Last Update: 3/12/00

Fret Buzz Locating Tool

One of the most frustrating things about guitar making and repair is that of locating a fret buzz. A few years ago while visiting with John Gilbert, he showed me a tool that he uses to solve the mystery of finding the elusive fret buzz. This nifty little tool cost less then $5.00 to make and the parts are easy to find at your local hardware and electronics store.

Let's take a closer look at this must have tool:

This is the exact tool used by John Gilbert. I found it at my local Orchard Supply Hardware store. It is a continuity tester made by GB Instruments. It requires 2 "AA" batteries.

The LED was purchased at Radio Shack.

You will need to modify the LED in the manner found in the photo.

The current flows in one direction through an LED. You will need to test it to find the proper direction.

This will work best on the bass string which are the ones that are most likely to buzz. You could probably restring the guitar to test the trebles. The reason the basses work and the trebles don't is that the bass strings are wound with metal which will transmit the flow of electricity.

Our next step is to weave the needle of the continuity tester between the bass strings as found in the photo to the left.

Next we want to touch the LED to the fret that we want to test.

The light bulb that is included with the continuity tester will not light up when exposed to the very short burst of electricity when contact is made between the fret and the string. The LED on the other hand will light up like a Christmas tree! They are very sensitive to the slightest amount of electricity flow.

You should test the tool by touching the bass strings. If it lights up you know it is working properly. In the photo I am touching the LED to the 6th string and it lights up. We can now search for a buzz.

Now to start the actual test. Touch the LED to the fret that you wish to test. Next pluck the string. If the fret is indeed the problem you will see a quick flash of light emited from the LED. If not, test another fret.

It might be hard to tell in this photo, but the LED is touching the fret. There is obvious contact with the string and the fret. If there wasn't any contact the LED would not glow.

Well, that's all there is to it. For further information about locating a buzz visit Frank Fords web site If you have any questions feel free to contact me at