I bought a Yamaha as an interim solution between guitars, and it had some buzzes I didn't know about, because the store I bought it in was really loud.

So using things I learned here and elsewhere, I leveled the frets, bought a crowning file, crowned them, sanded them to 600, checked them all with a short straightedge, found no rockers, and restrung. 

Know that I am no luthier.  I'd like to build a guitar someday, and am not afraid of jumping in to things head first to try and learn something.  So here I went.

After this, the 5th string 3rd fret C buzzed like it was poorly fretted, or had a bad tone when played forte, but most of the others were gone.  So I spot sanded, crowned, etc, some more.

Still buzzing.  Change the A string.  Still buzzing.  So I checked for loose frets.  I found a couple maybes, put a dot of superglue on the end, and still had a buzz.

More careful checking with the straightedge revealed that the third fret was a bit low compared to the neighbors.

Here is where I maybe went off track.  I levered up the fret a bit and superglued it in place.  When this didn't help things, I sanded a bit of a divot, thinking I just didn't have enough room to press down and make good contact.

Things are a bit improved, but not what I'd like.  Is this about as good as a $99 guitar gets, or are there other things to do?

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Yessir, the elusive buzz bomb!  We've all been there and there's hope for sure.  Frank Ford has compiled the most comprehensive and helpful list of potential problems & solutions on the planet.

Make some coffee, get comfy and have a good read.

On the other hand, it IS a $99 guitar, so don't spend years (or a fortune) to try to accomplish what another decent guitar can give you right out of the box. 

Hi David.

IF the fret leveling didn't take too much stock off the tops of the other frets, just level all of them again to the lowest point on the lowest fret. Hopefully there's enough stock left after a second leveling to allow a good feel.

This time, try using a sharpie or magic marker on the tops of the frets before you begin leveling so you can actually 'see' that all the frets are being touched. Some folks forgo that step, but I consider it essential. The truth is: I started making that S.O.P. about 35 years ago after a few situations almost identical to yours.  Like Mike said: errors happens to all of us. To me: they happen a lot(;

That should cure it.  If not, maybe there's a good-hearted repair tech in your area who'd be willing to assist you, for free, with advice while you re-level the frets.  Lord knows we love to share info!! (:  I wouldn't spend too much if more is required. Anything over $25 and you'll just be pouring money into a black hole.

Oh ya, and after the 600 wet/dry, use 0000 steel wool on them for a silky feel.  If you tape between the frets to protect the FB, follow the steel wool with a paste metal polish (MAAS, Simichrome, etc.) and they'll look like jewelry and feel like glass.

Best of luck David(:

Hi David !

BEFORE you did all this fret leveling...while the guitar was strung to tune, did you check for any 'bending' of the neck (relief)???

It does have some neck relief.  Thanks for the suggestions.

Although I admire the "can do" attitude there is a LOT more to fret work, good fret work, than one may think after reading about how someone does fret work on the Internet....  Some of my steps are as follows but before I even list them I wanted to say that I am NOT a fan of the fret rocker OR approaching fret work by isolating any single or even several frets and dealing with them individually or in small groups.  When I was a kid learning to pitch or hit a baseball one of my coaches suggested that I try to "be the ball" and in this instance I am going to suggest that we all try to be a guitar string when considering fret work...

Step one for me is to examine the guitar's neck under string tension and properly tuned and see what I have as a starting point.  Can I adjust relief as desired?  Is the neck capable of more relief on the bass side or does the treble side naturally have more relief than the bass side?  Is there fall-away after the 12th?  Is the truss rod working and if so where does it have the greatest impact on the neck - some truss rods won't change things in some important locations, others will.

Then I put the guitar down and make a mental plan on where I want to remove material.  I just finished work on a 1946 Gibson L-4 that was marginal for a neck reset.  Making a plan based on initial observation permitted me to plan to take off more material from the fret board in the area of the first 3 frets and hence change the neck angle slightly.  No neck reset needed at this time now as a result of initial observation and making a plan how to correct the inadequacies of the guitar in question.

Step two is to remove the strings and check every fret to see if it's loose.  I do this by tapping them all on both ends and in the middle with my steel engineer's scale.  The sound will change for a loose fret.

Marking the tops is helpful, though not required, and my next step is to mark and then with a precession sanding beam, not a radius beam.... I lightly sand the frets taking care to follow the string paths.  Looking at the marker marks or bluing if you will you will now be able to see who's high (not in the craving some Oreo cookies sense....) and who's not.

The eventual goal for me is to have evidence of touching every fret in every location while still having some fall away after the 12th.  Any body hump I want to dress out in so much as that will be a limitation.  And once I have contact where I want it and everywhere when I want it I also dress in some relief as needed AND in accordance with my initial observation of if the neck has more relief on the treble side or the bass side.


As you can see everything that I have done so far has been a function of that initial look at the thing, an evaluation if you will, and developing a mental plan for what THIS gutiar needs.

Crowning is a skill and an art and I see many frets from new builders that are not well crowned.  It's one of those if you don't know what you don't know things you won't notice it either.

Action, saddle issues, nut slots, break angles, relief and where...., etc are all things that can cause buzzing and it's impossible for us to diagnose many of these problems on an Internet forum.

But I will say though that it's admirable to try new things such as fret work on your own.  IMHO it's also admirable to seek qualified advice too if you run into problems.  It may be too that what you are struggling with may be noticed very quickly by an experienced Luthier and you may wish to consider getting an opinion as well.

