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Lmii Fret Issues


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I practiced fretting on my spare fretboard today with the fret press I made. I had about 2 extra feet of wire to practice with, so I chopped some pieces up and put them to the test. I bought the small SS fretwire, FWSS74 is the item code. I have my rosewood fretboard taped to a pretty big maple cutoff, and I put the fret press attachment in the drill end of my lathe, tipped vertically. The thing is, when I press the fret in, no matter how hard I press (and I've put a ton of pressure into it, sometimes) the frets never seem to fully seat. I can just barely slide my fingernail under the fret. Has anyone else run into this problem?

Or....... I think I might have just answered my own question.

From the LMII website: "The juncture of the tang and the crown on fretwire is not a crisp 90º angle, instead it is slightly radiused (+/- 15º) We recommend slightly beveling the edges of the fingerboard slots with a needle file (Part # FNP) so that the fretwire seats properly. This beveling also makes it possible to pull out the fretwire, if necessary, without fear of tearing up wood. (A drop or so of water in the fret slot helps lubricate for easier tang entry.)"

So I guess I'll change my question. I know that lots of people order fretwire from LMII, so how much/big of a bevel is needed to get the frets in? The wire I have is already really small, so I'm going to be working with incredibly tight tolerances as is.

A followup question, as well: What's the best way to avoid/fix low or high SS frets? My plan is to set the fret press to a specified height, and theoretically all the frets should be seated the same. Should I invest in a fret rocker? Or files? I'm planning on following Brian's tutorial pretty closely, but the one thing he doesn't cover is how to fix any mistakes in fret pressing. Since I have SS wire, I'm praying for no issues. A fret presser I may yet become, but a fret filer I'm pretty confident I will never be.

Any help is appreciated :D

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A fret presser I may yet become, but a fret filer I'm pretty confident I will never be.

...then stainless steel frets were not your best choice for a first-time DIY fret job. You can do it, but if they need levelling you'll need to use either silicon carbide sandpaper, and/or diamond files. A perfectly level fretboard is the best start (so you'll need a good straightedge at the least).

I'd yank out some of those frets, and practice bevelling the slots then reseating the frets. The next step in your practice fretting. A small triangle needle file is what I use.

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Thanks a bunch, guys! Erik, I knew I was getting myself into trouble with getting SS frets, I'll admit that :D But I saw it as a good excuse to try them out haha. I'll look into the sandpaper, because I'm assuming they don't sell that at StewMac. I've a 12" sanding block, and the board is very level and at a uniform radius. The radius StewMac put on it was very nicely machined.

And to Rick, I got a board from LMII, trashed it, then bought another one from stewmac that will be the final product. I did notice that the slots on the LMII board are cut HELLA deep, and the stewmac ones are a much more reasonable depth.

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And to Rick, I got a board from LMII, trashed it, then bought another one from stewmac that will be the final product. I did notice that the slots on the LMII board are cut HELLA deep, and the stewmac ones are a much more reasonable depth.

The boards from LMII are excellent. I've used them on about 5 basses. Both companies cut the slots on a table saw. You want the slots deeper than your fret tang. Stew-Mac slots are cut for their wire. I use Stew-Mac wire with LMII boards. You can't get 5 string bass boards from Stew-Mac.

I had some problems with a Stew-Mac guitar fingerboard not being all that flat, but that was just one board.

You need to bend the fret wire on an arc. I use the Stew-Mac fret bender. If you are going to press them in, you need a proper caul. You should use some glue... some people use titebond. I like to use CA. Then hold the fret down for a bit to ket the wood settle. You get the best seat that way.

SS fret wire is hard to level without the proper tools. You are better to learn on nickel silver wire.

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You need to bend the fret wire on an arc. I use the Stew-Mac fret bender. If you are going to press them in, you need a proper caul. You should use some glue... some people use titebond. I like to use CA. Then hold the fret down for a bit to ket the wood settle. You get the best seat that way.

SS fret wire is hard to level without the proper tools. You are better to learn on nickel silver wire.

