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seattleguy

Please help me find an Ultra 339 that doesn't have fret buzz

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Hi,

 

I’ve been on quite a journey trying to find and EPI Ultra 339 that doesn’t have fret buzz on the 6th E, and sometimes 5th A as well, bass strings. I’ve visited all 4 guitar center shops (and one guitar show) in the Seattle area and tried out a total of eleven Ultra 339’s and every single one of them had serious fret buzzing. I’ve even had them run a couple guitars through their “pro-setup” installation prior to buying, and even after that, the buzzing still exists. In both cases the sales rep said there was nothing more they could do and if I wanted the guitar I would just have to deal with it….

 

I’ve also called out to two surrounding independent music shops and had them test their guitars only to find that those also had the same fret buzz. One shop has returned all ( a total of five) Ultra 339’s, and stated that this is a manufactures defect in that the neck angle is wrong, and is no longer going to carry them until they get an assurance from their Epiphone rep that the issue is fixed.

 

I’ve called up Gibson support and they told me they haven’t heard of the issue and could only say that I should take the guitar to an authorized Epiphone dealer to fix after purchasing the item. I certainly don’t want to go through the hassle of returning/fixing/returning/fixing guitars until I get on that works…

 

I don’t think that this is just me having this issue as in reading some reviews and blogs on the Ultra 339 this does seem to be a common issue, just google “epiphone ultra 339 fret buzz”. To reproduce the issue just press the E bass string on the third fret and pluck the string…

 

Does anyone know where I can find an Ultra 339 without fret buzz? Or does anyone know how to fix the issue?

 

thank you!

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Hi,

 

Well my journey continues. I went ahead and ordered an Ultra 339 Pelham blue from GC and in less than a week it came in… I was real excited as this one didn’t have too much fret buzz (it was there but something I could have lived with) but unfortunately I had to return it for another as the paint in and around the F hole was still tacky and bubbly, and had imprinted finger print marks surrounding the hole. Bummer. So I packed it back up and ordered a replacement. I then waited another week for the second one, and unfortunately I had to return that guitar as the knobs for the nanomag on the back of the guitar were stuck, the treble knob, and only turned on eighth of the way for the bass. Also on the inside wall of the F hole there was a large crescent shaped splinter chunk of hanging wood, about one half and inches wide and three quarters of an inch long on the underside of the top. I then returned that one in hopes of getting a quality guitar the third time.

 

I've been having a real tough time finding a guitar without some returnable quality issues – is the something that the rest of you have seen?

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Don't have a 339 myself so I can't comment, but I do feel for you. Very frustrating to finally decide on a guitar, then to have to return two of them.

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I'm sorry to hear about your troubles with the Ultra 339. I received mine back in January. I love this guitar and feel the frustration has been worth it. My frets were like sandpaper which made it practically unplayable...bends were out of the question. This was no big deal. A good polish did the trick. I didn't have any fret buzzing issues so I guess I'm lucky there. I have read that fret buzzing has been a problem with the Ultra IIIs as well. The USB cord that came with it didn't work. And I had the wiring problem that a lot of people had with both the Ultra 339 and Ultra IIIs. Luckily, there is an authorized Gibson repair shop near me that took care of that.

 

So, I say keep trying or wait a year or so until Epiphone irons out all the issues with these guitars. As I type, there are 7 used ones listed on MusiciansFriend, which probably includes a lot of returns due to quality issues. I think the new Ultras are a good idea but maybe they were just rushed into production. I have an Ultra II as well and like the updated features in the Ultra 339. Try not to give up, but I understand your frustration.

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Hello 339 seeker. I would accept the fact that this is not one of Epis' "Flagship Guitars". Maybe try a 335 dot? Maybe look at a competitor such as Ibanez and their hollow body electrics. Low cost hollow body guitars present many more problems to a manufacturer than solid bodies. Think about it, these hollow semi-acoustic electric guitars require more time. (Since 'time is money') they only do what they can. Gibson charges for all of that architecture. They have the time to build in the steps required to these much more temperamental guitars in a more accurate acting guitar.

