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  1. #1

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    I'm a believer in doing your own setups. Also, learning how to solder and swapping electronics out. It's rewarding and the self sufficiency leads to a better playing and sounding guitar that you'll want to spend more time with. Of course, you need a place to work, tools, and some mechanical ability. That and the time. And while I am, in fact, pretty bad at the mechanical part I still find it enjoyable and rewarding. So..

    The action sucked. Bridge height was still way too high but the low E was buzzing out. Applying a fret rocker, an inexpensive chunk of metal with straight edges of various lengths on it, it was apparent that I had some high frets. To be honest I wasn't sure if fixing this would fix the action but I knew it was something that needed to be addressed regardless. So, since I haven't done anything to ill advised in some time, I decided it was time to do my own fret leveling.

    I've done my own setups for awhile. Not like they're very difficult if you trust yourself to adjust a truss rod. Then I started making my own nuts. After many throw aways they usually come out OK now. Always reassuring to know that when you mess one up you can toss it and start over. Frets were another matter. I did a few sharp fret ends but that was it. I knew fret leveling was the next step in the linear progression to the satisfaction that comes from doing all things amateur tech. I also knew that I could actually damage a guitar now. Oh well.. part of the joy of the $1000 Chinese Archtop. Not like it's a 30's L5.

    I'll spare you the steps. Plenty of information online. Just a few comments.

    - Had some things already but did require some new tools: Slotted ruler to make sure the neck was straight, a pricey fret crowning tool, and other stuff.
    - Glad I used the Dia-Sharp diamond steel plate (fine grit) instead of using something with sandpaper for the major fret leveling part. Had one for knife and chisel sharpening already and sandpaper cuts too fast for someone that is getting a feel for the job.
    - The pricey curved crowning tool was worth it
    - Took out tool marks with 500 and 1000 grit sandpaper. Then used a Dremel with a felt wheel and some very fine automotive scratch remover. That worked really well giving a nice mirror finish on the frets.
    - There are now a few new marks on the fretboard. Next time I will double tape.

    So.. in the end I had more polished frets, level frets, and all of my action problems went away. Now I can get the strings right down on the deck if I want. And the guitar, while I may have taken years off the frets, seems to be fine and it's actually a pleasure to play.

    DIY Fret Leveling-1-imgp4546-jpgDIY Fret Leveling-1-imgp4538-jpg
    Last edited by Spook410; 09-05-2015 at 01:09 AM.

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  3. #2

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    Great job Spook.

    I also did my own leveling on a guitar, but i was less adventurous than you and bought this.

    It really works well and is worth the asking price imo.


  4. #3

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    BTW, i don't know if it was for one of your Chinese archtops, but i am still pleasantly surprised that the frets on my Yunzhi are just pe-r-fe-ct, leveled and dressed, from their factory.

    I got really lucky on this one, i guess.

  5. #4

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    Get some fingerboard guards for crown filing & buffing with the Dremel. I still tape the fingerboard and use these for extra protection. The Dremel will heat these up which can damage a finished maple fingerboard, so I put tape on one side for a little extra insulation and check the temp between frets.


    DIY Fret Leveling-stewmac_fingerboard_guards-jpg

    StewMac Fingerboard Guards | stewmac.com

  6. #5

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    I do my own set ups and electronics but leave the fret work to an expert. I have to say, my only experience of plec-ing was on the Slaman in my avatar which I acquired a few years ago shortly after the previous owner had it plec'd. It plays beautifully, plays in tune all over the neck, and the action will literally go as low as you need. In fact lower than I need, and I am a low action fan.

  7. #6

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    Since having a few guitars plecced, I bought the tools and started doing my own fret work, incl refretting. The main motivator was the £300-ish refret cost in London, for a bound neck.

    My experience is that the same low action ( down to 1mm top E at 12th) can be achieved with careful handwork. Of course, the plec machine saves time - and achieves beautifully rounded fret ends, which are the hardest part with hand work.

  8. #7

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    Nice moves Spook. Remember, file a little-check twice.

    I'm gonna blurt on, apologies. I'm not trying to detract or de-rail you thread. I hope this is ok.


