fret buzzing

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by koty, Jan 23, 2009.

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  1. koty


    Jan 23, 2009
    i got a copley bass a week or so ago and my frets are buzzing and idk how to fix it. Can anyone help??? all of the strings are buzzing till fret 9 or 10
  2. Two options you could try:

    1. raising the action, which is the space between the strings and the fretboard (fingerboard)

    2. adjusting the truss rod (but to be honest, if you're asking about fret buzz, you should probably not be adjusting the truss rod)

    I don't mean any offense with that comment, just putting it out there so that you don't make any innocent mistakes and ruin your new bass. :)

    You can adjust the action by working with the bridge of the bass. That's toward the "bottom/body" of the bass, where it holds the "butts" of the strings against the body. There should be a group of individual "saddles" that hold each string in place, and if you look closely you should see that there are some tiny screws that can be adjusted with an allen wrench (usually a .5 mm).

    Press down on each string at the 12th fret (counting up from the head/tuners) and then adjust those little screws on the bridge so that the string rises off the very last fret of the fretboard just enough for, say, a credit card to slip underneath. Go one by one, and do this for each string. You'll need to re-tune your strings after this is all done.

    If after this it's still buzzing, it probably means that your truss rod needs to be adjusted. You can do this at home, but I wouldn't recommend it without further advice/instructions. It could also mean that your frets are all out of whack, which is an entirely different matter.

    If you have any questions let us know. Best of luck.

    - kdiggity -
  3. Fred19137


    Jan 23, 2009
    active musician
    I am a very experimental person. i have adjusted my truss rode multiple time on my thunderbird VI I trust that yours may be more expensive so be carefull!!!!
    straightening the neck is cause by tightening the rode(twisting right) and visa versa, you want to do the opposite of this you shoud losen it. However, a little twist is a huge difference. All it needs is at most 1/16 of a full revolution.
    This may not be the complete answer though. It is usually a mix between action height and neck bow(truss rod). Action adjustments are much easier to deal with.
    you have just changed the lenght the the string so as you go up the frets the strings get more and more out of their tune. To fix hit the twelfth fret if it is flat shorten the length of the string at the bridge and visa versa. Do you see why the guy before said don't bother.
    PS a little fret buzz gives your bass character. But I agree there can be too much.
    BE CAREFUL whatever you do:)
  4. 202dy

    202dy Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2006
    Hi Koty. Welcome to TB.

    It might be solved by a truss rod adjustment. Then again, maybe not. Adjusting the bridge might help. Possibly. We really don't have enough information to diagnose the problem.

    Please post the relief and string height measurements here. If you do not know how to take the measurements refer to the sticky at the top of the page labeled Setup Questions Answered Here. There is a link to the Mr. Gearhead (Fender) Site. There is detailed information there that will show you how to measure relief and string height.

    Post the data on this forum and someone will help you make the proper adjustments.

    N.B. Every neck is different. Even if two necks are made of the same species of wood they react differently to compression, tension, and bending. (That is how and what the truss rod attempts to control.) Other than instructions cautioning against tightening and breaking the truss rod or truss rod nut all other advice as to how much to turn the nut is just so much guessing. There is no way anyone can tell that 1/16, 1/8, 1/4, 1/2, or 91/99 turns of the nut will have X effect on relief.
  5. kdiggity,

    How long have you been doing setups? If you have some new profound way of approaching instrument setups then please enlighten me. Your advice seems completely wrong to my way of approaching this issue.

    Fret buzz in the lower registers is normally adjusted with relief.
    There are however, several other factors to be looked at as well.

    To the OP. You need to start from scratch and have your bass setup properly. Can you do this yourself? Have you read any of the setup tutorials?

    Raising your action at the bridge before ensuring your relief is properly set is only a band-aid fix.

    So Kdiggity,

    I loooked at your method of fretting at the 12th fret and setting action to a card thickness at the last fret. Using my Geddy jazz which has .015" of relief, and the action set at 5/64"-4/64" bass to treble side. I would have to lower my action even further. This would result in lots of fret buzzing. I could increase relief to minimize fret buzz, but excessive relief has it's own set of problems.

    You might want to go back and re-read instrument setup methods. Your basses are probably very far out of adjustment. Do you actually know how to properly setup a bass?
  6. Apparently not, but I'd like to thank you for your assumptions, and for taking the time to politely explain why a different method would be better, all without sounding like a total jerk. :rolleyes:

    You know, there's a right way and a wrong way to correct someone, while demonstrating your own knowledge on a matter.


    OP, the advice I gave you is not the full and proper way to setup a bass guitar, of course. But that's not what you asked for now, is it? All you said was that your lower frets were buzzing, and you asked what could possibly be done to remedy the situation.

    Based on that simple request (and going off of my several bases that are setup properly - thanks again for making some awesome assumptions, mrhardy!), I was just trying to give you a quick and dirty method for hopefully getting rid of fret buzz, without having to get into truss rod adjustments or taking it into an expert like mrhardy. According to his profile details, he enjoys doing setup work for friends and learning more about Lutherie.

    I will readily admit that the only information that I have regarding instrument setup is from the vast amount of information on the web. I will also readily admit that my advice was just a "shooting-from-the-hip/eyeballing" method, and not based on anything scientific or technical. I apologize profusely if through my attempt to contribute something helpful, I gave you gross misinformation or offended any of the setup/Luthier gods. I hope you're able to get it worked out, OP.
  7. Neck relief, neck relief. Conventional check is to, when tuned, fret at the first & last frets & check the gap at the 8th fret. It should be between 0.010 & 0.015".

