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I've got low E string buzz on both my acoustic guitars (Washburn and small bodied Hohner). I'm using light gauge strings mostly in standard but occasionally open tunings.

The buzz is mostly noticeable when I strum or pick hard. Is it worth getting them both professionally setup or would you just switch string gauge? I do quite like playing with lights, especially for fingerstyle.

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If both guitars buzz with light strings but not with heavier strings, then there are a couple of options. I'm assuming the buzz is happening when the string touches a fret somewhere near the middle of its vibrating length; if the buzz is at the nut or bridge or somewhere else, then this line of thinking does not apply.

You could switch to a heavier gauge, or a set with light-tops/heavy-bottoms. Or, you may be able to use your desired set if you raise the action on the bass strings. Bridge-adjustments vary with the style of bridge, but on most recent acoustics I've seen the bridge is a removable piece of bone or plastic. (Do not do this yourself with a piezo pickup system, you may affect the balance of the pickup signal.) To raise this type of bridge, you

  • slacken (or remove) all the strings,
  • remove the bridge piece,
  • add 1 or 2 paper shims into the cavity where the bridge piece goes,
  • replace bridge piece,
  • tune-up and evaluate (are we done or does it need another few shims?)
  • If it's an electro-acoustic, with a piezzo bridge, would pieces of paper affect the pick up's propensity to pick up? – Tim Oct 19 '14 at 11:23
  • Indeed, This article suggests this procedure may lead to problems with a piezo system. – luser droog Oct 19 '14 at 11:35
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    It might be worth looking at the truss rod as well. Sometimes it needs adjustment when changing string gauges. Be careful though, this can damage the guitar if done improperly. – Charles Oct 19 '14 at 13:31

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