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Anyone Ever Pressed In Frets Using Radius Blocks?


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So I was casually reading my copy of the Guitar Player Repair Guide and in the section on refretting I noticed Mr. Erlewine mentioning using radius blocks to press in frets when using glue.

He noted that if you were using wooden radius blocks then it would be wise to put some thin sheet steel over the radiused surface to keep the frets from damaging them. Of course, this would only work on a single radius board unless you had short blocks.

Even though he was only talking about doing this on glue in fret jobs (where the barbs had been shaved down a tad and less force was needed to press them into the slots) I was wondering if anyone had ever tried this for pressing in frets normally, without altering the tang or using glue.

It would seem to me that if you put sheet steel over the radiused surface to protect it, had a good form fitting caul for the back of the neck (such as Stew Mac's neck support caul), and had some good strong clamps you could potentially press frets in using this method. Perhaps even many frets at once, if you were using say an eight inch block. Protect the caul and the top of the radius block with some maple, overbend the frets and tap the ends into place, then clamp 'em down with three or four good strong clamps.

It seems like it would work, but I have yet to do a refret (I'm saving for some tools and have done several fret levels). It also seems like it would make for pretty even fret heights, if they're all being pressed in under a good block.

Is there issues with this idea that I don't see? I'm not necessarily thinking of trying it, but it seems like it would work. Please educate me, whether it's a sound notion or a completely harebrained moronic scheme. :D

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Possible? Maybe.

Honestly though, I'd simply hammer or use a normal fret pressing caul. I wouldn't try pressing multiple frets in place at the same time, because you want to be able to feel each fret 'seat' properly and evenly. A multi-clamp setup sounds like a recipe for sub-par fretting.

Honestly, it takes all of 15 minutes, TOPS, to tap frets into a board with a hammer. Little less with a good fret press setup.

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I think I recall Verhoevenc pressing in frets with a radius block on that tutorial he made on his site. It might be worth it to read that, or possibly even PM him asking if he still thinks that's a good idea. Just make sure to let us know what you find out. :D

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Possible, but I think that the overall advantages and gains would be less than the potential for problems being caused either immediately or further down the line. I would personally press them in individually, but use the radius block to hold them in place whilst the glue dries. The sheet should protect your radius block from attaching itself to the frets if there is any squeezeout (which is not what you want!!).

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Obviously it can work, if it's on several pages of the Erlewine book. I have found it to be much better for the looser fitting epoxy fretting method, but that's all in the past for me. Actually I prefered the "conforms to any radius" style "block", which in my case was a heavier-duty version of those plexi rods and sheets you see in the Erlewine book.

You can always do it dry, then if the frets seem seated real well, you could wick in thin CA. If they don't seat well and you want to abandon that method, you can probably easily get your fret pullers under the frets and get them out (I always take advantage of any gap under the fret to start with the pullers).

Lots of options and I ain't 100% sold on any of them yet. Then again, I'd probably go insane the day when I think everything is perfect and should be left as it is.

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