    And there's nothing crazy complex about truss rod adjustments. Measure neck relief, give the truss rod 1/4 turn, wait a day, re-measure relief.

    IMO conventional order of setup adjustments is nut slot, neck relief, bridge height. Adjusting bridge height without regard to neck relief can have you go way down the wrong path.
  8. Agreed. Thanks for this run down.

    Can you please tell me, if one suspects a nut issue, what's a good way to suss that out, and if determined to be the culprit, apply a fix?

    Does one just replace the nut entirely with a new nut which has higher or lower slots?

    Also, out of curiosity: having never had all of the strings off of any of my bases at once (I've read that it's best to re-string one string at a time for tension purposes), I honestly don't know if the nut is actually affixed or just held in place by pressure. Do you happen to know?


    - kdiggity -
  9. Best way I have to isolate an issue to the nut is to capo on the 1st fret to remove 99.9% of the nut's effect.

    I'm not good on nut adjustments; I farm that out. But the nut slot should give you a string clearance at the 1st fret that's similar to the clearance at the 2nd fret when you fret an F on your E. And the slot should be sloped back a bit; a straightedge in the slot should slope away from the fretboard.

    You can shim a nut, ot shim one side.

    Nut adjustments are normally done by filing the slot or slots; better if someone else informs on that or a search should give good info.

    The nut should be glued in place. Should be ;)

    No worries about removing all strings. If doing so for awhile you might want to remove truss rod tension also as this is the counterforce to the strings' pull.

  10. Mr. Diggity,

    I'm sorry if your offended because I said you don't know what your talking about. I did verify with my own equipment your method, just to be sure. I gave you the benefit of the doubt first.

    There is a nice way to say something. There is also the aspect of not talking about something for which you don't really have an understanding.

    As far as my profile. I hope you don't think that it encompasses my entire life or technical background. I'm a much more complex person than that little blurb.
  11. Peace bro.

    Any insights to his later nut questions in this thread?
  12. 202dy

    202dy Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2006
    The nut only has a large effect on the first few frets. Determining proper minimum nut clearance is relatively easy.

    1. Stop the string(s) at the third fret.
    2. Observe the gap between the bottom of the string and the top of the first fret.
    3. The gap should be >.003". In lieu of a feeler gauge, slip a piece of notebook paper in the gap. It's approximately .003".
    4. If the makeshift feeler gauge fits the problem is not slot height.

    The only other reason a nut is blamed for causing buzzes is when the guitar is not strung properly. Check to make sure that the string is wound from the top of the tuner down toward the headstock so that good pressure and down angle is there.

    If both items check out, the problem is not the nut.
  13. Got some stuff going on at home. I'll get back later, Dave.
  14. Cool.

    Thanks bro.
  15. Joshua

    Joshua WJWJr Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Aug 23, 2000
    Rule #1 people; know it, learn it, live it.

  16. Thanks for this information!

    - kdiggity -
  17. Some great information here, thanks!

    (For the record, I'm not having any issues with my instruments, but this is good to file away for future reference. I know that someday I'm going to end up picking up a good deal on a used axe and be forced to do some work on it)

    Thanks again,

    - kdiggity -
  18. You're welcome.

    Wiser than I will likely chime in on this.
  19. Obviously, mrhardy and I have two different ways of looking at the same problem/issue, which is fine of course. Let me reiterate again, that adjusting the action was just one of the suggestions that I gave. Since the average person probably doesn't have mechanic's feeler gauges, rulers, and capos laying around, I was just trying to give OP an eyeball method for adjusting the action. If I gave bad advice, and it looks like I did, then I apologize (again), and I'll refrain from doing that in the future.

    I admit that I don't know a lot about many things, and then again there are some things that I know a great deal about. And what I also know is that if I saw someone trying to help someone else but didn't agree with their method, I wouldn't come swooping in on my white horse and claim that they know nothing while attempting to prove my superior intellect on the matter.

    Unfortunately, this aspect of the thread has now come about and for that I'd like to apologize to the other participants. If mrhandy hadn't tried to call me out in such a confrontational manner, I would have just let is go. After all, it is the Internet. :D

    To those who have written in with positive contributions, I thank you!

    - kdiggity -
  20. Well, the average person doesn't have basses at home ;)

    I cranked up a thread to try & derive more accessable setup tools for folk's first setup or two, but in the long run the proper tools are the proper tools. You can tool up for setup for less than half the cost of a setup.

    mrhardy's reply to you was, to my opinion, too stern. But I've done worse myself. I dunno; maybe he'd just waded through yet another Monster Cable Rules thread; that'd make me want to shoot Skeet using kittens. We all have bad days though, & I applaud your dealing so well with his reply.

    Common wordings I've seen & try to emulate are prefaces like IMO or "I believe it's something like"; something to indicate possible doubt. I don't think you intended to say you knew everything, but sometimes in brevity those finer details can get omitted in a post.

    My recollection was that you had neck relief far too under-weighted in setup. I've seen basses very poorly setup by adjusting bridge saddles when it should have been a truss rod adjustment. Heck; I've DONE it!!

    You & Hardy got off on the wrong foot. WAAY off, yeah. IMHO ;) you should both let it go & rejoin forces in helping people herein. Us bassists gotta stick together; save the fighting for the lead guitarists & lead vocalists ;)

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