    Quote Originally Posted by Franz 1997
    The main motivator was the £300-ish refret cost in London, for a bound neck.
    !YIKES! £300..... I should move back!

    Is that with or without binding nibs?

    Fretting over binding is preferable for the gigging guitar but the investment grade vintage nibbed fingerboards add value (and arse -ache).

    DIY Fret Leveling-img_0452-478x640-jpg
    You have to be aware of varying fret slot widths. If you go in with a monster tang you'll induce a back bow and arse-ache.

    DIY Fret Leveling-img_0453-640x478-jpg
    Grinding your tang to thinner widths

    DIY Fret Leveling-img_0454-640x478-jpg
    And checking widths against gaps. You still need 'bite', but not too much. Note the fret slot measurements on the paper.

    This story will burn your bonce....

    The above reconditioned finger board and refret on a 70's Fender Jap acoustic, plus...

    DIY Fret Leveling-img_0368-640x478-jpg
    Knackered screw holes in tired mahogany

    DIY Fret Leveling-img_0358-640x478-jpg
    Abused bridge with flat radius

    DIY Fret Leveling-img_0539-640x478-jpg
    Loose bracing

    DIY Fret Leveling-img_0370-640x478-jpg
    An OMG nut

    DIY Fret Leveling-img_0429-640x478-jpg
    F'upped machine heads

    DIY Fret Leveling-img_0487-640x478-jpg
    30 years of tobacco crud

    DIY Fret Leveling-img_0528-640x478-jpg
    Raised tongue

    Not to mention the top had coppled and needed re-hydration.

    How much did I charge?

    £100 plus beer from the owner at any time we are in the pub together.

    I renovated a warped Ibanez for a bottle of Talisker!

    I guess if I move back to London I'll end up being an alcoholic....

    Lol.

  9. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by jazzbow

    DIY Fret Leveling-img_0370-640x478-jpg
    An OMG nut

    Lol.
    Yes, a unique mod. The centre section between both E strings was filed down and a bone insert nailed and glued!

    Interesting, the detail and fine working is good, why not put a whole bone nut in??

    Do you think there's a market for this?

    Lol.

  10. #9

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    When levelling and dressing frets I do a slight fall off from the 14th fret upwards gives a super low action with no chance of buzz.

    DIY Fret Leveling-fret-6-jpg

    You need to be careful using power tools for polishing the frets to much heat build up and the frets can lift, I prefer to hand polish and buff the frets.
    Last edited by Para; 09-06-2015 at 05:41 AM.

  11. #10

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    The Katana thingumy looks like a whole lot of fuss.

    How would you crown the frets?

    IMO and what I was taught was to file the frets parallel to the truss rod and not the string.

    There's a whole lot of math to do with cylinders, string path and actual string action that hurts my brain on a Sunday morning.



    This follows the string path.

    I guess when you are dealing with .001" discrepancies it doesn't matter.

    I am a follower of the fret rocker and spot filing method. You don't have to strap your guitar to avoid and flex.

    Although I do this in some instances...

    DIY Fret Leveling-sdc11740-640x480-jpg

    This works providing you don't apply too much pressure when sanding the fret tops.

  12. #11

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    Jazzbow I think that Katana is a diamond fret crowning file not for levelling.

  13. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by Para
    Jazzbow I think that Katana is a diamond fret crowning file not for levelling.
    "RECTIFY Master® - The original fret leveling system made in Japan"

    "Katana is a tool for fret leveling or fretboard leveling under real strings tension on a straighten or bowed neck"

    I'm positive it's primarily created for FRET LEVELLING.

    PS: The German-made machine used for levelling, crowning and nut cutting's called "PLEK".

    Home - Plek

    HTH,
    Last edited by LtKojak; 09-06-2015 at 09:14 AM.

  14. #13

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    When using the fret rocker and finding that it rocks over a high fret, push down and see if the rocking stops. If it does that fret is loose and needs to be glued down with super glue. If it is not glued down it will always pop back up after leveling and will still be too high.

    I sometimes do my own work, but usually have a tech work on my guitars. He glues all the frets down before a fret leveling just to make sure that they are all down and will stay down.