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The "Ultras" do indeed have plenty of "problems".......Fret buzz being the worst and most common problem.......

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Sadly, I've never owned a foreign made guitar or bass that didn't have buzzing issues. Heck, I think it's sad that there are so many foreign made guitars sold in the USA! My US made instruments have mostly been wonderful.

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Sadly, I've never owned a foreign made guitar or bass that didn't have buzzing issues. Heck, I think it's sad that there are so many foreign made guitars sold in the USA! My US made instruments have mostly been wonderful.

 

Hmmm......If you "google" the words 'luthier', 'guitar adjustments', 'truss rod', 'nut replacement','neck relief', you'll learn that buzzing guitars is user error.....

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Anyways, I couldn't afford a real sitar, so bought an Ultra.......[flapper] :unsure: [flapper][blush][wink] .....

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I just bought an LP Ultra III yesterday from a private party. When testing at his place, I didn't notice any problems so I bought the guitar. After I got home in a quiet environment, I noticed that string 6 was fret buzzing, and there seems to be some unusual harmonic thing going on there as well. I talked to the seller and he acknowledged that he too had noticed the issue. He graciously offered to give me my money back, but I figure I can fix it so I decline his offer. After I looked around this forum and found that what I have is a common problem, I wrote to Gibson in hopes of good customer service, but alas, my hopes were in vain...

 

Me:"I purchased a used LP Ultra III from a private party, which was practically brand new. I have what appears to be the dreaded 5th and 6th string buzz problem ..."

Gibson: "This type thing is not a warranty covered problem, fret work is not a manufacture defect."

Me: "You guys all know that there’s a problem with lots of those guitars. Are you telling me that what many people have reported is not a manufacturing defect?"

Gibson: "We cannot control what people do with their instruments after they get them, fret problems can be caused by many different things, especially humidity and temperature changes, making these kind of things not a manufacture defect."

 

Are they kidding? I agree that they cannot control what buyers do to Gibson's guitars. Apparently, they also can't control what the factory builders do either! I will fix this guitar, and will document what I do and post it here (if I don't get banned from the forum) so maybe others will be able to fix their own guitars since Gibson doesn't seem to be taking this seriously.

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Maybe try a 335 dot?

 

+1. There are a lot of very good Dots out there. I picked up a used Dot, natural finish, with a thick 1950's (dark) mahogany neck; put in a pair of Seth's, and wow, what great tone. I've got $400 into the thing, guitar and PU's, and I wouldn't hesitate to go up against Gibson 335's with it.

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Anyone with one of these watching: What set up specs are you adjusting your 339s to? My neck relief is set to .008" (measured at 7th, fretted at 1st and 14th). My string height is at 5/64th at the 12th fret. I do get a fair amount of buzz. More-so than with my Epi LPs and other guitars. I normally try to use a much lighter pick and attack on this guitar than with others.

 

I'm using .010s, fwiw.

 

BTW, if I had some .011s when I needed my last string change, I would have used them. This guitar really likes the thicker strings. My last set of .011s seemed to sound better. Maybe it drove the top more? I dunno. Just a theory.

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I do a lot of setups in my shop. Fret buzz is mostly caused by a nut that is cut too low.

Secondly by a fret, or frets, that are too high.

Thirdly by a bridge that is too low.

4rth would be not enough relief in the neck. Or a combination of any of the four.

 

A good tech should be able to set it up with no fret buzz.

 

Are these guitars different in some way that I am missing?

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I'm afraid these are just not well-made guitars. Mine went back for rework but still buzzes. It had the faulty pickup, buzzing/rattling strings, and sticky paint in the f-hole. They replaced the pickup, and reduced the rattling to a level I can just about put up with.

