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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I picked up a guitar the other day at my local store. It was a Neal Moser custom tele, I ran my hands up and down the side of the neck and there was virtually no roughness from the frets. It was a dream to play. I played that guitar along with a Brian Moore USA Custom shop guitar, same result awesome fretwork on the guitar too.

I've found this to be lacking somewhat from Ibanez guitars, from the low end models right up to the highend jems and jcustoms. It's never really bothered me until now, I guess it's due to the fact that since I've acquired the instrument, it's a '99 model; I've become somewhat of a more discerning guitar head. I've read on Rich's site that he does some compulsory fret edge filing as part and parcel of his well known setup package.

Anyways here's a picture of my UV right now and the fretwork that came along with the guitar as well.

It might not be a very good picture, but I'm sure you get the idea. The fret ends are not exactly rounded and exceptionally comfortable to play with. Which really defeats the purpose of the neck binding IMHO.

I was browsing around and I found this picture from http://www.kurosawagakki.com/ibanez6.html

My question is, is it possible for me to do this modification on my own? If so what kind of tools would I need and what kind of steps should be taken in order for me to protect the wood surrounding the frets?

My father is a pretty good metal and wood worker, filing and sanding should be no problem for him. Heck he even offered to refret one of my jems for me. But of course being my number one guitar I got cold feet and sent it in to my usual guitar tech. :)

Any input would be most appreciated!

Thanks.

Christopher.
 

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Refretting shouldn't be done by anyone who is inexperienced IMO. And many guitar techs are lousy at it just the same. I feel mostly the same way about fret end shaping, although someone who has done jewelry and other fine detail metalworking, including polishing is probably qualified. It takes a very steady hand to hit the fret, while not marking any of the rest of the neck.

Basically you're talking about taking a perfectly flat file across the edges to first true up the surface. Then you take the appropriate file (often one with a safe edge) and shape your fret ends by hand. Finally a sand and polish, and you're done. Just remember all of that has to be done without hitting the board or the binding.
 

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I think the point Frank is trying to make is you just cannot possibly get good enough at fret work to please *anyone* its tedious time consuming, but with good results, its just one of the finer things in guitar luthiery best left to experts.
 

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The picture of the JC neck is posed, those fret ends are already finished.

Anybody can do it, it just takes patience and a few tools. A cross hatch "safe" file that has one edge dulled, a sanding stick [all available on Stewmac], steel wool, bench grinder with buffing wheel if possible. Not that I'd recomend tackling a UV on your first attempt. Basically think of it as a 3 angle valve job [for you motor heads]. First cut is a 45*, second is shallow along the fret side, third is shallow at the tip. The sanding stick will blend the angles together to make a curve, and the rest is polishing. I trail my laft index finger under the file for stability and to keep from getting too much pressure on the board/binding.

By coincidence the UV I did last night that I couldn't ship, failed testing because the nut was breaking high E strings and I didn't have time to swap it out before UPS came.



 

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I actually learned to do this from the great Dan Erlewine. I do my round ball like frets using just a small triangle file with one side ground safe and just "roll file" the fret ends. (That and some sand paper afterwards before polishing).

Mind you, I don't suggest doing this if you don't have patience as it is quite tedious at times. I believe the current line of prestige guitars now have semi-rounded fret ends whereas a few years ago they didn't.

(Btw, nice frets Rich)
 

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sniperfrommars1 said:
I think the point Frank is trying to make is you just cannot possibly get good enough at fret work to please *anyone* its tedious time consuming, but with good results, its just one of the finer things in guitar luthiery best left to experts.
Not really. I'm saying he shouldn't let his dad refret his Jem first time out, no matter how much metalworking and woodworking experience he has. ;)

Rich is right, that "anyone" can do the fret ends, but he seems to concur with me that the UV is not the place to start.

If dad wants to help, at least have him do fret ends on ONE other guitar first. Heck you could probably get a store to allow you to "practice" on a crap guitar. It will make their guitar better for the store, and let you hone your skills at the same time.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Frank I totally agree with you on the refret thing. It's just too big a task for someone who has metal and wood working knowledge and experience to undertake. You have to be a really good repairman to understand the dynamics of a good fret job in order to do one. Hence I sent the guitar to my tech.

I'll post some pics of the tools that I have available at my disposal.

I checked out the tools on Stewmac's but they are way too costly. I might also want to recrown my frets as well since they are pretty worn off at this point. Would that task in itself be slightly too advanced for me to undertake? I'll do my best and practice on the process on a crap guitar first and see how it goes. :)

Thanks so much for the replies and advice.
 

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If you think a $12 file is expensive then you're sure not going to like the price of a diamond crowning file :lol:

It will need a level to true up the frets again before crowning.

Yes Frank, the UV isn't the recomended place to start, but then the first one I did was way to expensive to be futzing around on also. The predicament of only dealing in expensive guitars, sometimes you're learning on them. That just makes you a little more cautious than usual ;)

Thanks Budd and m0p!
 

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I've looked at the tools available on stewmac too and it's probably not the cost of the tools that are the problem, but more the cost of postage overseas. Prices are cheap, but factor in shipping and the price blows out to a price where it's just not worth it for a cheap item.
 
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