Lowering Action and Avoiding Fret Buzz?

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Taso
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Lowering Action and Avoiding Fret Buzz?

Post by Taso » April 25th, 2010, 6:43 pm

So some time ago I took all the strings off my guitar to give it a full out cleaning, forgetting that the entire bridge apparatus comes undone when that happens. By the time I got it back on, the action was much higher than it used to be, I tried for a while to get it lower but got some string buzzing and didn't have the patience to get it to the lowest point without string buzzing, so I said **** it, and raised the action up a bunch, making it high but buzz-free. That was probably two years ago or so.

Tonight I was screwing around with some tapping ideas (which I haven't done in years cause its not really my scene if ya know what I'm sayin), and I thought "damn, I used to be a lot better at this" and noticed that the strings were getting in the way of my fingers.

Finally, I said, "Thats it! I've had it with this high action, I've always been a low-action man, I'm gettin' down to business here."

So I've lowered the action to a pretty sweet point IMO, but I have a little string buzz around the 12th fret of D, and a lot of string buzz around the 14th fret of D. In all honesty I should probably get all the frets sanded down and refinished* (should have done that 6 years ago or whenever it was I bought this thing). But I was wondering if there's anything to be done with the truss rod so as to give the neck "more relief", or something, to get rid of this buzzing? I could raise the action a bit but I really like where its at now. Actually, the fret buzz on 14 is so high (almost a dead note) that I don't think raising the action a 'bit' would do it. And I can't live with the 12th and 14th frets not working on D as I play in that register a **** ton.

Anyways, do any of you know anything about adjusting truss rods? I've learned to adjust action and intonation, but the truss rod is a beast I've yet to tackle.


*What's this called?

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Ricochet
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Re: Lowering Action and Avoiding Fret Buzz?

Post by Ricochet » April 25th, 2010, 10:35 pm

Go to http://frets.com/ and look around. There's an excellent section on adjusting truss rods.
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Re: Lowering Action and Avoiding Fret Buzz?

Post by Ande » April 26th, 2010, 12:23 am

That's a good resource on truss rods.

Are you sure it's the truss rod you want to adjust, though? Seems like it might be. When you changed strings, and first developed this problem, do you happen to remember if you changed string gauge? I'm guessing that you went to a lighter gauge, and if so, your neck may have straightened (or even backbowed) on you- if this is the case, consider loosening.

But DON'T start messing with the truss rod without actually measuring neck straightness/relief. the fact that it buzzes could be due to any number of things. If it's not about neck straightness/relief, then the truss rod won't fix it.


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Re: Lowering Action and Avoiding Fret Buzz?

Post by Ande » April 26th, 2010, 12:27 am

PS-what made me think that the warning was in order was your reference to having the frets refinished. IF it's buzzing cause frets are high, that's one problem. If the neck is overstraight/backbowed, then that's another. If you try to mix and match solutions, it's like when you need a new pair of glasses and instead take aspirin for the headaches the old pair gives you.

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Re: Lowering Action and Avoiding Fret Buzz?

Post by Taso » April 26th, 2010, 7:46 am

Ricochet wrote:Go to http://frets.com/ and look around. There's an excellent section on adjusting truss rods.

I seem to see stuff only for acoustics on this site? I have a Les Paul for what its worth.

Ande, I didn't change the gauge, just put new strings on. And no, I'm not sure at all (really, at all) that its the truss rod I want to adjust.

Could just be a mater of filing down those two frets?

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Re: Lowering Action and Avoiding Fret Buzz?

Post by Ricochet » April 26th, 2010, 11:43 am

Truss rods are truss rods. They don't care if they're in an electric or an acoustic guitar.
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Re: Lowering Action and Avoiding Fret Buzz?

Post by Hyperborea » April 28th, 2010, 12:24 am

Ricochet's link for setting up will be fine but you will need to use different values for relief and action on a Les Paul as opposed to an acoustic. Maybe something like .008" of relief and 5/64" and 3/64" of action (bass and treble side) are good targets to shoot for with 10s on the guitar.
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Re: Lowering Action and Avoiding Fret Buzz?

