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FDP Forum / Fender Guitars: Stratocasters / Fender MIM Setup Help

BluesBrazil

Brazil

Jan 9th, 2019 08:48 AM   Edit   Profile  

Hey guys! Happy new year for everyone!

I need some advices.

I have a 1999 MIM Strat that I bought in 2005. Really nice guitar, changed the frets almost a year and a half a go I guess. Well, it's been 2 weeks since I found this guitar to sounding sterile, with some buzz in some parts of the neck (middle and also on higher frets). But somehow, the bad sound is not like a fret buzz, it is like a dull sound and sometimes, the open A or low E strings is buzzing as well. The strings are new (2 weeks), i've check the neck relief and it is ok, as well it is with the nut hight. I've already set the saddles on the bridge very high, like 2,5mm based on the 12th fret and still that bad sound, buzzing and kind a dull sound, specially on the low E and E, but it is happening to the other strings too.

Any help would be a bless!

Thank's a lot!

Cal-Woody

USA/California

Why do I keep fixing things that work?
Jan 9th, 2019 10:17 AM   Edit   Profile  

A couple of thoughts come to mind are: 1) maybe the string saddles have a loose screw and not firmly on the base plate 2) neck pickup set too high causing the strings to be pulled by the magnetic field and deadens their resonance 3) old strings need replacement. Of course you can check for more loose screws on your guitar to locate other harmonic buzz issues but if you fret a string and it rings clear but has a short vibration time, this can be attributed to the neck or other pickups being too high and shorten the resonance.
Check to make sure your saddle screws are indeed firm on the base plate first, then follow through with your other checks.

BluesBrazil

Brazil

Jan 9th, 2019 10:42 AM   Edit   Profile  

Cal-Woody thank's for all the advices.

Actually, I was looking into it right now and after spending a lot of time looking out the strings and all, I can say, for sure that the buzz is coming from the saddles. The screws on it seems to be firm on the base plate though. I don't know what can be. The strings are new and the pickups are pretty low, and the buzz occrus even with the guitar unplugged

Peegoo
Contributing Member
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Just beyond Mars

there's a world of fools
Jan 9th, 2019 10:57 AM   Edit   Profile  

There's a simple way to chase down buzzes like this. Replicate the problem with the guitar unplugged.

Let's say you suspect the high E string's bridge saddle to be the source of the buzz. Play the offending open string or fretted note, and press a fingertip to the high E-string's saddle, right behind where the string breaks over the top. No hard pressure needed, just a little. If the buzz stops, you found the problem. If not, it's something else, possibly another saddle. So continue with the other strings.

But just as often, a buzz that appears to be coming from the bridge is something else.

A common one is loose tuners on the headstock. A loose nut that allows the little washer beneath to rattle often appears as a buzz at the bridge. It's weird, but true. So do the fingertip test on the tuners while you replicate the buzz: press a fingertip against the string post, nut, and washer and see if the buzz goes away.

Older-style string trees (butterfly or round types) can buzz if the screw works loose and allows the little spacer beneath to move around.

A loose strap button can also buzz.

The hardest one I've had to track down was inside a Strat. The factory assembler had allowed an extra spring to stick against the bottom of the neck pickup and it was missed when the pickguard was installed. That little spring buzzed like crazy on certain notes.

So if you cannot trace the problem to anything on the outside of the guitar, look inside.

Cheers, BluesBrazil.

BluesBrazil

Brazil

Jan 9th, 2019 11:19 AM   Edit   Profile  

Peego, you always have a lot of good knowledge to share with us! Thank's a lot for your reply my friend!

Well, I did the fingertip on the saddle as you said and the problem seems to get away, so I guess that the reason is really the saddle. I've just tightening the string tree and check if the tuners were firm as well. Everything is ok.

Peegoo
Contributing Member
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Just beyond Mars

there's a world of fools
Jan 9th, 2019 11:30 AM   Edit   Profile  

If the saddle still buzzes but everything is okay, apply a tiny drop of light oil to the little spring behind the saddle. Sometimes that little spring can resonate if it's just a little loose, and the oil quiets it.

I mention this because the high E string saddle is usually the one that's farthest from the bridge's rear flange and requires the longest spring.

A better solution is to remove the string, remove the saddle, and stretch out the spring just a little. Reinstall it and it will fit tighter in there and be nice and quiet.

BluesBrazil

Brazil

Jan 9th, 2019 06:53 PM   Edit   Profile  

Thank you Peegoo

I've just put a tiny drop of a light oil and it help it a lot! It seems to still buzzing but it's waaay better. But as this is my practice guitar, I'll not get too stressed about it. Any way, I'll stretch those springs before re string it next time. It will be a good moment for clining that bridge.