  15. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by Slide
    (I) have a tech work on my guitars. He glues all the frets down before a fret leveling just to make sure that they are all down and will stay down.
    Gluing frets fills up any voids within the neck. Some thoughts on tone sapping pockets, on the flip side solid means better frequency response. I dunno.

    There was a time in the 70's, when older guitars were thought as worn out and not collectable. Refrets consisted of widening fret slots and then using epoxy glue to fit new frets. I think this was mostly done with Fenders due to the frets being pulled in sideways and therefore chewing up the fingerboard when nipping them out. When removing the older vintage Fender frets you must always knock them out sideways!

  16. #15
    So.. some things I think I will do differently on the next one:

    - Metal guards in addition to tape look like a great idea.
    - Watch for heat build up using a dremel (ordered some micro sandpapers for polishing.. don't like steel wool). Pity. The dremel was so easy and fast.

    One thing I'm a bit confused on is gluing frets. If you use a cyanoacrylate (super glue) how is that fret ever going to come out if the guitar needs to have the frets replaced? I use a very small spot of this to hold a nut in but only enough where a tap will remove the nut. Also, how do you lift a fret to get the glue in? Just push up on the side and use a very thin glue to run in the slot?

    And it's interesting. On this board nobody corrects you when you say 'plec' instead of the correct 'plek'.

  17. #16

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    "One thing I'm a bit confused on is gluing frets. If you use a cyanoacrylate (super glue) how is that fret ever going to come out if the guitar needs to have the frets replaced?"

    I believe my tech heats the glued in frets with a soldering iron before removing them.

  18. #17

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    Here's a question on fret leveling. If you have a radiused fret board and you level the frets relative to one another using the Katana or for that matter the stewmac leveling tool, the frets will be flat. How do you get the radius back. Wouldn't you need a leveling tool that is radiused for your fret board(10", 12" etc.)? I hope I'm being clear.

    thanks
    edh

  19. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by Spook410
    One thing I'm a bit confused on is gluing frets. If you use a cyanoacrylate (super glue) how is that fret ever going to come out if the guitar needs to have the frets replaced? I use a very small spot of this to hold a nut in but only enough where a tap will remove the nut.

    Check this out mate

    Super glue your frets for better tone! | stewmac.com



    Quote Originally Posted by Spook410
    Also, how do you lift a fret to get the glue in? Just push up on the side and use a very thin glue to run in the slot?
    And this also

    DIY Fret Leveling-00028refret10-jpg

  20. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by edh
    Here's a question on fret leveling. If you have a radiused fret board and you level the frets relative to one another using the Katana or for that matter the stewmac leveling tool, the frets will be flat. How do you get the radius back. Wouldn't you need a leveling tool that is radiused for your fret board(10", 12" etc.)? I hope I'm being clear.

    thanks
    edh


    This answers a lot of questions.

    :-D

  21. #20

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    This is the Katana fret leveller.


    This is the Katana fret crowning file.


    I'm lazy these days if the fretboard is not a compound radius I use a radius beam to level and I like to crown the frets with traditional fret files, takes longer but I think it gives more control with the crowning, I also polish and buff the frets by hand.

  22. #21

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    I have the little bone too, and as much as i am glad i bought the katana, i really regret i bought the little bone because its angle won't work with smaller than medium jumbo frets, and for what it is, it is expensive.

    After using the katana, i crowned my frets mainly by hand (no playing for two days after, lol), and dressed them with Stewmac fret files.

    Anyway, for just a few high frets, of course, the katana is out of proportion, imo, a file is better as well as constant checking while filing.

    Me too, Jazzbow, i didn't fall into the Stewmac fret-rocker trap (tries to hide pride) and after reflexion it was obvious that those are one of the few Stewmac items that one can make oneself, a really straight steel thick "ruler", a bit of coarse measuring, a metal saw, et voilà ! A nice fret-rockers set !

    edit: oops, you actually have a fret rocker ! errmmm (cough) ... well, maybe it's a nice add-on to an order, but just ordering in yens from Japan with shipping and it's around 40 bucks, a bit expensive for me for what it is.
    Last edited by xuoham; 09-07-2015 at 08:57 AM.

