Can anyone identity the cause of this fret-buzz?

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by bassbourne, Nov 25, 2021.

  1. bassbourne


    Nov 20, 2019
    I recently purchased a Squier Affinity jazz bass and I like everything about the bass...except for the fret-buzz above the 12th fret.
    There is some buzzing on all strings high up the neck which makes me think it's a matter of raising the action at the bridge, but I wanted to make sure it's not a sign of a warped neck or something similarly nasty before I decide to keep the bass.
    The D string is the worst offender, but, as you can hear in the video, the buzzing stops once you get to the highest 2 or 3 frets.
    Ideally I'd to keep the action the way it is, so I'm okay with some fret levelling if necessary, I just want to make sure it's not a sign of something worse...
    If anyone can tell from the video I'd be very grateful for any insight.


  2. dwizum


    Dec 21, 2018
    Step zero: confirm that your action and relief are "correct" - at least, are they within reasonable range of a typical Fender style setup?

    If setup is good - do you own a straightedge and/or a fret rocker?

    Strings off, truss rod slack, use the fret rocker to check for any individual high frets. Then use the straightedge to check overall trueness of the frets.

    This could be a case of a few high frets, but more likely it's ski jump, a common issue where Fender style necks develop a kink that's usually up near the highest frets, i.e. somewhere between 12 or 15 and the end of the neck. Search on here for "ski jump" and you'll have plenty of reading, I'm sure. If it's a very minor case, you can sometimes hide the issue by raising action. If the lowest possible action that results in no buzz is too high for you, you can sometimes correct minor cases by fret leveling carefully to create true frets despite the kink in the neck (essentially, the frets around 15 or so and higher up end up with more material removed). Severe cases are best fixed by more drastic methods, ie pulling frets, truing the fretboard, then refretting.
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  3. vaesto


    Jun 21, 2010
    Squier would never justify this operation price-wise.
    As for the bass in video it looks like typical ski-jump. If it isn't severe you may try to shave upper frets. Or apply heat-treating like does if it is beyond fret height.
    bassbourne likes this.
  4. bassbourne


    Nov 20, 2019
    Thanks for the detailed response! Lots of useful tips in there. Will see what I can do.
  5. bassbourne


    Nov 20, 2019
    Thanks for sharing. Hadn't heard of ski-jump before. Will look into it.
  6. Turnaround

    Turnaround Commercial User

    May 6, 2004
    Toronto Canada
    Independent Instrument Technician
    Lownote38, One Way and bassbourne like this.
  7. bassbourne


    Nov 20, 2019
    Thanks! Had a read through the first page, very interesting. Plan to read more when I get the chance, but could you tell me whether it's a problem worth returning a bass for, or is there not really a short answer to that? I suppose it depends on the severity?
    As I said, I like everything else about the bass and in my personal experience it's hard to find a Squier at this price point without one issue or another, so I'm happy to accept some issues as long as they're minor/fixable.
  8. JeezyMcNuggles

    JeezyMcNuggles Suspended Supporting Member

    Feb 23, 2018
    Santa Maria, CA
    I suck, but nobody really notices
    Raise your saddles. You can then tighten your truss rod from there, to even out your action. When buzzing occurs near the middle, top frets, Loosen your truss rod slightly til it stops. Your action will then be as low as it will possibly go.

    If you're buzzing past the 12th fret, it's because your strings are hitting a fret before that point. Since no adjustment to the neck, can cause or eliminate where the frets are inside of your neck heel, the saddle height is the only option. And, it's a permanent one. Your strings can never go lower than the first fret from the bridge. Your strings have to clear that fret, in order to ring out.
    bassbourne likes this.
  9. BaileyMan

    BaileyMan Supporting Member

    Jan 8, 2012
    San Francisco
    Start by checking neck relief and action before going down the path of ski jump. It may be a ski jump issue, but it may not and the relief and action are easy to check and a whole lot easier to address with a proper set up.

    If it's a new bass and needs a set up, it's worth keeping. If it's a ski jump I'd return it. Once you pay to get it fixed it won't be such a good deal anymore. I find the old adage "you get what you pay for" to be particularly true when buying instruments.

    Just my $.02
    bassbourne likes this.
  10. Turnaround

    Turnaround Commercial User

    May 6, 2004
    Toronto Canada
    Independent Instrument Technician
    As @BaileyMan says, do not jump tp the conclusion that there is a ski jump, If it's a new bass it's more likely that it just needs a proper setup. If you want to do it yourself there is lots of good info on this site to guide you:

    bassbourne likes this.
  11. vaesto


    Jun 21, 2010
    If not the ski jump it may be too much relief and bridge saddles set too low. Result is the same - buzz on high positions, though action looks pretty sufficient.
    If it is ski jump, then return the bass for replacement. DO NOT touch frets it is void of warranty.
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  12. scottfeldstein

    scottfeldstein Roots and fifths and a little extra. Supporting Member

    Jun 20, 2011
    West Bend, Wisconsin
    I'll just reiterate what others have already said. First things must come first. You must check the neck relief. I myself am a big believer in measuring things, so if I were you I'd get myself a set of feeler gauges and a capo. Adjust the truss rod accordingly. THEN check the string heights. If they're above manufacturer spec I say they're too high. If they're below it, maybe they're too low! Check for that fret buzz again. Could be that it's gone, could be that it's worse.

    Bottom line, you gotta a) set the neck relief and then b) adjust the string heights. Doing those things may solve the problem. If they don't, then you already have a lot of knowledge about what the problem isn't.
    bassbourne likes this.
  13. bassbourne


    Nov 20, 2019
    Thanks for all the excellent advice!

    I followed the above advice and played around with the action and relief a little and managed to get it to a point where the buzzing doesn't bother me, so I've decided to keep the bass.

    Great bass by the way! Especially for the money.
    BaileyMan likes this.
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