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Discussion Starter #1
I had a couple of high frets on my most recent old used guitar purchase and decided to level them myself... which worked ok. The end result was no more fretting out on bends from lower frets, etc... The only thing I really couldn't do was get the fret crowned like the others. I did mark the top with a permanent marker and file the sides gradually until just a thin black line was left on the top, but the profile of the crown is still not like the others... so at that point I just stopped and polished them to see how it worked. I would like to follow up and dress up the frets properly though, so I looked up fret crowning files. They go from cheap ($16 - $28) to Stewmac ($330) and I wonder if the inexpensive ones are decent enough to use for occasional minor fretwork?

I was looking at the "Baroque" brand file that does 3 sizes, mainly because of the amount of good reviews... but there are some bad reviews too. Baroques 3-sided file

Any advice regarding these files? Other options? I have guitars with medium to jumbo frets.
 

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I've always paid up for Stew Mac, The Baroque at half the price and giving 3 sizes, diamond coat is diamond coat. I can't say how the crowning profile [curve] is but none of them are going to perfectly match a new fret which all have different crowning profiles depending on who made it and what the size, width and height is.
 

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After reading the reviews, if accurate, the different sizes of diamond seems to be a consistent issue, and for that reason I would stick with my Stew Mac at twice the price.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I've always paid up for Stew Mac, The Baroque at half the price and giving 3 sizes, diamond coat is diamond coat. I can't say how the crowning profile [curve] is but none of them are going to perfectly match a new fret which all have different crowning profiles depending on who made it and what the size, width and height is.
I wouldn't mind paying a bit more for a quality file, but I'll have to figure out which one would be the correct size. I don't plan on doing a LOT of fret work, but it would be nice to have the means to occasionally take care of a high fret or two. The expensive Stew Mac price I noted above was for a set of three files... Maybe I can get by with just one for jumbo frets? It would cover most of my guitars. Thanks for the insight!
 

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They go from cheap ($16 - $28) to Stewmac ($330)
That is the most accurate description of pricing on luthier tools I have ever heard.

Though expensive, for specialty tools I've always gone with StewMac so I know I'm getting quality. This one might be worth a look. It shapes the frets from the sides rather than the top. You might be able finesse it to match the profile of the other frets better. I've never used this one thought so I can't speak for how well that would work.

 

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If you get a stew mac file, GET THE Z FILE. If you dont; thats fine, but... DO NOT BUY A CHEAP CROWNING FILE. Holy moly. If its not diamond, run. The reason why is steel files shaped in this fashion will always have a lot of chatter. Its a function of the geometry, not just the quality of the file. These chatter marks dig into the metal and you wind up with way more work than what you started with. Like Rich is alluding to, this is one of the matters where you gotta suck it up and spend the money. I've routinely shown cost effective replacements, thats because those products I showed will do the same quality of work for a fraction of the cost. This isnt the case for crowning files unfortunately, I have no "alternatives" to showcase here. That baroque file you showed is a "copy" of my gotoh file that I have.

A medium crowning file will do "jumbo" fretwire just fine. You're using the crowning file to shape the top to be concave, not reshaping the whole fret here. This is why the Z file works if you look at it. going too small is actually kind of difficult, but going too big is absolutely easy. I'll tell you right now, on that file you showed, the "jumbo" is 3mm and thats WAY too big; jumbo massive frets are far less than 3mm lol. As well, 1mm? lol thats pointless. So that "3 sided file" ... lol it has one side you can use. My file has a similar 3 sided bit, but its different grades of abrasion, not size.

edit: This post is not an invitation for anyone to tell me how great their non-diamond file is. I dont care lol. Diamond is the superior material to use here, and the whole chatter thing is a function of shape, not quality.
 

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That is the most accurate description of pricing on luthier tools I have ever heard.

Though expensive, for specialty tools I've always gone with StewMac so I know I'm getting quality. This one might be worth a look. It shapes the frets from the sides rather than the top. You might be able finesse it to match the profile of the other frets better. I've never used this one thought so I can't speak for how well that would work.

I have that file, it's worthless for everything. I bought it before [as Bob eloquently stated] if it's not diamond RUN!!

If you get a stew mac file, GET THE Z FILE. If you dont; thats fine, but... DO NOT BUY A CHEAP CROWNING FILE. Holy moly. If its not diamond, run. Like Rich is alluding to, this is one of the matters where you gotta suck it up and spend the money.

A medium crowning file will do "jumbo" fretwire just fine.
This. Except I just don't believe in the Z File. Too flat. I'm going to use 4-500 grit paper after anyway to smooth out the edge of the crown, but you have to do that on every fret. Too many fret tang cuts you run into on the edges from the wire being bundled together before it's used.

