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Guitar tip: That fret buzz may not be your frets

I was finishing a guitar today... I had done some fret work, new strings, and a set-up, and I kept getting major buzzing on the low E string. Just that string; buzzing all the way up the fretboard. The frets were level, the set-up seemed fine... no reason why it should be buzzing. I tried everything.... still buzzing. Finally I put on a different string and the buzzing stopped.

I've had bad strings before, and they can cause all sorts of weird things... intonation problems, funny ringing or overtones, dead sounds, and yes, buzzing. If you examine these bad strings and put a micrometer on them you will usually find some abnormality... uneven windings, variations in thickness, etc. All of the major string manufacturers have pretty good quality controls, but occasionally a bad one will slip through. Anytime I've reported a problem to the manufacturer they've sent me a replacement set of strings.

Usually the cause of buzzing strings is uneven frets, action too low, or neck relief is set incorrectly. So check those things first before blaming the string. Other possible sources of buzzing and other undesirable sounds from your guitar besides frets, set-up, and strings can be loose hardware (tuners, bridge), poorly cut nuts, saddles not seated, loose braces in acoustics, and loose truss rods.

Well, it's getting late, so I think I'll buzz on out of here...