  23. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by xuoham
    Me too, Jazzbow, i didn't fall into the Stewmac fret-rocker trap


    edit: oops, you actually have a fret rocker ! errmmm (cough) ... well, maybe it's a nice add-on to an order, but just ordering in yens from Japan with shipping and it's around 40 bucks, a bit expensive for me for what it is.
    Lol..

    For me the fret rocker (FR) is a great all in one tool. I could've got someone to machine some bits but I was ordering stuff from stewmac at the time they just brought the FR onto the market. Besides it has a handy hole in the middle for hanging onto 'the wall of tool' in my small workshop.

    As for tools for the job-back in the day I was taught to use a whetstone to level frets! OMG!

    DIY Fret Leveling-sdc10579-640x427-jpg
    Customising existing tools as well, this is my trusty fret nipper I ground down to a curve, no specialist tools were available. In fact the only thing I bought back then (1989) that was purposely made for guitar teching was a fret file (which I still have).

    All these bits you can get now does seem like money for old rope but some pieces make sense for their practicality.

    For instance, I was taught to make a fret bending block for pre-bending new frets before whacking them into an unsuspecting fingerboard (F/B). So you were refretting a guitar with 9" radii F/B that needed frets bent at a tighter radius, say 7.5". So with a compass and pencil set to 7.5" circumference you would mark up a piece of Maple 4"x3"x1" and cut out the radii. Then on the face of the 1" thickness you would cut a slot for the fret tang to seat in and then lightly tap the fret wire around the 7.5" radius and then nip it out ready for the refret. Or you could bend the fretwire into the desired radii with your nippers but this could distort the wire.
    Arse-ache mate....

    Then stewmac bring out the fretbender.....

    DIY Fret Leveling-img_0457-640x478-jpg
    I can bend that there fret wire in seconds!

    Woo hoo!

    More time saved to spend on social media.

    Yayyy...oh.

    Lol.

  24. #23
    Quote Originally Posted by edh
    Here's a question on fret leveling. If you have a radiused fret board and you level the frets relative to one another using the Katana or for that matter the stewmac leveling tool, the frets will be flat. How do you get the radius back. Wouldn't you need a leveling tool that is radiused for your fret board(10", 12" etc.)? I hope I'm being clear.

    thanks
    edh
    If you look to the right on that stack-o-tools I posted above you'll see a wood block with a 10" and 12" radius. Used with stick on sandpaper to get the radius right after leveling with the diamond steel block.

  25. #24
    These guys have many inexpensive rulers and rockers made out of aluminum. Not as nice as the steel Stewmac stuff but good enough for what I'm doing right now.

    UAAC - United Appalachian Aluminum Company-Fret Rockers

    Jazzbow - That Stewmac article on gluing answered many questions. Thanks.

  26. #25

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    @Spook or Jazzbow, wouldn't it be easier to level the frets with a radiused tool to begin with?

    thanks in advance for the info.
    edh

  27. #26

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    Quote Originally Posted by edh
    @Spook or Jazzbow, wouldn't it be easier to level the frets with a radiused tool to begin with?

    thanks in advance for the info.
    edh
    Short answer..... Yes-but.....

    Long answer... Yes, but the guitar neck needs to be set straight and supported. When you start to run a radiused block over the frets an unsupported neck will flex downward.
    When I was at college studying for my city & guilds in instrument repair the guy that taught me would hold the back of the neck in one hand and 'Lightly' apply a whetstone to level frets.
    Over the years this whetstone had gone from flat to slightly radiused. No one was allowed to use his whetstone.
    Thinking back, the weight of the whetstone could flex the neck slightly.

    The best practice for radiused blocks to be used as a fret levelling device would be to clamp the neck so the fingerboard does not flex and that it reads as flat.
    (I'm not shouting with this statement, I just want it to stand out)

    DIY Fret Leveling-erlewine_neck_jig-jpg
    The very expensive Stewmac neck jig

    DIY Fret Leveling-jigandattachment-jpg
    A home made version

    DIY Fret Leveling-neck_jig_1-jpg
    A simpler home made version, can you see the notched ruler reading the flatness of the fingerboard.

