How To Fix Fret Buzz With Tools From Home!

How To Fix Fretbuzz With A Credit Card And Sandpaper (I'm serious)

Fret buzz... Possibly the most annoying sound that you can hear on your guitar. Fret buzz never goes away on it's own and it can outright ruin your playing experience. Luckily fixing fret buzz is a very easy problem to solve, and yes all it requires is some sandpaper (get a smooth grit such as 800) and a credit card.

Don't pay someone to do it! A guitar luthier will charge you over $100 just to file a fret down for you. They overcharge for very simple jobs that you can do yourself.

If you are having problem with open string buzzing, then the issue is most likely your guitar nut. To fix this issue, you can use sandpaper but a fret file is more accurate and recommended. TheMusicGig offers the same item that the pro's use but at just half the price:

Guitar Nut File

 

Keep in mind you might not have a fret buzz issue due the fret itself. Sometimes the problem is that you have a bowed neck or a warped neck. If it's warped you are in a bit of trouble as it's a very expensive fix. Luckily, this is often not the case. Assuming your guitar neck is fine, follow the following tips to make your guitar sound like new.

 

The most common cause of fret buzz is frets that are uneven. A guitar fret should be straight the whole way across, and you would think that it is. The problem is that the human eye cannot see it nor can our fingers sense those microscopic bumps. It's interesting how such small things can make a difference.

Here are some photos on how your guitar fret should look like:

guitar fret buzz problem

 This ovbiously isn't a real photo as it is impossible to see with your naked eye, but this is what is going on. These tiny bumps are causing this massive problem. Here is what it should look like:

guitar fret buzz problem

As you can see it's just a simple straight line, how it should be. The fret might not be 100% straight but it doesn't need to be. It needs to be straight enough so that you don't get your frets buzzing.

 

A question that you might have - Should I remove my strings before doing this?

It is really up to you, it will make it easier in the sanding process a tiny bit but will make it annoying later because you will need to re-string your guitar, tune it, and stretch the strings. Not to mention you can't continually test to see if the buzz is gone.

Imagine if you were to sand the fret a tiny bit then put on a new string to see if it buzzes. That's alot of strings that you will go through! Best solution is to just loosen up your guitar strings and tape them off if you have to, to get them out of the way.

Step 1) Lay your guitar on a solid surface so it does not move around. If you put your guitar on a soft surface it might move around and you might end up making your hand slip, scratching your guitar in the process.

Please don't do this; you will hate yourself for it afterward (I know the feeling)

guitar fret buzz

Step 2) Tape up your other guitar frets! Trust me, the more times you are grinding the sand paper up and down, the chances of you scratching something increase dramatically. With a higher grit sand paper scratches are less noticable but I seriously doubt that you want scratches on your guitar.

fixing guitar fret buzz

Here is an example of how to do it. You don't need to tape up the entire guitar fretboard, just around the fret that you will be working on.

BONUS TIP!

Please for the love of God, be careful where you leave your sand paper. Doing this will require that you alternate between your credit card and the sand paper, and it's very easy to place it somewhere that damages your guitar.

Step 3 (Optional) If you want to take it to the next level (which is a decent idea if you tend to be clumsy with these sort of things) then wrap the guitar with a cloth or something of the kind to avoid damage.

Step 4) Locate the fret that is causing you buzzing. For the sake of this tutorial, we will use the 12th fret of the high 'E' string.

CRUCIAL TIP!

Make sure that you are filing the correct guitar fret! This may sound silly, but it is easy to mistake the wrong guitar fret for the right one. In essence, if your finger is on the 12th fret of the low 'E' string then the fret that you need to file is the one in front of your fingers.

Take a look at this illustration so you can see which fret to file and which one to avoid filing.

12th fret of guitar

 As you can tell by the two circles dots that is the 12th fret of the 'E' string. Where my fingers are and where the arrow is, that is the fret we need to file.

Here is the wrong fret that might confuse you.

12th fret of guitar

If you file the wrong guitar fret for too long, what can happen is that the fret will end up being too low and it will end up looking like this.

guitar fret buzz problem

You don't want to do this! If you have done this, then you have to perform the painful task of pulling it out, buying another fret, and having it installed. So be careful.

 

Step 5) Get your credit card and start shaking it on the fretboard to identify if it is rocking side to side. If you are moving your credit card and it is moving sideways that means you have a high fret. Take a look at this illustration:

 guitar fretboard levelling

As you can see in the photo, you have the credit card, the 3 frets (the one in the middle is higher than the other ones that are even. They look slightly off in the photo but pretend that they are even) and the green arrows show to move your credit card in those directions to see if there is any rocking.

It is sort of like a see-saw.

CRUCIAL TIP!

Make sure that you have your credit only touching three frets, otherwise you won't get accurate results! Here is what it should look like:

 12th fret on guitar

 As you can see, we have the card sitting across three frets, and it's the middle one that we want to file to get rid of the fret buzz.

Step 6) Mark where the bumps are. Get a marker and just colour in where the bumps are on, you don't need to be 100% accurate, just roughly where they are. These are the areas that you are going to sand slowly.

Here is an example of a marked guitar fret:

marking a guitar fret

Step 7) Start sanding bit by bit. Don't be scared, you won't damage anything, especially if you are using a smooth piece of sand paper like 800 grit. Sand for 10 seconds at a time then use your credit to check to see if there are any bumps, and keep repeating the process.

That is the entire process, it's very simple. Once you are done with the sanding and the testing with your credit card, tune your strings back up and see if it buzzes. If you still have fret buzz then undo the string and sand it a bit more.

If that still hasn't fixed the problem, you might need to take it to a local guitar store to get it checked out.  Hopefully this guide has helped you.