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Let's just put it this way, it's the difference between a terrible playing guitar and an awesome playing guitar. After you glue the fretboard on, you'll want to sand that down to make sure it's perfectly straight, the 16" fret leveler works great with some 180 grit for fingerboard. You could also use a good capenters level that's flat on one side if you don't want to spend that kinda money. The reason you need the fretboard flat is simply because it will make the frets set good and level when pressed or hammered in. That way you don't have to level away alot of the fret metal away to get the frets level. You'll also need a good straightedge to check your work with, fretboard and when your doing fret leveling. You know that Staples store across from Guitar Center, they had a good 24" T Square that you can use, just take off the T part and your set.

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Do mean dress, or level? After frets are pressed or hammered, they are still slightly uneven. The purpose of levelling them is to remove this uneveness, leaving a *totally* flat playing surface. This is often done with a fine flat file, or 320-600 grit paper on a flat block.

The levelling procedure leaves a flat area on each fret, which means the string doesn't contact the very centre of the fret, which can affect tuning, and cause buzzing. To remedy this, frets are re-rounded, or 'dressed', either with a specially shaped file, or by using fine wet or dry paper to knock off the corners of the flat area.

You can get away with out dressing the frets if your initial prep was good, but you'll be very lucky to get away without any levelling. To achieve the best results you'll almost certainly need to do both.

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www.guitarbuildingtemplates.com

Alex (a member of Project Guitar) drew most of them and has let that guy use them to laser cut templates. I ordered a PRS 24 fret template, but haven't gotten it in yet, I'll let you know how good they are. They should be great since they are laser cut. Templates help out alot, you could build your own, but every mistake you make will show up on the guitar after you flush trim route, or bandsaw, then Robo Sand (drum sander with guide bearings).

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I always thought of "fret dressing" as what is done after the filing/leveling. When you get rid of the sharp edges at the ends, bring the "flat" on the fret-top to the width you want, and at the same time making the fret crown how you want it (half-round, "school bus" , etc), and then you sand the file/sandng marks out more and more, with smaller grits of paper, 400 grit actually still being slightly on the rough side, since you would at least probably want to follow that with 600 grit then 0000 steel wool.

The "fret dress" is often real basic on many factory guitars that even bother to do this type of thing to their frets. They sometimes do a quick leveling, then quite quickly "dress" the frets by running sandpaper backed by fingers lengthwise up and down the neck, which will knock off sharp edges a little and round the fret tops just a little (usually resulting in "school bus" top frets)

** Dan Erlewine came up with the term "school bus" for describing a particular way of crowning fret tops, where the top the fret looks like the roof of a yellow school bus (American school buses). Which means the fret top is sort of flat, but the very edges along the length of it, have an abrupt rounded edge. I think it might be the smoothest and most "broken in" feeling of all the fret crown options. Also the quickest way to do it in many cases.

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Yeah I was about to say that it's actually enough wood to make 2 necks if you cut it out right. And yes you'll have to do fret dressing to make it play great after your all leveled... Remember that Stew Mac Offset Diamond Fret Dressing File that I showed you. That's what I use with excellent results, then basically go over the fretboard like Soap said. Funny story though, I visited a we'll known Luthier in Little Rock today, and I actually had more tools than he did. lol.. He has been using this one Three In One Fret File for years, and said he just never bought any other crowing files because he is so used to the way his stuff works that he doesn't want to mess anything up. So maybe if you get to that stage and don't have the proper tools to do it, you might want to get in touch with him to level and dress the frets for you since you live so close. But, with some basic tools and pratice you can learn the same thing.

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