Jump to content

Time To Get Frets Recrowned?


Keegan
 Share

Recommended Posts

I've started having trouble with buzz lately, and the action doesn't seem to be the cause of it. The nut was giving me some trouble since it was hand-carved bone and the 2nd and 3rd string were about .2mm lower than the rest, so I shimmed it. Now the action at the 1st fret is around 0.8-1.0mm, and about 2mm at the 12th. Is this too low? It's starting to sound like a sitar. Do I need my frets looked at or could there be another cause? I use strings .011-.054".

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've started having trouble with buzz lately, and the action doesn't seem to be the cause of it. The nut was giving me some trouble since it was hand-carved bone and the 2nd and 3rd string were about .2mm lower than the rest, so I shimmed it. Now the action at the 1st fret is around 0.8-1.0mm, and about 2mm at the 12th. Is this too low? It's starting to sound like a sitar. Do I need my frets looked at or could there be another cause? I use strings .011-.054".

What guitar? How old is it? How long have you been playing it? When did the buzzing start? Where does it buzz-- every fret or just in a few places? What is the relief (not the action)? Etc. The more information you provide, the better we can steer you to a diagnosis. It may be just a case of needing to reset the relief to accommodate for weather/humidity changes.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ditto on what Mick said. More info is needed.

And just to add to that - your thread title says "recrowned" - recrowning is simply touching up the profile after the frets have been leveled, which is a different process.

Leveling the frets (removing material across the entire playing surface until all frets are of even height) leaves them with a flat top, (more so on the frets that started higher) and recrowning them gives back their semi-circular profile. I assume that since your here asking questions, you won't just be attacking an instrument, and you may very well know the difference, but I've seen a few guitars that end up needing a lot more work than they started needing because an over enthusiastic owner somehow managed to get his hands on a crowning file in an attempt to fix perceived issues with fret wear, so I thought I'd mention it.

It may also help you in searches for information to be using the appropriate terminology. (Although any reference that discusses fret leveling will also invariably mention crowning as well.)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've started having trouble with buzz lately, and the action doesn't seem to be the cause of it. The nut was giving me some trouble since it was hand-carved bone and the 2nd and 3rd string were about .2mm lower than the rest, so I shimmed it. Now the action at the 1st fret is around 0.8-1.0mm, and about 2mm at the 12th. Is this too low? It's starting to sound like a sitar. Do I need my frets looked at or could there be another cause? I use strings .011-.054".

What guitar? How old is it? How long have you been playing it? When did the buzzing start? Where does it buzz-- every fret or just in a few places? What is the relief (not the action)? Etc. The more information you provide, the better we can steer you to a diagnosis. It may be just a case of needing to reset the relief to accommodate for weather/humidity changes.

MIM Strat, 10 years old, I've had it for less than one though, the buzzing started after I had it taken in to get a new nut(I broke the plastic one). I shimmed the nut and that helped some of the buzz on strings 2 and 3, but all of the middle strings, 2-5, buzz somewhere. Frets 1-11 on 5, 0-11 on 4, 1-11 on 3, 0-11 on 2.

How can I measure relief? Now that I think of it, I might have screwed up the relief because I tightened the truss rod when I put heavier strings on. It doesn't seem any straighter than when it had 9s on it though.

Ditto on what Mick said. More info is needed.

And just to add to that - your thread title says "recrowned" - recrowning is simply touching up the profile after the frets have been leveled, which is a different process.

Leveling the frets (removing material across the entire playing surface until all frets are of even height) leaves them with a flat top, (more so on the frets that started higher) and recrowning them gives back their semi-circular profile. I assume that since your here asking questions, you won't just be attacking an instrument, and you may very well know the difference, but I've seen a few guitars that end up needing a lot more work than they started needing because an over enthusiastic owner somehow managed to get his hands on a crowning file in an attempt to fix perceived issues with fret wear, so I thought I'd mention it.

It may also help you in searches for information to be using the appropriate terminology. (Although any reference that discusses fret leveling will also invariably mention crowning as well.)

I knew the difference, I didn't know that it had to be leveled before being crowned again though. I thought the leveling was a 1-time thing. Thanks for saving me from attacking my frets.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I might have screwed up the relief because I tightened the truss rod when I put heavier strings on. It doesn't seem any straighter than when it had 9s on it though.

