Is Fret Buzz Normal On An Electric Guitar? The electric guitar is a favorite instrument in diverse genres, from country to rock and roll because of its special effects. But there are times when it produces an annoying sound, often described as a buzzing sound that grates on the ears.
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It is known as fret buzz, and it’s not an uncommon occurrence for electric guitars. It’s considered normal, even acceptable, depending on your personal preference and playing style.
Determining What’s Acceptable And Unacceptable In Fret Buzz
You have to ask yourself, “How much buzz is too much buzz?” You may consider a slight buzz acceptable because your playing style requires a low action. You may also find that even the slightest buzz isn’t acceptable because it’s uncomfortable to the ears and a distraction to your music.
Despite personal preference and playing style being the foremost determinant of acceptable and unacceptable buzz, there are a few general guidelines.
It’s considered too much fret buzz when:
- It prevents you from sustaining the notes
- It inhibits changes in pitch when playing adjacent frets
- It can be heard through the amp resulting in a distraction
But it’s considered acceptable fret buzz when:
- It doesn’t affect the length of sustains when playing notes
- It’s only present during the initial playing of a note
- It isn’t audible through the amp
While fret buzz isn’t desirable most of the time, it’s the price to pay for the low action on most electric guitar setups. You have to find ways to either accept it or address its causes.
Addressing The Causes Of Fret Buzz
These can be divided into two main types, namely: Technique and hardware issues. Both, fortunately, can be addressed relatively easily, either on your own or with the assistance of a guitar professional.
First, your technique is likely the cause of fret buzz, and it’s the common cause among other guitarists, too, if it’s any consolation. You may not be pressing on the strings with enough pressure, or you’re pushing too far behind the desired fret.
Your fingering positions and pressure have to be improved. You may not like hearing that your technique is the likely culprit, but it is part of your learning process. You may want to read Guitar Aerobics by Troy Nelson to improve on your technique.
Second, hardware issues are also the likely culprits of fret buzz. You should look closely at your electric guitar and check if its issues fall under these categories.
- The nut may be worn through wear and tear, sometimes resulting in the grooves being too large for the strings. Replacing an old nut with, say, the Musiclily Flat Bottom Slotted Bone Nut may be necessary.
- The neck may be damaged, warped, or twisted, resulting in the strings producing a buzzing sound.
- The action may be set too low, a common cause of fret buzz. It can be resolved by adjusting the saddle height, a reasonably straightforward job if you have the FretGuru String Action Gauge, and the skills.
- The frets may be too high or worn or uneven. The solution can be adjusting the fret height and replacing the damaged frets.
As a conclusion, fret buzz can be annoying during practices and performances. But this can be rectified by a few changes to your guitar’s hardware and your technique.