Pittman Guitar Repair


243 Amory St
Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts
(617) 733-9911

Pittman Guitar Repair is in the Coolidge Corner section of


Getting there:

By public transportation, the shop is easily accessible from the B & C trains on the Green line or the 66 bus. 

If you drive, there is plenty of free parking on the street outside the shop. 

After making an appointment, please call 1 hour before arrival. 

Repair Tips

I will add simple and some not so simple repair tips for owners.  Most are, how do you ...? type of tip. 

Not all the tips on these pages are not meant to be complete how-to but a quick overview of things that most instrument owners should be able to do.  There are many web sites that have details on how to do the things pictured here.  I strongly suggest you research these more complex repairs before doing them on your precious instrument.

Buzzing can originate from many sources, the most common being:
  • Fret (String) Buzz - This happens when a string comes in contact with a fret and a buzzing sound occurs. This is the most frequent cause of buzzes.
  • Hardware Buzz - This can be any number of sounds, from buzzing to rattling. Loose hardware, such as loose machine head bushings, tailpieces that are rattling against the top, electrical parts or jacks, loose or poorly fitting trim pieces, etc.
  • Sympathetic Buzz - This is not too common. Certain frequencies can set off noises including strange buzzes and vibrations. These types of buzzes differ in that they occur only when certain frequencies are played.
  • Loose Brace Buzz - Braces that split or come loose in an acoustic guitar can sometimes be heard rattling against the top or back when playing.
Symptom Possible Cause Remedy

Buzz on open strings only -String buzzes when played open, stops when string is fretted.

Nut -Slots in nut are too deep. Worn or poorly cut nut slot is placing the strings too close to the frets near the nut.

Replace nut or shim to add height. Set up instrument properly.


Buzz in one spot - buzzing is heard in one particular spot.

Unlevel Frets -Frets are not on a level plane (one or more is too high or too low.) Loose or sprung fret is rising out of the fingerboard. Hump in fingerboard. Wear or deep grooves in frets.

Level fret and/or replace worn frets.  Secure all loose frets, level and dress.


Buzz where the neck attaches to the body. Notes seem to fret out when playing near the body.

Common on flattop acoustic guitars. The small amount of fingerboard that is glued to the top may flex as the top flattens or rise and create a bend in the fingerboard near the neck to body joint. A hump at the 14th fret can render the frets to high in that area.

Flattop guitars with a dipping or flattening top should be evaluated for dryness and corrected. Frets near fingerboard extension may need leveling. In rare cases the fingerboard must be planed to remove hump.


Buzz When Strumming Hard -Buzzing occurs when strumming or picking aggressively but can be silenced when playing lightly.

Insufficient relief in the neck. Poor set-up. String gauge too light.

Adjust truss rod. Use heavier strings. Set up instrument properly.


Buzz nearly everywhere even though it is set up properly, will often disappear if string is fretted hard or closer to the fret and plucked softly.

Frets may be worn out or too low. Very small fret wire used.

Replace frets.


Buzz nearly everywhere all the time, strings are literally touching the frets in the center or other area of the fingerboard.

Truss rod may be too tight/ neck may not have enough relief. Could be a back bowed or twisted neck.

Set up instrument properly. Adjust truss rod for more relief. Inspect neck.

What is a set-up

A set-up is the set of adjustments that affect the playability of a stringed instrument.
A repair is work performed on a specific instrument in order to maximize the playability of that particular instrument or return an instrument to playable condition. There are four basic, universal adjustments that affect the playability of every guitar:

  • adjusting the amount of relief (or "bow") in the neck,
  • adjusting the string height at the saddle,
  • adjusting the string height at the nut, and
  • adjusting the intonation.
These four adjustments are referred to as "basic guitar set-up".

Who needs a set-up and how often

Set-up work is a series of adjustments that need to be performed at least once on every guitar. Very few manufactures or music stores take adequate time to properly perform these adjustments. Even when they do, the set-up is very general and aimed at the average player, rather than the specific preferences of an individual player. A properly set-up guitar can improve the playability and tone of the guitar. After the initial set-up, additional set-up should be performed if the instrument is altered in any way, for example:
  • Different gauge strings are installed
  • New nut installed
  • New saddle installed
  • Fretwork performed on instrument

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