If you’re a guitar geek like all of us at Acoustic Life, you look forward to that moment in the day when you can kick back and have some fun playing your acoustic guitar.
But nothing spoils that fun like a fret buzz emanating from your guitar, especially when you’re trying to nail perfect guitar notes and chords.
Today, I’m going to help you identify where your acoustic guitar buzz is coming from.
There are a plethora of possible reasons why your acoustic guitar is buzzing. We’re going to break down the different types of buzzes on guitars, as well as possible fixes for the buzzing.
If you’re looking for more lessons or maintenance guides, be sure to check out Tony’s Acoustic Challenge. This awesome, curated, online guitar course will help you live your best acoustic life.
Originally published on February 12, 2018, this article was republished on August 8, 2022.
Transform Your Guitar Playing in 10 Minutes a Day
Remember, the secret to a fulfilling guitar journey is consistency, not laborious practice.
Snag your FREE TAC Progress Tracker today and build the skills to learn songs faster in just 10 minutes a day!
Types of Acoustic Guitar Buzzing
Before you fix your acoustic guitar buzzing, it’s important to understand the different reasons why your acoustic guitar could be buzzing or rattling.
There are two distinctly different types of buzzes: technical fret buzzes and mechanical fret buzzes.
Technical Fret Buzzes
Technical buzzes are typically caused by improper technique or how you approach the fret. If you are fretting your guitar behind the intended fret, this can cause some buzzing.
To remedy this, place your fretting finger behind the fret — not on top, and not in the space between two frets — but just behind the intended fret. This will create cleaner chords.
If you are having issues with fretting on barre chords, check out our guide for clean, buzz-free chords.
How to Reduce Fret Buzz With Better Technique
Another way to remedy technical buzzes is by making sure you’re fretting the string with your fingertips. When people learn the guitar, oftentimes they use the pads of their fingers. Using the pads gets unnecessary skin buzzing on other strings. Introducing some arch in your fingers and playing with the tips of your fingers can alleviate technical buzzing, especially when executing techniques like hammer-ons and pull-offs.
In addition, you want to make sure you are applying the right amount of pressure to the frets.
White-knuckling and pressing down too hard can fatigue you while also bending notes sharp. Too little pressure can cause the string to rattle against the fret.
Finding the sweet spot of pressure will no doubt help any technical buzzes.
Mechanical Buzzes (Looking Beyond Fret Buzz)
Mechanical buzzes might be caused by the truss rod, frets, and other metallic parts on your guitar. It may seem intimidating to work on a guitar to fix the mechanical buzzes, but many solutions are surprisingly easy.
A quick fix that many guitar players may not even realize is that a button on their shirt, a belt, or a zipper is buzzing against the body of the guitar.
As a general rule, try to keep any metallic or hard objects on your clothes away from the guitar.
How to Fix Mechanical Buzzes
If your mechanical buzz isn’t the result of a button or zipper, try these solutions:
The first place to check is on the headstock. The tuners and the bushings on the tuners can wiggle loose over time.
One quick fix is to apply a dab of wood glue to the area between the headstock and the bushing. This will help ensure they aren’t rattling or buzzing.
The next place to look is behind the guitar’s nut. Sometimes, if the nut slot is cut too shallow, the nut may buzz.
One quick solution to the nut buzzing is to place a thin leather shoelace in the area where there is extra room.
Truss Rod Issues
Another possible reason why your guitar is rattling or buzzing may be due to the truss rod.
We aren’t suggesting you tighten the truss rod, but rather take your truss rod wrench and tighten the truss rod nut. Making sure the truss rod nut is snug with the truss rod channel can alleviate some buzzing.
If you are using ball end strings, one place to check for rattling or buzzing is the ball end. Sometimes, the ball end won’t sit flush with the saddle or bridge. If the ball end isn’t flush, it may create buzzing noises.
To fix this buzzing, loosen your strings until you can adjust the ball ends so that they are flush with the bridge and saddle.
Strings also tend to wear out over time. The windings on the bass strings might start to deteriorate, which can cause buzzing. Be sure to change your strings frequently.
Other Reasons Why the Guitar is Buzzing
Some more serious issues that might cause buzzing include loose braces, cracks, or separations. These issues, while serious, can be fixed by your local luthier or a repair shop. Oftentimes, they will be able to solve the issue by installing a cleat to limit the cracking or adding more glue.
Learn to Play the Guitar with Tony Polecastro
If you like the way that Tony teaches, you might be wondering if he offers online guitar lessons?
Fortunately, you access hundreds of lessons taught and curated by Tony. That’s right, requesting an invite to Tony’s Acoustic Challenge will give you the opportunity to learn from some of the best online guitar lessons.
Tony’s Acoustic Challenge is a daily acoustic guitar practice method. Whether you are a complete beginner or an experienced flatpicker, Tony helps you have WAY more fun with your acoustic guitar while getting better in the process.
Watch the FREE guitar class to learn the three things that will help build a life of consistent guitar playing in just 10 minutes a day.