99% sure that is your problem.

Press down on the first fret and the last fret and look under the string at around the middle of the neck. There should be a *very* small space between the string and the frets. If it's touching, your need to loosen up the truss rod, if there is a wide gap you need to tighten it until there is a very slight gap.

And to check if your nut is the issue just put a capo on the first fret to take the nut out of the equation. If it's still buzzing, it isn't the nut, the nut only affects open strings.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I might have screwed up the relief because I tightened the truss rod when I put heavier strings on. It doesn't seem any straighter than when it had 9s on it though.

99% sure that is your problem.

Press down on the first fret and the last fret and look under the string at around the middle of the neck. There should be a *very* small space between the string and the frets. If it's touching, your need to loosen up the truss rod, if there is a wide gap you need to tighten it until there is a very slight gap.

And to check if your nut is the issue just put a capo on the first fret to take the nut out of the equation. If it's still buzzing, it isn't the nut, the nut only affects open strings.

There's still a gap, small, but I can still ring a note if I pick it with my thumb while holding it down at both ends. And it still buzzes with a capo.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

MIM Strat, 10 years old,

I'm surprised there isn't noticable dents in those suckers. Just one notch above that Asian wire that seems like aluminum.

Nope, no dents. I don't think the previous owner played it much. He spent a lot upgrading it to Highway One specs though.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I use a set of spark plug gap guage thingamajigs to measure the relief -- I like about .25 mm at the 6-7th fret. I find it impossible to eyeball these measurements -- maybe someone with years of experience can, but it's easier to use measurements. You might also check your saddle heights once the relief has been sorted out.

If the buzz started when you had a new nut cut, I'd go back to the shop and tell them to fix what they screwed up. I mean, if a tech cut the nut for you, there should be no need for a shim. If you bought the nut off the rack, that's something else. Though usually those aren't cut to the final depth, they shouldn't need a shim either.

A question though -- did you put the heavier strings on before or after the nut was cut. How heavy are we talking about? Going to .10s won't make much difference, probably wouldn't have needed much of an adjustment to the truss rod, if at all. Going higher than that would have given you problems with the nuts slots anyway, since they're not cut for that.

The frets on my 20 year old MIJ strat are still going strong, and this guitar has been well played.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I use a set of spark plug gap guage thingamajigs to measure the relief -- I like about .25 mm at the 6-7th fret. I find it impossible to eyeball these measurements -- maybe someone with years of experience can, but it's easier to use measurements. You might also check your saddle heights once the relief has been sorted out.

If the buzz started when you had a new nut cut, I'd go back to the shop and tell them to fix what they screwed up. I mean, if a tech cut the nut for you, there should be no need for a shim. If you bought the nut off the rack, that's something else. Though usually those aren't cut to the final depth, they shouldn't need a shim either.

A question though -- did you put the heavier strings on before or after the nut was cut. How heavy are we talking about? Going to .10s won't make much difference, probably wouldn't have needed much of an adjustment to the truss rod, if at all. Going higher than that would have given you problems with the nuts slots anyway, since they're not cut for that.

The frets on my 20 year old MIJ strat are still going strong, and this guitar has been well played.

It was cut by someone with years of experience, and I had him size it for the set I'm using, .011-.054". He did screw up the first nut he cut for me on the 3rd string, but he did a second one for free. The second one didn't have any obvious problems, except that the 3rd, 2nd, and 1st seemed a little "tinny" but that was probably just because I was going from plastic to bone. He didn't set it up at all, only cut the nut, put it in, and strung it up to check his work.

I guess it started after that, I haven't done anything except change to a wound 3rd of the same size(the plain .022 3rd string had way higher tension than all the other strings, so it sounded a lot brighter) and I disassembled the guitar to polish the body and take a look at the neck pocket. I had a good look at the frets while the neck was off and they all seemed pretty uniform except for some scratches from the wound strings. Then I strung it back up, and set the action/intonation again.

Maybe the bigger strings just need more action. I'll try resetting it at 2.5mm. I don't remember what it was at before, but it was way up at 3mm after I put the neck back on.