And again dealing with frets in isolation, meaning not dealing with the entire fret plane as a whole, is likely not going to produce the solution that one seeks.  After all if we try to be the strings and see what they see AND since our strings are the world's most available "straight edge" for quick evaluation of the board, frets, neck, etc. your answer most certainly will be found in how the strings see their world on your guitar.

Hesh, that post is loaded with gold.  Think like the string..............that resonates with me. 

Best wishes and thanks


Thanks Mark!

Well said Hesh. I'll add this to that, try a straighter neck and a taller saddle. When you're checking relief hold the string down at the first fret and the body joint. 

There's some good info in here, for sure.

It's a nylon string guitar, no truss rod.  Hesh neatly answers that, and that solution is interesting.

Taller saddle.  Maybe.

Oh. nylon,
If you dressed the frets without inducing any backbow you may have taken all the relief out.
Nylon necks usually pull up into relief that stays there when unstrung. Measure the relief strung and unstrung. Then you will know how much the neck will pull up after fret dressing.
Let's say you get a difference of .004" strung to unstrung between the first and twelth frets but you want to end up with ...010" after dressing. you can back bow the neck .006", dress and end up w/ .010".
This is tricky stuff for someone just starting out but it is how I keep from making nylons too flat sometimes.


Given the late coming fact that it's a nylon string (NS) guitar, let me append my original response to include the following:

Yamaha has done the world a great service by offering budget priced NS guitars to beginner, hobbyists and novice to intermediate students. Their $100 entry level guitars are about as good as you can get for $100. It is, however, still a $100 guitar with all the attendant issues that accompany them.

Of all of the ones I've seen, and it's been many, the final setup quality is all over the map. I've seen new ones with superb action & tone & I've seen ones that have 1/2" action at the 12th fret. It's a luck of the draw thing. I have to admit that they all offer an atypically good tone for a $100 NS guitar, and therein lies their strength and popularity

I personally believe there is one thing that should be done to all instruments and that's: the moment you get them home; take off the original strings and replace them with high quality strings. Not just 1 or 2 strings, ALL of them. This is especially true of budget line NS guitars.

Here's what may have caused the strings to buzz:  The bass strings on a NS guitar are wound on a synthetic core that's comprised of many fine textile strands like nylon.  During shipping, it's common for the strings to get deformed or crushed against the frets causing a flattening of the string or a dent so to speak.  This type of issue can cause all kinds of action problems, ESPECIALLY buzzing. 

The same thing happens to them when they are played and that's the primary reason the guitar "has trouble staying in tune", predicating a string change.  Pro performers and committed amateurs are aware of this fact and they change strings very often to counteract the issue.  I've changed the strings on many new Yammie NS guitars that were buzzing and the string change fixed most every one to make them "ready to sell".  They're the 'reason' I am aware of the "crushed in shipping" issues.

Pro Classical players often place a cardboard "barrier strip" between the strings and FB to minimize this possibility during transportation.

I agree with Hesh 100% about viewing the frets as part of the whole of the neck.  Hesh: another eloquent response.  Man, I love reading your replies!!!!!  To me, all action adjustments require a Zen approach.

Well, after that long rambling intro, here's my best advice: Take it to someone who knows what they're doing.  Hopefully, it can be resuscitated and made fit. If all else fails, it can be re-fretted (including a truing of the FB) if that's within your affordable range of options.

re: your last response---A taller saddle may fix the issue but it will raise the action.  A taller saddle as a first response may have corrected the problem in the beginning if the factory action was too low. It however, is just one of many things that needs to be checked.  Hence, my suggestion for professional intervention.

It would have been invaluable if you had ID'd the guitar as a nylon string instrument as the setup on those vs steel string guitar are worlds apart. I'm adding "please identify the type of guitar you're dealing with" as my first response in future cases. I also dropped the ball when I failed to ask for other "vital signs" such as action at the 12th fret, clearance over the 1st fret, saddle height, relief, etc.  It's impossible to diagnose problems without that info, let alone over the web, especially without pictures AND especially about micro-surgery tasks such as fret leveling.

As Hesh alluded: fret work is NOT guitar repair 101 work.  It's an advanced technique and you were simply out of your league with the challenge.  It's something you have to do dozens of times just to get to an "OK" level of competence. Don't feel bad my friend or I'll tell you about the '67 Gibson SG Standard that I 'fixed until I ruined it" in 1971 when I was a beginner(;

Also, when auditioning guitars in the future, you are well within your rights to ask a sales person to allow you to play the instrument in a quiet environment.  I know that Guitar Center and other big box stores don't often accommodate those requests and in those cases, I'd take my business to a shop that will.  The buying public has been bullied into putting up with that kind of backward service thinking for much too long. The quest for lower pricing has it's drawbacks and your sub-par audition of that guitar is living proof. 

One more thing, you mentioned using a capo.  Unless the capo was designed expressly for use on a NS guitar with a FLAT FB, you may have been self inducing the buzz when capo'd. Steel string (SS) guitars have a curved profile on their FB's and the curve designed into a SS capo to accommodate for the FB radius will not let the middle register strings seat properly on the fret on a NS guitar. It sounds like fret buzz because IT IS, but it's not caused by poor frets.  It's caused by the wrong tool for the job.

Best of luck with your getting the guitar playable.


Hi David- Theres an old saying that goes --  '' you cant learn to swim unless you get into the water "  -- annonymous

so I say go for it  and thats the way to learn  - Peace, Donald


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