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Frets - Other Ways Around Them


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I was wondering if there is a "poor-man"s way to install frets. Obviously using an arbor press with a caul that has a corresponding radius is the right way to do it. But are there cheaper ways of doing it? Can they just be hammered in, and then gone over for the details?

~006

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So I really don't have to radius the frets beforehand, do I? Or would it make my life easier if I did? If I must, I was going to do the PG.com tutorial on making my own fret radius device using the two planks of wood, and a ruler to create the radius, and then making slot in the curved peice to fit the fretwire in. Unless, of course, I don't need to radius them, persay.

~006

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Assuming that your fretboard is already at the correct radius, there is absolutely no reason why you would need a caul or anything else to put the frets in. You don't need a fret bender either. Using your hands (gloves help, by the way), carefully bend your fret wire so that it has a tighter radius than your fret board. Then, cut your frets slightly long. Tap in the frets with a hammer (a brass hammer is traditional to prevent maring but you could use a plastic covered hammer). Begin by taping the ends in - then tap the center and the fret will seat itself nicely, provide the kerf is slightly narrower than the fret tang. I use a little Titebond glue in kerf. If the fret pops up, that means your kerf is oversized and then you might want to use a slightly radiused block to hold the fret(s) in place until the glue sets up. I highly recommend that you buy yourself a radius sanding block (Stewart MacDonald - about 15 bucks) for sanding the frets and for using as a glue caul. Of course, your going to need some files to dress the frets and a nippers to trim them. I highly recommend getting the fretting book that Stew Mac sells.

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You still want to ever-so-slightly pre-radius your frets. Even if your fingerboard is flat. As to whether or not it plays great, all I know is that chording is much more comfortable on a radiussed board, a radiussed sanding block only costs like 15 bucks or something. Using them is dead simple.

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Well, I found a guy that will make me a new fretboard. A blank ebony one, 25.5" scale length, 1-11/16" width at nut, compound 12" to 14" radius, slotted for frets, basically a blank replica of the one I have on my Jackson right now. That way all I have to do is route for the inlay, glue it in, sand it down, glue in the frets, and it's done.

~006

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