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I am new to guitar and bought a new Squier Strat as my first guitar.

I changed the strings myself to 008's a couple months in, and I think that may have caused some of the problems that followed shortly after.

I noticed I had multiple frets on the high E string which all played the same pitch, and string buzz all over the fretboard. Bends are typically inaudible (they sound like dead notes).

Additionally, I noticed my strings were not aligned well with the neck (the high E string often is too close to the edge of the neck to comfortably play). When I loosened the bolts on the back of the neck to move the neck back into place to realign the strings, they would shift back out of alignment within a couple of days.

I researched how to fix this problem, and I adjusted the action and also the truss rod, to no success.

While I understand that uneven frets may be responsible for my problem, I suspect it may also have something to do with the string replacement I did a while ago.

Can anybody point out what my problem with my guitar might be? Any help is greatly appreciated!

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  • If I may ask, Bob: what made you go to 8s? Did you have a specific issue you were attempting to address? Or we you attempting to follow the setups of your heroes? For new players, I suggest mediums (10s for electric) because going heavier gives finger pain through string tension and going lighter makes inadvertent bending out of tune much to easy. If you can express a reason to go lighter — you don't need to defend yourself to me — do so, but it helps to know your needs and preferences first. – Dave Jacoby Jan 12 at 0:19
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It may be string replacement. If it didn't buzz before then it is not likely uneven frets. Do you happen to know what gauge was on it when you bought it? When you change gauge you change the tension that neck feels and because of this the truss rod in the neck should be adjusted to balance that change in tension.

Since you are a complete beginner I'd take the guitar to the store where you got it and see if they can tweak it. A complete set up can cost 50$ to 80$ in the US, not sure about elsewhere. Or, you could just ask what gauge was on it and replace the strings and hopefully it will "readjust" but I'm not sure that will work, the process may not be completely reversible.

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"Can anybody point out what my problem with my guitar might be?”

Yes, it might be that the lighter gauge strings are sitting too deep in the nut slots. If the guitar was set up for heavier gauge strings, the slots will be wider than optimal for the new, lighter set, thus the strings will sit deeper and be too close to the frets. This can cause the buzzing, incorrect pitch and dead notes you are encountering. Reverting to heavier gauge strings might get you back on track, but you’ll likely have to readjust saddles and truss rod, as well.

In addition to the nut slot depth, the lower tension of lighter gauge strings will also reduce the relief, the slight concave bend, of the neck. This can also cause buzzing, incorrect pitch and dead notes. Since you tried adjusting relief with the truss rod to no better effect, I suspect the nut is a bigger impediment to a proper set up than the relief. Best solution at this point is to take it to a guitar tech, maybe the shop you bought from, and have it set up for the string gauges you prefer.

As for the neck shifting and settling into bad alignment, it’s hard to make any judgements without seeing it. If it truly is misaligned, then that is a structural problem and may warrant replacement under warranty. However a lot of new guitar players have problems with pushing the e string off the fret board, so it could just be part of the learning curve for you.

Bottom line, I’d take it to a tech and get it sorted out by an expert. However if you’re still inclined to work it out yourself, Fender provides guidance for set ups here: How do I set up my Stratocaster guitar properly?

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  • is right here. We're at a golden age for beginner guitars, with CNC routers making good bodies and necks so much easier to make. I think 8s not having enough tension for a guitar set up for 10s is a very likely cause for your problems, much more than a dead-dog Squier getting past QC. That could be the case, though. – Dave Jacoby Jan 12 at 0:24

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