Buzzing and Noises


Fret (String) Buzz - This happens when a string comes in contact with a fret and a buzzing sound occurs. This is the most frequent cause of annoying buzzes. See chart below for more info.

Hardware Buzz - Loose hardware such as: loose machine head bushings, loose tailpiece covers rattling against the strings, loose pickguard brackets. You often need 2 people to locate some of these, one person to play the instrument, the other to place their hand on each component until the source is located.

Sympathetic Buzz - Thankfully this is not too common. Certain frequencies can set off odd noises including strange buzzes and vibrations. These types of buzzes differ in that they occur only when certain frequencies are played.

Symptom Possible Cause(s) Remedy

Open String Buzz

Buzzes when played open, stops when string is fretted.


Worn or poorly cut nut slot is placing the strings too close to the frets near the nut.

Replace nut or shim to add height. Set up instrument properly.

One Spot Buzz

Buzzes on one note, or one area but stops when moving away from that spot.


Frets are not level, one or more is too high/low. Loose or sprung fret is rising out of the fingerboard. Hump in fingerboard. Wear or deep grooves in frets.

Secure all loose frets, level and dress. Fret leveling and/or replacement of worn frets.

Upper Fret Buzz

Buzzes where the neck attaches to the body. Notes seem to fret out when playing near the body.


Fingerboard is warped in a way to render the end higher (seen on some mandolins with fingerboards extending over soundhole).

Evaluate for dryness, humidify if necessary.

Frets near f/b extension may need leveling.

In rare cases the board must be planed to remove hump.

Buzzes When I Strum Hard

Buzzing occurs when strumming or picking aggressively but can be silenced when playing lightly.

Set Up

Insufficient relief in the neck.

Poor set up, strings too close to the frets.

String gauge too light.

Adjust truss rod.

Set up instrument properly.

Use heavier strings.

Buzzes Everywhere

Buzzes nearly everywhere even though it is set up properly, will often disappear if string is fretted hard or closer to the fret and plucked softly.


Frets may be worn out or too low.


Replace frets.

Frets Out

Buzzes nearly everywhere all the time, strings are literally touching the frets in the center or other area of the fingerboard.


Truss rod may be way too tight back bowing the neck.

Neck could be a warped, or have excess back bow even after truss rod is loosened.

Set up instrument properly.

Adjust truss rod for more relief.

Use heavier strings if relief can not be created thru truss rod adjustment.

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