How to fix guitar buzz with a string change
Yes, you can in fact get rid of guitar buzz with a simple string change - if you pick the correct string.
Above is a pack of GHS Guitar Boomers, and I'm showing that brand for a very specific reason. It's because the core used for those strings is round.
Now before I get into why that matters, changing strings does not guarantee fret buzz will go away. Not at all. But if you have:
- Set your neck relief correctly and confirmed the neck is not twisted
- Set your string saddle heights correctly
- Set your pickup heights correctly (pickups too close to the strings can cause buzzing issues)
- Confirmed that the nut is good where no sitar-like sound is present when plucking open strings
- Confirmed (or at least are pretty sure) that your frets are level
...changing the strings is the next step before moving on to more expensive neck repairs.
Hex core and round core
The majority of electric guitar strings have one of two core types, hexagonal core or round core. The difference between the two is stiffness at tension. Hex core strings have greater stiffness compared to round, feel tighter when playing and you will most likely notice it takes a little more effort to bend hex core strings.
A brand that uses hex core in the majority (if not all?) of their electric guitar string offerings is D'Addario brand.
GHS's Guitar Boomers however use a round core. This makes them distinctively different with overall tension and feel.
If your fret buzz comes from a wound string...
If the fret buzzing you have is specifically from the wound strings, as in strings 4, 5 and 6 (or D, A and low E,) that's a very good reason to try switching core types.
Check to see which core type your guitar strings use. If you use hex, go round. If round, go hex. If you don't know, try D'Addario first. If the buzzing gets worse, switch to GHS Guitar Boomers.
It's worth it to try a string change first to cure a string buzz issue
If the string change cures your string buzz issue, you just saved a whole bunch of money on guitar neck repairs.
If the string change does not fix the string buzz, don't consider it wasted money. It's better to have spent a little on strings first just to confirm it's not the strings causing the buzz problem. You can imagine how mad you would be if you put a bunch of expensive, time consuming repairs into a guitar only to see it didn't fix the problem and it was the strings all along. So again, better to try a string change first with a different core type.
Also remember that you don't have to change string size when changing core types. In fact, I recommend staying with the same size so you don't have to readjust the neck relief.
The only time I recommend a string size change in an attempt to fix string buzz is to use one that's very slight. D'Addario as far as I know is the only brand you can do this with. Most guitar players use 9-42 or 10-46 string gauge sets. D'Addario does in fact offer a 9.5-44 size set, the EXL120+ Super Light Plus. That's a size just a tick above 9-42 and a tick below 10-46, so if you believe a string size change might help cure your string buzz, try that set.
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