Luthier Shop: Getting Rid of Fret Buzz

Strings rattling against the frets and hurting the sound of your guitar or bass? Fret buzz is very frustrating, especially when it happens right after you unbox a new guitar. Let’s look at some ways to fix the fret buzz and get your instrument ready to rock:

Step 1: Getting the guitar ready

  1. If your instrument isn’t ready to play, set up your guitar focusing on neck relief and string action to get rid of the fret rattle. If you still get the fret buzz, move onto the next step.

Step 2: Even out your frets

  1. Go over each fret with a fret rocker to find any high spots.
  2. If you find any frets that are too high, mark them with a sharpie, and go over them with a fret kisser to even them out.
  3. Once you’re done, put tape around each fret that you adjusted so that you can crown them under the string.
  4. After the frets have been crowned, check that the string can ring out even if it’s on its back. If you’re still getting rattle, move onto the next step.

Step 3: Adjusting the nut

  1. If the buzz isn’t coming from the fret directly, it’s likely coming from the nut, specifically the nut slot. 
  2. If nothing needs to change and the string paths are straight, put tape around the nut and mark the inside of the slot to use as a guide.
  3. Next, fill the slots with a mix of bone dust and baking soda. Mix it into a fine powder, and pack the slots that you will work on with the fret rocker.
  4. Carefully use a toothpick to dip some superglue into the channel. Make sure to clean up any mess as you go.
  5. Make the initial cuts to the nut, then tune up the strings one-by-one. 
    1. A technique you can do is use a right file after tuning the strings to make sure that your passes are level with the fretboard to control your string height.
    2. Once the string is even with the fretboard, you can finetune the spec. If your string height is where you want it, angle the file downward to lift it from the front of the nut, and make a break angle in the slot, clearing out the material underneath the string.
  6. After the strings fit snug in the nut, the frets are leveled, and the neck has the proper relief, the fret buzz should be a thing of the past! 

Fret buzz on your guitar or bass can be frustrating and cause an unwanted sound, but luckily if you have the right tools and follow these steps, it’s a pretty easy fix. To find the tools and parts you need, visit our website.

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