 

There's a lot of relatively expensive and complex electricals in these Ultras. It's as if they've skimped on build quality to keep the price down. The build quality is not what I'd expect of a guitar in this price bracket.

 

I (and the Tech in the store) have tried truss rod and bridge adjustment, I suspect that the fretboard isn't perfectly flat. A fret dress might sort it, but I'm not in a hurry to spend more money on it.

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I do a lot of setups in my shop. Fret buzz is mostly caused by a nut that is cut too low.

Secondly by a fret, or frets, that are too high.

Thirdly by a bridge that is too low.

4rth would be not enough relief in the neck. Or a combination of any of the four.

 

A good tech should be able to set it up with no fret buzz.

 

Are these guitars different in some way that I am missing?

I think most people are lamenting in the fact that these buzzes are still present after a trip to the tech.

 

I don't think many are disputing the notion that most guitars need at least a minimum series of adjustments when they get it home.

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I think most people are lamenting in the fact that these buzzes are still present after a trip to the tech.

 

I don't think many are disputing the notion that most guitars need at least a minimum series of adjustments when they get it home.

 

 

Yeah, I'm reading the same. I do remember reading something about the Nanomag pickup exerting some magnetic pull on the strings. Maybe enough to make them buzz, even after a setup?

 

It's sorta weird. I have an Ultra 2 that does not have this problem, or any of the problems I've read about with these new Ultras.

Although I have had to replace the Nanaomag once.

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I have diagnosed and fixed this problem (on my guitar)!

 

I had String 6 buzz at F2,3,4 and F18 through 22. The root of the problem was a too deep cut on string 5 and 6 nut grooves. I removed the nut and shimmed it up with a .020 piece of cardstock and glued it back in. No F2,3,4 buzz anymore, but still high fret buzz when when fretting in the middle of neck. This was caused by excessive neck relief which was misadjusted probably in an effort to quiet the original fret noise. I reduced neck relief (tightened truss rod) to about .012 measured at F8 with neck clamped at F1 and the fret where the bass side of neck joins the body. It was .025 or so before. Buzz now completely gone. I monkeyed around with bridge height until I got fret buzz, and then raised it a touch and now all is well. I'm thinking that there was an over zealous nut maker in the factory that was using the wrong numbers to put the #5 and 6 grooves in the nuts he was making. That's why there are so many of these.

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I have diagnosed and fixed this problem (on my guitar)!

 

I had String 6 buzz at F2,3,4 and F18 through 22. The root of the problem was a too deep cut on string 5 and 6 nut grooves. I removed the nut and shimmed it up with a .020 piece of cardstock and glued it back in. No F2,3,4 buzz anymore, but still high fret buzz when when fretting in the middle of neck. This was caused by excessive neck relief which was misadjusted probably in an effort to quiet the original fret noise. I reduced neck relief (tightened truss rod) to about .012 measured at F8 with neck clamped at F1 and the fret where the bass side of neck joins the body. It was .025 or so before. Buzz now completely gone. I monkeyed around with bridge height until I got fret buzz, and then raised it a touch and now all is well. I'm thinking that there was an over zealous nut maker in the factory that was using the wrong numbers to put the #5 and 6 grooves in the nuts he was making. That's why there are so many of these.

Do you have a feel on whether or not a heavier guage would have helped by virtue of not sitting in the groove as deeply? (and subsequently, in theory, making it higher off the frets?)

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Do you have a feel on whether or not a heavier guage would have helped by virtue of not sitting in the groove as deeply? (and subsequently, in theory, making it higher off the frets?)

 

I have a .050 in slot 6 now and it seems to be resting on the bottom of the groove. I have not measured the groove width, but I'll bet it's maybe .052 to .055 wide which will allow any string up to that diameter rest on the bottom of the nut groove. The grooves are not V shaped, but U shaped so it will make no difference where the bottom of the string rests relative to the fret board. As long as the string will fit into the groove, it will get to the bottom of it because the groove walls are parallel.

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