Fret buzz on top 4 frets

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by Greenbassman, Mar 12, 2020.

  1. Greenbassman


    Jan 15, 2020

    I just got a bass recently and struggling to set it up. I tried to turn trus rod, it works well however I either get buzz to top 3/4 frets or if I turn the trus rod the other way I get fret buzz from the 15th fret and some dead notes. My bridge saddles are quite low.

    Maybe I should try and turn it very slightly? Also I have tried to raise the saddles to the maximum and didn't like the tension (in the bridge area to tight) when they were high.

    Any tips on how to get a more or less straight neck with low buzz on the frets, nice low action and not super tight bridge tension? The radius is 7.25. Relatively thin strings, they are slinky Ernie balls, not the regular but a thinner ones.

    It is a bit difficult to set this one as I have to unscrew the neck all the time for the adjustment.

    It is a vintage fender precision with screw type trus rod.

    I had a vintage similar bass, which I set up, no buzz at all.

    The neck on this bass is straight.

    Any tips?
  2. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013
    The lower limit of relief and string height is determined by how level your frets are. If it's a bass that has seen a lot of use it may need the frets dressed or replaced.

    So your first step should be figuring out if the top 4 frets, which will have been used the least over the life of the bass, are higher relative to the rest.

    Also, bridge height doesn't change tension. Tension is the lbs of pull the tuners have to exert on the string to get to pitch. That always stays the same unless you change strings or the note they're tuned to.
  3. micguy


    May 17, 2011
    My first tip is you need to change your assumptions. Buzz on the top 3 or 4 frets means....the neck isn't straight - at least not up there. You most likely have a bit of a ski jump at the top, from your description. that's fairly common in old Fenders. What exactly is going on on the rest of the fretboard I can't say.

    You need a straightedge and some feeler gauges, so you can measure what's there and what isn't in terms of relief, etc. Without really knowing what the situation is, recommending a course of action is a bit irresponsible, so other than what I've said, I'll remain silent.
  4. Greenbassman


    Jan 15, 2020

    Thank you for the reply. The frets are perfect and straight on this bass, I would say 90% live in them.

    I turned the trus rod towards left ever so slightly and now it seems to have higher action however the fret fuzz on the top 3/4 frets is still there. Will see how it goes. Annoying As I had to take the neck about 10 times to adjustit.
  5. Turnaround

    Turnaround Commercial User

    May 6, 2004
    Toronto Canada
    Independent Instrument Technician
    The truss rod has no effect on the upper frets. No matter what you do with the truss rod it will not change the geometry there. Use the truss rod to adjust the clearance on the first 5 frets. Use the bridge to handle the upper frets. For some it seems counter-intuitive since the fret clearance overall increases as you loosen the truss rod. But since loosening the truss rod adds relief by increasing the curve of the neck, and since the upper end of the neck is bolted to the body and doesn't curve, the seeming increase in string height you get does not translate into additional fret clearance when you fret a string on the upper frets.
    Vinny_G and rockinrayduke like this.
  6. Greenbassman


    Jan 15, 2020
    Hi Richard.

    Thank you for your answer.

    I have tried now setting the action by tweaking the trus rod. There is no buzz on the bass now. Now the action is kind of a little too high for my feeling and playing. I prefer low action on my basses.

    Would you recommend tweaking the trus rod or perhaps adjust and lower the bridge saddles?
  7. Turnaround

    Turnaround Commercial User

    May 6, 2004
    Toronto Canada
    Independent Instrument Technician
    Only adjust the truss rod if there is not enough relief. You can tell if more relief is needed when there is fret buzz on the lower frets but not the higher ones.

    In your case, try lowering the saddles a bit. If it results in buzz only in the upper frets, then you will need to raise it again. If it buzzes only in the lower frets, you need to slacken the truss rod a bit. And if it buzzes in random spots all up and down the neck you probably need a fret levelling.

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