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String Buzz

8/7/1999 1:20 AM
Mike T String Buzz
I have a very annoying buzz on the 1st string of my ASAT, all the way from the first to the last fret. I tried filing the bridge saddle and traced it down to what appeared to be the last fret after the bridge filing didn't work. Any suggestions before I have to do a grind and polish?
8/7/1999 3:57 AM
Steve A.

    If the last fret is too high on the high-e end then you will get a buzz at all of the fret positions (since the string is always hitting that fret). The real luthiers out there might cringe at my suggestions (usually used on my cheaper guitars). Before getting out the emery cloth in different grits, I'd first try to push the fret down into the fretboard a bit. Use a block of hardwood and you can first try tapping it lightly with a hammer to see if that solves the problem or you can devise a rig with a c-clamp and wood (so that you don't damage the neck).  
    For the high-e string, I usually just move it out of the way so that I can immediately test the results. You're lucky that it is the last fret that is the problem because what usually happens with the lower frets is that as soon as you tap one down into the fretboard, it may be too low and the higher frets will cause it to buzz.  
    If the fret wants to pop back out again, I will add a small drop of Krazy Glue to the fret with a toothpick and keep it clamped down until the glue sets.  
    Speaking of Krazy Glue, the binding on my 75 LP Standard had separated a bit on the neck near the 3rd fret. The e-string would actually slip into the crack and get stuck! Using a toothpick I kept adding the Krazy Glue to the crack until it was finally gone.  
Steve Ahola  
P.S. Luthiers have long and wide fret files for leveling frets. Probably a good investment if you have a few guitars. But make sure that the frets are snugly attached to the fretboard before filing them down (you can always take off more metal later, but just try putting it back if you take off too much!) With a fine emery cloth I will use masking tape to protect the fretboard and then use a circular motion with finer and finer grits to remove some of the metal that is definitely excess.
8/7/1999 5:11 PM
Geoff Van Brunt

I agree with Steve that the fret has most likely poped up since being leveled at the factory. I would glue the fret down with some fast acting krazy glue. If you do glue the fret, rub some wax on both sides of the fret to prevent the glue from damaging the fingerboard. Also use masking tape over the wax just in case it runs farther than that wax.  
8/7/1999 6:16 PM
"Krazy Glue" is a brand name for cyanoacrylate adhesive - this stuff is not really permanent nor should it be used as a "structural" adhesive - it is best left for temporarily tacking things in place while working on a permanent solution. Cyanoacrylates are hydrophyllic - they absorb moisture when dry and this weakens/destroys the bond.  
There are a number of "5-minute" epoxy formulations that are much better suited to permanent bonds and dry relatively quickly at room temperature. I know of a couple of guys who route their fret grooves just wideer than the bumps on the fretwire and epoxy pre-cut and dressed frets into the wood rather than hammering them in place.  
I agree with the other guys - check if the fret is popped out before you remove any metal.
8/7/1999 7:31 PM
Steve A.

    I started spelling out "cyano..." and backspaced over it and typed in Krazy Glue instead. < g >  
    I do agree with you about epoxy being a much more permanent glue, but I haven't found any epoxy thin enough for an after-the-fact rework job that I was describing. Since the fretwire is supposed to stay in place without any glue at all, I figured that a very small drop of K.G. would help persuade it to stay where I wanted it to be. Going across maybe half the length of the fret in the small crack between the fret and the fretboard even a very thin line of K.G. has a lot of holding power.  
    BTW I like the idea of using the epoxy to hold all of the frets in place. However would there be a problem later if the neck ever needed to be refretted in 5 or 20 years? Or is there a good solvent to remove the epoxy? (I was wondering about that because I hate getting epoxy on my hands! If you don't get it all off you could really screw up one of your guitars...)  
Steve Ahola  
P.S. There are many new formulations of cyanoacr... you know Krazy Glue! that are sold for different hobbies (like wargaming miniatures) in big bottle for a decent price (especially compared to $1 to $2 for a 0.7oz squeeze tube). They also have accelerators to make them cure faster and retarders to make them cure slower. BTW I believe that Stew-Mac sells a few varieties of K.G. for guitar repairs.
8/8/1999 6:51 AM
lots o stuff out there, and if you believe the print its all magic... the stuff falls apart at the seams, pun intended. Yet if it isn't exposed to the elements it can last quite a while, such as a small gap fill  
cure-accelerators can weaken the bond strength properties, never had course to use the cure-retarders  
good question on the refret issue, I'll see what the story is if I can get hold of the cat that used the epoxied-fret technique - never tried it myself, I'm more famous for pulling frets out of bass guitars than for sticking them in - the guy who I'm thinking of was a machinist turned luthier, had a heavy tooling influence in making instruments, approached even one-of-a-kind instruments like he was going into production with lots of neck jigs, etc.  
whatever works when it comes to repairs - building from scratch is much different - Mike T could try the Krazy Glue if he's sure he's got a loose fret, and if that does it then why worry about it - he probably doesn't need a whole lot of surface tension to keep a fret in place anyways
8/9/1999 6:51 PM

For fret removal, just heat the fretwire with your soldering iron. It will destroy the epoxy bond, and make the frets easy to lift out. I guess cleaning the grooves for new frets will be the pain in the butt part.  
(StewMac has a decent book called "Fretwork", which covers just about every fretting method and a number of repairs.)

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