Learn how to diagnose and fix common guitar buzzing problems by following these easy to implement steps.
Guitar Buzzing is by far the most common guitar repair problem. It can often be traced to one of the causes listed below in order of their probability:
Guitar Buzzing - Look For Loose Frets
Your search for guitar buzzing for a loose fret can begin by sighting down the guitar neck from the nut to the saddle. As our guitars go through the climate change of summer to winter, the constant change in humidity levels can loosen or dislodge a fret.
If you suspect a loose fret, investigate by placing a steel rule next to the fret and pick the string. If the buzzing stops, you have found your culprit. Additionally, start to finger each fret on a buzzing string.
Finger progressively until the buzzing stops. The fret just above the one where the buzzing stops is your bad fret.
Loose or buzzing frets can be fixed by hammering the fret back into the fret groove. This is however at best, a temporary fix. The better fix is to use a fret with a larger gage tang to more securely grab the fret groove.
Visit my Fret Repair series of articles for sure-fire fixes for all of your guitar fret needs.
Guitar Buzzing - Check All Hardware
Your investigation should begin with visually inspecting your guitar hardware. Make sure all your tuning machines are tightly screwed in place, the button are secure and there are no visible loose parts.
Check each part for tightness and insure there is nothing able to wobble or rattle. Check your bridge on an electric guitar as this is often the source for buzzing with all the metal parts used in electric guitar bridges.
For electric guitars, you should also check the internal electric parts hidden beneath access panels and the pick guitar for any loose or rattling parts. Secure any suspect items.
This is an easy one to diagnose. The buzzing will likely occur over a number of frets and or strings. The easy fix is to raise the nut and or saddle.
Refer to my articles on Adjusting your Guitar Nut Action or Adjusting your Guitar Saddle Action for detailed information on how to achieve optimal action for your guitar and the tools and methods necessary for these operations.
Visually inspect your strings. If they are discolored or show any visible wear, replace them. If your buzz disappears after installing new strings, your buzzing problem is solved.
Loose brace guitar buzzing is often detected at certain frequencies or pitches.
If you suspect a loose brace, lightly tap the top in several locations. Many times you can get the loose brace to vibrate.
The best inspection lights are on an adjustable neck and are LED lights that will not generate heat to heat up your instrument.
Insert the light and hold the mirror with one hand while lightly pressing down of the soundboard with the other and visually inspect along the length of each brace. if this does no turn up the loose brace you may need to investigate farther with a probe tool and see if you can slip the thin blade beneath any brace.
If you find a loose brace, refer to my article on How to Repair a Loose Brace.
Guitar Buzzing - Find Those Loose Braces
This is the least common cause of buzzing. Usually because of string tension and humidity changes, the neck warps away from the strings causing high action.
For the strings to buzz the neck would have to warp upward. If you visually sight down your neck and your neck warps upward, you likely have to adjust the truss rod.
Refer to the Article on How to Adjust Your Neck Truss Rod for more information.
Truss Rod Vibration is not a very common cause of guitar buzzing. You can isolate this problem by tapping hard on the neck and listening for a vibration.
If you do hear a vibration, it is likely the glue let loose in the channel of the truss rod, or the truss rod is broken.
Refer to the Article on How to Repair a Loose or Broken Truss Rod for more information.
There are numerous things that can cause guitar buzzing and the list above is representative of most of the more common issues. When you find the buzz, that is the first step.
The remedy can be either easy or quite involved and you should visit my supplemental articles on fixing these problems.
Guitar Buzzing - Plywood Guitars Are Prone To Resonating Dissonance
This guitar buzzing problem can be the most illusive of all. Typically you will not find resonating dissonance in quality solid wood guitars, but in mass produced factory guitars.
What is it? Resonating dissonance not a structural flaw but accidental. It is caused by sympathetic vibration between the back and top plates of the guitar when it is picked or strummed.
This can become a problem when the specific density of the top and the back plates are approximately the same, as in a guitar constructed from plywood. It is almost nonexistent in solid wood guitars because they are usually build from soft tonewood for the top plate and hardwood for the back plate.