New guitar - fret has started buzzing

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CliffP
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Location: St. Charles, MO, USA

New guitar - fret has started buzzing

Post by CliffP » Sat Aug 12, 2017 1:17 am

I have an Alvarez that I bought in February of this year and it has just started to develop a buzz in the D string at the 4th fret. When I lay a smooth and fairly straight nail file back on the fret it appears to have developed a bow at that location. The other frets seem to be flat using the same test. Being new to owning a decent guitar I'm wondering if this is a result of summer humidity or should I take it back and have the folks I bought it from fix the fret.

Thanks in advance for your advice.

Cliff

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Steve Ganz
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Location: Blaine, WA, USA

Re: New guitar - fret has started buzzing

Post by Steve Ganz » Sat Aug 12, 2017 2:27 am

Are the frets firmly and completely seated?
Is the D string new or old?
A "fairly straight" edge is useless for this purpose.
Steve

CliffP
Posts: 13
Joined: Mon Feb 13, 2017 11:38 pm
Location: St. Charles, MO, USA

Re: New guitar - fret has started buzzing

Post by CliffP » Sun Aug 13, 2017 12:12 am

All the frets have a very slight return on the bottom which creates a shadow line and the fret in question does not appear to have a wider shadow line than the others. I pushed down on it and the adjacent frets and did not detect any motion so I would say that it appears to be as firmly seated as the others.

The D string, part of a set of D'Addario EJ30, was installed on June 4th of this year. There is some discoloration on the string at the 3rd, 4th and 5th frets that seems to be common with use. I have probably played around 30 hours since then doing beginner stuff and don't play loudly.

I have a machinist's straightedge that I could lay on the fret if that would help determine the cause of the problem.

Cliff

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Steve Ganz
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Joined: Mon Dec 25, 2006 6:19 pm
Location: Blaine, WA, USA

Re: New guitar - fret has started buzzing

Post by Steve Ganz » Tue Aug 15, 2017 4:13 am

Cliff,
Exact diagnosis and treatment from afar is hard, because it's hard to explain everything ... straight edge would help determine if there is a high fret. Many times the recommendation to change the D string is correct. I'd start with there. If that doesn't fix it, then trying to find a high fret makes sense. There are numerous youtubes regarding high frets.
Steve

OldPotter
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Re: New guitar - fret has started buzzing

Post by OldPotter » Tue Aug 15, 2017 7:53 am

It might be useful to let us know the action at the 12th fret, that is the gap between the top of the fret and the bottom of the string. Usually measured at the 1st and 6th string.
The D string seems to be most prone to buzzing, often at the 4th or 5th fret. Sometimes this is as a result of generally low action and sometimes its caused by climatic change affecting the neck. A few luthiers make the saddle with a slightly raised crown around the 3rd and 4th string to raise the action at those strings.
You could try raising the action by fitting a shim under the saddle, 0.25 - 0.5 mm might be enough. If that works but destroys the tone, a new saddle is needed.
There is a list of possible causes at the Frank Ford website, frets.com.

This subject has been much discussed in the past, sometimes its not easy to find the right thread. Perhaps look at the FAQs??????
"When I was younger, I could remember almost everything, whether it happened or not." Mark Twain

CliffP
Posts: 13
Joined: Mon Feb 13, 2017 11:38 pm
Location: St. Charles, MO, USA

Re: New guitar - fret has started buzzing

Post by CliffP » Tue Aug 15, 2017 8:14 pm

Steve Ganz wrote:
Tue Aug 15, 2017 4:13 am
Cliff,
Exact diagnosis and treatment from afar is hard, because it's hard to explain everything ... straight edge would help determine if there is a high fret. Many times the recommendation to change the D string is correct. I'd start with there. If that doesn't fix it, then trying to find a high fret makes sense. There are numerous youtubes regarding high frets.
Thanks, I'll try a new D string first. Since it didn't buzz for a couple of months after I put on the new string that seems logical.