Also, I tune 1 and a half steps low, they probably need more wiggle room that low. I haven't checked to see if it goes away at a higher tuning. I'll try Eb, at E they're like piano wire though. I'll do this first before I mess with the action.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sorry, you've completely lost me.

This is the problem with threads like this. Someone comes on, posting about a problem he has with his guitar, but gives no information at all. When someone asks for more info, he provides a bit more.

But it's only after 10 or 20 posts or so that he finally releases another bit of essential info, which makes it so we've been wasting our time earlier in the thread, because that info changes everything.

In this case...you down-tune? Well, why didn't you say that in the first place? Of course you're going to have buzzing problems.

In the meantime, there are setup guides available (believe there's one on the Project Guitar main site). You really ought to follow one.

The important thing to know is that the guitar setup takes place in a certain order. You can't jump from one step to another, because that will screw up the results.

Once you've successfully carried out the setup, and you're still having buzzing problems, that's something else. At that point, people can try to help.

A quick question: why are you tuning down that much? Is it to play metal? Or is it just to make those heavy strings easier to play? (I mean, I use .11s at standard tuning, and they don't feel like piano wire to me. But then again, I play a lot of acoustic, with .12s, so my hands are in pretty good shape).

If it's for the metal thing, then consider that this guitar isn't the right guitar for that. There are guitars built specifically for this music, and for their ability to downtune.

But if it's to make it easier to play, then why are you using such heavy strings if your fingers can't handle them?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sorry, you've completely lost me.

This is the problem with threads like this. Someone comes on, posting about a problem he has with his guitar, but gives no information at all. When someone asks for more info, he provides a bit more.

But it's only after 10 or 20 posts or so that he finally releases another bit of essential info, which makes it so we've been wasting our time earlier in the thread, because that info changes everything.

In this case...you down-tune? Well, why didn't you say that in the first place? Of course you're going to have buzzing problems.

In the meantime, there are setup guides available (believe there's one on the Project Guitar main site). You really ought to follow one.

The important thing to know is that the guitar setup takes place in a certain order. You can't jump from one step to another, because that will screw up the results.

Once you've successfully carried out the setup, and you're still having buzzing problems, that's something else. At that point, people can try to help.

A quick question: why are you tuning down that much? Is it to play metal? Or is it just to make those heavy strings easier to play? (I mean, I use .11s at standard tuning, and they don't feel like piano wire to me. But then again, I play a lot of acoustic, with .12s, so my hands are in pretty good shape).

If it's for the metal thing, then consider that this guitar isn't the right guitar for that. There are guitars built specifically for this music, and for their ability to downtune.

But if it's to make it easier to play, then why are you using such heavy strings if your fingers can't handle them?

I'm just tuning down because I like the sound more. Playing comes to me more naturally at Eb or Db somehow. I can play them just fine at standard E, I learned on acoustic with .013s(though tension on an acoustic is less). I just didn't think of it because I'm always tuned low. The heavy strings sound better at any tuning too.

I'm aware that a strat isn't "made" to downtune, but 25.5" is a pretty long scale, long enough to tune that low with the right strings. I'm in the process of building a baritone so that I'll have that extended range when I need it.

I was mostly just asking to figure out if it was more likely the frets or the action. Now I know, and I'm following Ilikes2shred's action/relief guide to remedy it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Probably uneven frets, rises, dips, etc in the board.

E flat should be no problem, even 9's are ok at E flat, if nothing screwy is going on with the frets.

Am I remembering wrong, or did that Dimebag dude tune down to D using 9's ?

"tension on an acoustic is less" . I think that would only be so if the scale length is different.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Probably uneven frets, rises, dips, etc in the board.

E flat should be no problem, even 9's are ok at E flat, if nothing screwy is going on with the frets.

Am I remembering wrong, or did that Dimebag dude tune down to D using 9's ?

"tension on an acoustic is less" . I think that would only be so if the scale length is different.

Isn't the standard dreadnought scale 25"?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Isn't the standard dreadnought scale 25"?

I don't know if dreadnought has anything to do with it. Both my acoustics (a dread and my new Guild GAD30) are 25.5" scale.

So, when the strat is tuned to standard tuning, does the buzzing go away?

I think you're on the right track moving to a baritone, since that's the sound you prefer. You might also try an octaver on the strat.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...