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Fret worrys

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Depends on what you are planning to do to fix them....and how far out of line they are. Frets can be pulled and the slots can be filled with veneer or a glue and wood dust mix and then re-cut correctly. Depending on how far out of line they were, the repair could be completely covered by the new fret.

If this isn't what it takes to fix your problem, we'll probably need some pics to help you figure it out.


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Nice looking piece of wood!

Yes the frets look wonky but it might be an optical illusion due to the grain. I wouldn't be too concerned about most of the fretboard but the last 3 or 4 look the worst and thats where they are most critical. I had a guitar once where the 5th fret was out of place by 0.5mm and it had hardly any effect on intonation. Whereas on one guitar I made the last fret was out by about the same amount and the effect on intonation was very noticeable

I would measure them with a good steel rule and determine which ones are actually out, and by how much. Measure on the left side and the right side. You might find the second last fret is okay and only need to move the last and 3rd last frets

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I reckon you have three options, depending on your skills and tools you have available at your disposal:

  • Leave it as-is and accept that a few frets will play out of tune. As @Crusader has noted it looks like the last few frets are the worst, and while the error in placement will result in the most pronounced intonation error at this end of the fret board, it is up to you to decide if you can live with this shortcoming and carry on as normal.
  • Fill the worst fret slots as @ScottR suggests and recut them. Depending on how close the filled slot is to the intended location it may be difficult to cut accurately without the saw wanting to wander back into the filled slot.
  • 10mm fret board is plenty to reduce in thickness and have another go at the whole lot. 10mm is pretty chunky to begin with; it could afford to be closer to 7mm as a starting point. Although I'd suggest just using a orbital sander is unlikely to give you a sufficiently flat and uniform result. Handplanes and/or a flat surface with coarse grit sandpaper attached would give you better results.

If it were me I'd be taking the 3rd option, although it looks as though you've already attached the fret board to the neck which will make it trickier to re-thickness and re-slot.

I'd also suggest devising some way of using a mitre box or at the very least, some form of cutting guide for the say to follow to ensure the slots were as close to perpendicular as possible. Unless you are incredibly skilled at judging angles and positioning only by eye, just using your knuckle as a cutting guide is asking for accuracy issues. Even if you chose the second option to fix the problem you'd still want to use some form of rigid cutting fence to give you the best chance of ensuring the re-cut slots remain in their corrected location without deviating again.


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^ Lots of good advice from Curtisa

By the way the "wonky" frets remind me of a couple of guitars I made in the 90's. I used slightly different scale lengths on left and right with the aim to improve intonation. I don't know if it worked all that well but what I did learn is that it didn't affect intonation too seriously. It was a later project where the last fret was way off and had to be re-done

I have a few pictures here that might help with your issues

Last time I cut frets I clamped a block of wood to the fretboard like this. Having a go at fanned frets on this one



I cut the block to size so it acts as a depth gauge



What I do to sand a fretboard straight and flat is clamp sandpaper to the saw top



Just another to show how I clamp it onIMG_2882.thumb.JPG.b5eda92ea05aa8fd8a403c382505faf3.JPG


I left the fretboard flat on this one. And after sanding I re-cut the fretslots with the proper depth gauge attached. Its amazing how much you sand off without realising it

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