How do you fix dead spots on a guitar?

Dead spots are a commonly misunderstood term by guitarists. A true dead spot is a note / notes that has / have a very quick decay (sustain) with little to no lower fundamental tones on stringed instruments.

Paste the link below into your browser address field for more information about true dead spots:

acoustics.org/pressroom/httpdocs/137th/fleischer.html

In the case of a true dead spot one must either replace the neck, if feasible, with one that has no dead spots, try a device called a "Fat Finger" (which really only changes one dead spot for another), or replace the guitar entirely on a set neck guitar / bass.

Fret buzz / rattles and fretting out (strings hitting the next upper fret and not sounding) on the other hand ARE NOT true dead spots. They are sometimes mistakenly termed dead spots, but now you know the difference.

In the case of buzz / rattle, and fretting out, a guitar neck can be fixed in a number of ways, depending on the cause.

From easiest to hardest:

1. Get a guitar / bass 'setup' that may include setting neck relief, adjusting nut / bridge height and intonation, and fret dressing - sanding, leveling, grinding, re-fretting or a combination thereof, by a good Luthier (guitar repair / builder) for usually under $100 (US - 2009). Your best bet.

2. Raise the action. If you have an electric guitar, it probably has an adjustable bridge.

Raise your bridge or bridge inserts a bit. On an acoustic, you can try a new, taller saddle or shim your current one with wood veneer or cardboard. Remember too high of an action will make any guitar hard to play.

3. Adjust the truss rod (set neck relief). If your neck is too straight (buzzing at the first 5 frets) it will not allow the string to vibrate in it's natural arch. If it is too bowed (usually buzzing above the 12th fret) fretting strings will be hard. Get a proper sized Allen wrench and turn the rod counter clockwise to introduce some relief (bow) into the neck or turn the truss rod clockwise to straighten it. A quarter turn is usually safest. Be careful, a broken truss rod is not easy to replace. It's best to set string height to an average of 3/32" measured at the 12th fret before setting relief.

4. Shim the neck. Loosen the strings, unbolt the neck & drop some thin strips (1/32, 1/16) of whatever (cardboard, metal, wood, plastic) in there. This will offset some bowing. If you find there are shims in there already, try removing them. This is usually best left to a Professional.

5. Replace the neck - Naturally, if your neck is badly warped, twisted, or cracked, you can possibly buy a replacement from your local guitar shop who can also install it for you as they will need to set it up properly for your guitar.

And if all else fails you can always sell it as-is on Craigslist or eBay and start over again.