Fret Rattle, Fret Buzz, and Fret Sizzle

Is your guitar sounding a bit sterile? lacking the 'mojo' or 'vibe' or whatever? Lower your action to get some fret sizzle.

This is a little-known tone secret that seems counter-intuitive. Country players who spend a lot of time playing, for example, a Tele through a squeaky clean Twin know that a good setup includes what they call 'sizzle' (string buzz if taken to an undesirable extreme) because it knocks the fundamental down a bit relative to overtones. I'm not talking about a buzzy mess and a ton of rattle but just a slight 'sizzle' on fretted notes up and down the neck -- if it sounds 'buzzy' to the point of distraction you're too low.

Here is a pronounced version of what I'm talking about from Eric Johnson

This clip of EJ would be a bit on the rattling side for me but it gets the point across. His one-time guitar tech commented  in a trade publication that he could hardly touch EJ's guitars without tons of string buzz. Light touch = clean; dig in a bit and you'll get cool harmonic spread.

If you hit a fretted note and it sounds 'clear as a bell' then lower the action. On this guitar you're not aiming for 'clear as a bell' but a touch of harmonic fizz. Try just straightening out the neck a bit with a truss rod adjustment and then messing around with the bridge/saddles if necessary.