Lmi Pro Fret Bender

If you need a fretwire bender Lmi recently started selling a very nice one for quite a bit cheaper than Stewmacs. I got one recently and think its great, very study, quality pieces, and very tight tolerances. I didn't have any issues at all, did a bunch of wire in seconds, worked beautifully. Glad I was broke for a while because I this one seems great and was less money.

As for the seating of the frets, I asked a similar question and cannot recall the exact answer. There is a file stewmac sells which is a little triangle file which you just lightly bevel the edges of the slot with, just slightly. When I asked about this file, someone said it wasn't necessary, but I can't recall what they used. You only need to take off a tiny bit off the corner. Hopefully whoever answered my question, will also answer yours. Best of luck. J

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i quick stroke back and forth with a cheap triangular file will do the trick. you need enough of a bevel so the fret seats fully, practice on scrap till you have the technique - for me its 2-4 strokes depending on the wood. Then how much levelling the frets need will just depend on how well you levelled the board.

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Fretwire.jpg

Here is a quick pic just so I can show you what I am seeing in my head. If I tried to explain it, you'd probably end up with a recipe for chocolate chips cookies.

So, by just shaving the corner you enable the fret to fully sit flat, but you won't have inconsistent fret height because the overhang will still be sitting on the face of the fretboard. Thats what I mean when just barely shave the corner because the area in question is so minute that it requires so very little adjustment to the fretslot. The triangle file seems efficient and easy and if I find a small cheap one I'll use it, but it doesn't take much to adjust that corner really, so whatever works. Hope my masterpiece is of some help. The arrow points to the flat part that will always sit on the flat surface of the fretboard. Good luck. J

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hahahaha, oh Wez :D

Thanks for all the responses, everyone, I really appreciate it! That diagram is exactly what I was seeing in my head, J, and choco-chip recipes are always helpful. My only concern is that the fretwire is only .080" wide to begin with, so the bevel is going to have to be VERY slight. I'll just get a triangle file and go veeeery sloooow. I'll pop out the frets I practiced with and use them as my experiment. I'll also get working on a homemade fret bender. Brian's bender tutorial will work well, seeing as I have a ton of plywood lying around.

David, you raised a good point with the usage of some CA glue. I'm think it's pretty wise to use some glue if I'm going to be beveling the edges of the fret slots. Just for added security. Any thoughts, anyone?

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David, you raised a good point with the usage of some CA glue. I'm think it's pretty wise to use some glue if I'm going to be beveling the edges of the fret slots. Just for added security. Any thoughts, anyone?

You know, sometimes I bevel the edges, sometimes I don't. I just forget to do it! I generally hammer my frets in when I'm working at home, and I have an arbor press with the Stew-Mac cauls at the workshop, but I haven't used that in a while.

I've hammed more frets in than pressed over the years. But now I always use CA. I apply a little to the slot, seat the fret on it, and hammer across the width. If an end doesn't want to stay in, I hold it down with the hammer while the glue sets.

I'm planning on pressing them in as standard on the next bass I'm making. I've tried different techniques over the years. On one bass I used a Dremel to widen all the slots and pressed the frets in with epoxy. It turned out great, but it was a lot of extra work.

I use the glue as both a lubricant, and as added security. It also seems to help from having loose frets. That's not a problem unless you are doing a refret... sometimes the slots are worn a bit, and you end up with a loose buzzy fret.

I also always have to do some leveling. I hear builder claim they just press them in and they are all level, but my experience is they rarely seat perfectly level, and there are always some variations in the fingerboard that seem to develop as you are fretting.

But in the end I achieve a nice low action. :D

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The thing that made me hesitate about beveling the slots is that I was worried that this might affect the height of the frets as they sit on the board--if one slot is less beveled than the other, etc.

The fret heights will be a lot more variable if you DON'T bevel the edges....because the junction between the tang and bead of the fretwire will variably compress the unbelveled corners of the slots.

I did this on my very first neck, and after levelling off the round tops of the wire it was easy to see which ones were high and which ones were low....there was no consistency, very random...and I had to take a lot off the high ones to get everything level. That image is burned into my head so much that I never forget to bevel now.

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The bevel only needs to be subtle. If you can see the bevel from 4 feet away, you are probably beveling too much.

