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I'm mostly an acoustic player, but I recently picked up an electric. Seems like there's fret buzz everywhere! I checked the setup by measuring the action and the neck relief, and it seems to be correct. But, I bought it online, so it's possible it needs professional help.

Which seems more likely?

  • My guitar needs a professional setup
  • I need to adjust my playing style vs. acoustic
  • Electric guitars just buzz a lot (due to lower action), and I need to get used to it

Does a properly setup/functioning electric guitar have noticeably more fret buzz than an acoustic?

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    Bring it in for a setup. As often as not, an out of the box instrument will need a good set-up, particularly if it's a lower priced guitar. Even on expensive instruments, factory setups often leave much to be desired. – Stinkfoot Mar 19 '18 at 19:41
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    Possible duplicate of How do I set up an electric guitar? – Stinkfoot Mar 19 '18 at 19:44
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    It's nota duplicate: added a note for clarity. – Anna Dickinson Mar 19 '18 at 19:58
  • It's not necessarily an exact duplicate of your question. But the answer to your question can be found in the answers to the cited question, among others. Read through them and see. Note also the Linked questions in the right margin of the page. Many of them will answer your question. – Stinkfoot Mar 20 '18 at 23:14
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    An electric shouldn't have any more fret buzz than an acoustic, but electric guitars often seem a little more buzzy than acoustic guitars since there are usually more screws and other rattly things to contend with on an electric. I would suggest taking your new guitar to a good tech for a setup. – David Bowling Mar 20 '18 at 23:23
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Does a properly setup/functioning electric guitar have noticeably more fret buzz than an acoustic?

I'm not really a guitarist, guitar tech or luthier, so I can't answer your question directly and authoritatively. However, I see that @DavidBowling in comments says that electrics theoretically should not have more fret buzz.

What I do know is this, as a bass player: Fret buzz (and other assorted noises, rattles and acoustic/dynamic annoyances) on electrics is much less troublesome than it is on acoustics. The reason is that in many cases the pickups on an electric will not pick up the fret buzz, or the signal from the fret buzz is so weak relative to the signal from the strings that it becomes virtually inaudible by the time the audio signal reaches your speaker, and certainly your ears or those of your audience when at a distance, surrounded by all sorts of sonic noise.

It happens often enough that I'll hear some annoying fret buzz or rattling on a bass when playing it unplugged, but through the amp that fret buzz is inaudible, so I don't worry about it if I'm pleased with my set-up, even though there's a bit of fret buzz.

Any fret buzz that might come through on an electric can also be eliminated or greatly minimized by adjusting the pickup controls or EQ through your amp, pedals, etc.

That being so, whether or not it's true that there tends to be more fret buzz on electrics, what fret buzz you might encounter is not as much of problem as it might be on an acoustic.

That also means that perhaps electric guitar makers, particularly in cheaper models, will produce instruments that are more prone to fret buzz than comparable acoustics, because fret buzz is less of a concern on electrics.

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A properly setup guitar, either acoustic or electric, should not intrinsically have any buzzing from the strings being played against the frets.

Action adjustment, relief of the neck, and the level of the frets should be set up so that buzzing doesn't happen.

If a player is experiencing buzzing after a proper setup, then their technique should be examined. It is possible to "overplay" an electric when coming from an acoustic, where more finger pressure or picking/strumming aggressiveness is used than necessary for the light touch an electric guitar can use.

  • Yes, "overplaying" is what I suspect is happening. It takes a surprising amount of adjustment in playing style! – Anna Dickinson Mar 21 '18 at 23:59

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