Sudden onset of fret buzz for single note.

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by GFreeman1008, Mar 27, 2021.

  1. GFreeman1008


    Jun 13, 2020
    Here’s the background:
    I have a squier precision bass that’s about 20 years old. Early last year I went through the process of gutting and replacing the electronics, installing a new pickup, and making a new pick guard to replace the original one that was dry rotting. Once I was done, I went through a few iterations of strings until I installed some medium gauge labella deep talkin’ flats and realized that I had found my favorite bass sound. They’ve been installed since this past December, and I couldn’t have been happier.

    Here’s the problem:
    I recently picked it up after about a day or two of leaving it on a stand. Everything was fine until I tried to play a B on the A string. There was an extreme amount of fret buzz on that note, which was fine a few days prior. The very next fret up (i.e. the C) is fine. The second fret positions on the other strings have a slight fret buzz that is more than they used to have, but it’s manageable. What could have possibly happened? When I sight down the neck, I may be fooling myself, but it looks like the neck straightens right before it hits the third fret as opposed to continuing to slightly slope until it hits the nut. Is this a common problem seen with the season changes (I’m in the Baltimore area, and the weather has been all over the place)? If so, what can I do to fix it?

    Here’s a pic of the bass, if there’s a better picture needed of the issue I can provide it, but I had trouble figuring out what would show it the best:

    Attached Files:

  2. GFreeman1008


    Jun 13, 2020
    After posting this thread I picked the bass up again to investigate any further changes, it turns out the first and second fret positions on all strings are experiencing this fret buzz. Once I’m past the second fret, it’s fine. It really appears that the upper part of the neck warped. What are my options?
  3. Turnaround

    Turnaround Commercial User

    May 6, 2004
    Toronto Canada
    Independent Instrument Technician
    Sounds like you need a truss rod adjustment. Try loosening it a quarter turn. Spring weather is causing the neck to bow back a bit.
  4. NoiseNinja

    NoiseNinja Experimental-psychedelic-ambient-noise-drone Inactive

    Feb 23, 2011
    Yeah, sounds like the trussrod is too tight, causing a slight back bow of the neck on the first couple of frets, and you need to loosen the trussrod to put a bit of relief to the neck, which will allow the string tension to pull the neck at the first couple of frets ever so slightly upwards, which should fix the buzz.

    Ideally you should have an ever so slight upwards bow in the neck, to give the strings more room to vibrate, adjust the trussrod so that when you fret the low E/B string on the last fret of the neck and the first fret simultaneously there is an ever so slight gab around the 8th fret, that is turn right/clockwise to tighten the trussrod, left counterclockwise to loosen the trussrod.

    As said now you need to loosen it, but if you happen to loosen it too much, causing a too big upwards bow/gab at 8th fret then you can always tighten slightly again to make up for it.

    Just adjust a little a time, like 1/4 to 1/2 a turn a time, and then wait for the neck to react to your adjustments before adjusting further if needed, in between check the gab at 8th fret, as described above, by fretting the low E/B string on the last and first fret simultaneously, we are talking a quite minutious gab, like equal to the thickness of couple of regular printing paper stacked and pressed against each other, or ever so slightly more, depending on when the fret buzz disappears.
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2021
  5. GFreeman1008


    Jun 13, 2020
    Thanks for all the replies and help. I’ve now had a chance to circle back to this issue and implement the suggestions to loosen the truss rod. That was a resounding success. I have done enough work on my own instruments and adjusted enough truss rods to know better than to freak out, but I was surprised it only affected the upper frets. I hadn’t seen that yet since I’ve typically only dealt with action that is too high. I’ll definitely log this away in my experience bank. Thanks again!
    One Way and legalbass like this.