Jemsite - View Single Post - High frets: remove, file slot, put back OR level them as is?
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post #2 of (permalink) Old 04-22-2008, 12:15 AM
David McCarroll
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Sydney Australia
Posts: 2,049
Re: High frets: remove, file slot, put back OR level them as is?

At the risk of sounding nasty or condescending, if you have to ask, you shouldn't be contemplating doing!

In any case, here's the answer:

It is probably nothing to do with dust under the fret - Ibanez do not do a great job of installing the frets in non-Japanese (and in fact this applies to quite a few MIJ Ibanezes anyway) guitars, so when they get banged in, some may end up denting the wood, hence sit lower, some may "spring" slightly, hence sit higher - to save on setup costs, most non MIJ guitars are not fret levelled from the factory, hence you, the owner, get passed on the joys of uneven frets.

So, first up, check that the fret immediately above the one which frets out (by the sounds of it, the 8th and 13th) are hard against the fretboard, and not "sprung up" slightly or even loose - if they are loose, push down on the top of the fret with something which won't leave a mark, and run some very runny Cyanoacrylate glue along the edge of the fret - it will "wick" under the fret, into the slot, and after a couple of seconds of pressure will glue the fret down thoroughly - in fact StewMac ( recommend that you basically carry out this procedure on just about any Asain made guitar to properly seat the frets.

Next, without string tension on the neck, loosen or tighten the truss rod until the fingerboard is basically as straight and level as you can get it. You can now gently "shave" the top of the frets with a 12" mill smooth file - any luthier will have one of these, with the tang ground off (the tang is the bit of the file which sticks into the handle - always gets in the way when you are doing a fret level).

When every fret has been at least kissed by the file on every part of its top edge, you can then re-crown the frets (return them to the rounded profile they started with) with a fret crowning file (see Stewmac), then polish the frets, starting with 400, then 800, then 1200 emery paper, first on a rubber block, then wrapped around your fingers to polish the edges where they have been rounded over, then finish up with some fine steel wool to burnish the frets and fingerboard (if it is Rosewood - if it is finished, like a Maple 'board, you have to mask it all off otherwise you will scratch the living daylights out of the finish!). After this you can use some fine cutting compound to polish the frets to mirror smoothness - clean off the buffing compund with naptha or similar, then lightly oil the fingerboard (if it is Rosewood) with Linseed, Lemon or Bore oil - let it sit for a few minutes, then wipe and polish off any excess oil - your fingerboard and frets will now resemble what you see on a $2000 instrument, and SHOULD be level and true - string up, bring to pitch and adjust the tension on the rod to allow a tiny amount of relief (half a millimetre is what I aim for).

In most cases this should be done with the neck removed in order to avoid banging or scratching the rest of the guitar - if you DO remove the neck, take very careful note of any shims between the neck and body and replace in the same location - you have to do the same with the locking nut, as it will definitely get in the way of the file.

There are many, many subtleties to the above process, and there are many, many tricks, tools and devices to make this job easier and/or more accurate - start with a browse through StewMac's online catalogue for the tools they sell - again, as I said, if you have to ask, you maybe shouldn't be contemplating doing the job - it will cost you somewhere between $75 - $150 to get a good tech/luthier to do the job, and if done right, your guitar wll play like a dream!

Hope that helps,


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