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Resizing fret slots

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Hey gang.

I thought Id ask you experts this question as I havent had to do this before.

What I have is a partial refret job on a bound neck.

The problem I have is that the fret tang is larger than the slots.

Ive taken a caliper to 2 dozen diffrent frets to try and size up a better fret/tang fit but I just dont have any..

So, I could use a little pointer on widening out the fret slots a little to accomodate the larger tang..

Thanks in advance.

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Brians right, the best way to fret that type of guitar is either get the correct size fretwire for the slots or run the fretwire through something similar to what Dan Erlewine uses that will take the barbs down and then glue them in. I've never made one of those barb filers before, but it doesn't look hard to make. He basically pulls the fretwire through that setup until he gets the size he needs or where they are completely gone and can glue then in. I'll research it some more from you if you think that's the way you want to attack this job.

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I shave the barbs for almost every re-fret.

You should state the size of the slots, and size of the fret-tangs, and fret barbs of all your fret-wire.

If the replacement frets are already cut to length, it won't be as easy to do the shaving. You can file by hand.

In some cases, you can use a fret barb mashing pliers instead of shaving (pulling through files)

Obviously, shaving just the barbs down, or all the way off is much easier than actually shaving the tang width even thinner, but the method of pulling through files will shave the actual tang thinner.

Man, I'm gonna hate the barb shaving thing when I start experimenting with stainless steel frets.

Make sure you clean the fret-slots in the board well before measuring them.

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I would widen the slot personally. The fact that all his frets are larger would incinuate it's a smaller than normal slot. I mean there's only so many fret manufacturers. That being said, partial refrets are usually done in the lower register. If that's the case I like a real tight fret slot down there. It's the most likely area to show disproportionate forward bow.

To widen slots I've used Dremel bits, and that's mostly to over-widen them for glue and less tension. If you want to widen a slot to accept a tight fret but you still want good tension, there's a few ways. One is to attack the fret tang or barbs. If your board is rosewood, I personally like an aggressive barb. I feel that without CA it will hold better, and with CA it just locks it into place even more. So I wouldn't personally take barb away if you're on rosewood. For ebony and maple I'd consider it. Another way is to widen the whole slot with a bit or a small section of blade. But a third way is to take either a dremel or regular drill bit, at around .040 or so, and drill about 7-10 "holes" into the slot, so you have a slot with relief notches in it. This allows the wood to compress easier, and fight the tang and barbs less. It also allows good tension in the slot. It can work even when the slot is smaller than the tang (excluding barbs) because it allows more compression.

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Frank has some good points. I should have pointed out that since I use a "neck-jig" , I don't want really tight fitting frets to go changing all my leveling under tension. I like 'em about tight enough, that when you press one in, you can lift the neck, by holding the fret ends that are sticking out. Then I like to glue 'em in while in the jig, and let them dry while being held in the jig. Seems to always make the neck plenty stiff in the end. I don't know if vwall is dealing with a vintage neck, but for me, I get more and more afraid of any kind of wood removal, when I think about the vintage value of many guitars.

Also, it's kind of fun if you can mod frets to match some kind you can't buy anymore. Erlewine even shaves barbs off, tangs more narrow, and then punches new barbs in.

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Well, after thinking hard about how I wanted to approach this issue, I looked in one more place where I keep special fret wire..

pulled out the digi-cal and found 1 peice that was a close enuff fit to work..

So its finally over.

Thanks for the input gents!!!

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Yeah... too obvious :D

I did look into that tool but I dont beleive that it widens them out

but more so cleans the slots.....

Quoted from SM site:

"Here's the latest tool developed by our repair expert Dan Erlewine, to help make refretting easier. New frets won't seat correctly until the slots are clean, and this unique saw will clean them fast!

It's 9-3/4" overall, with a wooden handle, and has two 3/8" blades. One cuts on the pull stroke, and the other on the push stroke, to loosen packed wood dust and old glue. "

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That one in the pic, has a "kerf" of .020". I asked about it in another thread, and Guitar Frenzy measured his, and even found there's actually no kerf, the tooth width and rest of the blade is .020".

I made my own out of an exacto keyhole saw blade mounted in a handle I made, but I have some better ideas.

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