Just another question: How do I know when it's time to level the frets? Because now I've notice that, even with the saddle buzz a lot better, the open G string is buzzing (even when I raise the saddle) and the Low E and A are buzzing around the first 5 frets and in some parts of the higher ones, but on this first frets are worse

(This message was last edited by BluesBrazil at 08:57 PM, Jan 9th, 2019)

Doc Sarvis
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USA/Salt Lake City

Tuned Strings and Tight Lines
Jan 19th, 2019 11:58 AM   Edit   Profile  

If the buzzing is at the first frets it can indicate nut slots are cut too deeply. Fret buzz in the middle could be caused by insufficient neck relief. In my experience, excluding a high fret or two, too much relief can cause buzzing in the upper registers and too little relief can cause buzzing in the middle registers. Shimming the neck can help with buzzing in the upper registers which changes the string angle. Again, excluding the odd high fret. This is just my experience. There are folks on this forum who know a lot more than me. Good luck!

(This message was last edited by Doc Sarvis at 01:58 PM, Jan 19th, 2019)

Peegoo
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Just beyond Mars

there's a world of fools
Jan 19th, 2019 04:26 PM   Edit   Profile  

Before you do anything to the frets, check first to ensure you can get the guitar's geometry into the ballpark. Guitar geometry is a personal thing, but the following will get your guitar to a really good starting point from which you can finely tweak things to fit your preferences.

With the old strings on, tune the guitar to proper pitch.

1. Neck profile: With a capo on the first fret and a finger on the low E string at the 17th fret, you should have a .012" gap between the low E string and the 8th fret. Use the truss rod to adjust that gap. Once you have that, remove the capo

2. String height: Set all the strings' heights to 1/16" (or 2mm) at the 12th fret. The low E string can be a bit higher at 5/64" or so. Use the adjustment at the bridge saddles for this. If you run out of adjustment up or down, that's when you need to shim the neck a bit. Ideally, all the saddles will be near the middle of their adjustment 'window' when you have proper string height at the 12th fret. When all that looks good, re-check the tuning on each string.

3. Nut action: the depth of each string's slot in the nut is critical. A good starting point is .020" between the bottom of each string and the top of the first fret.

Once all that is done, you check the frets.

What I do is first I rule out fret issues like high/low frets caused by wear or neck profile weirdness.

To start, I get the strings off and adjust the truss rod to get the tops of all the frets as flat as possible. Some people use a slotted straight edge that misses the frets and rests against the fingerboard, and this works too.

But the way I think about it is--the strings are not going to buzz if the wood isn't perfectly flat. The strings rest on the frets, so the tops of all the frets must be consistent from one to the next for good tone and intonation.

It's actually quite rare to get the fret tops or the fingerboard perfectly straight, because many necks have a very slight S-bend in them due to years under constant tension/compression. But I average any inconsistencies and get it as straight as possible.

Then I use a fret rocker to test for low/high frets. I check every location on the neck along each string line. If you don't have a fret rocker, you can use a credit card that's not too beat up.

If anything clicks badly (and no frets are loose), that's when I level the frets' tops, re-profile and polish them.

I use the "Sharpie method" to monitor the amount of metal that gets removed throughout the process. It works great because the dried Sharpie dye is about one micron in thickness. It enables super-accurate dimensions...better than a PLEK machine, actually.

When the frets are done, re-string with new strings, and do steps 1 through 3 above.

Next, re-check string tuning and check to see all strings play easily and cleanly on all frets. Make small tweaks to the saddle heights if necessary.

Now is when you check and adjust intonation. Once that's done, set pickup height.

That's pretty much my process.

There's always other stuff, like lubing all string contact points (except the tuner posts), setting vibrato bridge relief if you like it to float, checking string alignment at the neck heel (screw-on necks), etc.

There's lots of good info and lots of bad info on the Web about all this stuff. If you see several different ways to do something, and they all work, it's because guitar techs develop their own techniques that work for them. What is important that you do no damage to anything as you work.

One Youtube channel that's informative is Dave's World of Fun Stuff. He's a bass player in Toronto and a good guitar tech. He uses techniques that are widely accepted by most really good techs. Funny guy too.

Doc Sarvis
Contributing Member
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USA/Salt Lake City

Tuned Strings and Tight Lines
Jan 20th, 2019 10:32 AM   Edit   Profile  

As a final thought; try not to obsess over minor buzzing if it doesn't come through too much when your playing is amplified. A player can overestimate the impact of buzzing when playing acoustically by being hypersensitive and picking "harder" and holding notes longer than they would when playing through an amplifier.

(This message was last edited by Doc Sarvis at 12:33 PM, Jan 20th, 2019)

RAGPICKER
Contributing Member
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ARIZONA U.S.A.

I'm playing it in a different key
Feb 11th, 2019 12:31 PM   Edit   Profile  

I just found a mystery rattle on a mex strat that is my no. 1. It was the neck position pickup cover. Apparantly there must be a problem under the pickguard where the spring/tubing is. I will get to it asap and replace/fix whatever is rattling.

FDP Forum / Fender Guitars: Stratocasters / Fender MIM Setup Help




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