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Thread: High frets: remove, file slot, put back OR level them as is? Reply to Thread
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  Topic Review (Newest First)
04-26-2008 02:24 AM
albee1952
Re: High frets: remove, file slot, put back OR level them as is?

Lots of the JEM10 necks just liked to have frets pop up a bit. The luthier that fixed mine said he had done a few and after he finished, mine played absolutely perfect. Maybe the best $100 I ever spent on a guitar repair. It may have something to do with the neck having no real finish on it so temp and humidity may have a greater effect on it.
04-24-2008 05:22 PM
Stygian
Re: High frets: remove, file slot, put back OR level them as is?

Quote:
Originally Posted by David McCarroll View Post
At the risk of sounding nasty or condescending, if you have to ask, you shouldn't be contemplating doing!
I admit I'm not experienced with fretwork. Not upset, you're just being honest.

Quote:
Originally Posted by David McCarroll View Post
In any case, here's the answer: ... ...
Thank you for this, it was a VERY helpful read! I haven't worked on the guitar yet, but I will be using some of those tips rather than trying to level the frets on my own (which I've tried on a project neck before, eh, I made it play a little better but it wasn't perfect). I'll be saving this post for the next time the guitar is stringless and I can try using your advice!

Quote:
Originally Posted by albee1952 View Post
My JEM10 needed most of the frets to be glued down. I will add one small detail to the above method. Before you grab the first file, paint the tops of the frets with a black magic marker. This makes it easy to see which frets have not been leveled yet.
I've heard of the "marker method" before, but thanks. Your JEM needed frets glued down!?!? wow. What was wrong with them before you put a dab of glue on them?
04-22-2008 01:09 PM
albee1952
Re: High frets: remove, file slot, put back OR level them as is?

My JEM10 needed most of the frets to be glued down. I will add one small detail to the above method. Before you grab the first file, paint the tops of the frets with a black magic marker. This makes it easy to see which frets have not been leveled yet. I finish by using a stainless steel plate with a fret sized slot cut in it(stewmac again) and polish the frets with a dremel tool using a large felt buffing wheel and an abrasive stick and they shine really nice(and are smooth as glass).
04-22-2008 08:15 AM
stratoskier
Re: High frets: remove, file slot, put back OR level them as is?

Great post, David! --- a nice compilation of info, whether we do the work ourselves or farm it out.
Bert
04-22-2008 12:15 AM
David McCarroll
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 (www.stewmac.com) 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,

Cheers

David
04-21-2008 11:26 PM
Stygian
High frets: remove, file slot, put back OR level them as is?

This really could be a thread about a few topics, but mainly I'd like to know how to get my high frets fixed on my new RG350 DX. I'm not all that upset about it, just need to know what common practice is for fixing high frets.

The 8th fret is high enough that it completely chokes playing the 7th fret on the high e and b strings, and I have a similar problem at the 12th fret. I imagine there's dust or something underneath the fretwire lifting it up. Should I remove the fret, hit the slot with a file and put it back? I can level them instead if that is a better option.

I have a story to share about the guitar too, I can't believe it made it out of the factory. Aside from the fret problems, the maple side of the neck had a 2 inch spot of missing finish (I assume it got rubbed off somehow). The frets were crazy sharp, worse than a $99 SX strat from rondo music that I tried recently. I already filed the edges down, they feel great now. And now onto the most bizzare quirk: the neck and bridge humbuckers were wired backwards to the switch! I also fixed this on my own and upgraded the bridge pickup to a Bill Lawrence.

I'm not sure the year of the guitar (bought it from an unauthorized dealer), but it's Indonesian made. I still enjoy it, but it wasn't without problems. Good thing I know how to fix this stuff. Except the high frets. So which idea is best?

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