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Fret Fingerboard Leveler


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Following in the same direction as previous reviews lets look at Fretboard or Fret leveling Beams.

I will not be reviewing the new SM arched beams as I cannot afford them and they are limited to the radius built into them. But they look great.

Beams are good general tools for leveling all types of fingerboards and frets and possibly other things that I have not tried yet.

I will review two here and one alternative.


As you can see I have taken a picture of two leveling beams The Stumac (center) and Fret Guru (blue) and one aluminum level. Both beams are 16" long. As some people swear that their level works just fine. This is an old sears aluminum level I have had for years.

Stumac Leveling Beam

This beam came perfectly flat on both sides which for SM is a feat. It is chrome plated steel, heavy and thick. This beam is my favorite of the two in this review. The chrome keeps it from rusting and helps with removing peel and stick sandpaper residue. I feel this will hold up to thinners used to remove the glue. A good basic beam no frills but does the job. The chrome is consistent and it also has the Sm logo printed on the center which did not come out in the pictures.

Fret Guru

I struck up a short lived relationship with the builder of this beam and traded some parts for this one. It is beautiful and machined perfectly flat on both sides. However it is made of aluminum which makes it lighter than the SM. But he has added caps to both ends so you can add sand as additional weight. The caps are tight so there is no chance of sand comming out unless you are using it as a weapon. If you find the SM is not to your liking this does afford a more custom feel. For me one more step that I would rather not have to deal with, but in it's defense this step is a one shot deal and I am lazy. I cant see the aluminum being a problem here. I still use it but its the one I use for final light sanding with finer paper rather than initial leveling. Looks like it will hold up to thinners but I have not had to remove much residue. As for looks it is excellent, certainly something to show off on your tool shelf to all your friends or customers.

Basic Aluminum Level

I always laugh when I hear this one "I use a Level". My first thought is this person does not own a reference straight edge because if they did they would see most levels are for leveling they are not made to be a reference surface. This particular old Sears looks great if you sight down the edge but when I put a straight edge on each side there was a significant belly in the center. Also this is as light as the Fret Guru but has no option to add weight.


Notice the Caps on the Fret Guru and the thickness of the SM Steel.

I have not checked if the fret Guru beam is still made but it was sold on eBay. The price of the two were similar at the time I will assume that this is still the case.

Of course you can make your own. I would suggest a steel channel as it will be easier to use because if weight, inexpensive as well and one length may make several beams in different sizes. Buy a straight edge first so you can make it truly flat on both sides.

If you do say you use a level it should be followed by "I checked it on my Starrett".

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Cool. Thanks for another great review, and another thing I should get.....sigh

So what length would you recommend? Stewmac has 8", 16", and 24" beams, I would assume either 16" or 24".

I forgot to mention that they are both 16" and I added that to the post. I know SM does make different sizes. I would Imagine that 16" is a common size. Besides flatness I would like to be sanding as much of the board as possible in one stroke.

If you take the string length and multiply by .75 you will get your approx max board length at the 24th fret. Not all instruments are 24 fret but again some are longer. For a 36" bass scale the approx 24th fret is 27", longer than a 24" beam but thats your option. A fender 25.5 scale rounded off comes to 19". Following the logic using the SM sizes I would assume they have decided that the beam can be slightly shorter than the fretboard. But you never can tell if this was a Luthiers decision or a product cost decision.

I am sure a 16" beam will work on a bass as you may not have the bucks for a 24" beam. However the shorter 8" beam seems like it is best used for touch up work than working a new board or to level a board when doing a total re-fret.

If I was making mine I would probably just make one 24" beam for all situations. If wasn't sure I may spend the bucks on the 24" beam as longer is just fine for a guitar. Of course the extra length comes with additional weight and the 16" is heavy already I can only imagine what the 24" feels like.

Hope this helps. maybe some who have used the 16" beam on a bass can chime in here.

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