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second hand guitar setup

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i bought a second hand guitar the other day, a shine stratocaster. it has 24 frets and a floyd rose. i have managed, i think, to set up the floyd rose some what successfully as it was not holding tune at all before. the strings are old and i will change them but i want to do more. the frets have clear gaps under them, i have not yet got my notched straight edge but ordered one. i have a soft faced hammer for the frets and i am going to make a caul to sit the neck on.

1. should i remove the neck from the body to hammer the frets or is it ok to leave it on? 

2. i want a low action so what is the procedure for all this?

i am thinking, seat all frets and add glue. after that i am not sure. i think that check the neck is straight or slight relief? that part is worrying me as if i do either and it is wrong everything else will be out of wack. then filing the frets down with a straight edge and rounding over. that part is also a worry as i dont want to screw up my frets. i think that checking string height should be easy enough and i would imagine that would be next. i want to lower the action as at the moment. at the first fret the low E is at 2mm, 13th fret it is 5mm and 4mm at the 24 fret, i think this is suggesting there is a slight bow.


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whoa nelly... when you say gaps under them... what do you actually mean?  I don't want to make assumptions here but... are we talking literally under the tang, or are we talking between the bottom of the fret and the top of the fretboard? 

when you say you have 2mm action... there's a lot of things I'd be looking at before frets even entered my mind.  2mm at the first fret??  that's a bad nut.  5mm at 13 and 4mm at 24... this suggests you need to adjust your bridge.  none of these things have anything to do with leveling frets and you def wouldn't even be able to tell if there are fret level issues with action that high. 

before you go mess up your guitar... I'd suggest you get your guitar setup right.  then if you have issues with some frets being hi/low you can move towards frets.

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Are you sure you're not confusing dirt to a gap? Use a toothbrush and some cleaning fluid like "lemon" oil or lighter fluid to get rid of all the gunk on the side of the frets. Then take a piece of good quality stiff yet thin paper with a cut edge (post-it, shiny magazines etc.) and try to slide a corner of it under each fret all the width. Note that a tiny dent in the fretboard can let the paper under the fret at some spot. You're looking for wider looseness.

If you find high frets, cleaning the underside is recommendable. A very thin feeler gauge filed to a hook might work there.

For the testing procedure:

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  • 2 weeks later...

Follow these guys’ advice. I would also pick up Dan Erlewine’s The Guitar Players Repair Guide as it has a good setup schedule that starts at basic cleaning and proceeds through final check.  If there are repairs necessary along the way, the book has fairly detailed chapters dealing with the typical specific issues one finds when setting up a guitar. 
i know the book discusses fret repairs, but I think it is only to help but minor repairs where pulling and replacing one or two frets at most is needed. Any further coverage of this topic I think he left for his video tape on regretting. 

I mention this book mainly because it was pretty much my bible when I first started doing my own repairs.  I still reference it from time to time. I also don’t hold it as gospel. I have found stuff that works better for me in other places and other people but it is a great reference that covers a detailed set up. 

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