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Fret buzz- Low action/ Neck Relief or Other

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by Zombie40cal, Apr 1, 2014.

  1. Zombie40cal


    Mar 25, 2014
    I set the action and neck relief on my P bass according to Fenders website. Now when I play I have a lot of noise from the frets. I am not sure if I am just playing incorrectly (I have a heavy hand) but I don't seem to have this problem on my Jazz. I am not really hearing the buzz on the amp just on the fretboard. I don't want to set the action too high so if there is another cause please point me in the right direction. Thanks
  2. rolandm

    rolandm In search of the lowest note.

    Aug 8, 2010
    Peoria, IL
    Does it fret out on a given fret? By that, I mean does the note die faster than it should? Or is it just a little bit of rattle along with the note? Do you pluck the string so that it vibrates perpendicular to the fretboard, or parallel with it?

    A little fret buzz isn't a bad thing, and as you said it's not being heard at your amp, so it's not translating much, if at all, into your actual sound.

    And fret buzz can be an integral part of a player's sound, when accompanied by the right strings, compression, eq, overdrive/distortion/fuzz/what-have-you, ham, eggs, toast, you name it. If the notes aren't fretting out, I wouldn't worry about it too much. If you want the action to be lower with no fret buzz, you're likely either going to have to take it a qualified tech to dress the neck and make sure the frets are absolutely uniform in height, and you'll have to adjust your playing style somewhat in the process as well.
  3. GregT


    Jan 29, 2012
    Southwest Missouri
    Glad I read this. My Lakland has a lot of fret buzz when I get the action where I want it to be. All the notes still sound fine. I really only hear it when I practice unplugged which I do frequently so I won't bother others. Kind of a night owl. Maybe I could go ahead and set it back a little lower where I liked it and plug it in and see. My Precision with the same strings never buzzed at all even set way lower. I use TI flats one it which are part of the problem, I'm sure. They are a little low tension. I really like them. Thanks for the information.
  4. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013
    Fender's guidelines are only a starting point for players who use average/medium right hand action.
  5. 96tbird

    96tbird PLEASE STAND BY Supporting Member

  6. Zombie40cal


    Mar 25, 2014
    That's one of my favorite bass lines. I think I am pushing the strings down towards the neck when I play. I am us un the thumb rest and for some reason that's what my hand gravitates to. I am gonna try to consciously pull the string up to see if that helps.
  7. bluesdogblues


    Nov 13, 2007
    I don't like fret buzz. But I also don't like the string action to be too high too. Happy medium is what I look for.
    to the OP. I think it's because of (some of) your P-Bass frets. Check them, they should be able to be visually checked. Also check the bridge settings (saddles' height). Doesn't always have to be too much/high, but even Only half turn of the screws can have different result (freeing you from fret buzz).
    Or else, better bring it to the expert ( a bass tech).
  8. gary m

    gary m

    Jan 17, 2011
    Mid -Atlantic
    For my Fender, I adjust the truss rod so that the neck is as straight as possible then bottom out the string saddles and adjust action up from there until I get the sound I'm looking for. This is assuming that all frets are level and that the neck isn't bowed or twisted.

    When I switched from roundwound to flatwound strings, I noticed that I could drop the action even lower without any buzz at all, which is currently how I have mine strung. I play fingerstyle primarily with a light to medium touch and don't have any issues.

    All of this isn't to say you need to change string types, but just to offer some contrast when it comes to setups. I've played some Fenders that had very low action and were quiet as could be, and others with painfully high action that buzzed all over the neck. It really comes down to determining whether you have level frets and a straight neck -- it makes the process much easier.
  9. Chuck King

    Chuck King Supporting Member

    Dec 15, 2006
    Here's an easy way to evaluate the action on your bass.

    Play up and down each string. Do they buzz unacceptably anywhere?


    Are you happy with how the bass plays?​

    Yes: Congratulations! You're done.​

    No: Lower the string height a bit and repeat.​

    Yes: If you are getting buzz​

    On the low frets by the nut, but not on the upper frets by the body: Add some more relief to the neck, and repeat.​

    On the high frets by the body but not on the low frets by the nut: Take some relief out of the neck, raise the string height a bit, and repeat.​

    Everywhere: Raise the string height a bit, and repeat.​

    Only in one specific place on the neck: Sorry, but you have a high or low fret, and you will need some sort of fret leveling or re-seating---have a tech or luthier check it out.​

    When using this procedure, as you get closer, you can make smaller and smaller adjustments. Eventually you will get to the point where it's as good as it can be. If your neck is not warped or twisted and your frets are in good shape, even a cheapo bass can be made to play remarkably well.

    In my experience, a bass set to Fender's set-up specs will only play cleanly if the frets are level, and on most regular-production basses the frets are a little uneven, so you get buzz when action is set at the Fender spec level (which is actually pretty low). I suspect most people could set up a bass to play pretty comfortably without getting it down to those specs. Of course, fret leveling is a good idea if you know your bass is a keeper, but you probably won't get that cost back out of it if you sell it.
  10. Mastermold

    Mastermold Supporting Member

    Good advice CK!
  11. Zooberwerx

    Zooberwerx Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2002
    Virginia Beach, VA
    Truly straight or with some relief? If so, how much?