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E string buzzes at 12th fret

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by Peepaleep, Oct 3, 2013.

  1. Peepaleep

    Peepaleep Supporting Member

    Nov 3, 2010
    Las Cruces, NM
    Hello all - setup noob here. I just set up my bass and I love how it plays with one little exception, I've got some buzz at the 12th fret of the E string. Since there is no buzz anywhere else on the neck does this mean that the 13th fret is a little high at the E string? Can I try gently tamping it down with a mallet to see if that helps?
  2. RSBBass


    Jun 11, 2011
    On an open string, the 12 fret is where there is the most string movement. You may need a slightly higher action, or more relief. It is possible you have a high fret but do not hit the fret with a mallet. Use a straight edge that just fits from the 12th to the 14th fret. If the 13th is high, it will rock slightly on it.

    If the fret is high, it may have come loose. If the fret is loose, it usually is just on one side. If you can press it back in it is loose. If not, you need to have the fret dressed.

    A loose fret can be glued back in using thin CA glue while holding the the fret down with a dowel. Any glue squeeze out can be cleaned up with a razor blade. Unless you have some experience, dressing a fret is best left to a pro. For just one fret it should not be too expensive.
  3. Peepaleep

    Peepaleep Supporting Member

    Nov 3, 2010
    Las Cruces, NM
    Thanks. I should clarify - the E string buzzes when I fret the note at the 12th fret, not when the open string is played. I just checked it with a metal straight edge and to be honest I can't tell if any of the frets are high or not. That probably means I should take it to the shop, right?
  4. If it buzzes, check the 13th fret for height. That's the one that the string comes closest to when you fret at the 12th.
  5. john m

    john m Supporting Member

    Jan 15, 2006
    Might need a little leveling if you don't want to raise the action a bit.

    Ever consider having a pro do a set up for you?
  6. Peepaleep

    Peepaleep Supporting Member

    Nov 3, 2010
    Las Cruces, NM
    "check the 13th fret for height"

    You mean when the 12th is fretted? There's no space there at all.

    I just had the bass at the shop getting a new nut, pickups and electronics. The setup the tech gave left it with too much neck relief and much too high action. I adjusted the neck relief to 1/8" at the 7th fret, and I lowered the saddles to where I like the string height. It's not insanely low (no buzz elsewhere on any of the strings).
  7. Peepaleep

    Peepaleep Supporting Member

    Nov 3, 2010
    Las Cruces, NM
    I like my own setups much better than the ones done by the local repair shop. Whenever I've had work done I've done my own setups when I get the bass home and I've always preferred my work to his.

    There's another shop on the other side of town I can take it to. I might have to try that. But other than those two places, I'd have to drive an hour to the next repair shop.
  8. If I'm reading that right, that isn't how you measure relief. Check the sticky about setups. Relief is measured with the first and 17-18th fretted (I go where body contact is made) and measured around the 8th. If you have 1/8" relief with it fretted as described, that's too much relief.

    What you describe is a high fret but with the info provided (that is iffy), it could be a setup gone horribly wrong. I suggest:

    1) Set it up using the instructions in the sticky and if that fails...
    2) Take it to a different tech that will set it up to your playing style. A lot of "techs" set it up to how they'd play it, not the player.
  9. Peepaleep

    Peepaleep Supporting Member

    Nov 3, 2010
    Las Cruces, NM
    When I measured relief I had a capo on the first fret and I fretted the 16th fret - that's where the neck joins the body. That makes the 7th or 8th frets roughly the half-way point between the two. I've always done it this way and on my other basses it works fine - just not this time with this one fret.

    "Horribly" wrong? All I need to do is raise the action on the string just a little bit and it will no longer buzz, but then it will not be optimal for my playing style.

    "horribly wrong" to me means an unplayable bass that is out of tune pretty much everywhere. I'm not talking about an unplayable bass - I'm talking about getting my bass to play exactly as I want it to.
  10. Lownote38


    Aug 8, 2013
    Nashville, TN
    If that's the way you are measuring the relief of the neck, 1/8" is pretty high! When I fret the first and 16th frets, the largest space between the string and frets is between 1/16th and 1/32".
  11. Peepaleep

    Peepaleep Supporting Member

    Nov 3, 2010
    Las Cruces, NM
    Duh - my bad. The 1/8" is the string height at the 16th fret after relief is set. I set relief with my feeler gauge at .015 from the top of the fret to the bottom of the string. Duh - my bad. I know what I'm thinking but it does not always come out right when I put fingers to keyboard.

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