When fret buzz is not a relief issue!

We all know what fret buzz is but many times it is caused by a raised fretwire. It isn’t as if the fretwire is ready to pop out of its slot but just that its end (usually, either) leaves the slot and rises – just a hair, and that is enough to give rise to a pesky fret buzz.

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It usually happens at times of the year when it is extremely dry or terribly humid. In our (Lucknow) district and surrounding areas, these times are March to May (dry) and June to September-October (humid).

How does it happen? When there is too much humidity in the atmosphere, your acoustic guitar soaks it in. The wood on the fretboard swells and as it does so, the fretwire becomes loose at one end (sometimes both) and rises, giving rise to fret buzz.

At times of the year when it is very dry, the fretboard wood loses its moisture, shrinks and pushes one end (sometimes both) of the fretwire out of its slot, thus, giving rise to fret buzz.

While many times ‘tapping’ a fretwire into its slot helps, many times it doesn’t. Then, one just has to level, crown and polish that one offending fretwire (and possibly its immediate neighbours). 

One such guitar came to me recently. When the owner called and told me that he had a ‘PRS’, I was mentally prepared to work on an electric. When the instrument was brought to me, it was an acoustic!

Yeah! I had never heard of a PRS acoustic!

After I had got over my surprise, I loosened the strings and tried tapping the offendig fretwire (12th or 13th) in. When it refused to get back in its slot, I had to file, crown and polish it.

And that was the job done. Apologies. In my surprise, I forgot to take photographs of the instrument body – both before and after, but it was a nice sounding guitar.

Amit Newton

An experienced guitar tech with over 10 years of experience working on acoustic Gibsons and Martins in the Gulf region. There is nothing that cannot be repaired; the only consideration is the price at which it comes. And yet, if there is sentiment attached, no price is too high! WhatsApp/Call me: 7080475556 email me: guitarguyhelp@gmail.com

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