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I got a new electric guitar today, I love everything about it except there is some fret rattle on most of the frets of the bass strings. The I got it from at Guitar Center tuned it for me, and I didn't find out about the rattling until I got home. This is the first Floyd Rose bridge guitar I've ever had. So far I've tried adjusting the string action a bit with the screws that are connected to the "knife" sections of the bridge. I've used a straight edge on the frets, and there seems to be virtually no fret rocking. I haven't tried adjusting the springs or anything in the back, although the guy who set it up for me adjusted the screws in the back. I've tried holding down the 1st and 20th fret on the high and low E strings and measuring the 12th, and for both the string is basically touching the fret. Should I keep raising the action just by loosening the screws/string height studs?

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    What do you mean by "fret rattle"? Do you mean buzzing? It might need a slight neck adjustment. You shouldn't need to raise the bridge action too much. Guitar Center should do a full set up on a new guitar, try taking it back and asking. – ggcg May 9 at 10:26
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    You don't fix it. GC does! Of course there are many things you can do to alleviate the problem, but we buy things 'fit for purpose', and the guitar obviously isn't. – Tim May 9 at 11:13
  • You're right, Tim, but the guy who sold it to me at GC told me that a full setup would be $60, even though I bought it brand new... – コナーゲティ May 9 at 20:05
  • The thing is, when I bought it, I asked if it came with any manuals or anything, and the dude said "those don't come with open-box guitars." I wish I had asked him what he meant. I bought it brand new from the site, not "open-box". I'm really frustrated right now. I seemed to have fixed the rattle, but now I'm noticing the Sustainiac doesn't sound right. I'm gonna call them tomorrow and try a new battery. – コナーゲティ May 10 at 6:04
  • talk to the manager - you dont pay full price and get something you cannot easily play(open box or not is unimportant) – bigbadmouse Jul 17 at 7:38
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Fret rattle is usually caused by a problem with the action. Either the neck relief is too little or the saddles are too low or both.

As ggcg and Tim suggest, you can take it back to Guitar Center, especially if you bought it new. I expect they will be willing to do a free setup for you. If you bought it used, they might not include that in their services (but they might!), and you can always pay for a setup.

If you really want to DIY it, then it will be a learning process and it may take a while for you to really get it set up right, like months of slow tinkering. The nice thing about learning it yourself is you never have to take it anywhere again.

  • On a guitar like this, relief is usually best mostly flat. I suggest putting a capo on the first fret, then fretting the 20th fret, and then try plucking the high E string to see if it can ring. If it rings with a slight amount of buzz (maybe like a zing sound), then you are probably good. If it doesn't ring at all, then you probably need to add relief.
  • To set the relief, you'll usually need a special tool, like a hex key or hex driver of a certain size. You may be able to get one from a music store, an instrument repair web site, or a hardware store. On a single-action truss rod, you loosen the nut to add relief, and tighten it to reduce relief. I'm not sure about double-action truss rods, so you should look for documentation on your guitar to make sure before adjusting. Only adjust about 1/4 turn and then tune up the guitar again and let it sit for a while before checking the relief. Then repeat if necessary.
  • After making sure the relief is good, it's time to look at the saddle height. You can set the height on individual saddles right on top of the guitar. It seems like you already know how to do this. Saddles may be set very low and it depends on your playing style, so don't be afraid to raise them. This makes the most sense when some strings are fretting out and others aren't. If all the strings are rattling, then you should check the bridge adjustment first and then adjust the saddles if necessary.
  • The bridge angle is partly a matter of personal preference, since wherever it starts has an effect on how far up or down you can pull/push the vibrato. I would see if adjusting the bridge position will raise or lower the saddles by first looking at the bridge from the side and then slowly moving it up and down with the whammy bar to see which way raises the saddles and which way lowers it. If one way does raise them, and you want them all higher, you can open up the back and loosen or tighten the claw screws as appropriate.

Overall, make slow, small changes, then retune and check. If it sounds like that will take a long time, that's because it does. Patience in this will be rewarded with greater playability without paying for a setup. Having the best tuner you can afford helps also.

Once you're done, you'll want to re-adjust the intonation. That's a topic for another question.

  • I bought it new, Guitar Center wanted to charge me $60 to get it set up. I'm not too interested in that, given I didn't have a very good experience with them in the first place. – コナーゲティ Jun 9 at 6:29
  • Make them fix it. Stand right there in the store and get louder and louder till every customer is looking. Refuse to pay $60 Tell them you bought it new and you expect better @コナーゲティ – bigbadmouse Jul 17 at 7:41
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I do most of my own setup these days and have been for a few years. When I first started doing it I found a book with step by step instructions and procedures written by Dan Erlewine that do a pretty good job of explaining the how to's and reasons for. I'm sure you can find a copy by googling books by Dan Erlewine and the cost is much cheaper than a single setup. In addition you'll have a manual for future reference and a better understanding of what makes a guitar more playable.

  • true, but it was a new guitar and it should not be buzzing – bigbadmouse Jul 17 at 7:41
  • @bigbadmouse- I agree they shouldn't, but many brand new guitars come in need of a set up, and some music stores include them in the purchase price of the guitar, but others would have you pay for a set up. That said, it sounds to me like it needs a set up and you can learn to do it yourself or pay some one else to fix it for you. Another option is to take it back for a refund. Sometimes pitching a fit works too. – skinny peacock Jul 17 at 16:03
  • sure, some are less than perfect and I expect that, but if its buzzing then its too far off-beam for a new instrument bought for full price, in my humble opinion. I think making a huge fuss in-store is a valid tactic if he has tried "Nice". He could compromise by leaving it with them for a couple of days to get around to it. – bigbadmouse Jul 18 at 7:24
  • @bigbadmouse- It seems to me we are more in agreement than you seem to recognize. – skinny peacock Jul 18 at 13:50
  • I think I was disagreeing only with the assertion that some music stores would have you pay more. a learner would not know their poorly-setup instrument needed work and assume it was a failing of theirs and probably be put off. Not saying the OP is a novice, but the policy belongs to the store and their customers come in at many levels. As someone who was massively discouraged by a dreadful setup as a novice, I feel it. I therefore think it should work tolerably well at some basic level. It isnt the cusomers job to a) realise the need, b) pay for it, c) learn how (necessarily) – bigbadmouse Jul 19 at 7:33

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