Jump to content

Fretting Correctly


Recommended Posts

I'm pretty much done with my 4th guitar and I'm still noticing some problems with my fret jobs. I imagine that it takes a pretty good while to get it down, but I thought I'd be okay at it by now. Here's how I do it-no pictures up, but maybe I'll post a few of the build. I don't mean to be redundant as ther are tons of fretting tutorials on the web and here... I've got a stewma( radiuswd fret pressing thingy - the kind that adapts to their tools. I installed it in a flat piece of hardwood with a pad on thw opposite side. I chamf thw fret slot, radius the fret and apply a bit of super glue. I then clamp the block down with a c-clamp. It gets nice and snug. When I'm all done, I sight the neck and notice a few stragglers that are higher than the others. I try to reglue and reclamp those. There arw always ones that are a little higher- just a tiny bit. I think its good enough for a fret level job.

I then use some emory cloth ( 180grit) on a piece of square steel tubing (24") with some double sided duct tape and warch my wittness lines (a sharpie) disappear). I use my fret crown file to round over the fret. Polish, etc... Everytime i finish a guitar and attach the neck, i notice a few frets that buzz. My neck has just a tiny bit of relief, just enough to see light through on the 8th or so fret. The higher frets are typically the problematic ones with less sustain. How do you guys do it and do you often have to relevel the neck. I don't mean to leave the impression that the guitar plays poorly, but how do you remedy those slightly higher frets? Thanks

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Going to throw a few things out here. First, do you check your slot depths before fretting? Do you hammer your ends in before pressing? Do you make sure your pressing caul is square when you press in the fret? have you thought about not applying CA until after the board is fretted, and bleed it in through the ends, or not using glue at all? Do you level your frets in a conical fashion, following the string paths?

These are just a few things that come to mind, but you also have to remember, not every fretjob is perfect, and sometimes you need to tidy up a fret or two after assembly, during the set-up phase. The main thing is to concentrate on getting the frets fully seated on the board(making sure your slots are deep enough, you hammer in your ends first to set the fret, and make sure the press is seating the fret square into the slot.) Make sure on your final leveling(400 0r 600 grit) that you follow the conical procedure of final leveling(following the string paths), and finally when re-dressing, only dress to almost round, leave about a .005 flat on top of each fret, this will be dressed out with polishing, but gives you a consistent reference point for comparison so you don't over dress any frets.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for the reply. I do hammer the ends in first, then press the center down. Also, my fret slots are about 1/16" deeper than the tang, so it's not bottoming out. With my jig, the caul is pretty close to square, too. It sounds like I might be a little too aggressive with my leveling. I'm using a coarser sandpaper than 400 even. Gently sounds like the key here. I'm also removing the witness marks (sanding lines) when I recrown them. I'll try to leave just a tad bit there. I'm glad to hear that others have to redo the frets. I was under the impression that you guys are so good that it plays like a champ upon assembly and setup. I'll admit... mine's far better than the crap I saw while looking around at a guitar center the other day. I'm amazed that someone can sell a guitar for $150 and still make a profit. Pretty ridiculous. It's as though a machine does it all and no one even touches it until the kid with a trench coat picks it up at the big box store... I'll gently relevel and let you know the results.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yeah, start your first level with 180 or 220/240(I use 220 & 320 wet or dry, to get them level, then go back with 400, and 600. Sometimes they will play like god right after assembly, but most times there is some touch up, especially in my shop, as I try to get between 3/32" and 1/16" action off the bat. Just go easy, you never want to be too agressive with fretting, it's always about flat and square first, the rest is redundancy...LOL

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The reply from music logic was very good and thorough.

I would add, that once you install frets initially with glue... the glue builds up under the fret, and you're stuck.... if it didnt fully seat, the glue under it wont let it fully seat....

Should get the frets in, THEN glue.

Steel channel is not to be trusted for fret levelling.... Find a chunk of 3/8 or 1/2" aluminum in a length you like, and take it to a machine shop to be surface ground dead flat...

As to higher frets buzzing.... This is very common, especially on tighter radiused boards like fender uses.

The solution is easy, though many people dont know of it. It's generally called "ramping" the frets. When you initially level the frets, *ALL* frets are supposed to be perfectly level with each other.

Once thats accomplished.... using your true flat sanding block (I use surface ground aluminum) You take off more from the last frets- Keeping all those frets level to each other, but angled lower to the rest of the neck....

My block is about 7? inches long. and about 2.5" wide. I use the narrow side of the block on the 24- up scrubbing more off the frets, but putting most pressure on the 24th fret. Then I use the block lengthwise, doing the same thing again. Most pressure on 24, least pressure at the lowest fret the block touches, and scrub it some more, until every fret under the block is in a flat plane, but that plane is angle lower then the rest of the neck. So... the higher the fret, the more the frets "fall away" from the string path.

It doesnt take a great deal of "ramping" to fix the high fret buzz common on tight radius boards. But it solves this common problem quickly and easily.

I think everyone should be doing this... but a lot of people dont know about it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I know many people that ramp the last 6 or 7 frets, some that even go as far as last 10, and some that only do 2 or 3. It's all about your personal technique. In 26+ years I have never had to use this technique, but that's my choice, it's all about what you prefer.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The solution is easy, though many people dont know of it. It's generally called "ramping" the frets. When you initially level the frets, *ALL* frets are supposed to be perfectly level with each other.

Once thats accomplished.... using your true flat sanding block (I use surface ground aluminum) You take off more from the last frets- Keeping all those frets level to each other, but angled lower to the rest of the neck....

Good suggestion but even better is to do this before fretting. I build in a slight fallout towards the end of the neck and usually achieve just over 3/32" action without too many post build adjustments.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The solution is easy, though many people dont know of it. It's generally called "ramping" the frets. When you initially level the frets, *ALL* frets are supposed to be perfectly level with each other.

Once thats accomplished.... using your true flat sanding block (I use surface ground aluminum) You take off more from the last frets- Keeping all those frets level to each other, but angled lower to the rest of the neck....

Good suggestion but even better is to do this before fretting. I build in a slight fallout towards the end of the neck and usually achieve just over 3/32" action without too many post build adjustments.

How do you achieve that accurately and reliably?

Ramping frets is quick, easy and reliable. Only takes a couple minutes. Literally- like 2 min.

During the build process, I'm carefull to keep the neck blank dead flat, then glue the fretboard on, radius the board and ensure it's still dead level it again.

I know some people make clamping cauls for their fretboards that induce a very slight relief- is this what you're talking about?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I know many people that ramp the last 6 or 7 frets, some that even go as far as last 10, and some that only do 2 or 3. It's all about your personal technique. In 26+ years I have never had to use this technique, but that's my choice, it's all about what you prefer.

I think it depends primarily on the radius of the fretboard, the stiffness (relief) of the neck, and how low of an action you like.

Flatter radius- doesnt "need it" as much- unless you want a really low action. Tight radius like fenders 9" and such.... frequently "choke out" with a low action... and NEED it.

lots of relief- not an issue- even with a tight radius

Almost no relief, and as low of an action as you can get.... Well- You can get it lower, if you ramp the frets....

Thats what I've seen.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...