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Bad neck / Fret job necessary? (Confirm I am right here)


My brother bought an ESP EC-1000 new earlier this year and when it arrived I was horrified. These guitars generally seem to have amazing factory set ups but, his was in no way even a decent set up. The action was set incredibly high with an even higher bias to the low-E string. I immediately figured out why as I noticed even with this high setup there was noticeable fret buzz with even medium-hard string play. He is a light picker while I am a very unskilled heavy picker who tends to play metal riffs with my fingernails so it wasn't as noticeable to him as it was to me. I told him immediately to return the guitar because something was wrong and I knew it because the fret buzz was occurring in the 2nd to 3rd fret area but, he was so emotionally attached to the thing instantly that he just blew it off. So I adjusted the action, set extra neck relief, and even replaced the stock nut with a bone one that sat higher than the stock one. It helped a little bit but not much. I tried to tell him that I have the fretboard of my $300-$400 Washburn torn off its neck waiting for me to glue it back on after my fixing of a problem that was causing slight problems with my action. Problems that were no way near as bad as his yet I deemed them bad enough to remove the entire fretboard from my neck(after 1yr plus of debating because it is not a fun process) Still he stuck with no, no, it's fine... you are imagining it, it's not that bad, I play just fine. I stopped by a few days ago while he was on vacation and was reminded of how bad it is. I have never played a guitar in my life that has an action as bad as his, going down to the $100 Walmart first act someone gave me to play around with even, that first act had what felt like twice as low of an action without fret buzz as his $800 guitar.
I know he has missed the 30 day lifetime warranty window at this point but, I may be able manage getting that done for him if I am lucky. I won't in anyway call myself an expert on guitar repair and setup but, I consider myself as good as a guy can be who cannot afford the tools to become a truly good luthier. I am at a loss here as the fret buzz coming from frets 2-3 is not affected by truss rod relief, and I have already replaced the nut and even did a **** job putting it in, purposely setting it much, much, too high just to be 100% sure it was not the cause of the problem. My conclusion is that either it needs a fretjob, or that there is a problem with the neck. Either of which things meaning the guitar should have been returned immediately or sent in for repair. Hopefully I can get him his warranty after he didn't mail in the paperwork I told him to mail daily for at least a week.
I am looking for any advice, suggestions, etc. on this matter. And don't bother saying take it to a professional to have it checked out, where I live I am the closest thing to a professional within 100 miles.
July 30, 2013 @06:29am

I like to ask you, did you buy it from sweetwater? I know i bought a guitar a year or so ago that also had extremely high action and fret buzz on top of that. It wasnt a very expensive guitar only about 400$ as it was only a squire telecaster. What got me was that they include this 55 Point checklist or something to that effect with the guitar and one of them wa "setup of the guitar" .
Being it was only a Squire i wrote it off and adjusted it myself.
Well just this past year I ordered a GODIN FREEWAY guitar. I asked the sale rep if it will be setup for me.. he said they do the check list . So i said fine This guitar I paid way over 800$ for it. Well when it finally came.. OH MY GAWD. IT was so bad i could stick mypinky under the strings on the high frets. But the ironic thing was IT ALSO came with the 55 POINT CHECKLIST I emailed the rep and asked him.. I THOUGHT THEY DO SETUP.. he contradicted himself and said THEY DONT DO SETUPS!
I am like what?!?!? According to this paper the checklist that they put in with it CLAIMS ACTION IS SETUP. I paid over 800$ for this gutar and i cant even play it. NO response back from him! in fact i havent heard from him since. I couldnt send it back cause i am disabled and i have no means of transportation to get to a local shipping place as it is 45-50 miles one way to the nearest one. So now i have been stuck with this very expensive guitar that is totally impossible to play. It is STILL high no matter what i do to try to set it up.. the lower i go with it the MORE fret buzz I get it is insane! And there is NO ONE arround here either that works on them.
I even contacted GODIN.. and the only thing they could do is give me setup specs for it, which was NO WAY even CLOSE to what this gutar was performing. To me now it is basically HUNK of junk!
I would NEVER buy a guitar from sweetwater again.. I was lied to twice from the same rep, about both guitars. claiming they setup the guitar prior to shipping.. and then contradictinghimself saying they DO NOT do setups!..which is a lie cause the checklist says THEY DO!
I am NOT saying i will never order ANYTHING from them.. as they still have the best prices and shipping. But thats like for items that i know does NOT have to have to be precisely adjusted .. like guitars for example DO NEED TO be precise!. I will never order a guitar from them again!
August 10, 2013 @11:11am

I had to reply. I just bought another guitar from Sweetwater tonight(Ibanez 8-string on sale) & you must be dealing w/another company than I know. They are pro's & set up their guitars great. I had to tweak my 339 but the Strat,Line 6 & Tele were spot on. I've NEVER been lied to & have had any problems fixed immediately. My Rep knows his stuff & treats me like a friend. They are #1 on my list & I only go elsewhere if I have to. If you are being truthful you need a new rep. I suggest Karl Long & you won't have any of the problems you described.
November 26, 2013 @02:52am

This story doesn't make sense. It doesn't fly with what I know about Sweetwater either. If this really happened to you, you should call Sweetwater and talk to someone, anyone about what happened. They won't let this go.
Also Godin should be willing repair this guitar as well. What you describe is not a set-up problem. It is factory defective workmanship. It should be under warranty, unless you didn't register your guitar. Then that would be on you. Kinda sounds like that is maybe what happened? And you are bitter because neither they, nor Sweetwater would do anything about it because you didn't register your instrument? If you have lost your receipt Sweetwater could easily get you another, so if that is the problem ..... call them .....
Hello. Unfortunately I can't examine your guitar but, in my experience fret buzz that close to the nut could be a truss rod problem, but isn't likely.
I believe it is much more likely the result of compression of the wood in the neck.
Fret tangs in fret slots that are too narrow can cause neck compression and cause problems just as you describe.
Also a weakness, or defect in the wood of the neck could do the same. Hopefully that is not the case in your guitar. That kind of defect is not repairable, unfortunately.
Wood defects usually occur due to improper, or no kiln drying of the wood used for the neck.
Neck compression caused by the frets is usually due to fret tangs too wide for existing fret slots. It only takes a few thousands of an inch, .002, or .003, to cause compression. That may not seem like much, but it adds up quickly.
I have seen this problem before a few times.
It usually occurs at the upper part of the neck not the nut end. But it does happen.
It won't necessarily be just the first 5 frets. It is usually the whole neck that has too narrow of fret slots.
The best way to check for this, and correct it, is with a fret saw, or better yet, a precision Japanese micro saw. Both have precisely documented kerfs for their blade size and you just need to make sure that your fret slot is slightly wider than the tang on the fretwire you intend to use.
A good source to research further and to get the right measurements for slots and tangs, and proper tools and fret wire delivered is StewMac.
Google for their website. The have excellent documents and how to videos that will make it much easier, and give you confidence in your techniques and measurements.
Also their saws and fretwire match up so neck compression from improper fretting is not a concern.
I wish you well,
PS: feel free to contact me further if you wish. willqen@gmail.com
November 30, 2013 @11:42pm