Fretting Over Frets

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Kabrijj, Sep 18, 2018.

  1. Kabrijj

    Kabrijj Well-Known Member

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    Hey all,
    I have a question which may be theoretically impossible to answer via an online forum, but I'm gonna ask anyway.

    Can brand-spanking new Gibson frets be flat enough to cause buzzing?

    The backstory: I recently picked up a 2013 '70s Tribute, with little (if any fretwear), but it buzzes. And not just "adjust the truss rod" buzz: it's got buzz from the 1st fret to the 12th and beyond.

    It's not a question of setup: I've tried raising the bridge and introducing more relief, but then not only does the guitar go outside of my preferred action, but the buzz -- by and large -- remains.

    Anyone else ever run into this?

    Ironically, I had another '70s Tribute a while back which had the exact same symptoms! Maybe not quite as bad, although time may have dulled my recollection of it...

    Maybe it's that model, or year? Maybe I got unlucky twice? Maybe there's something else I'm overlooking? I'm thinking a re-crown may be in order, but wanted to ask around before either paying someone to do it, or taking on the task myself.

    (quick disclaimer: I've been setting up guitars for years, and have a pretty damn good grasp of the basics. I'm 97% sure this isn't a result of a poor setup)
     
  2. cerebral gasket

    cerebral gasket Well-Known Member

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    Do all the strings buzz or just one?

    Any proud frets located above the 12th fret that are too tall? Are the frets level with each other across the entire board?
     
  3. DrBGood

    DrBGood Well-Known Member

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    Saddles or bridge itself ?
     
    PermissionToLand likes this.
  4. Six Stringed Demon

    Six Stringed Demon Active Member

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    Sounds to me to be one of two things. Either the frets are loose (I’ve encountered this a few times and it’s caused by sloppy refrets) or could be a tweaked neck.

    So the sloppy regret: frets look and feel okay to the touch, but when you force the string down to acquire your note, the fret moves just enough to buzz (and piss you off). I’d get good lighting and a non moving structure to lay your Guitar on and press each end of all frets to see if you can see even a bit of wiggle.

    Neck issue: unstring and place on a known flat surface and give a good looking over and possible measure.

    Both are fixable but both are time consuming and require patience....
     
  5. Kabrijj

    Kabrijj Well-Known Member

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    That may be part of the issue...

    I took it to a trusted (and highly regarded) luthier friend of mine... he said it's a likely two-part problem. The first is that the bridge saddles are too flat; ie, the radius is much flatter than the fretboard. The second is the nut slots are too high.

    Since I was planning on upgraded to a TonePros anyway, I waited til it showed up and installed it. Strangely, the buzz is greatly diminished! Still there a bit, but much less obscene than before. Now to file the nut down a bit, see where I'm at.

    Funny, you can still learn a lot about guitars even after working on them for years. I wouldn't have ever thought the bridge radius being too flat would cause such an issue. I get if it's too flat, the strings in the middle would be too low (assuming the E strings' height was set correctly), but that didn't explain the low E buzz. Weird.

    In answer to some of the questions posed above: the frets are, for the most part, flat and level with each other. Used a fret rocker, and there's a few which are slightly off... but not much more than some other guitars I've played. There's no question about them being poorly seated (possible re-fret), as they are the original frets with little -- if any -- wear. As far as the neck being straight & true... well, it's close. A little wonky, but pretty dang close.
     
  6. cerebral gasket

    cerebral gasket Well-Known Member

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    Sounds like the tailpiece was decked and the strings were not top wrapped. Excessive downward string pressure over the bridge will cave it in over time causing the middle strings to choke out.

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  7. Kabrijj

    Kabrijj Well-Known Member

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    I honestly think the bridge itself was structurally solid, but whoever slotted the saddles was careless and went way too deep.

    Guitars are funny...:rolleyes:
     
  8. flatrockmobile

    flatrockmobile Well-Known Member

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    "but whoever slotted the saddles was careless and went way too deep"

    Tried and true method is to install the UNSLOTTED bridge, string it up with OLD strings, get them in the exact location needed, then tap the top of the strings a couple of times with a hard plastic hammer where they cross the saddles. If they jump out of the slots too easily, tap a couple more times.
    I slide a small block of wood under the center of the bridge when doing this so not to flatten out or damage the bridge.
     

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