Maybe StewMac needs to make a tiny dremel round-over bit to make it fool proof ?

:D , who needs a cheap triangular file when a power tool will do the job!!! B)

i gotta say - i think the triangular file is fairly fool proof. Its just a case or remembering to do it :D

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Any tips for bevelling the fret slots on bound boards without nicking the binding?

Be careful.

I bevel with sandpaper glued to a flat block,then I go over it lightly with a sanding sponge.It also rounds the binding slightly,but for me that is the desired effect,to make it more comfortable.Also,like Soap said,you don't want those huge bevels,you strings will slip off the edge.

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Hmm, I really thought I had posted here, but I guess I must have dreamed that I did, lol.

I think Wes, he is speaking about the fret slots themselves and how its best to bevel the edges of the slots in order to get the fret wire to seat properly, since the armpits (for lack of a better term) of the fret wire aren't a perfect 90 degree angle. I guess they didn't shave, oh man my jokes are sad. I found your advice on beveling the fretwire edges very helpful though, I like the sanding sponge idea. Actually I have my own question here, if one was to do a finish on a bound board, would it be best to round the binding prior to finishing, or wait until the end and do the fret ends and round the binding? I'm curious because the finish will cover the binding and don't know what would finish better,cleaner, since the very corner of the binding will have very little finish at best.

As for the bound fret slots, I am very close to being at that stage of fretting my bound board and I haven't quite put together my full plan, but I have ran through some ideas that I might try. My first idea was sticking some sandpaper to a flimsy plastic type card, like a cheesy ID card, using some spray adhesive. Then I would either hold the card at a steep angle or actually stick the card in the slot and sand back and forth. As was stated it doesn't take much to get that corner off, some sandpaper should do it. Anyhow, just some brainstorming ideas. I'm sure there are numerous people here that have done this several times and have some good ideas that work well for such a situation. As you said brian I would probably avoid any horizontal work with a file, it would be a biatch if you mucked up the binding at that point. Best of luck and let us know if you come up with any cool ideas. J

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The LMI bevel quote was for any wire it was not specfic to stainless wire or bronze for that matter.

My conclusion woukd be the slots are not deep enough (maybe not so much if you bought a pre slotted board but people do make mistakes) or the press fit block or insert is the wrong radius. If the wire is sticking up only in the middle then the radius insert is only exerting pressure on the outer edges and will never fully press in the center of the wire. Some people use two sizes one for the outer edges over radius insert and one for the middle exact radius or flatter.

Wood is soft and would not stop a fret from seating regardless if you used the bevel or not. IF it does not go in all the was these are your two choices. Check the fret depth with a ruler and compaire it to the tang of the wire.

Also check your radius inserts against the board with some back lighting to see if you see any gaps.

Sorry no pictures for you. IF the wire is poping up after press fitting then you need to use CA glue.

Edited by Woodenspoke
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I think Wes, he is speaking about the fret slots themselves and how its best to bevel the edges of the slots in order to get the fret wire to seat properly

Well that's what I get for speedreading through it the first time.I don't really know what is best for your specific question about finishing the binding,because I only have ever done it one way.I do EVERYTHING(including fretwork and fret polishing) before I finish.I just mask off the entire fretboard.I stop the finish right at the top of the fretboard itself...fret ends and binding get finished same as the rest of the guitar.

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Getting harder and harder not to speed-read forum posts.

On bound slots, you're better off if you are able to use the tip of the file. If it's a file that tapers to a point, you might want to cut the point off, or use a file that already has a blunt end. I tend to use blunt end long square shaped file, with a corner riding in the fret slot top. Or I could also use my 'pinch file' , doing one side at a time, and the whole file would be touching the wood, instead of a bigger file held at an angle.

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Sometimes I use a big ass metal file like what you find in Ace hardware...it covers several frets at once.I file in a downward stroke very carefully...but that is just to get it started,so that the sharp edges of the frets don't cut my sandpaper.

I built a jig to hold one of those in place to slide up and down the neck. One side does around a 40-45 degree angle, the other around 5-10 degrees. It's a great way to get the fret ends flattened out so it wont tear the sand paper up.

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