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Finger board question

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I am just geting started into my first build from scratch project and it is going pretty well so far. (Pictures to come, but everyone has to promise not to laugh at my efforts. The routing went OK, but due to inexperience and lack of familiarity with my new tools, I made a couple of slips, but nothing that ruined my body blank or that won't be covered by the pickguard.)

I am already starting to look at my next project ( Damn you people ! I seem to have developed an addiction here !). The question I have is, when thinking about slotting the frets and radiusing the fretboard, are the fret slots usually cut first and then the fingerboard radiused, or is it the other way around ? Radius the fret board first and then cut the fret slots ?

My first inclination is that the fret slots need to be cut first to ensure uniformity of depth and then radius the fretboard and adjust the depth on any slots that need it. Just to let you know, I spent this past Saturday making four radius sanding block out of some Oak pieces I had. I made a 10", 12", 14", and 16" blocks. The blocks started as 3" W x 2" T x 6 1/2" L. I used the method described by Anthony Setchell on the Project Guitar site (http://www.projectguitar.com/tut/radius.htm).

Another question. The fretboard I ordered from Stewart-Mac has .023 wide slots. Is this a common or "standard" slot size, or are the various brands of fret wire all unique and use different slot widths ?

Edited by Fender4me
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yes... your first inclination (as in what you said) is usually the way to go.... cut the slots and then radius the board... then make the slots deeper and parallel to the curvature of the board so that a uniform depth is acheived...

those slots depths are sortr of standard, most wire you get from them should fit in there fine- always check before ordering though... there are different widths (tang widths) available out there... make sure that your frets will not be overly tight or too loose,



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I'm so sorry if I kind of hijacked the thread but I just want to know whether, is it possible if I make my fingerboard from hard acrylic and un-radiused? I got some acrylic for free and I thought, this would be a unique feature on my guitar.

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Acrylic fretboard could work, but the swelling and shrinking of the wood might cause you trouble later. You need the radius for ease of chording and bending the strings, so I don't think going without a radius will work. Unless you are going to build a classical guitar. I don't believe they have a radius, or not much of one.

Wait for some answers though I am by no means a expert on this subject.

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Shouldn't be too much trouble with the swelling/shrinking by humidity - because the acrylic actually swells with increased humidity (and temperature) very much like wood - the material properties of wood and plastics are quite similar. But the acryllic is normally quite "dry" when you get it, -and remains very much like that as long as you leave the protection film on it -so make shure that the neck wood is as dry as you can get it!

Regarding the flat fretboard - Gretch (and others) has made electrics with flat fretboards - ment for soloing - with very slim necks. They have even made necks with reversed radius (concave) - said to be made for fast soloing -don't know if it works -it is certainly not practical for chording!

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There is a tip on getting the right depth of cut for the frets in the tutorials section I think. It was by Brian either way and it goes along the lines of:

Check out your frets and decide on the depth of cut that you'll need.

Mark this on a credit card and tape off the unwanted area so that you can still see plain old credit card thats the same depth as you want the cut.

Cut to this depth.

Radius fretboard.

Put credit card in slot and move around, you'll be able to see how deep it needs re-cutting.


That's only a quick guide so check out the tutorial.

BTW (only a minor hijack here) - When I'm going to epoxy the fretboard onto the neck, should I only put the glue on either side of the truss rod or should I put it on the truss rod aswell. It's a U Channel type truss rod with the open side taped up and facing down towards the back of the neck. Cheers dudes :D

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Can anyone show me a link to Brian's fretting tutorial ? I have tried searching but all I can find is the tutorial about making a fret bending tool.

bassman, I was actually talking about the fret slot width, rather than the slot depth. I did some looking around yesterday on various sights (i.e. Stewart-Mac, Allparts, Warmoth etc..) and not many of them actually list the tang width of the frets. I think Allparts was the only one that actually gave a diagram showing the tang and barb widths, and theres appears to be different from the ones that Stewart-Mac sells.

The Stewart-Mac fret wire, that I have already bought, recommends a slot width of .023 mm, but the Allparts fret wire shows a tang width of .5 mm or .6 mm and a barb width of .60 mm or .95 mm.

So, from what I can see you have to really know what fret wire and who you are going to buy it from to determine what size of fret saw you should use. Not that this is a big deal, its just that I would have thought that fret wire was manufactured to an industry standard.

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Hey Perry ! B)

I am in the middle of my first build from scratch project right now, and that is exactly what I did. I bought a compound radius Rosewood fretboard, pre-slotted rom Stewart-Mac.

I am thinking about down the road, when I do my next project. I do want to build a guitar doing all the cuts myself, and that's why I was just wanting to make sure that I really understood the process behind making the fretboard.

I'm really kind of lucky. I found a local Woodcrafters store that sells Rosewood blanks that are 24" long by 3" wide and they have various thicknesses from 1/8" up to 1/4". These will be perfect for trying out my touch on making a fretboard from scratch, and the great thing is they sell them really cheap. They range from about $7.00 to $11.00.

Since I made a set of radius blocks, if I can slot and radius the fretboards myself, it will be about half the cost of the pre-slotted ones from Stewart-Mac. Like I said, I am just thinking down the road. Like I also said:

( Damn you people ! I seem to have developed an addiction here !)


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