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How To Fix Fret Buzz on Lower Frets

So, you’ve picked up your six string and gone to shred out a lick on the lower frets but found everything sounds dirty and muddled. You swear you’ve practiced this riff before but no matter how cleanly you hit the notes all you get is that horrible, messy noise we all hate.

Don’t panic. This is a common issue and any seasoned guitarist has had to deal with this at some point or another. So we can get you back to shredding out, let’s walk through a few fixes to fret buzz on the lower frets.

Low Nut Slots

If you’ve noticed that the lower frets are buzzing, the first thing you wanna do is check the nut slot. That’s the white strip your strings are fed through at the top of the neck that aligns them to the tuning pegs. Nut slots can be made from a variety of materials such as plastic, graphite, brass, or even bone.

Over time these slots can get worn down, lowering the string and causing it to vibrate against the fretboard. You should have slits that keep the strings high enough away to not hit the fretboard and cause fret buzz.

Usually, the easiest way to go about fixing a low nut slot is to get a replacement nut and either swap it out yourself or get your local guitar shop to do it for you. This is a quick and relatively inexpensive way to fix fret buzz in the lower frets.

But, if you’re more of a DIY kind of guy, then there are a few fixes we can do at home.

If you’re on a budget, baking soda and super glue can be put into the slot to bring them up and keep the string raised. Keep in mind though that this isn’t a permanent fix and, on top of looking ugly, this fix will wear down quickly leaving you in the same place you started.

If you’re after something a little more permanent, Nut Rescue Powder is definitely the way to go. The powder comes in three colors, depending on the nut finish, and can raise your slot height with the help of nothing more than a little drop of superglue. For a more in-depth breakdown on how to use Nut Rescue Powder, check out Dan Erlewine’s video below.

Neck Relief Needs Adjusting

Normally, your guitar neck has a natural bow to it. This curve usually gets straightened out by the tension of the strings.  Any damage to the neck, changes in moisture or even a change in string gauge can stop the neck from straightening up, causing fret buzz on your lower strings as the fretboard is now too close to the string. 

Now, we can use something called a truss rod to adjust the neck relief and bring it back to the right straightness. Depending on the model of guitar you have it can be found either at the top of the neck by the headstock, or at the bottom of the neck near your neck pickup.

The direction we want to turn also depends on where exactly you’re getting fret buzz. If you’re getting fret buzz only near the headstock and the bridge then you want to turn your truss rod counterclockwise, tightening it.

If you’ve noticed the buzz only happens at the middle and lower frets, then you want to loosen the tension on the neck by turning the truss rod clockwise. Just be careful not to tighten too much as this can cause serious damage to the guitar that baking soda and superglue won’t fix.

Uneven Frets

Another reason you might be experiencing fret buzz on your lower frets is because of uneven fret height. This one’s pretty self-explanatory; those strips of metal that alter the pitch of your strings are all meant to be the same height along the neck. 

Uneven frets are usually found on cheaper guitars with fewer quality control checks but can also happen as a result of general wear and tear from playing. If you’ve noticed that certain strings are buzzing more than others it’s very likely you have uneven frets.

Now to check for uneven frets you’re gonna need to use a tool called a fret rocker. This lets you compare the height of three frets at once. If your fret rocker starts to rock back and forth at any time it’s because the fret in the middle is too tall. 

Once you’ve discovered your uneven frets there are two things you can do. 

If you feel confident you can take some light grit sandpaper and lightly sand down the fret until its level with the other. But just remember, if you take too much off you cant add fret height back so take it slow. Otherwise, you can just take it to any guitar shop and get it replaced by a pro.

Is It OK To Have Some Fret Buzz?

At the end of the day, it all comes down to personal preference. Some guitarists prefer to have that ‘buzzier’ tone that fret buzz gives them. Players who play a lot of heavy metal or rock benefit from the muddier, dirtier sound without the need for pedals or effects amps.

But something I was told many years ago regarding my tone was that its way easier to make a clean tone muddy than it is to make a muddy tone clean so keep in mind that if you choose to keep fret buzz, it’s something that can’t be negated on the fly and would require you to carry out one of the fixes we’ve outlined above.


Fret buzz on the lower frets can be really annoying to deal with. Everything sounds great and you fly into your solo ready to shred, only to find the sound is muddy and messy. 

Knowing where to look is the best way to deal with fret buzz on the lower frets quickly, leaving you with less time scratching your head and more time playing.