Smoothing fret edges - any experience? - Jemsite
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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 01-23-2001, 11:44 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: Kentucky
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Smoothing fret edges - any experience?

I am currently working on the frets of a cheapo neck that I am trying to turn into a very playable piece. *So far it's coming really well...the whole bitch here is that the frets are sharp and you can really feel them sliding up and down the neck. *The don't exactly hang over the edge of the fretboard, so I am not sure why they are so sharp. *Anyone have a trick for getting rid of this? *Also, I am thinking about getting rid the frets and putting some new ones in. *The problem is that I don't know what to use to cut the fretwire properly. *I believe most tools you can buy cut at a 30 degree angle? *Anyway, I can't justify spending what StewMac wants for this tool to only use it a handful of times. *Maybe someone else knows how to do this. *And another thing...does anyone know of ANY company or person who sells harder fretwire than nickel/silver? *i.e. stainless steel, titanium, mytical metal from the planet Zorbotron?
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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 01-24-2001, 10:53 AM
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Smoothing fret edges

To get rid of any extra sharpness, you'll need to just determine what part of the fret is catching your hand, and gently file that part down... quite often the corners of the frets where they meet the fretboard can be a bit of a problem. (Remember to tape off your fretboard first with masking tape!)

StewMac sells fret nippers that do a fine job for cutting fretwire. They've got all kinds of other great tools for making fretwork easier. But i wouldn't recommend you do a fret job without proper guidance, unless you really don't care too much about the guitar and it's not a great loss if it gets screwed up.

Here's how you do it in a nutshell:

1. Cut the fretwire into frets that are longer than the width of your fretboard.

2. Bend the frets to an "over-arch" radius with two sets of pliers by gripping the tangs on the underside of the frets and bending inward gently. You can also pre-bend the fretwire before cutting it if you have StewMac's fretwire bender thingy.

3. Gently tap the frets into the slots at either edge of the fretboard, so they overhang the edges by a bit. (Quite often you can put some wood glue in the slots as well to increase the strength.)

4. Tap the frets down into the slots using a fret hammer, starting at the middle and gently working your way to the outside. The arch expands and flattens out to match the radius of your fretboard.

5. Nip off the ends flush with the fretboard then smooth and bevel the edges with a flat file. Then crown and dress the frets.

Nobody makes harder frets because harder metals can't be extruded into the complex crown/tang shape. Parkers (with the exception of the P-3 have stainless steel frets, but they're glued to the fretboard rather than hammered into slots.
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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 01-24-2001, 05:51 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: Kentucky
Posts: 340
Smoothing fret edges

yeah, I was aware about most of this stuff you are saying, and it's all good advice. *I still find it hard to bevel fret edges and get a uniform look, and I usually end up getting one of a kind frets on the edges. *It doesn't really change performance, just appearance. *As for stainless steel frets, the site that sells Chapman sticks ( ?) has these frets called Rods and Rails, which are stainless steel, and tanged (although the tang it weird). *I inquired about them, but they never answered my email. *I guess I can always harden my frets a bit by heating them, although I dont know how high to heat an 18% nickel / silver compound to effectively harden the metal.
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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 01-24-2001, 10:59 PM
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Smoothing fret edges

What kind of file are you using?

I use a long flat file and file along the neck, so you're getting a whole bunch of frets at once. Don't file the edges of individual frets, or you won't get consistent results.
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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 01-25-2001, 12:06 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Jan 2001
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Smoothing fret edges

I have a lot of different files that I use in different situations. *The longest flat one I have is about 5 inches or so. *Maybe it isnt long enough.
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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 01-25-2001, 09:52 AM
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Smoothing fret edges

Could be. The ones i use are about 8 to 12 inches long, i think. (Tools are at home. I'm at work.)
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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 01-25-2001, 08:57 PM
Join Date: Dec 2000
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Smoothing fret edges

Darren is right about filing along the neck to file multiple frets at once. I have onely done this twice. The first time I used a file from Stewmac that is about 5" long. It was a file they recommended for this purpose. I personally found that the file teeth were too big and course which results in small gouges in the frets. The second time I used a very flat sanding block with medium grit sandpaper (forgot the grit). This actually worked much better for me.

When you do you filing, concentrate to make sure you keep a consistent bevel angle.

After you finish level the edges, you should "dress" the fret ends, which involves rounding the ends to take the sharp edges off. If you don't have it already, I highly recommended Dan Erlewine's Guitar Repair book. It explains all of this fun stuff.

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dan erlewine , stainless steel frets , steel frets

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