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Seating the frets....

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OK...my first fret installation is looming. How do you guys like to seat your frets?


Those Jaw-pliers things?

Caul on a drill press (like Brian's tutorial)?

(in order of cost....)

And as for glues...do you guys glue 'em in, or just press 'em in?

What kind of glue?

This is for a brand-new board, not a re-fret.


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I prefer to use the arbor press with fretting cauls myself. I also a small amount of glue in each fret slot to make sure the frets stay seated at all times and not have problems later. If you decide to use glue, you'll want to apply wax to the fretboard so it doesn't mess up the fretboard by drying on it. You can press them in using glue and using a radius sanding block you can clamp it down to keep them set while they dry. Some people don't use glue, some do.. It's really up to you..

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a lot of the glue thing

depends on how spongey & soft

the fingerboard is

some rosewood boards i've worked

that had been played a lot

were somewhat pithy almost

didn't want to hold the frets

in spite of expanding the tang

on the fretwire

i feel it may be due to

acids etc in sweat

over a period of time

the glue on these boards

to hold the frets down

has a hardening effect

on the wood as well

happy playn


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I overbend my frets slightly so the ends seat nice and tight. I set each one and tap it in firmly with a hammer making sure the neck is securely supported. The hammer might dent the tops slightly but I usually do an overall levelling with a stone anyway. I never use glue unless I'm dealing with widened fret slots but otherwise not necessary as the fret tangs should do their work.

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My fret caul pushes the ends down first, then when thightened a bit more, it pushes down the middle, while still holding the ends down.

I wish I could get as good as results with a hammer, because it is faster.

I am still experimenting with hammering, but my caul method is so precise, I don't think I'll ever make the switch.

When I do hammer, I have the frets a little over-bent by running it through the fret-bender machine, then with a plastic face hammer, I tap the fret almost all the way down. Then I get a brass rod, which I have smoothed the edge, so there's no sharp corner to make a mark on the fret-tops, I place that brass rod on the fret at one end, then hammer on the other end of the brass rod with a steel hammer, while working the rod along the fret, to the other side.

I get really close to the press-caul method doing this.

Dunlop wire will not dent at all from the brass being hammered onto it, but the brass rod gets slightly dented.

I almost always modify the fret barbs too. Usually shave 'em down quite a bit. i like tight fitting frets, but not to where the neck back-bows from the compression any more than slightly.

I also currently like putting the frets in dry, and then running water-thin super-glue in the ends. It's damn tedious tho.

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I also currently like putting the frets in dry, and then running water-thin super-glue in the ends. It's damn tedious tho.

i tried that on one neck, took me quite a while too, i'm still undecided if i'm going to do it again

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Concerning the glue (which I have not used as of yet):

When it comes time to refret, will CA glue soften with heat from a soldering gun to the point where the fret will come out as cleanly as if it weren't glued in?

I'm asking this because I had to pull one fret on my first guitar (a while ago) and it took quite a bit to get it out. It wasn't glued with CA so I'm wondering how much more hell I would have had to endure if I did use it?

I'm certainly not against using it, just wondering what to expect if something goes wrong during leveling or later when it's just time to refret.

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Heating up the fretwire works great but you'll have to file a slot in the end of a solder tip that will let it heat it up evenly. It's better to use this method like Dan uses even when it's not glued in, they come out better. You need some fret pullers though to do the job good. I also recommend to people that don't have the Dan Erlewine video's on Fretting to get them. You can learn alot from them. I know I have.

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