I have an acoustic-electric guitar, which I took home new about 10 years ago. Lately I've noticed that the G on the high E string (third fret, play it all the time) has started to sound like a sitar. The twangy "bwang" whenever I hit it. The F# and G# are just fine, but quite possibly the most common note in the music I play gives me that horrible sound.
Except, when I hit it gently, far too gently to be useful playing in front of other people, the note sounds fine. Which leads me to figure that quite possibly the most common note in the music I play is worn down because it's quite possibly the most common note in the music I play.
So, what are my options? The expensive choice is refretting, which I think is ultimately where I have to go. There's capoing up a few frets up, and I'm seriously considering tuning to D and capoing II so the bad note's an F, not a G. But what are my other choices? The ones more serious than detuning and more inexpensive than refretting?
There's some good related information on this question, so give that a read.
A re-fret isn't always the best answer to a little fret buzz--sometimes a simple setup will fix it. Anything from simple truss rod adjustments, to new nut/saddle pieces could fix you up proper. However, if the problem has gradually evolved from a perfectly fine playing guitar then you could have a serious issue on your hands--which should be promptly handled by a professional. On my acoustic, I developed a fret buzz that was due to the separation of the fingerboard from the neck of the guitar--I had bent the neck too hard too many times while applying vibrato to open harmonics ;). I had to tune the guitar 1/2 a step down and place a capo on the first fret in order to be able to play at all (the capo acted as a clamp for the fretboard). After all that trouble I ended up paying my local luthier $60 USD to re-glue the fingerboard on and I had a completely fixed up and working acoustic in less than a week.
But I digress. Based on your description the problem is likely a low spot on the fret you play the most. That happens a lot--and really the only true way to fix the root cause of the problem is to do a fret dress. Re-fretting is where you replace the fret wire on the entire neck with brand new fret wire, while fret-dressing is simply returning the relative heights of all the crowns of those frets to an equal height. This, in effect, returns your guitar to the same state it was in when your frets were all new--just with a little metal missing off the crowns. Nearly all frets can take a couple of dresses before they become too worn out to grind any more metal off. I would run by a luthier and have that done--but obviously listen if they are telling you something else could be causing the problem. As I stated above, anything from a simple setup to replacing the nut could fix the problem--but with that low spot you describe you will eventually need to dress the frets anyway.Tweet