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Fender Strat Neck Fret Questions

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Hi All,


This is my first post on the forum and was hoping that I could get some help and suggestions from others about a used neck that I am hoping to use.  It is a Fender factory neck for a Stratocaster.  The frets are not level and have a very fat surface on top.  The question I had was that it looks as if there are a few frets that are not fully seated into the fretboard.  I pressed them with my hands and there is no give or bounce when applying pressure.  I have looked at it under pretty good magnification and it looks like the tang is fully seated on the bottom of the fret slot  but the bottom of the fret is not touching the fretboard.  I can make out where the slot was perhaps cut deeper but then later filled with something to match.  I will try to attach a couple of pictures showing what I am talking about.  The fretboard has a 9 1/2" radius and I was told it has 6105 frets.  I measured them at a width of.091" and a height of .055".  I want to properly set this neck up for success so I was wondering if I should just level the board as it is, pull the raised frets and deepen the fret slot, or pull all of the frets and refret the entire board. There is one fairly raised fret and two that aren't as severe.  Thanks for and help or advice in advance and please let me know if you need more info.








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Hi @omgiv and welcome to the forum!

Filling the slot ends after fretting is very common practice so nothing wrong with that. It's also obvious that the fretboard edge has been rounded or smoothened after fretting which is also common.

Some frets indeed do look like the end is high. A simple trick for testing is to sneak a piece of paper under it - post-it notes are of the right type of paper for that. You said they don't give in by pressing with your hands. I'd rather try something more powerful, like a hammer with a piece of wood in between for protection and good support below. If the fret doesn't move, I'd leave it as is. After all, at least part of the issue you're seeing is an illusion! Let me explain: The fret is a bit rounded on tang side as well which creates a small gap against the fretboard. It's good practice to run a triangular file along the fret slots before putting the frets in but sometimes the v-grooves aren't uniformly deep. The wood may be harder at some spots so a couple of strokes doesn't carve as deep as normal, leaving the fret also to sit a bit taller. See image:


6 hours ago, omgiv said:

The frets are not level and have a very fat surface on top.

So, after making sure the frets are fully seated so they don't bounce off or wobble, you simply have to level and recrown the frets, no need for removing or replacing until you've truly worn them out. There's several ways to do that as in any task, but here's a common and relatively easy way:

Start by straightening the neck with the truss rod. A notched straightedge would help as it bypasses the frets but if you don't have one a standard straightedge will do. If there's a tall fret in the middle, check on both sides of that.

Putting masking tape strips between the frets will keep the fretboard clean but it's not crucial. After that take a sharpie/permanent felt pen and mark the upmost edge of each fret. Then take a leveling beam (a spirit level will do) and attach some 400-ish grit wet'n'dry paper on it - the masking tape and super glue method works well there. Sand along the fretboard until all frets are clean again. That will leave the fat surface on top you described. Checking the result with a fret rocker can be done at this stage.


Now it's time for crowning, i.e. making a new narrow top. Again, start with the sharpie. At this stage I'd recommend protecting the fretboard with masking tape. The tool needed is either a triangular file with rounded smooth edges or a crowning file with a groove. You now need to file the sides off each fret so that only a thin line is visible on top of the fret. Try to file off facets rather than making a pyramid although both would work concerning intonation. Double checking with a fret rocker is not a bad idea.


Finally, roll a piece of 600 grit w'n'd around your finger and run it a few times along the fretboard to knock off the corners of the facets and clean the marker residues. After that you can use some polishing pastes or other means to polish the frets - the finer grits of a nail polishing block works well too.

After cleaning and oiling your fretboard should now feel like new. String your guitar up and adjust the action.

Have fun!



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Hi Bizman62,


Thank you for the reply and the help.  I had tried, but did not mention in the post, gently tapping the frets back in but there was no movement.  I had tried the post it note trick under the frets and they were indeed raised.  I also tried something thin underneath to see if there was possibly something stuck underneath keeping it from going in any further. I don think that the tangs are as fully seated as they currently can be.  I wasn't really looking forward to pulling a few or all frets so I may just level it as you recommended.  If that doesn't work, I can always take it further later on.  Thank you again for the help!!!

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37 minutes ago, soapbarstrat said:

Does not look like original factory frets

Now that you said that I had to take a magnifying glass and check my '94 American Std. MIA. On mine the fret ends aren't rounded and the edge of the fretboard is continuous, no square steps under each fret. The story doesn't tell where the neck has been made or if the frets have been leveled and rounded by either the previous owner or a shop. And there's at least four different types of frets used in Stratocasters by Fender.

The fret slots on mine have been cut deep at the Fender factory and filled with something after fretting so that can't be used as an indicator of a refret.

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