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Yellow wood glue, if you're willing to wait for it to dry overnight. Or super-glue. The thicker super-glue if you want to put the glue first, then install the fret. Or the water-thin stuff , if you want to install the fret first, then run a bead of glue along the fret. it "wicks" down, then you have a rag with a little Acetone ready to wipe the glue off the fret-board wood.

Epoxy is a little too thick for a tight-fitting fret and should be the long-drying kind for the best tone, but wood glue does the same thing with less hassle.

Guys that use no glue are always having problems with some frets popping up later- maybe not ALWAYS, but often enough.

No glue works best when frets are put in a fret-board for the first time. When refretting, glue is needed most of the time.

When you install frets that are so tight, that no glue is needed, it often back-bows the neck, then you have a fret-job with a lot of "hit-or-miss" results

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Now I'm wondering if old wood glue is better than fresh glue, because I have a 5 year old bottle of the stuff that seems to still work. But tonight I was curious how brittle it is when dry, so I took a hard chunk that was at the bottle tip and squeezed it with a pair of pliers and it snapped apart right away, no flex at all, which I think is great. I want my glue to dry brittle hard, it's better for tone that way. Now I don't know if it is more brittle because it's older. I won't be able to compare it to fresh glue until I buy some. If any of you guys have fresh Elmers wood glue and can see how brittle a hard piece is, let me know.

I also found a piece of dried epoxy on my bench and wanted to see how brittle that was. It wasn't as brittle as the wood glue. It flexed a lot before breaking.

Elmer's yellow wood glue is my glue of choice for frets currently. Cleans up with a damp rag too. Epoxy needs a solvent. Super-glue sure has it's down-sides too, but I could very well still use it for gluing frets for a number of reasons.

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the glue isn't fully dry for about 24 hours, so it is BEST to wait that long before doing any leveling, etc, although I see all the time that they leave wood glue only dry an hour before they start going further. I wonder about that with a yellow wood glue, since it is water based and introducing any water to every fret slot on the neck (which is end-grain down in the slots) causes the neck to backbow a little, then it would probably back-bow a little less after it fully dries. You can see why it would be better to wait to level then.

Whether or not any backbow is caused by yellow wood glue is not yet know to me. I have to rig up some calipers on my neck jig to get readings like that and I will probably do that, even though my fret-jobs are top of the line without it.

Epoxy doesn't bond to shiney metal that well, so that's a very good reason not to mess with the frets until it is fully cured. I've seen epoxy suddenly pop off of metal with ease, even when it seemed to have a good bond for years (scary stuff, because they use epoxy to hold some parts of aircraft together and probably space equipment too)

We both know that super-glue gets the most cured the fastest and you can be pretty rough with the frets not long after the glue is applied, even though the fact is that super-glue takes 24 hours to FULLY cure.

I have thought about wiping the fret-slots with a coating of baking soda, which really makes super-glue dry rock hard fast. I don't know if it still takes 24 hours to fully cure when doing that.

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couple of comments,

First of all, if it is a brand new fretboard, and the slots are the right width, (.024") just hammer them in with no glue. The tangs will hold them perfectly. Then, down the road, when they are worn, should you, or the next owner want a refret, you won't hate yourself for gluing them all.

now, if it's a re-fret, or if you are set on gluing them, I don't recommend white or yellow glue at all, specifically if it is a refret, or you could be stuck doing one fret a night waiting for it to dry. Also, it doesn't bond to metal well at all.

If it is a refret, chances are, the new frets won't want to hold really tight, so you'll want a glue that will set fast, I prefer to press frets for this reason rather than hammer them, but what you may need to do, is hammer them, and then clamp them, then wick thin CA (instant glue) in from the ends. If you have a method to press them and hold them seated, you can run a bead of medium CA in the fret slot, spray the tang with some accelerator, and press the fret in, this works very well, in fact I just finished a JEM777DY neck in which I did the 3rd refret in the neck, needless to say, the fret slots were not willing to hold the fret alone.

Of course, one of the single most important things to do, is to over bend the fret, that is, bend a tighter radius into the fret than the fretboard, this will help the fret ends to stay seated.

My only reason for not liking the white glue is this, if you are gluing frets, it is often because of a fret slot that won't hold the fret. if you use white/yellow glue, you will be waiting forever. Also, when that glue gets brittle, (dries out) it will not hold the metal well, and if a fret end is going to lift, it won't help hold it in.

