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Old 01-18-2013, 03:42 PM   #1
chimparzan
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Beginner question on fret and buzz

Started playing guitar about 3 months ago, have been using a fender acoustic that I picked up in a starters kit at a local guitar shop. This last week my guitar started to get a very distinct and loud buzz. I had never gotten this before and it only happens when playing the high E on the first or second fret. I can see the problem, obviously the string contacts the third fret when I play. When the string is played open or at third fret or farther down there is no buzzing. This buzz is loud too, like I would have to play light and high on the fret to get any other string to make this loud and noticeable of a buzz.

I practice about an hour or more a day and most of my chord changes and practice songs use a d or d minor. My first thought was maybe I wore the fret down a little, or the string needs replacing, or something to do with the action? I don't even know if the action is adjustable on acoustics, does not look like you can. I realize the fret wearing down is just about an impossible scenario since people play the same guitar for decades. Just weird that the buzzing started after a few months.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.
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Old 01-18-2013, 03:56 PM   #2
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My guess is either the action is too low or it just needs a setup.
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Old 01-18-2013, 04:22 PM   #3
chimparzan
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Thanks for the feedback, at least I know that the action is a possibility on an acoustic guitar.
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Old 01-18-2013, 05:05 PM   #4
patticake
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action changes with humidity changes, so a guitar that starts out well set-up can get harder to play or start buzzing depending on humidity/dryness.
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Old 01-19-2013, 03:31 PM   #5
stepchildusmc
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i'm with the all wise and knowing sage patticake. not sure where you live but here in northern NY its cold and very dry. i use 2 humidifiers to keep up with the dry air to keep the buzzes away.
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Old 01-19-2013, 06:05 PM   #6
Captaincranky
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Two things, first you should listen to everybody else first, then investigate the points I'm about to make.

As to whether you wore the frets down yet, probably not. But, some fret materials are harder than others, which explains the rush to stainless steel fret wire in more esoteric guitars.

The commonly used "phosphor bronze" in modern acoustic string windings is quite hard in, and of itself, and you get a case of, "irresistible force meeting immovable object", and wear happens. And while people do indeed play the same guitar for a decade or more, they're not telling you what repairs go on behind the scenes. It doesn't really matter to the story they're actually trying to tell with their music.

Your neck may have straightened out too much. Meaning there isn't enough "relief", and the center of the fretboard is either flat, or curving toward the strings.

As has been told to you already, the more common issue is the rising and falling of the guitar top, in response to changing humidity levels.

However, you should check the relief in the neck first, before you make any other changes. (Other than establishing the humidity levels in you home, and correcting them if necessary. If you're getting lit up with static electricity, no need to wonder, the humidity is way, way, too low!

If the Fender in question is indeed from a "starter kit", it's most likely a laminated top. These are less susceptible to low humidity, but by no means immune.

Last edited by Captaincranky : 01-19-2013 at 06:06 PM.
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Old 01-20-2013, 06:05 PM   #7
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Without getting into a major action analysis, the most basic thing that I would suggest is for you to loosen (turn counter-clockwise) the truss rod adjustment about 1/8 to 1/4 of a turn. It may take a day or so for the neck to relax but it should give just a little more relief and hopefully cure the buzz. The adjustment is located in the sound hole below the neck, and it usually requires a 5/32" hex wrench (or 4mm, which is almost exactly the same size).
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Old 01-20-2013, 09:01 PM   #8
stepchildusmc
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ahh... the ever-elusive truss rod adjustment ! i been waitin' for that one.
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Old 01-20-2013, 10:20 PM   #9
Captaincranky
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stepchildusmc
ahh... the ever-elusive truss rod adjustment ! i been waitin' for that one.
In this case, a back bow in the neck is possible. This happened with my Fender. That's a maple, thin neck, and strangely enough, the harder maple may be less stable than the softer, more common mahogany. (Just speculation, reinforced my the fact I have 6 guitars with mahogany necks that never needed adjustment, and one maple neck that did). The point may be moot, as it's very doubtful the Fender in question has a maple neck.

OTOH, I'm a firm believer in checking, (OR EVEN MEASURING (!)), the neck relief before any body jacks off into the truss rod adjustment.

In this case, we would be going toward the loosen direction, thus less tendency to ruin the neck.

That's as much as I'm willing to say, since I don't want a bunch of crap posted all over my profile page, or get accused of, "stifling someone's creativity"(*), for suggesting there are certain sequences to be followed, (measure first, then consider adjusting), and even measurable specifications for neck relief....

