Knowing your way around a guitar setup can save you time, money and stress (when those at-the-gig emergencies strike).
Changing strings, setting the intonation and basic soldering/electronics knowledge are all things you can learn through trial and error. But frets? No one ever talks about frets!
Guitar builder J.S. Bogdanovich has released something called Buzz-Off. Besides having a great name, the product is an easy-to-use kit that helps you eliminate fret buzz caused by high frets. Everything is included — tools, sandpaper, steel wool and instructions. If you can use a level and sandpaper (and have some patience), you can do it all yourself.
Before getting started, make sure your guitar's neck is straight. This kit levels frets; it doesn't repair fret buzz caused by a warped neck.
The first step is to measure the frets with the supplied three steel dowels. Lay a dowel across three frets and try to rock the dowel back and forth. If it doesn’t move, the frets are level. If it moves and makes a clicking sound, you’ve found a high fret. (The large dowel is for the frets closest to the nut. Switch to the smaller dowels as you work your way down the fretboard.)
The next step is to take the sanding block with the 220-grit sandpaper and lower the fret. Before that, I suggest taping off your fretboard with painter’s tape to avoid marking up the fretboard. I also marked the high frets with a highlighter to avoid confusion. Can’t find painter’s tape? I’ve used Post-it notes in a pinch.
After you take the fret down a little, switch to the 400-grit sandpaper to smooth it out and the steel wool to polish up the fret.
Finally, measure again with the steel dowels. Repeat the process if necessary. Go slow. You can always repeat the process a third or fourth time, as opposed to taking off too much. Remember we’re dealing with thousandths of an inch here!
I recorded before-and-after clips for a Strat and a P-bass, both of which got the Buzz-Off treatment. Check out the website link below for a video demo of Buzz-Off as well as other guitar-building information.
You can't believe everything you read on the Internet, but Billy Voight is a gear reviewer, bassist and guitarist from Pennsylvania. He has Hartke bass amps and Walden acoustic guitars to thank for supplying some of the finest gear on his musical journey. Need Billy's help in creating noise for your next project? Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.