[SOLVED!] Fret Buzz On Higher Frets: The Ultimate Fixes


While playing their instrument, guitarists may come across quite a few issues and fret buzz on higher frets is a prime example. The term refers to the unwanted sound created when strings come into contact with frets while playing on the higher frets of the guitar neck. Needless to say, the buzz negatively affects the playing experience of guitarists but not many people have a firm grasp on the causes and solutions. Read to the end if the buzz is giving you a hard time and you want to get rid of it as soon as possible. 

What Is Going On?

Uneven Frets

Nowadays, it’s common knowledge that guitar frets are supposed to stay at the same height. If the frets are uneven for some reason, they inevitably lead to inconsistent string height across the fretboard. Unsurprisingly, if string height is not uniform, there is a good chance that the strings will slap into the frets and create the buzz.

Low String Action

In case you don’t know, string action is the distance between the strings and the fretboard on a guitar. When the strings are set up too close to the frets, they can easily come into contact with each other and result in buzzing sounds. It’s a common trigger, especially when people try to achieve a low string action for playability but end up sacrificing proper clearance between the strings and the frets.

Poor Playing Techniques

Fret buzz is going to occur if a player handles their instrument with a forceful and aggressive approach. If you apply excessive pressure on the strings, position your fingers incorrectly and so on, the strings may be pressed down against the frets. 


Have you made changes to your guitar recently? Please note that anything that causes the pressure on the neck to change could affect neck relief as well as buzz, dead notes, etc. For instance, you just installed a new neck but it was not properly set up. 

Insufficient Neck Relief

For your information, the neck of a guitar is designed with a slight curvature known as “relief.” The slight bowing helps counteract the tension of the strings and prevent them from hitting the frets. Therefore, if the neck is too straight (no relief), there won’t be enough clearance for the strings and fret buzz ensues.

A Few Fixes 

Fret Leveling

To put it plainly, fret leveling is a technique used in guitar maintenance and repair to optimize playability of the instrument. It involves carefully sanding down the high spots on the frets to create a level playing surface that eliminates fret buzz on higher frets. 

Raise String Action 

Overall, raising the string action is usually a solid solution for fret buzz on higher frets and it’s so straightforward that everyone can do it. By raising the height of the strings at the bridge, you will be able to increase clearance between the strings and the frets. 

Adjust The Truss Rod

In guitars, the truss rod is a metal rod running through the neck and it’s possible to tighten/loosen the rod to manipulate the neck’s curvature. Qualified guitar technicians can help you adjust the truss rod and achieve a sufficient amount of neck relief to put an end to fret buzz.

Adopt Proper Playing Techniques

For most of the time, proper playing technique and rational finger placement minimize the odds of fret buzz appearing. You should only apply a moderate amount of pressure on the strings to produce a clean sound. Don’t go overboard and smash the strings regardless of the genre.

Make The Necessary Readjustments

It’s fine if you decide to modify your guitar to your liking but you must reevaluate the guitar’s setup after you finish. Here is an example: If you want to change the string gauge, you need to consider adjusting the truss rod, bridge height and saddle position. Do everything in your power to accommodate the new string gauge and maintain an appropriate string action.

A Guide On Factors That Affect Neck Relief 

  • Temperature: It’s not uncommon for changes in temperature to cause the wood to expand/contract which in turn can alter the curvature of the neck. The principle is no-nonsense: exposure to high temperatures makes the wood expand and decreases neck relief. On the other hand, exposure to low temperatures makes the wood contract and increases neck relief.
  • Humidity: When it’s exposed to high humidity, wood will absorb moisture, swell and decrease neck relief. Conversely, the air is too dry, the wood is going to lose moisture, shrink and increase neck relief.
  • Tuning & String Gauge” Different tunings and string gauges exert different amounts of tension on the neck. High string tension from heavy gauge strings/high tunings should force the neck to bow forward and reduce relief. Meanwhile, low string tension from light gauge strings/low tunings tends to increase neck relief.

Using The Truss Rod: Advice

It’s a good idea to tighten the truss rod if there is excessive string height in the middle of the neck. If left alone, excessive string height often results in unacceptable relief as well as unsatisfactory upbow of the neck. Tightening the truss rod will help alleviate the situation and bring the neck back into proper alignment.