Where is the Buzz?: Locating and Resolving Unwanted Vibrations

Two kinds of buzzing generally occur*:

  • Body buzz – often a result of electronic components rattling around
  • Fret buzz – usually from the action being set too low

Step 1: Check for Body Buzz

If your guitar is an acoustic-electric model, the first step is to check for is loose electronic components. Remove the battery to see if it is rattling around in its box – if the buzzing goes away after removing the battery, this is the culprit. The battery simply needs to be secured or padded; one option is to wrap the battery with tape or a rubber band, or you can add thick foam tape on the battery door to apply more pressure on the battery when the door is closed.

You can also check for wires on the inside of the body that may be contacting the side of the guitar. Sometimes shifting wiring away from the side of the guitar will make sympathetic vibrations go away. Our electric models also use small wire retainers to secure the wires to the side of the guitar. If these have detached from the guitar, they can be reattached with a small drop of super glue, or strong double-sided tape.

Step 2: Fret Buzz

If the buzzing seems to be fret buzz, the action may simply be set too low. Your guitar does have a tendency to react to the climate, which can sometimes cause the woods to slightly move, altering the original setup of the instrument. Don’t fret (pun intended), as these small movements are perfectly normal and can be expected to occur to a certain degree. These slight changes can be adjusted – keep reading for details!

To clear up fret buzz, your first move should always be replacing the strings with a fresh set – this will sometimes clear things up immediately, and will also ensure accuracy of the next few steps. Our factory action measurement for classical models is 3-4mm measured from the top of the 12th fret to the bottom of the low E string, and around 2.5-3mm for crossover or flamenco models. Any action set below these minimum measurements will usually result in significant buzzing.

Quick tip for adjusting and measuring action height: two stacked quarters will measure 3.5mm, which is a great target measurement and a perfect reference for measurement if you don’t have a ruler. Action can be raised by loosening the truss rod, or by slightly shimming the saddle if needed. Any qualified repair technician will be able to help you make these adjustments if you are uncomfortable doing so.

Buzzing can often be avoided by closely monitoring and maintaining the humidity of your instrument, and replacing the strings often. Ensuring that your guitar is being properly humidified will reduce the frequency of needed setups and adjustments, and will keep it sounding and playing the best that it possibly can!

*Buzzing can also result from damages to the instrument, including a warped fingerboard, high fret, or loose braces inside the body of the guitar. If the workarounds above do not lead to a solution, please visit your local repair technician for further inspection and assistance.*