Fret level/crown...DIY?? - Jemsite
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post #1 of 10 (permalink) Old 11-22-2003, 10:41 AM Thread Starter
 
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Fret level/crown...DIY??

Could use a little advice. I recently purchased an RG (from a forum member)...he neglected to mention the problem with the frets. There is some wear that causes fretting out at the 10th fret. I'm stuck with trying to remedy the problem. My options...

1. have a professional fret dressing done ($50-125)
2. attempt it my self

I'm fairly handy, have done woodwork etc, but never work on frets. I'm a bit concerned about trying it myself because I know that these things require skill & experience, but it can't be rocket science. Should I give it a go?

I've looked at the files, etc. in Stew Mac, and looks like I might be able to get the tools for around $80 (leveler file or block, crowning file, and fret-end file). There's also a cheapy kit on ebay for $12.95. Any advice on the tools to buy for the best cost/quality ratio?...and tips form experience on whether I should try it myself?

Thanks.
Greg
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post #2 of 10 (permalink) Old 11-22-2003, 12:21 PM
 
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You actually don't need the specialized tools to do it. I learned how to level/crown/polish with regular files and sandpaper. The specialized tools probably make the job faster and more consistent (important if you're a professional doing a lot of these jobs as your bread and butter) but they're not necessary.

There are a few good books you could check out of the library to get some detailed pointers. It's not rocket science. You just need some patience and time, and you can do a really good job.
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post #3 of 10 (permalink) Old 11-22-2003, 01:11 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by darren wilson
You actually don't need the specialized tools to do it. I learned how to level/crown/polish with regular files and sandpaper. The specialized tools probably make the job faster and more consistent (important if you're a professional doing a lot of these jobs as your bread and butter) but they're not necessary.

There are a few good books you could check out of the library to get some detailed pointers. It's not rocket science. You just need some patience and time, and you can do a really good job.
I would think this is one thing the forum here is lacking which basically still leaves him in the dark. GOing to the library can be a hassle, and so on and so forth, but id like to see a forum member demonstrate with exactness *like rich's tutorials* with pictures measurements all tools used and brands of and so forth. Maybe on an old rg so we can get a feel for this and not feel so daunted. Remembering that most setups ive seen are for les pauls or strats.
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post #4 of 10 (permalink) Old 11-22-2003, 02:37 PM Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for the comments so far. I found this, which is helpful...

http://mywebpages.comcast.net/skgs/sk/fretcrowning.htm

And here's another one on a familiar looking guitar

http://rfd.cc/aa/fret/index.html

Any more suggestions appreciated.
Greg
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post #5 of 10 (permalink) Old 11-22-2003, 02:48 PM
 
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Well, I'm in Illinois, and if anyone wants to come and take pictures of me and do a tutorial I'm up for it. But I don't have a good camera nor the time to put it together and get it uploaded to a website.

Basically, there are good books out there with pictures already, but I understand the need for more detailed explanations of things, because many times the books do leave off the tips and tricks. There can be sort of an arrogance to them, slanted against the beginner.

Basically all you "need" is a mild file (or sanding block) that you know is straight. I prefer a file because I know there is no distortion from the grit application or the grits breaking free, or buildup of metal shavings for that matter. I mean, you have to keep your files clean as you do with sandpaper, but I just like the file for the first 90% of the levelling.

Then I crown them with a crowning file or by hand with a flat or triangle one. But if you haven't taken much off, its not always necessary. Then I switch to a flat block or a radiused block with 400-600 grit on it, usually old and worn out. That removes the file chatter, completes the level, and when I finish up I'm going "with" the frets to remove the sanding lines in the direction of the strings. That's how I do my guitars. Customers' guitars get a little more treatment, but for a beginner doing their own guitar, its very much worth a try. Don't get suckered into Stew-Mac's "tool for every job" deal. They sell tools
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post #6 of 10 (permalink) Old 11-22-2003, 03:00 PM
 
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Just went to those tutorials, and both are just fine. I don't like the marker deal myself with sandpaper, because unless its self adhesive, it can dip down off the block and prematurely remove the marker. I look for actual contact with the fret from the files, except for maybe just a few low ones, and then get the final level with the 400-600 paper. But I used to do the marker years ago, and it's a fine idea. I like what the one guy said about sloping off after the 18th fret or so. I do that when necessary, like if the neck has pulled into a little ramp there, which many do. But one thing I almost always do is to flatten the radius starting around the 14th fret, and fanning out from between the B and G string. That eliminates the fret out during bends. I will do this even on compound radius necks too, just in that area.
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post #7 of 10 (permalink) Old 11-22-2003, 03:51 PM Thread Starter
 
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Thanks Frank...do you mean just one of those typical files that's about an inch wide and 3/16" thick?

I am leaning toward giving it a shot. Actually, I have an old strat copy
that I may "practice" on first.
Greg
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post #8 of 10 (permalink) Old 11-22-2003, 04:18 PM
 
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Yeah, but I like the Stew-Mac one (0862) in this case because it's more likely to be totally flat, and it's attatched to a wood block. Those hardware store ones can be a little wavy. Sight it like you'd sight a fretboard for levelness when you're at the store. It might help to epoxy it to your own wood block that you know is straight. Then you can hacksaw off the handle.

Make sure the file has one row of grooves, going diagonally. You don't want a cross cut file with an "x" pattern, just one row of diagonal lines. They'll usually call them a mill bastard, or bastard file. Don't ask me why. If anyone knows why I have to say a swear just to buy a file let me know!
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post #9 of 10 (permalink) Old 11-22-2003, 07:20 PM
 
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Hi greg, check out project guitar.com,they have some good tutorials on there.
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post #10 of 10 (permalink) Old 11-22-2003, 11:24 PM
 
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Maybe the 'bastard' reference is from the middle ages when smiths made files.

large sword = bastard sword

large file = bastard file

Just an idea...

BTW, I use the 'marker method' (usually a green or red sharpie) and a 'bastard' file for leveling. Crowning files when I have to go deep, or just sandpaper(starting at 100 grit and going up to about 1000) rolled around my first to fingers for shallow grinds.. (Deep grinds get the sandpaper job too) #0000 steel wool to finish up.

I dunno, I've gotten used to having the crowning file, though the one we use has the replaceable bits. I don't like the 'throw-away' ones, not cost effective when you're doing these 20 times a year or more.
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