#1
Hi all

Recently I have read a few threads in which people seem overly concerned about finding the correct string height and by all means avoid the terrifying phenomenon STRING BUZZ

People tend to go crazy with concern that their strings buzz, for no reason at all.
I have talked to different luthiers in my area and others about what they advie and how their own guitars are set up. They all tell me the the fact of the matter is, that you can have alot of buzz when you play accoustically, but once your amp is at a reasonable volume you wont hear a thing. Low action and a near straight neck is the way to go. Playing is easier, intonation more consistent and you'll be able to do more advanced stuff without notes accidently "unfretting". The important thing to look after is that your neck is pretty straight, because if it is not, you will have notes fretting out when doing full bends in many locations, esp. in the lower/midle area.

Whenever i get the chance at concerts and gigs I try to play around a little with the pro players guitars, and I have not yet seen one one that is buzz/rattle free when played accoustically.

I pesonally have my stings sitting at 1.5 mm or 3.75/64 inches at the low E and 1.00 (2.5/64 inches) at the high E.

People seem to grow gray hairs wondering whether or not their setup is right, and I myself have started to think about it again

Whats your take on this?
#2
Seems to me that fret buzz is going dissipate some of the energy of the vibrating string. Those looking for sustain might find that to be a deal killer. My guitar instructor once told me roughly the same thing you just said. However, the only additional thing he mentioned, is that a little fret buzz won't be heard, but if the action is set too low, you will start to hear it through the amp. I do the setups on all of my guitars and those of my family. I like low action and will tolerate a little buzz, but if there's too much and I can hear it through my amp, I will adjust it out.
#3
surely they can be too low and then you can hear it when playing I think your right as to the loss of energy. very logical, but then again you might just adjust your pickups a tad higher to compensate
#4
I have 1.5mm on the low E and 2mm on the high E. This is easily set on a tune-a-matic bridge.

A point made above is important: if these's any kind of buzz going on acoustically, you have to consider how that affects sustain and note resonance. Personally I shoot for the above figures because you know that it's nicely playable, but at the same time isn't so low that buzzing may occur.

Hearing buzzing through an amp sucks and when you get that you have to look at raising the action or tweaking some other settings. My Godin LG was doing this and has subsequently gone back to the supplier for a swap out.
#5
I personally think that fret buzz affects tonal clarity and sustain, which affects pinch harmonics, harmonic overtones in general, and even fretted notes.

A straighter neck is easier to play yes, but hearing consistent fret buzz in certain regions of the neck can annoy the player. When attempting harder techniques and sequences it is easy to mistake the extra noise for inability to play cleanly, but once the buzzing is eliminated it all sounds clearer. The worst thing is two semitones 'ringing together' when only fretting one note (because the string passes across the next fret and picks up a slight harmonic sound from it. Whenever these things bug me I re-setup the guitar to eliminate them, and that might be giving the neck more relief, or straightening it.

The necks and fretwork on guitars are made of varying quality, so each guitar's setup will be slightly different. If the fretwork is poorer, generally a higher action will be needed to avoid buzzing as much, so that can be achieved by giving more neck relief or raising the bridge (action is typically a compromise of these two adjustments), depending where the buzzing is taking place.

Again, all this is just MY take, but i prefer my guitars with as least buzzing as possible (unplugged), because it makes for better tonal clarity and sustain, avoids unwanted string noise when using legato techniques, and generally just sounds clearer. But i'd like to hear others' thoughts.

EDIT - in reference to the above suggestion to raise the pickups if the buzzing is detracting from string oscillation, affecting volume etc, personally I would do this (luv hot pickups), but i would not recommend it, as you are also picking up the extra noise that comes from the buzzing, and that doesn't isn't always pleasing to the ear.
Last edited by yenners at Nov 8, 2008,
#6
Quote by M1llerman
I have 1.5mm on the low E and 2mm on the high E. This is easily set on a tune-a-matic bridge.

A point made above is important: if these's any kind of buzz going on acoustically, you have to consider how that affects sustain and note resonance. Personally I shoot for the above figures because you know that it's nicely playable, but at the same time isn't so low that buzzing may occur.

Hearing buzzing through an amp sucks and when you get that you have to look at raising the action or tweaking some other settings. My Godin LG was doing this and has subsequently gone back to the supplier for a swap out.


Why would you have it lower on the thicker strings? That must feel horrible


Mine is 1.5mm on the high E and 2mm on the low E.
#7
Quote by yenners
I personally think that fret buzz affects tonal clarity and sustain, which affects pinch harmonics, harmonic overtones in general, and even fretted notes.