    DIY Fret Leveling-neckjigwhole-jpg
    Another version this time using box section aluminium (aluminum)

    DIY Fret Leveling-sdc11740-640x480-jpg
    Jazzbow cheap version. Note the block in the middle with two securing points using nylon rope and padding.
    Can you see the twist in the rope using a wooden paddle at the head end of the strat?
    The truss rod is loosened and the wooden paddle is twisting the rope against the leather padding on the headstock.
    This bears down on the neck so the fingerboard is reading flat.
    This method works well with Fender type guitars as there is no back angle to the headstock.
    The only part of a neck that bends and flexes is between the 3rd and 10th fret. Above the 3rd you get twists and below the 10th the neck mass thickens so there is no movement.
    When using the 'Jazzbow Cheapo Neck Jig©' for Fender type guitars a radiused block is used lightly, just enough pressure and not 'Macho Testosterone fuelled aaarrgghhh!!! you bastard!!!' pressure.

    On the subject of neck jigs and fret dressing I would either make or invest in one if I were back in the game and trying to earn a crust.

    As I work on an 'Ad Hoc' basis I use the following method which doesn't need the neck strapping down as you are only working on one fret at a time

    DIY Fret Leveling-sdc11742-640x480-jpg
    Mask fret board, adjust truss rod so fingerboard is flat, check individual frets for high spots with fret rocker and colour

    DIY Fret Leveling-sdc11743-640x480-jpg
    Spot file the area and re-read with fret rocker. Read and file all frets as necessary, twice. Go easy with the filing , say 2 strikes and measure.

    DIY Fret Leveling-dsc_0558-640x360-jpg
    Colour all frets then 'lightly' run 600 grit wet & dry paper (W&D) over frets with an appropriate radius block (this shot is of a 16" radius). All fret tops should be hit at the same time with the colour sanded off the tops. 10 passes would be enough

    DIY Fret Leveling-dsc_0561-640x360-jpg
    Then with a piece of the used W&D (which would be less abrasive, say 800 grit) I use the fleshy part of my thumb to round off the edges using the untouched colour as a guide to when the whole fret has been sanded.

    DIY Fret Leveling-dsc_0562-640x360-jpg
    0000 grade wire wool is used to polish off the fret

    DIY Fret Leveling-dsc_0563-640x360-jpg
    I use me thumb nail to check for any scratches. If there are scratches then get a piece of 600 W&D + wire wool to polish it out.

    DIY Fret Leveling-dsc_0564-640x360-jpg
    Then finally I treat the fingerboard to a conditioner (I like Gorgamyte).

    So as you can see, the radius block in this context is used as a device to check the evenness of frets.
    Last edited by jazzbow; 09-09-2015 at 05:48 AM. Reason: cohereren.... coheeransee.... cohear.... coh, ah dammit!

  28. #27

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    I think it's one of katana's advantage that the strings are on and tuned to pitch, so the neck does not bow that much if at all from the sanding pressure.

    I might be wrong though, but that's what i figured.
    Last edited by xuoham; 09-09-2015 at 05:54 AM.

  29. #28

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    Here's some extreme fret dressing using a radiused block....

    DIY Fret Leveling-dsc00222-480x640-jpg
    Check the wear chart in the background. Can you see the blue colour left in the string grooves on the fret?
    Can you see my pencilled in file guide on the masking tape?
    The maximum fret height was .050" and the lowest approximate height of one of the grooves was .044" on the G string 14th fret.
    Yikes, the entire fret height needed to be dressed down .006"!

    This is the result

    DIY Fret Leveling-dsc00226-640x480-jpg
    I kept the filed off fretwire dust for comparison.

    DIY Fret Leveling-dsc00230-480x640-jpg
    A balls out widdly widdly waa-oww machine ready to go!

