Troubleshooting: Same Note on Many Frets [Guitar]

Have you ever been in that frustrating situation in which no matter how you tune your instrument you feel that the same note occurs in many frets

Let me tell you this is more common than you think.

Sometimes happens that we leave our guitar aside for a long time without playing it but when want to start playing again is not in good condition. 

This could be due to various reasons but don’t worry it has a solution.

The issue of having repeated notes on adjacent frets is most commonly due to worn-out frets or the presence of neck relief. Frets can be dressed or replaced, neck relief can be solved with a correct setup. Both these solutions can be easily done by a guitar tech from $50 for a setup up to $400 for a refret.

I would like to dive deeper into this topic and explain to you the different reasons why this happen and the possible solutions. 

Through this article, I will try to guide you to have a better understanding, from how much will cost you to make your guitar fixed to how to prevent this horrible situation.

What can cause having the same note on many frets?

Sometimes happens that a note is produced in two or more adjacent frets. 

It could be a headache but let me tell you this happens because of many reasons.

The problem could be uneven frets or worn-out frets and they may be that way because of the use. 

This also generally produces a buzzing at certain positions.

One of the other causes may be neck relief which is a small amount of concave bow created intentionally in the instrument neck. 

By adding relief to the neck, you increase between strings and the neck and this may cause having the same note on different frets.

Contrarily, if the neck has not enough relief, the string could touch another fret involuntarily when fretting.

 Needless to say, a bad setup will also affect your instrument performance.

How to solve the issue of having the same note on many frets?

The solution will always depend on the problem, is not the same to have extra neck relief as worn-out frets. 

Fortunately, no matter what is the problem, it’s fixable.

What you have to know is that the solution may vary from one instrument to another. 

In some cases, you will have to level all the frets while in some others you will need to raise the action.

The goal is to eliminate that trouble and you can do it by getting your guitar set up correctly.

Both these jobs are pretty common for a guitar tech or luthier, however, usually, fretwork is more expensive.

The following article has all the info you need about it:

But, in short, a fret dressing can cost up to $100, while a complete refret could come at up to $500.

Can you set up your guitar on your own?

If your guitar issues originate from a bad setup, you may wonder if you can fix it on your own. 

In short, you will be completely able to do it but let me tell you that you should need to learn how to do it properly. 

Instruments are delicate pieces that require some knowledge that most players don’t have. 

However, this is not fundamental, you don’t need to know how to set up your guitar.

If you are interested in learning how to do it, go for it! but what you can do instead is have a technician do it for you. 

This is a quite economic alternative and you will be leaving your guitar in wise hands.

How much would a professional setup cost you?

Most musical stores or professionals offer their own setup and although is a very common job for them, the price will be affected depending on how much work is required to set up the instrument.

The price will also vary from one region to another but in general terms, it will cost you around $50, up to $100 if there’s a lot of work to do.

Is it guaranteed that a setup would fix this issue?

Generally speaking, a setup will solve this issue but this is not always the case. 

Basic maintenance is crucial for guitar and basses so you need to take your instrument for a setup every 6 or 8 months, maybe every year.

Some years-old guitars could have something wrong at a core level due to poor maintenance. 

In those cases, the instrument might require some extra work to be fixed completely.

How to prevent this from happening again in the future?

As I mentioned before, proper maintenance is the clue to have your instrument in good shape so, apart from setting it up once per year you need to pay attention to weather changes. 

Since guitars and basses are wooden instruments they are always affected by the weather that’s why you need to be always attentive to neck relief or any other aspect that could be influenced by this.

Another remarkable aspect to be aware of is the string gauge

When replacing strings you have to be aware of their gauge because thicker strings apply more tension to the instrument.

Last but not least, different tunings could strongly influence the guitar or bass performance. 

What I mean to say is that if you are constantly switching tuning, the tension will be sometimes lower or higher which is not good for the instrument.

What is guitar action and why is it so important?

Finally, we need to discuss a relevant topic which is guitar action and its importance. 

When we talk about guitar action we refer to the actual height at which the strings of the instrument are placed as regards the fretboard

Having defined that, I would like to mention that lower string action has some unique benefits that deserve to be pointed out. 

If you have a low string height, you will instantly notice how comfortable you feel the instrument in your hands.

That is because you require less pressure to play, resulting in less effort and energy when playing. 

In addition, bendings, hammer-ons, and pull-offs will be easier not to mention fretting difficult chords.

Having discussed the previous aspects, we can say that this kind of string height is perfect for beginners. 

In conclusion, a lower string height will give you a more rich playing experience.