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I'm having a really annoying issue with my American Deluxe Strat - when I pluck the strings at certain frets (mainly on the 2nd string) I hear an awful resonant frequency. I've added a link to a WAV file which demonstrates this - WAV file link

This either started happening or I began noticing it after I restrung my guitar and tried setting it up myself (never again!). I've tried the following to fix it but to no avail:

  • Dampen tremelo springs
  • Dampen headstock
  • Dampen other string/parts of the string 'above' the finger used to press down on the fret

I also took it to my local guitar workshop and they did a setup (which involved buffing/relevelling the frets, setting up the tremelo and restringing) but it's still giving me the same problem. I think it might be that the string is touching another fret very slightly which is causing a harmonic at a disonant frequency, but the guy at the workshop buffed and relevelled the frets as well as raising the saddle and it hasn't really helped at all.

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

UPDATE

Thanks for the responses all. I tried raising the saddle of the 2nd string to a ridiculous level (see photo) and I'm still getting the issue (here's another WAV sample - I also played a few frets around the ones with the issue for comparison - WAV file link 2).

With the saddle so high and no improvement, I'm starting to think that maybe it isn't fret buzz (I looked along the other frets when holding the string down at the frets with the issue and the string looks a fair distance above them). Could degraded electronics cause this problem? I'm starting to run out of ideas...

Saddle position

UPDATE 2

I tried removing the current string I had (Ernie Ball Regular) and replaced them with Fender Original 150 Regulars but I'm still having the same issue. I've contacted the luthier and he's going to take another look at it next week. If the problem persists I'm going to contact another luthier and explain the issue before taking it in. I'll keep everyone updated!

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    Raise the string height until it stops. Then you have a start point. and - it never was a tremolo..! Leo got most right - except that. – Tim Jul 17 at 20:30
  • It sounds like fret buzz. If the frets are even and the neck is straight, you may have to raise the action, like Tim said in the previous comment. – MMazzon Jul 18 at 10:03
  • The luthier didn't fix this? Yikes. Maybe take it to the luthier again and detail what your problem is (again)? – Dekkadeci Jul 18 at 12:27
  • When you play the D4 and the Ab4 I hear a resonant sub tone of G2 but not every time, is that what you’re talking about? If it is can you hear it acoustically or only amplified? Does it happen with all pickups? – John Belzaguy Jul 18 at 19:28
  • Besides dampening things which you tried I would make sure all screws are tight, make sure the pots and switch are tight, even make sure there’s at least a little tension on the truss rod screw. You would have to do something pretty radical to cause this with a setup and string change. You could also try another string. – John Belzaguy Jul 18 at 19:39
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I do not hear a resonance can you provide more info on the time where it occurs, you are playing many notes. You have to ask yourself what could resonate on a solid body electric? This is typically something that happens on an acoustic.

What I hear is a possible fret buzz, and based on the wave file it isn't that bad.

If tweaking the bridge didn't help you may need to adjust the truss rod. When you put new strings on where they a different gauge that the previous set? This will change the stress in the neck causing it to bow. Also, over time frets do get worn down. Is it possible that some of the frets are slightly lower than other? This is a typical cause of buzzing and dead notes. All of this depends on how long you've had the guitar and how much playing you do.

My only advise would be find another luthier and try it again. The last guy might have missed something. I assume you are playing the same way before and after this happened right? It might sound like a stupid question but the fact is that you can make any guitar buzz by attacking it too hard. I once had a tech set up my guitar with the action so low that it would buzz if I plucked with any amount of force I deemed normal. His opinion was that, as a shredded, you should barely pick anyway and that the set up was ideal. That was based on his opinion. I play with a little bit of a punch and I told him that I didn't mind if the ax "bit back", indicating that I don't mind a slightly higher action if that means I get NO buzz. He gleefully complied with my request at no extra charge. The point is that your music shop guy might have done some other adjustment that is not conducive to your playing style.

If the guitar was ever in better shape there has got to be a way to get it back to that state. Sorry I couldn't help more but these things can get tricky and without holding it myself I can only guess.

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  • Thanks for the detailed input! I've taken it to another luthier who said that the previous guy set it up really badly (action too high and truss rod not properly adjusted). I've left it with him to set up (he said he'll go over it with me when I go to pick it up so I'm sure the problem's been fixed), so fingers crossed that will sort it out. I'll update the thread once it's done. – James Laidler Sep 5 at 18:39
  • I am glad it was helpful. I think everyone provided some good options and guesses here. – ggcg Sep 5 at 19:34
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There is a couple of things I would check. The first is, does this still happen when the other strings are muted? And the other thing is are the new strings the same brand, gauge, and kind/style as the old strings were? I have found that sometimes one string being played can cause sympathetic vibrations in other strings if they are not muted and I wonder if this is happening in this instance. Also, I would look for a luthier who knows what the problem is and can make adjustments needed. All luthiers are not created equally skilled.

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  • It does still happen when the other strings are muted. I'm getting a new brand of strings delivered tomorrow so hopefully that solves the issue, although I've been using the current brand of strings (Ernie ball Regular) for as long as I can remember and they've always performed well. Also the luthier I went to had amazing reviews on Google - not sure if I'm just an unlucky customer or if he's actually not too great... I'll update everyone once I try the new strings, cheers! – James Laidler Jul 21 at 21:57

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