    As a foot note I had to source a new clamped nut with shims as the nut action increased.
    Last edited by jazzbow; 09-09-2015 at 06:05 AM. Reason: not enough coffee

  30. #29
    Seems that if you have a central support under the neck that the unsupported parts forward and back, maybe 6" worth would not flex very easily. I was using a heavy metal diamond honing block but the weight was supported in my hand as a glided across the neck. Possibly some use a more assertive approach.

    The radius block was convenient and probably would have worked fine by itself. Some appear to favor something 30" long.. others a more compact sanding block. Probably would have to work with both to see the difference. Since you have the frets marked you can see where metal is coming off not sure what the big deal is.

    I would rather do one fret at a time but this was a new guitar and frets were all over the place. Needed it level end-to-end.

    This all gives me a sense of 'you don't know what you don't know'. Wish there was a place to get lessons.

  31. #30

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    Quote Originally Posted by Spook410

    This all gives me a sense of 'you don't know what you don't know'. Wish there was a place to get lessons.
    Spook, are you State side? There's Luthier schools over there.

    Over the years I have changed the way I dress frets from what I was taught to where it makes sense now-trying not to distort this, don't over file that. Eventually arriving at a point where the skills I have are as honed and polished as the frets I leave behind......
    Now it's at a point where I can either do a quick start to finish for the impatient punter or the top class everything is polished for the perfectionist.
    I guess given time if you do enough your confidence grows as well as your skill set.
    Last edited by jazzbow; 09-10-2015 at 03:33 AM.

  32. #31

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    I have a scalloped neck strat that will probably require fret levelling.

    I also have a notched straight edge - but then the thought occurred to me that I do not have a flat fretboard to put it on, so how can I use it?

    How do luthiers set up a scalloped neck?

  33. #32

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    I am confused because if you are dressing the frets the fingerboard has little to do with that. Dressing the frets are what get the things in order. The fingerboard is the not dealt with. It is possible that the neck has twists and bows that would effect things and fret dressing usually done after the structure foundation is correct

  34. #33

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    thats when a regular old straight edge comes in!! like it was in the days before the notched version was around..your scalloped neck is one of the few necks the notched doesn't work on!! haha


    cheers

  35. #34

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    Agree with Deacon, I had to clean up some divots on a Y. Malmsteen Strat I bought on a lark. I handled it like any other neck. I like my necks near flat so I adjusted it to near flat and cleaned up the divots. Obviously a notched straight edge is not going to work as easily as a conventional board but you can always use feeler gauges to determine relief. From growing up with a father who was a an@l retentive boatbuilder and then later working as an inside and outside machinist I have developed a good eye so I didn't bother. If the neck is structurally fine just treat it like any other neck.

  36. #35

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    Quote Originally Posted by deacon Mark
    I am confused because if you are dressing the frets the fingerboard has little to do with that. Dressing the frets are what get the things in order. The fingerboard is the not dealt with. It is possible that the neck has twists and bows that would effect things and fret dressing usually done after the structure foundation is correct
    Thx for the reply.
    Before I dress the frets I have to have a straight neck -correct? - but I can't use the notched straight edge to see if its straight on a scalloped board. And if the frets are uneven a normal straight edge across them wouldn't be much use either.

  37. #36

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    Thx for the reply.
    If the frets are uneven (and they are) I don't see how a normal straight edge can be used.

  38. #37

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    Quote Originally Posted by rob taft
    Agree with Deacon, I had to clean up some divots on a Y. Malmsteen Strat I bought on a lark. I handled it like any other neck. I like my necks near flat so I adjusted it to near flat and cleaned up the divots. Obviously a notched straight edge is not going to work as easily as a conventional board but you can always use feeler gauges to determine relief. From growing up with a father who was a an@l retentive boatbuilder and then later working as an inside and outside machinist I have developed a good eye so I didn't bother. If the neck is structurally fine just treat it like any other neck.
    Ths for the reply.

    I am confused now. How can I use feeler guages to determine relief if the frets are uneven?
    I assume you "adjusted it to near flat" by eye. If the 7th/8th frets are high or low ,I will get a false reading of the relief.

    This will be my first fret level and I don't want to f*** it up. Am I being too picky regarding the precision required here? I was under the impression that the neck has to be dead flat before fret levelling. I like my action low so raising the action is a no-no for me.

