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What Do You Use To Level Your Frets


avdekan
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use to use a bastard file for it, worked well, take the handle off, make sure you find a flat one (had to go through a bunch with a straightedge to find one suitable). But recently bought one of the 18" (i think) leveling beam from stew mac used with adhesive paper (usually 240grit or something similar). works brilliantly. i wouldn't use a radius block, it would work ok for some stuff but i like to be able to work with a compound radius.

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just a quick question as I'm trying to figure out the best way to level frets:

radius block with sandpaper, long straight beam with sandpaper or a grinding stone are the possibilities that come to mind.

what do you use? and why?

thanks

I just have a straight piece of wood I put some doublestick tape on and 220 on one side and 600 on the other side takes a couple minutes to level them.

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I use a straight piece of 3/4" steel square tubing with sandpaper stuck on with double-sided tape. Consensus around here seems to be to use a flat file (that is, a file that has been checked for flatness) or a flat and stable piece of "something" (either bought or found) with sandpaper stuck to it.

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I purchased a 'proper' fret levelling file. It is a 6 inch long, single cut, very coarse, file (and of course it is flat). The coarse single cut grooves in the file almost "shave" the frets. I was worried at first because it is very different to wearing them away with sandpaper, but it is very controllable. It is also quite easy, just pass it lightly over the frets and it does it's job smoothly. I was practicing on a neck with some badly damaged frets (from a file that slipped when bevelling the ends) and it cleaned them up with minimal effort.

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Something I have never understood is fretleveling,

Most people do it with a file, but how do you account for the radius in the frets when using a file? Do you just go back and forth with the strings until one bit of the radius is all leveled and then move over a little bit and do the same until you have connected all the dots across the frets?

I would have thought using a radius block was a much better method for keeping everything uniform?

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Something I have never understood is fretleveling,

Most people do it with a file, but how do you account for the radius in the frets when using a file? Do you just go back and forth with the strings until one bit of the radius is all leveled and then move over a little bit and do the same until you have connected all the dots across the frets?

I would have thought using a radius block was a much better method for keeping everything uniform?

A file is quite narrow, so as you move it backwards and forwards up and down the neck, and slowly move it side to side as you do it, it follows the fret radius. In a way, it's the same as how you can use a flat wood rasp to create a curved neck, just keep it in motion so it doesn't create a flat in any one spot.

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I would have thought using a radius block was a much better method for keeping everything uniform?

The problem with using a radius block is that the frets have a certain finite height. This changes the radius such that the radius at the top is the frets is slightly larger than the radius of the fingerboard. It may not seem like much, but if you use a radius block that matches your fingerboard to level your frets, you will end up taking noticeably more material off the ends (ie: the frets will be taller in the center).

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I would have thought using a radius block was a much better method for keeping everything uniform?

The problem with using a radius block is that...you will end up taking noticeably more material off the ends (ie: the frets will be taller in the center).

This happens because it is difficult to keep the block perfectly parallel to the centerline at all times. Radius blocks are fine for putting a rough radius on, but to get things nice and level you need something perfectly flat and use it to sand parallel to the strings.

I currently use a 12" x 4" piece of polished marble sliced from a marble bathroom tile, but I'm looking for a larger tile to use on basses. I actually round the edges and use it with the strings on to mill in the fallaway under string tension (poor-man's Plek).

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I would have thought using a radius block was a much better method for keeping everything uniform?

The problem with using a radius block is that...you will end up taking noticeably more material off the ends (ie: the frets will be taller in the center).

This happens because it is difficult to keep the block perfectly parallel to the centerline at all times. Radius blocks are fine for putting a rough radius on, but to get things nice and level you need something perfectly flat and use it to sand parallel to the strings.

I currently use a 12" x 4" piece of polished marble sliced from a marble bathroom tile, but I'm looking for a larger tile to use on basses. I actually round the edges and use it with the strings on to mill in the fallaway under string tension (poor-man's Plek).

Erik,

You lost me on the polished marble. How do you get the strings high enough to get such a thick leveler under them? I used a piece of angle-aluminum with sandpaper slipped under the strings on my last neck (ala Rick Turner). Works well.

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I'm using a bastard file for now. Why? Because I like saying it "BASTARD"! BASSSSTERRRRRRD :D You know the files that come with a wooden handle? I pull the handle off and curl up the metal spike so its easy to move the file around on the neck. The real important part is monitoring your progress. Thats why you need to mark the fret tops first with black ink. So long as you are aware of how much attention you are giving the particular areas you should do well. I also make sure the file conforms well to my straight edge. :D

I've used a 10" sharpening stone a couple times. They are reasonably flat and you have the option of using a fine or coarse surface. Unfortunately, stones tend to wear down faster than files. B)

Edited by Southpa
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