This is only my opinion based on experience, not saying any other way is wrong, just my experience. Also, when I fret, or refret, I put some sanding dust from the fretboard into the spaces at the fret ends to hide the ends, and put a drop of thin CA on them, that pretty much holds the fret ends down anyway :D

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oh, and for what it's worth, instant glue, doesn't take anywhere near 24 hours to fully cure, it's done in less than 5 minutes, once it's flashed it's done, it goes no further. I'm good friends with a guy who works for Pacer products (manufacturer of ZAP and most other instant glues) in fact, there are only 2 companies in North America that manufacture instant glue, many different brands but only two companies.

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"should you, or the next owner want a refret, you won't hate yourself for gluing them all. "

**** They will come right out with heat from a soldering iron.

"now, if it's a re-fret, or if you are set on gluing them, I don't recommend white or yellow glue at all, specifically if it is a refret, or you could be stuck doing one fret a night waiting for it to dry. Also, it doesn't bond to metal well at all. "

**** Don't know about white glue (polyvinyl) and I also think white glue is too non-brittle for good tone, but the yellow wood glue does bond to fret tangs at least as well as epoxy. The important part is for the fret-wire to be fully cleaned with naptha or lighter-fluid. Now, here's a weird one : Warmoth actually leaves the oil film on the fret-wire. They claim that it's better if the glue actually doesn't stick to the metal and just to the slot walls. Dried glue on the side walls, would , in fact, keep the fret from popping up if there are any beads there. I don't plan to follow their technique, but it's interesting.

White(polyvinyl) and Yellow wood (aliphatic resin) are totally different kinds of glues.

Some of the "old school" fretters say to use white glue . Some of them say to never use any other kind of glue on fret but white glue.

"This is only my opinion based on experience, not saying any other way is wrong, just my experience. Also, when I fret, or refret, I put some sanding dust from the fretboard into the spaces at the fret ends to hide the ends, and put a drop of thin CA on them, that pretty much holds the fret ends down anyway "

****I have used super-glue and like many things about it, but I worry about some things about it too. For example, it really over-saturates into the wood, probably even through to the neck wood below the fret-board, which would really be bad if the fret-board ever needed to be replaced. accelerator helps keep some of the glue from going far into the wood of the slot, but maybe not enough. I also think all that fret-board wood getting saturated with super-glue might take out some "flex" out of the wood, which is some cases would be good, other cases bad. This might not happen too badly if one can follow the "little dab'll do ya" technique, but that can be hard to do with glue that flows like water and bottles that seem to send the stuff flooding out like Niagra Falls.

Also , I keep meaning to run a test with super-glue, to see if it warps wood. I want to sand a small piece of maple or rosewood flat, soak it with super-glue and after it's dry, check to see how flat it still is.

"oh, and for what it's worth, instant glue, doesn't take anywhere near 24 hours to fully cure, it's done in less than 5 minutes, once it's flashed it's done, it goes no further. I'm good friends with a guy who works for Pacer products (manufacturer of ZAP and most other instant glues) in fact, there are only 2 companies in North America that manufacture instant glue, many different brands but only two companies. "

****I don't know if they all work about the same, but the chemist who formulated the CA glue that Stew-mac sells, said the full cure doesn't occure until 24 hours after the glue is applied.

I'm certainly not "anti-super glue". I will likely still use it and maybe even find I prefer it over wood glue.

I probably won't use epoxy on frets anymore, even though I did for most of the 15 years I've been fretting.

Epoxy got a similar reading to plexiglas on a sound-transmission test. Wood glue and CA got a better reading, if I remember correctly.

Using no glue got the lowest reading on the test, even lower than epoxy.

These test were done by my friend Dan Erlewine.

Speaking of Dan. I told Dan that I once thought of drilling small holes across the fret-tang, so the glue could form "bridges" through the fret tang. He told me he had just recently tried that, but I didn't know about it at all. Brainwaves, I guess.

I also told him if Stew-mac ever has their own custom fret-wire made, to have the holes in the tang and no beads on the tang. If you need beads, you can "punch" the holes to make little "beads".

Fret-wire tang is also better if it is rough. This would be a good combination with a water-based glue because it would make wood fibers swell into the rough "grain" of the fret-tang.

Using glue that causes wood to swell is still questionable to me, but then when I think of Martin using plain water in the slots when fretting, I think it can have it's advantages. It's just important to let it dry good before leveling the frets. I always let the guitar sit for a few days before a fret-job if I do any truss-rod adjustments before the fret-job , so the neck has time to settle . I guess I should consider leaving the guitar sit at least a day after installing frets for the same reason. Then level them.

I should charge more then too.

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