  39. #38

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    yes...too picky..doesn't have to be "dead straight"...if you take your guitar for a plek job they will filter in your action and playing style and adjust to suit...just get it as straight as you can..a straight edge down the fretboard works..you should be able to determine any high frets that are rocking it and factor them out...that's why rob t^ said he eyeballs it!

    so dont over "fret" it!!!

    haha

    cheers

    ps- this parts easy.!..its the rest thats hard!!!

  40. #39

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    Once the neck is scalloped, all hope of getting it dead straight are completely lost. All you can do is use the frets to measure it, and get it as close as you can. Scalloping a neck is not the smartest thing one can do to a guitar, but rockers aren't known for intelligence, for the most part. It looks cool, so it's important to do it. But it affects playability adversely in most cases, and insures that the neck can never again be known to be completely straight. Instead of refretting it, I would just buy a new neck, but it's not my guitar, so good luck with it.

  41. #40

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    This is what I suspected -but I thought maybe one or two luthiers would divulge their "secrets" on setting it up. Wanted confirmation on this.

    Not refretting - just fret levelling.

  42. #41

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    Vic, Sorry for the confusion. Yes the only thing one could do in the case of your neck is just lay the straight edge on the frets to get an approximation of how flat the neck maybe. Like I said earlier I would just eyeball it. That being said, what makes you think your frets need leveling?

  43. #42

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    No real secrets about fret dressings can be done differently by others. I find I can be as good as a Plek because how the person plays is important. Plek is a lot more $$ and if I take my time go over details it comes out ok. Sometimes necks and frets are at a place you must compromise. One thing I never adjust truss rods under full tension of the strings unless to slightly loosen. Doing hundreds over the years it is an art yet science.

    I generally get nut height first at 1st fret then depending on the neck work in 3 sections 1-6, 6-13, 14 out. Going back in between sections. Bill Hollenbeck and Bill Barker always then go to fine Emory cloth they taught me this trick. Dig in with heal of palm and run at fret right angle starting end of board to the nut. This actually gives the correct crown, smooth round fret. Eliminates other type of files although I touch them with crown file I feel the Emory cloth doing the real work. Then steel wool 00, 000,0000 in the order same motion. This shows and voids in the fret edges as steel wool will catch on any burr at end of frets. Let's you know what needs any attention or even fret not quite seated at end.

    Finally 2 grades of fine scotch pad same motion. I do not like a lot of relief in neck most well made modern guitars can handle this fine. Heavy handed players may need more. I find the key is all motion is done as I say at the frets as you would put your heel of palm and go right up the neck. Not any action as if you are simply dressing frets from bass to treble side. You do this with fret leveling in beginning but move to length wise for finishing.

    That probably made no sense.

  44. #43

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    Quote Originally Posted by rob taft
    Vic, Sorry for the confusion. Yes the only thing one could do in the case of your neck is just lay the straight edge on the frets to get an approximation of how flat the neck maybe. Like I said earlier I would just eyeball it. That being said, what makes you think your frets need leveling?
    I have uneven frets, as shown by fret rocker, and fret buzzing in many places with action around 1.75mm - so its not low action with 010 strings (bass side). The relief is around 010 - 020 thousandths, if the measurement is correct (7th/8th fret).
    Infact fret 11 is woefully low and I am debating replacing that fret , or maybe creating faLL- off from fret 12 onwards. Not an expensive guitar by any means at £93 (+ £30 for pickguard and pickups) so it gives me the opportunity to experiment on it. Although it has a beautiful patterned maple fretboard so I will endeavour to keep it in good condition. But being a cheap chinese guitar I knew work would be required on it - so that's ok. If i get this playing at my preferred action of 1.5mm - 1mm I will be more than happy!

  45. #44

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    Quote Originally Posted by deacon Mark
    No real secrets about fret dressings can be done differently by others. I find I can be as good as a Plek because how the person plays is important. Plek is a lot more $$ and if I take my time go over details it comes out ok. Sometimes necks and frets are at a place you must compromise. One thing I never adjust truss rods under full tension of the strings unless to slightly loosen. Doing hundreds over the years it is an art yet science.