(Not to mention being called a "goon", and a bully, for pretending to know something about guitars. I don't want the real experts feeling intimidated, or leaving on my account).

Last edited by Captaincranky : 01-20-2013 at 10:32 PM.
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Old 01-21-2013, 09:32 PM   #10
stepchildusmc
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why cranky you goon !!!! you're stifling my creativity with your suggestions! why do you bullies always tell an inexperienced player to adjust their truss rods ! you know nothing of guitars ! we used to have a great panel of experts giving great advice here but you intimidated them all away ! ( did i hit all the points?? )


really, i'm never against getting my truss rod adjusted, i just don't think its a good advice for a beginning player to attempt. if moisture doesn't cure it, a decent shop should look at it until such a time our TS decides he's had enough experience and knowledge to attempt such an undertaking himself.
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Old 01-21-2013, 11:10 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stepchildusmc
why cranky you goon !!!! you're stifling my creativity with your suggestions! why do you bullies always tell an inexperienced player to adjust their truss rods ! you know nothing of guitars ! we used to have a great panel of experts giving great advice here but you intimidated them all away ! ( did i hit all the points?? )
Not only that, but I did it with extreme prejudice....
Quote:
Originally Posted by stepchildusmc
really, i'm never against getting my truss rod adjusted, i just don't think its a good advice for a beginning player to attempt.
But, but, but, but, I never told anybody to adjust their own truss rod. If it's the first time you're having it done, then have your dad or older brother take you to a place where you'll get it done properly. They say you always remember the first you get that thing "adjusted".
Quote:
Originally Posted by stepchildusmc
if moisture doesn't cure it, a decent shop should look at it until such a time our TS decides he's had enough experience and knowledge to attempt such an undertaking himself.
Again, in my original post, I told the OP to "check the relief". This simply because my Fender developed a back bend in the neck. For all I know, his guitar came from the same batch of green wood the turd I own did....

Incidentally, "ex" is from the Latin for, "from", or "out of". Translate with me, "Christus est natus Ex Maria Virgine". So then, "ex", plus "spurt", equals.....?? Not sure, although I do have my suspicions....

Herewith, I present to you, the correct technique for solving these issues:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Prescott_Player
Without getting into a major action analysis, the most basic thing that I would suggest is for you to loosen (turn counter-clockwise) the truss rod adjustment about 1/8 to 1/4 of a turn. It may take a day or so for the neck to relax but it should give just a little more relief and hopefully cure the buzz. The adjustment is located in the sound hole below the neck, and it usually requires a 5/32" hex wrench (or 4mm, which is almost exactly the same size).
...

Last edited by Captaincranky : 01-21-2013 at 11:25 PM.
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Old 01-23-2013, 06:23 PM   #12
chimparzan
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Thanks for all the replies to my question. Interesting to follow the discussion as I would certainly love to eventually know everything under the hood on acoustic or electric guitars. I didn't even know there was an adjustable truss under there, always thought the acoustic was a solid piece other than the tuners. Decided to take it in and the guy I usually deal with said it was the neck straightening, he adjusted it and we speculated on humidity and temperature changes. Plays great again, thanks again!
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Old 01-23-2013, 08:57 PM   #13
stepchildusmc
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you're welcome for the help and the entertainment !
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Old 01-27-2013, 02:32 AM   #14
tuxs
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Well guitars don't have hoods. They have Bouts. Although where Stepchild comes from they have
hoods, but there the ones that beat you up on the way to music lessons. Cheers
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Old 01-27-2013, 03:39 AM   #15
Captaincranky
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tuxs
Well guitars don't have hoods. They have Bouts. Although where Stepchild comes from they have
hoods, but there the ones that beat you up on the way to music lessons. Cheers
Oh behave! You're making me wax nostalgic for the antebellum south.
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Old 01-31-2013, 01:48 AM   #16
ajepifoyt
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Try humidifying it first and see if it gets rid of the buzz.
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Old 02-02-2013, 01:13 PM   #17
Aurora Borealis
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Im not an expert in this subject but i' can say i went through it alot. A depretiated string can cause this, so you should try changing your strings if no first hand fixes you thought of failed. If that doesn't fix it you can try adjusting the bridge. Now this usually does fix the problem but, as someone who have been playing for 2 months, i do not recommend you to personally try to adjust the bridge, "The local shop people" would be happy to do it for you though.
You can also see tutorials on bridge in the internet, and just so you know, internet has every single piece of information that you may want to know about guitar.
Peace out!
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