CliffP
Posts: 13
Joined: Mon Feb 13, 2017 11:38 pm
Location: St. Charles, MO, USA

Re: New guitar - fret has started buzzing

Post by CliffP » Tue Aug 15, 2017 8:26 pm

OldPotter wrote:
Tue Aug 15, 2017 7:53 am
It might be useful to let us know the action at the 12th fret, that is the gap between the top of the fret and the bottom of the string. Usually measured at the 1st and 6th string.
The D string seems to be most prone to buzzing, often at the 4th or 5th fret. Sometimes this is as a result of generally low action and sometimes its caused by climatic change affecting the neck. A few luthiers make the saddle with a slightly raised crown around the 3rd and 4th string to raise the action at those strings.
You could try raising the action by fitting a shim under the saddle, 0.25 - 0.5 mm might be enough. If that works but destroys the tone, a new saddle is needed.
There is a list of possible causes at the Frank Ford website, frets.com.

This subject has been much discussed in the past, sometimes its not easy to find the right thread. Perhaps look at the FAQs??????
I measured the action at the 12th fret as follows: Lower frequency E: 0.12" (3.05 mm); D: 0.11" (2.79 mm); High E: 0.104" (2.64 mm). All of these were made with automotive feeler gauges and so there's likely to be a couple of thousandths variation from actual. As for the shim you mentioned, assuming that changing the D string doesn't solve the problem, do you put it on top of the bridge at each string or under the entire bridge?

Thanks,
Cliff

OldPotter
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Location: Channel Islands

Re: New guitar - fret has started buzzing

Post by OldPotter » Tue Aug 15, 2017 9:25 pm

Hi, your action looks to be quite low. (Just my personal opinion) I would be thinking of putting a shim under the whole length of saddle to check how it actually works out. Something like hard timber or hard plastic would work. A low action is about 3.5 and 3.0 mm. so you could easily put a 1.00 mm shim to raise the action at the 12th fret by 0.5mm. ( The 12th fret is about half way along the string )

We think that the whole of the saddle needs to make a good contact with the bottom of the groove in the bridge to transmit sound well. Of course if you just prop up one end then you may cure the buzzing but get a dull sound.

In the end I think you need to make a new saddle. Perhaps look on Y tube or frets.com to see how to make a saddle and get some bone blanks online or at the big luthier suppliers in the USA. If you understand engineering, I would guess you would be able to do that without a problem.

If the guitar is only a few months old, then I think its reasonable to take it back and ask the supplier to sort it out. But it is something that is not impossible to do your self. If you want to check for a high fret then you need a good quality straight edge that only covers 3 frets at a time.
"When I was younger, I could remember almost everything, whether it happened or not." Mark Twain

CliffP
Posts: 13
Joined: Mon Feb 13, 2017 11:38 pm
Location: St. Charles, MO, USA

Re: New guitar - fret has started buzzing

Post by CliffP » Wed Aug 16, 2017 12:04 am

OldPotter wrote:
Tue Aug 15, 2017 9:25 pm
Hi, your action looks to be quite low. (Just my personal opinion) I would be thinking of putting a shim under the whole length of saddle to check how it actually works out. Something like hard timber or hard plastic would work. A low action is about 3.5 and 3.0 mm. so you could easily put a 1.00 mm shim to raise the action at the 12th fret by 0.5mm. ( The 12th fret is about half way along the string )

We think that the whole of the saddle needs to make a good contact with the bottom of the groove in the bridge to transmit sound well. Of course if you just prop up one end then you may cure the buzzing but get a dull sound.

In the end I think you need to make a new saddle. Perhaps look on Y tube or frets.com to see how to make a saddle and get some bone blanks online or at the big luthier suppliers in the USA. If you understand engineering, I would guess you would be able to do that without a problem.

If the guitar is only a few months old, then I think its reasonable to take it back and ask the supplier to sort it out. But it is something that is not impossible to do your self. If you want to check for a high fret then you need a good quality straight edge that only covers 3 frets at a time.
Thanks for your advice. I did some internet searching and wound up back here at the Forum at this post: viewtopic.php?t=85836 on the subject of action heights and started thinking. It turns out that the saddle on my guitar is tapered with the wider end toward the bass strings. So, newbie that I am to all this, I've got to ask a probably obvious question which is could I simply slide the saddle over to get the suggested height?

Thanks,
Cliff

OldPotter
Posts: 1697
Joined: Thu Dec 06, 2007 7:31 pm
Location: Channel Islands

Re: New guitar - fret has started buzzing

Post by OldPotter » Wed Aug 16, 2017 6:35 am

could I simply slide the saddle over to get the suggested height?
Yes of course. It had not even crossed my mind that the Alvarez had a tapered saddle.......
"When I was younger, I could remember almost everything, whether it happened or not." Mark Twain

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