    I generally get nut height first at 1st fret then depending on the neck work in 3 sections 1-6, 6-13, 14 out. Going back in between sections. Bill Hollenbeck and Bill Barker always then go to fine Emory cloth they taught me this trick. Dig in with heal of palm and run at fret right angle starting end of board to the nut. This actually gives the correct crown, smooth round fret. Eliminates other type of files although I touch them with crown file I feel the Emory cloth doing the real work. Then steel wool 00, 000,0000 in the order same motion. This shows and voids in the fret edges as steel wool will catch on any burr at end of frets. Let's you know what needs any attention or even fret not quite seated at end.

    Finally 2 grades of fine scotch pad same motion. I do not like a lot of relief in neck most well made modern guitars can handle this fine. Heavy handed players may need more. I find the key is all motion is done as I say at the frets as you would put your heel of palm and go right up the neck. Not any action as if you are simply dressing frets from bass to treble side. You do this with fret leveling in beginning but move to length wise for finishing.

    That probably made no sense.
    ..
    Thx for the in-depth reply Mark
    I understood most of it (I think..lol).

    Basically the "secrets" I were after were the ones specifically involving a scalloped fretboard.
    You Tube is a wonderful thing with many guitar "tutorials" but there is a distinct absence of "tutorials"
    involving a scalloped fretboard and it seems, as I suspected (as sgosnell says above), determining the flatness of a scalloped neck can be tricky.

  46. #45

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    First, I bought one of them cheap guitars, a Grote. I've read quite a bit of good things about them, both here and other places. I've been wanting a 335 style for some time now, so seeing as how I could get this with Amazon Prime, I took the chance. Does this seem like a problem?
    DIY Fret Leveling-crackkkkk-jpg

    Just kidding of course. It's a shame, because as far as any blemishes go, this was seriously the only one. I couldn't find any problems with the finish anywhere. And while I don't think this is more than a finish crack, I'm not taking that chance. I did tune and set it up, and there were also numerous high frets around 12, 14 and the like. It's being returned and I'll give them one more chance with a replacement which is on the way. We'll see what happens because beyond those, it's actually a decent guitar. It felt really good and it would certainly be a keeper w/o those issues.

    Which leads me to a question:

    I've looked at a few fret leveling kits, some cheaper than others, and I'm wondering if anyone has any experience on that. I've always done my own work on my guitars, and I watched a couple videos on leveling frets and it seems like something I'd feel capable of. Can anyone tell what I'd need to fix a high fret? I've also got one on my Ibanez and I'd like to fix that.

  47. #46

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    You really cannot explain it in this forum it would take too long. Look up some videos and practice on cheap guitars if you want to learn how to do it. It is not complicated as such but requires a lot of hands on doing and checking. Best to have someone explain the process. I don't think it would be worth the money spent to proper tools to get a good job done. I have boxes files and special fret tools that would cost way more than any fret dress done. Unless you do this all the time it would not be cost effective. I personally would not use on of the kits I see for sale.

  48. #47

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    I actually did some more reading and watching, and realize I actually have the tools needed. I have triangular files and straight edges I would trust to be perfectly straight. Sure, specialized tools for fret crowning would be nice, but I've watched more than a few videos now of the job being done with normal files and various grits of sandpaper.

  49. #48

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    shame, as i'd bet that grote guitar..cheapo that it very well might be...still...got that neck injury as a result of improper handling during shipping..not manufacture!

    specific fret levelling is no great mystery...a credit card and a some files can get you a great way there...of course expertise comes with time and repetition..but..its only a grote!



    cheers
    Last edited by neatomic; 02-11-2020 at 10:07 PM.

  50. #49

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    That's one of the videos I've watched. Very good, and like you say, not a great mystery.

  51. #50

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    I'd skip the files and use abrasives. Not as abusive and a lot more forgiving. Do the whole neck. 400 g with a straight block will get you there without sacrificing any additional metal. It's worth learning to do for anyone who is a hands on person and fussy about how the guitar plays. No one knows how you like your guitar to play better than you. Good luck it will be worth it.