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Fretting Questions

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Hey I will be radiusing and fretting my board soon and I just want to clear some stuff up B)

I will start out on 80 grit on the radius block and go up through the grades, is they're any particular tricks and tips to doing this well? What grit would you suggest going up to? Its ebony and I was going to go up to about 2000 just to make it nice and shiny smooth :D

Also I will probably want to stain the board at some point to make it a more uniform black, but at which point do I do this? Once I have finished radiusing up to 2000 grit? Or before? Am I likely to sand through it?

I have also read to bevel the fret slot slightly like so (link) but how deep does the bevel go? Half the slot depth? A quarter?

Do I bevel the entire length of the fret slot? If I do wont the bevel be visible from the side of fret board as a gap? Do I fill that gap?

Whats a good fret end bevel angle? I have only ever seen 35 and 45 degrees used I think? Should I use a special tool, or is files by hand fine? Is there any advantage to the j custom ball fret ends?

I'm going to be pressing them in with an arbor, but it will be my first time and I dont have anything to practice on, can any one offer any advice? Do I just squeeze them in pretty hard? I dont wanner compress the wood...

If I think of any thing else I'll add it on :D


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sanding up to about 2000 should be plenty. then dampen (not soak) the grain slightly, let it dry and sand it again.

when using the ebony stain i do it as a last thing but buff it up with 0000 wire wool after to remove any residue.

the bevel on the slot should be very slight. nowheer near a quarter of the fret slot depth. all i do is run a triangle file along the top of the slot a couple if times. if you look at the fret you can see how much you need - the bevel allows for any round over between the tang and head of the fret that would otherwise stop it sitting flush with the board.

you are over thinking it, dont worry about the angle - just knock those top corners off the slot

push the frets in till they sit flush with the board, go slowly. if you dont push one in enough check nothing is stopping it going in first and if its clear then give it another push.. you will develop a feel for it soon enough

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Whats a good fret end bevel angle? I have only ever seen 35 and 45 degrees used I think? Should I use a special tool, or is files by hand fine? Is there any advantage to the j custom ball fret ends?

35, 45 degree are pretty extreme on the taller fret sizes. You can be SOL real quick, end up with outer strings slipping off the edge all the time (once bought a "factory second" neck for quite a discount because of this).

On something like .055" tall, I will try to keep the bevel under 20 degrees. And that's just the top 1/2 of the fret end, or probably less. I don't use a file bevel holder, just wouldn't allow me to do it like that.

Better to not have enough bevel on the ends than too much. You can bevel 'em more later.

I think on at least one of my own guitars, the bevel is no more than 10 degrees and it feels fine to me when I play.

I don't measure the bevel (what a PITA that would be), so maybe I'm often doing them around 10 degrees.

Can't say much for the ball ends, except if done right, that can also help a lot with keeping strings from slipping off the edge.

I'm working more and more with making fret ends like that, but my technique, so far, makes it go much slower than it probably should.

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Check out the Fretting tutorial on the home page.

I assume you will be radiusing the board, If you use a radius block don't use it as you would a normal sanding block, i.e back and forth until the radius is done, otherwise you sand away the middle more thhan the ends.

What you need to do is start the block from one end and push it the length of the fretboard and off the other end, that way the whole of the board gets done equally

regarding the bevel I used these

bought for £5 in a local shop and they worked brilliantly. I just angled them slightly after I sanded the frets ends flush with the side, went through the grades, finished off with a sponge block as in the tutorial, job done

Edited by jaycee
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Thanks for all the advice guys really helpful! :D

When should I change grit? Does any one change grit up from 80 before the radius is fully complete? I was thinking of doing that (just when the two sides are about to mee) to make sure too much wood doesnt get taken off while I'm still on the lower grits so I dont end up with a paper thin fret board :D

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