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Brian Ness

Guitar advice?

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I got an American Standard Telecaster in new condition. It's Mystic Blue. There's a lot of fret buzzing on open low E and A along with frets on low E, A, and D. Since it's a discontinued color, I assume it's been sitting for a little bit so it's not fully factory set. Could new strings fix the buzzing? Should I take it to a shop to get it set up?


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A lighter gauge string set might minimize fret buzz. Do you know what strings are on the guitar?

The problem would become intonation will likely be off if you use a lighter string set.

I highly recommend you have the guitar looked at and set up by a qualified tech.

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Get it set up. On more than one occasion I've had a new guitar that was "professionally" set up require adjustment.

A few months ago, I bought a new guitar (a Taylor acoustic, if anyone cares) that was shipped after having it "set up to a 55-point evaluation." It played great out of the box. I still took it to my luthier (who's worked on my 60 year-old ES-225 and other guitars), who did a few minor tweaks and made a great guitar even greater. I good guitar tech can make even a funky guitar a lot better!

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New strings and a setup. Almost every guitar needs a setup that fixes problems and gets it to feel the way you want. If a guitar moves from one climate to another - setup. I spent many years repairing guitars, including basic setup and more in depth setup that might include fret leveling if that is a problem. All this needs to be tested and setup to the string gauge you use. Sometimes even brand to brand with same gauge might need a tweak.

From my 50 years of playing I've found most guitars need some adjustment. Martin ships with the action high so you can lower it to your playing style. Taylor ships with the action too low. When they hit a dry climate (Colorado) the wood does a little changing and the action becomes too low - and there will be buzzing. Raising the action at the bridge requires carving a new saddle. Many people use shims to raise the saddle, but it will cost you tone and sustain. Lowering is easy. Just sand some off the bottom of the saddle. Many people forget to get the action at the nut right. You want it as low as possible without buzzing. A new nut might be needed if string gauge changes. I can live with a shim under the nut. I don't like it, but I can't say I've ever heard a difference.

I have bought only 4 guitars that needed no setup. They were perfect the day I bought them and have not needed adjustments for over 16 years. These are high end guitars and a bit expensive, but they are worth the money if you are a serious player, not that I've ever really been "serious."

Get a setup and happy picking.

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