Post by Ande » May 1st, 2010, 6:28 pm

Ande, I didn't change the gauge, just put new strings on. And no, I'm not sure at all (really, at all) that its the truss rod I want to adjust.

Could just be a mater of filing down those two frets?

Hmmm. I'm really no expert, but...the thing is frets won't have moved when you changed the strings. So if this is when the action change happened, probably filing them is not the answer.

How much neck relief are you getting? The easiest way to know if it's a truss rod issue is to measure. Try two things-

Measure string height: Distance from top of fret to bottom of string. Measure it at the 1st fret, the 12th fret, and a few other places, and post up the numbers- it'll make it clear what your strings are really doing. Especially measure string height at your buzzy frets, and see if that's the prob.

Then measure neck relief. The easiest way to do this is to put a capo at the first fret (making string height 0 at fret one) then to fret a string at the top fret (22, 24, or whatever) and look at the string in between. If it is touching frets all the way up, you have a neck that is either completely flat, or more likely slightly back bowed, and a truss rod adjustment is your best bet. If the string doesn't touch the frets when you're doing this, how high above them is it? Usually you want just a little bit of positive relief. I don't have tools to measure this in much detail, but what I look for is- the string doesn't touch at the 12th fret, but is so close I have to squint at it to be sure. If you can't see the space, tap the string and you can feel if it was touching or not.

By the way- this sounds a lot like a truss rod issue- I asked before because truss rods rarely go far out unless there's a change in something, and string tension is a favorite. Even between different brand strings of the same gauge, though, there can be differences in tension.



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Ande

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Re: Lowering Action and Avoiding Fret Buzz?

Post by Ande » May 1st, 2010, 6:30 pm

Sorry accidental double post.

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Re: Lowering Action and Avoiding Fret Buzz?

Post by TRGuitar » May 1st, 2010, 6:41 pm

Don't you dare get a file within 100 feet of that Les Paul! You will F - up a beautiful guitar. Set the action to specs and then measure the relief. Adjust the truss rod accordingly. My preference for action is 1/16" for the high E and 3/32" for the low E at the 18th fret. I like just enough relief to tell there is some there on a Les Paul.
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Re: Lowering Action and Avoiding Fret Buzz?

Post by Taso » May 2nd, 2010, 12:48 pm

Apparently I don't have a ruler here - is that what you use to measure the string height? It seems like it'd be very hard to measure because the distance is so small.

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Re: Lowering Action and Avoiding Fret Buzz?

Post by TRGuitar » May 3rd, 2010, 5:44 am

You can get small metal rulers with very precise measurements but feeler guages are a good way to go. They come in a set, opens like a jack knife. I have a set but I use my pick. (I use thin picks though) If one of my picks can fit between the string and the fret without touching I have too much relief. So ... for me, if the pick won't fit but I still see some daylight I am happy. I measure the string action with a thin metal ruler.
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Re: Lowering Action and Avoiding Fret Buzz?

Post by Hyperborea » May 3rd, 2010, 11:29 pm

As TR said a set of feeler gauges for measuring relief - you can pick them up for under $10 at Sears. If you don't have them then a regular playing card is close to .01". You want your relief to be just less than that.

For the string height feeler gauges won't measure that large a gap easily. You could use a bunch of the feelers and stack them up and then add up all the little amounts. Easier is to get a a good metal ruler that has 64ths markings on it. You should be able to get one at an office supply store or again at Sears or a hardware store. I picked up a nicely laid out ruler from Stew Mac for this - http://www.stewmac.com/shop/Tools/Measu ... Gauge.html It's a little pricy but's it's been very handy.
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Re: Lowering Action and Avoiding Fret Buzz?

Post by Taso » May 5th, 2010, 9:58 am

OK dudes,

I'm wondering, is it normal for the action to go higher up the fretboard? (eg, its low at fret 1 and gets higher and higher till fret 20)?

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Re: Lowering Action and Avoiding Fret Buzz?

Post by TRGuitar » May 5th, 2010, 6:47 pm

Depending on how low your nut is cut generally yeah .... that's how all of mine go.
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