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Fretting Help

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Hi all

I've been reading here for ages (couple of hours a day B)), not much posting, cos i'm far from an expert :D but i'm a little stuck with my first guitar. I've made everything from scratch (except the radiused and slotted board) and i'm very happy so far, apart from a couple of inexperienced mistakes which i've been able to salvage B)

I'm scared to fret....I dont wanna mess it up so i'm taking my time to read and learn the processes before I go ahead, but I've got a couple of questions, I'm not sure if i've missed things and I dont want to be another newb to get told to do a search....lol

Whats a good way for me to pre bend the frets? I dont have any specialist tools, and I tried brians idea from the main site, but all I got was a curve, not tight enough to be over-radiused.

Should I bend then cut the wire to lengths? or should I cut then bend?

Also, I'll be hammering the frets in, I was going to use superglue as well, would I need to clamp the fret while the glue dries? The barbs on the tang are still intact, I just wanted a little extra security. How would I clamp these? Could I use a radius sanding block as a clamping caul?

Sorry for the long winded message....I think I should know all this stuff by now :D:D

Thanks guys

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well, you could always try buying pre-radiused fretwire if you are not comfortable doing it yourself...im by NO means an expert but i ve only seen brians idea and buying a fretbender from www.stewmac.com

someone will give you a way better answer so just wait for one :D


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As far as bending the frets goes, you may need to fiddle with the homemade bender to get the radius of bend you want, that is if you are using the homemade fret bender - if not disregard. I find it much easier to bend the entire fret and then cut it. I get a more consistent bend, and only have to bend once - all those 2" chunks of fret get to be a pain after awhile.

As far as glueing goes, I glued my first fretjob in and spent a hell of a lot of time cleaning up the mess. So I don't have any good advice there, except that a little ca goes a looooonnnngggg way.

Hope that helps, but I am not an expert either... just learned from alot of mistakes, good luck in your build!

Nate Robinson :D

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Jay5 had a tutorial on building a fret bender here. I would highly advise you either buying or making you one, they are definitely worth it. I bought a fret bender off a guy on Ebay when I got started, I don't know if he still makes them or sells them, but I'll check for you. Here's a picture of the one I got.


You must bend the fretwire before you cut them or they won't work with the fret bender. If you cut them you'll have to use a fret bending pliers and do it by hand, which isn't very fun or as accurate.

As far as bending the fretwire goes, make sure you overbend them slightly so that when you press or hammer them in they sit flush. Overbending picture

You can also use a radius block as a clamp, and I sometimes do use them if I have a problem so I can glue them in with pressure. I personally like to use just Titebond to hold the frets instead of super glue though. One thing you want to make sure of though, is that you clean the fretwire good to get all the grime off of it first. Also, clean the slots out good before starting. Good luck with fretting your guitar!!

Matt Vinson

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Forget about using any strong glues like CA, epoxy :D etc. Every guitar is gonna need a refret at one time and I wouldn't want to be the poor sod who will wind up having to do the job. I only use CA (superglue) to seal the fret ends. If the slots are the right size then the fret tangs should do the work. Thats the way its been for a long time.

Keep a straightedge (1 ft. steel ruler works good) handy to make sure the frets are lining up and it will save you some time trying to hunt down highs and lows and eventually having to dress. So long as the neck you begin on is true then it should be real easy. :D

Edited by Southpa
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I love this place :D

Thanks heaps guys

Just goes to show how if you ask nicely and do a bit of work on your own to solve your own problems (I tried my best...) the people here are really helpful and good about newbies :D

Excuse me....just venting about some of the stupid threads with arrogant a**holes that have popped up lately....lol I get frustrated....

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I don't know what kind of guitar your building, myself I am making a telecaster, first time too. I purchased my frets off e-bay pre-cut and pre-bent, as a first timer I was worried about fretting the neck, the frets were official fender replacements.

I bought my fingerboard from Warmouth pre-radiussed and used a rubber/plastic coated ball pein hammer to hammer them in. I did not use any glue, the frets were a nice tight fit and hammered in smoothly, they matched the radius of fingerboard. I clamped the neck into my black and decker workmate, which has proved invaluable on this project. I then used my dremel to cut off the excess. then I took a fine medium sized file and angled it against the side of the fretboard and pressed it down fimly on the workmate and filed all the edges to a nice bevel.

sandpaper finished off the job smooth....

I did a lot of reading before taking on this project and thought you had to have all the special tools for doing this and that, but reading through a bunch of the tutorials on this site helped a lot. Especially the freeting made easy..

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I'm building an..ahem..explorer..ahem....lol, isn't everybody??

I've also got a black and decker workmate that i use, it's fantastic. I have read a lot of tutorials and sorted through heaps of info...I suppose I needed a kick in the pants to get me over being so worried that I keep putting it off.

I'm gonna build a fret bender this week, I think once I get that sorted the fretting will go a lot more smoothly.

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On the tutorials Brian shows a really simple way to make you own fretwire radius block using not much more than two bits of wood, a ruler and a Dremel. I must admit that i haven't come to installing the frets yet but they all look pretty well the same radius to me after being bent on the block.


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You're right, I didn't make mine with a small enough radius. I have a 12" fretboard, and i made it an 11" curve. I found I still had to finesse it a lot. I mayhbe should have made it even smaller.

I'm going to make a fret bender :D it'll be the first special little guitar building handy thingy's I've got, hehehe, i'm so excited.

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