-mind, and noticed only mildly improved results if any. I have yet to dig deeper into this phenomenon as it only comes up once in a great while. Lemme know what you figure out!

Very smooth probe idea for testing string buzz, I may have to give that a shot.

Peace!
Yeah, I refretted one of my own guitars a month ago to cure it of the problem, and only noticed a mild improvment. I'm glad I'm not the only one!

Yeah, the probe idea I actually got from someone else, but it was for the continuity tester on a multitester. Well, all I've got left are digital multitesters, and they're not fast enough to pick up on the fret rattle. It's almost like they have to be in continuity for a 1/4 second before they read. But, the LED is super quick, it'll flicker ever so slightly, where the digital multitester won't show continuity....

Just a 2.2k resister, a batter on a clip and a LED. Put an alligator clip on one end, then a wire with a probe on the other. It works great!

It won't work on everything.  A lot of wound acoustic strings won't give continuity.

Steel strings will work.

I use an ohm meter sometimes to check the middle fret with a rocker.  Put the rocker on 3 frets and touch the first and 2nd fret....most of the time if it's a good level you won't get continuity from the first and second fret....one and three will give it...because there's a little relief between the 1st and third fret....unless the neck is perfectly flat and the level dead on.

this will show that the middle fret is microscopically lower.

You've raised a point I hadn't thought about. "Strat-itis" is a result of having three p/u's all of the same polarity, distorting the corecct string vibration downwards. I would hazard a guess that swapping the middle p/u for a reverse polarity might well overcomr the problem. Why not try dropping the p/u's way down and checking for buzz. If it disappears you've identified the problem if not solved it. Were your pickups at factory spec distance from the strings?
This particular guitar has a RWRP center coil, so I don't think that's it. I also lower all the pickups before doing the setup and raise them last, before the final playing through the amp, just to avoid that.

Funny story, I once spent probably an hour trying to diagnose what the heck was wrong with a strat, only to find out the pickups were too close, it was causing the dreaded wolf note.

Thanks for the suggestions, though. Any help is appreciated!

Yes I know this thread is 7 years old but there was never a resolution posted and I have the very same problem. Anyone have a solution?

I skimmed through the thread, and I got to wondering what gauge strings the OP was using. Light gauge strings tend to buzz regardless of how level the frets are. For instance, if you're using .009's, then forget about it - it's gonna buzz. even .010's tend to rattle somewhat. Also, certain string brands are more prone to buzz (DR strings tend to cause inexplicable buzzing).

For most players, I feel that a very tiny amount of relief (.004"-.007") allows for lower action and less buzz.

Thanks for the reply. My feelings too. I tried everything I could and what was posted here to eliminate this sort of buzz to no avail. The odd thing is I have some guitars that don't buzz or just the tiniest amount with much lower action than this problem guitar. I can find no discernible difference between them but there is something that is different. The thing that nags me is I don't know what can be done to analyze it as all the tricks posted here have been tried by others as well as me. If there is anything I hate it is "I don't know". It's one thing to not be able to fix something and another to have no idea what the problem really is. Perhaps this sort of thing could be analyzed at a university with advanced imaging tools. That could pinpoint and offer an explanation to this kind of problem. It would be worth it if someone had the resources. Many others have this same problem and no one seems to have a hard solution.

The lighter the strings, the lower the strings the lighter the pick and the softer the attack.

The harder the attack the heaver the strings need to be and the higher the action

Tune the string than fret the first second and third fret and check the tuning each place.

What do you get? YOU KNOW WHAT TO DO.

Ron

I don't really have any contribution but surprised at at how few people, apparently, check action at the 17th fret. It's what I've always done on strats. Feeling weird now...

There's more than one way to skin a grimalkin.

Keith

When I have done all things adjust truss rod level fret board than strings lower the strings like I want them - all players want them very low action- I tune to pitch pull strings to set them tune again than I play all open strings and listen for buzzing strings and other things I use my thumb to pick with . Then I go to the first few frets and run each string on each fret listening for problem's

than several places up the neck then check if I want to lower the action and if so check each string as before I find each guitar wants to be played and setup as it likes to be. The strings weight neck material ,wood  so I set it like it wants to be as the customer likes it than let him play it and tell him to take it and play it at home than it  needs more adjusting it is a miner thing to do. When you ask them to play for you at the store they never play like they do at home so if you set it up then you wil never be right. Go for what the guitar tells you what it likes! DO NOT SKIP STEPS!

I hope this helps.

ROn

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