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Skewed Fret Slots - What Would You Do?

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Hello all,

A while back I bought a pre-slotted, pre-radiused birdseye maple fretboard fitted with black dot markers, with the intention of building a 7 string. As these things always happen, time and focus got diverted until recently when I started getting interested in guitar building again. So I went through my stocks of timber and pulled out this fretboard to have a closer look at it (it was still in packaging since I bought it). When I took off the packaging I got the vague impression that the slots looked a bit off-square, but I wasn't sure if it was the grain of the wood, or the edges of the timber playing tricks on my eyes, so I spent a bit of time doing some measurements on it, and lo and behold the slots are indeed out of square.

If I draw a centreline along the length of the board up through the middle of the position dots and lay a protractor on the board the slots appear to have slightly less than 1 degree skew towards the bass side of the nut. As far as I can tell I have a few options, but I wouldn't mind finding out if anyone has a particular preference as to where to from here:

1. Build the neck as-is with the <1deg skewed slots. Fit the nut with a matching tilt and intonate the difference at the bridge. Visually I might be able to get away with it. It may be the way the raw fretboard has been cut is exacerbating the skew of the slots, making it look more noticable at the moment than it actually will be once the board is tapered.

2. Deliberately re-taper the fretboard to correct the skewed slots. There is room on the board to do this for a 7 string neck. Only drawback I can see is that the dot markers will obviously appear to drift towards the bass side the closer they get to the nut. By my measurements the "D" string will pass through the lower 3/4 of the 3rd fret dot and be perfectly aligned at the 19th fret. Perhaps the other alternative here is to re-taper and shift the centrline upwards so that the visual offset of the dots is spread out across the full length of the board (-1mm @ 3rd fret, + 1mm @ 19th)?

3. If (2) is an option, re-route all the position markers into something different that masks the drift of the dots (eg ovals, Les Paul block inlays, Ibby Universe Pyramids etc). A lot of work though...

4. Suck it up and bin the board. Seems a shame to waste what is a quite nice birdseye board, but maybe I just need to bite the bullet and admit that it's not worth the effort?


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Simple - BIND IT !!!

Cut it square to the fret slots, add binding and then insert the position markers into the binding!

If the radius doesnt follow the fret slots you'll have to correct that.

Also - if it is as dodgy as it sounds, maybe we should know where it came from so other people can avoid purchasing from them also! This is a good reason for people to do their own boards and avoid these problems!

Edited by demonx
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He means that the front markers are already on,not the side markers.

I would do option #3..not block inlays,though...maybe just slightly larger dots?

Yep, that's what I meant - front dots, no sides. Existing dots are 1/4" diameter, with the exception of the 24th fret markers which are 3/8". Bigger dots may look a bit odd, especially up on the higher frets, which was why I thought of ovals.

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In that case, I'd probably scrap it and just start a new one - but thats just me.

Anytime I screw up a board, which is rarely now, but a few years ago yeah, I'd save them and reuse them for other things - or just kindling!

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I would go with option #3. You learn more from your mistakes then from your successes. This is not your fault there is a mistake, but you can take advantage of this and learn how to work with it. Even though it is only a fret board, it is a waste of lumber if it is salvagable, which it is in this case. You'll get practice doing inlays, which ovals would not take much time. The worst that can possibly happen is your bugger it up and have to scrap it and get a new one. Then you're only back to where you started, so there is really no down side to trying to make it work.

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Thanks for all the input guys.

maybe its a bad idea, but couldnt you flip it over, slot it correctly, bind it so the old slots dont show

I reckon once I flatten the existing radius, slot it on the reverse side (offset slightly from the existing slots to avoid going all the way through the board), and re-radius it I'll end up with a very thin, bendy fretboard.

That's not a bug it's a feature: Slanted frets

Ha! I did think of that. Sadly the slant on my fret board is the opposite direction. And at least the Ricky looks like it was designed to be slanted.

I think I'm leaning towards option 3 myself, with the centreline of the board raised slightly to allow the "D" string to pass slightly above the centre of the 19th fret dot and slightly below the 3rd fret dot. At least that way I can build the neck with the dots only slightly deviating from straight to start with, and not waste too much timber trying to make overly-tall ovals to cover up the drift.

Next question - anyone got some good pointers/tutorials for doing oval inlays? Or even the best way to remove the existing dots?

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