A straighter neck is easier to play yes, but hearing consistent fret buzz in certain regions of the neck can annoy the player.


I'd agree with that, always play it unplugged all over the fretboard and see what it's doing in different places. Straight neck is the way to go, but no neck will ever be dead straight and you might argue that it shouldn't be anyway, as you probably WILL get buzzing then due to not enough clearance on the string run down to the bridge.
#8
Quote by Wylde_Man
Why would you have it lower on the thicker strings? That must feel horrible


Mine is 1.5mm on the high E and 2mm on the low E.


Depends on your definition of high and low! I meant high E 1.5 and low 2.0 as you said ...
#9
I used to set it to 1:16 inch [1.59 mm] above the twelfth fret, but now I use the seventeenth fret.
#10
Quote by yenners

EDIT - in reference to the above suggestion to raise the pickups if the buzzing is detracting from string oscillation, affecting volume etc, personally I would do this (luv hot pickups), but i would not recommend it, as you are also picking up the extra noise that comes from the buzzing, and that doesn't isn't always pleasing to the ear.


Thats very true. Though I'm talking noly i bit of buzz, but again it is really hard to define the amount of buzz online

Great replies guys To me this is a very interesting discussion as I think the topic is very unclear to many players, and still not totally clear for others(like myself ) It's hard to know when your setup is perfect, as there is no definition thereof
#12
I can't be bothered to measure it, but it's as low as it gets before causing any serious buzzing.
Quote by stinger12345
It even says "High Quality" in the title, so you KNOW it's quality
#13
5/64 on the bass E string and 4/64 on the treble E string.

In a guitar repair book I have they list all the specifications of famous guitar players setups. I have the same setup has Stevie Ray Vaughn and Clapton's is setup almost exactly the same way (4/64 on the bass E string for him).
#14
Personally, I will tolerate slight buzzing on the lower strings for lower action. I've spent the last 2 weeks trying different settups on my guitar and have come to a conclusion: sacrifice slight buzz on low notes for lower action on high notes. It makes playing more enjoyable. When my action is too high, I won't even want to play.
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#15
Quote by sabbathu
Personally, I will tolerate slight buzzing on the lower strings for lower action. I've spent the last 2 weeks trying different settups on my guitar and have come to a conclusion: sacrifice slight buzz on low notes for lower action on high notes. It makes playing more enjoyable. When my action is too high, I won't even want to play.


What a nice way to look at things. Many people like myself focus so much on getting the "perfect" setup and sound that we tend to forget what music is really about. Enjoying yourself and passing that joy on to others Besides no one at a gig will hear if you have a minimal buzz at one point or the other once you in context, but they sure as hell will pick up on you not having a good time rocking the entire room I know I tend to get to picky when sitting alone with my gear hour upon hour at home, but once I go jam with the band I dont even consider it
#16
medium-high for me... I like to fight it a bit

I think this comes from playing bass for so long - and on bass, you definitely get a better tone from having a highish action with no buzzes... on guitar though, when you get all the overdrive & compression going, I'm not as convinced it's as necessary
out of here
#17
to be perfectly honest, i find that a dead straight neck is asking for trouble, i mean a string vibrates in a n eliptical pattern right. i always have a slight amount of relife in my necks to compensate, lets the string vibrate more freely even with low heights, but again, as others have said, just my take on the thing
#18
Quote by requiemsinger
to be perfectly honest, i find that a dead straight neck is asking for trouble, i mean a string vibrates in a n eliptical pattern right. i always have a slight amount of relife in my necks to compensate, lets the string vibrate more freely even with low heights, but again, as others have said, just my take on the thing


I usually get problems to if its DEAD straight. then the nuts are usually cut too low on the high E string. On my two gibsons at least. So I have them nearly straight. ( somewhere between 0.004-0.008mm.) I do however remember when I first started messing about with setups, I read all the guides that said to have the relief of a credit card, which is actually quite alot of relief, I actually was able to get lower action on the high frets than I am with the near straight neck. But the neck didn't quite feel as comfortable as an overall.
Then "clever" people told me to straighten my neck and I did, and have played like that since. In the recent months however I have started obsessing about this alot AGAIN The thing that bugs me, is that usually when I have everything perfect tonal wise and comfortwise, the low E is causing trouble. So I'm not able to get the "perfect feel" so to speak.

Anyone have an idea as to how to overcome this on a les paul? I mean I guess I could file the saddles on each string except the low E, but I'm not sure whether or not that will have some sideeffects.
Last edited by chrisdam at Nov 19, 2008,