Why Does My Guitar Buzz? When you’re playing your guitar, you want a pure sound – no buzz, no dings, and no pings. Your music should be as beautiful to the ears as your virtuoso performance is a sight to behold.
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But then there’s guitar buzz, also known as fret buzz, the irritating sound that can sometimes seem like metal grating on metal. It is due to the guitar string rattling against a wire on the fret when it’s being pressed or plucked.
Common Causes for Fret Buzz
While there are several possible causes for guitar buzz, we have identified three leading causes.
Uneven Fret Height
The frets should ideally be of the same height in relation to each other. But in fret buzz, some of the frets are taller, and some are shorter.
The tall frets are the culprits here since the strings come into direct physical contact with them. The short frets don’t cause buzzing sounds because these don’t come into direct contact with the strings.
Extra-low String Action
In guitar terms, action refers to the height of the string in relation to the fret. While the action is often a personal preference, it should neither be too low as to cause a buzzing sound nor too high as to cause awkwardness. Most guitarists take precise measurements of their guitars’ actions at the first, twelfth, and seventeenth frets.
Even if you prefer low action, keep in mind that there’s a limit to it. If you exceed the limit, you will likely get buzzing sounds that interfere with your performance.
Insufficient Neck Relief
Please take note that the neck of a guitar should be near-perfect in its straightness. Near-perfect because there should be a subtle dip in its middle part, usually on the eight frets, a part known as neck relief.
If your guitar has the said dip in the middle of its neck, it’s known as a forward bow. But if it doesn’t have a dip, it’s called a back bow, and it isn’t a good thing for your guitar’s sound. It means that there’s insufficient neck relief that, in turn, causes most of the open strings on the first fret to buzz.
Keep in mind that one or all of these causes may cause the buzz on your guitar.
Measures To Address Fret Buzz
Once you have determined the possible cause, you can address it. You may also take your guitar to a professional maintenance specialist in case you want guaranteed results, or you can’t address it via DIY methods.
If the issue is the result of uneven fret heights, you should conduct a full fret leveling procedure. Be sure to use the right tools, such as the SkyScraper Guitars – Luthier’s Precision Fret Leveling Beam, since precise measurements are a must. It can take between one and two hours to perform the procedure, so be patient.
In case of low string action, you should slightly loosen the strings to relieve the tension. But in case of insufficient neck relief, you may want a professional to do it.
The way you play the guitar also affects buzz. A few tips to remember:
- Apply suitable pressure on the strings. If necessary, use NEUMA Guitar Capo for Acoustic Guitar for this purpose.
- Avoid hitting the strings with too much force when strumming.
The buzzing sound coming from your guitar isn’t just annoying! It will also take the beauty from an otherwise flawless performance, perhaps even interfere with your audience’s emotions. You should then ensure that your guitar has the proper set-up to avoid it.