Chasing the Mystery Buzz
Open string buzzing
© Frank Ford, 11/1/98; Photos by FF, October 1998
If a string buzzes against the frets ONLY in the OPEN position (unfretted) then the nut is too low, or is causing the buzz by being poorly notched for the string. It's a simple as that. IF it also buzzes up the neck, the chances are there is another problem. Once a string is fretted, the height of the nut is immaterial to the performance of the vibrating portion of the string.
Checking action at the nut is pretty easy business. You just mash the string down between the second and third frets:
Tuned to pitch, the string strikes a straight line from the nut across the first fret to the second.
Then looking under the string, you can see a tiny bit of clearance between the string and the fret:
Just the smallest gap is enough in most cases. That indicates that the nut is just a trifle higher than a fret would be in that position, so there is no more likelihood of a buzz in the open string position than there is up the neck.
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