Medium for Jumbo frets, Narrow for 6105's. Unfortunately that's 2 different files. This is the one for 6105's

Yea, it's an expensive bullet.
 

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Dude, youve seen me openly crap on stewmac at any given opportunity.... my friend has alllll the cool tools from stewmac that I also make fun of him for at any available opportunity; except for that z file. I thought it was ridiculous too, but its seriously pretty sweet. I tried his out and it bugged me how good it was... My file is good; and with my usage will last another 30 years before I need to consider something else, but for someone buying their first file, Id be remiss to not bring it up. As much as I want to vomit saying this, its probably the best crowning file on the market. Its also a lot easier to use.... Back when I first started this whole mess; Id routinely move the crown's peak one way or the other too much by inconsistent filing; its almost impossible to do that with the z file.

I typically just buy 2 foot sections when I get fretwire; I imagine the bundles would have more issues though yes. As for the "medium being fine" was a comment in context to the one he showed though; the file he linked has a 2mm "normal" section and a 3mm "jumbo" section. 3mm is much too big for any fretwire; 2.5mm would be appropriate for super-XXXL-mega-deluxe-ultra-scallopedfretboardesque-jumbo fretwire, I cant really think of any uses for a 3mm file.
 

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With that kind of recommendation I might have to try it, I'm so used to mine though and it's great for going over fret ends for quickies or for smoothing filed ends for the full monty's.

Medium Stew Mac file, sorry, I spend the money. I read the reviews on the Baroque and saw too many talking about inconsistent diamond size, and that just means more time cleaning up.
 

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I have that file, it's worthless for everything. I bought it before [as Bob eloquently stated] if it's not diamond RUN!!
Like I said I don't have/use that one so couldn't attest to it at all. I was just looking at the shape thinking you could finesse the shape of the fret from the side instead of going from the top. It didn't even click to me that it wasn't diamond. You and bob are right, if it's not diamond, stay away.
 

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I mean, I hate to be that absolute about it; that file can work fine; its simply the amount of cleanup you have to do in combination with how much effort that thing would take to use properly... all added up with its relatively high cost; that buying one of those with whats available now doesnt make a whole lot of sense. If thats someones method and it works for them, then thats absolutely fine. Im just having a hard time picturing a point where I would find an advantage using something like that; do you have any examples of it you could show? Another concern I'd have is actually mismatched filing; and this will move your intonation point too far one way or the other. Its somewhat silly, but also not impractical.

At any rate; I wish I could show all the atrocities I have commit over the years; and all the times Ive attempted to "go the cheap route" with the results of such lol. Im pretty fair with cost/effectiveness ratios; but I gotta be firm in the places money should be spent as well. Usually this is in regards to things that can actually cause damage, not just work poorly. In this case; the file chatter can actually leave a gouge in the fretwire; which becomes basically impossible to remove. Bends on that? Not great as you can imagine haha.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Well... Maybe I'll hold off for a bit. I might take the guitar to a guy at a local music store (RJ at Supersonic) if I need to. I probably shouldn't have touched the frets to begin with, as the more I play this sweet little guitar the more I see it becoming a real go-to. So comfortable to play and the stock pickups are growing on me... Wish I would have pulled the trigger a long time ago!
16939
 

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Jackson's stock humbuckers are sweet, JC 90? JC60? Been a while... But yeah its like a hot rodded PAF; nothing AMAZING but its also just a generally good pickup too.... like ... a hot rodded paf style hahaha. Never was wild about those rail necks tho, but its not my ears that thing has to satisfy :D

I mean your move on the fretwork; on one hand if youre planning on doing this 1 or 2 times in the next 30 years? Yeah just take it in; the tools are kind of barrier to entry here. If you enjoy doing it, have a few guitars that could use some work, and imagine getting yourself a new guitar in the future? Id strong recommend learning. Its really not that hard. If you have a proper crowning file that takes a LOT of the "crap" work out of it. There are definitely some "Tricks of the trade" to some degree; i.e. I LOVE fall off, others hate it. Learning how to round over your fretboard, and doing a proper fret job alone can take the playability of a 99$ squier affinity strat and put it on par with a Strat Ultra. Im not exaggerating about that either. SOUND? Thats another can of worms tho lol. Another fringe benefit of knowing how to do fret work is OMG the deals lol. Think about how you feel right now, and then think about going to buy a guitar with dead frets. Youre not exactly motivated to shell out top dollar; but its probably likely this guy also knows that and wont expect much either. It also opens up a lot more guitars to be available in your arsenal. Ever have a guitar "man this sounds great, but eh, it just doesnt play the best"? Well you can fix that in most regards.


Anyway, your call boss; Id mostly make the decision based on how often youd picture yourself doing it personally, but it also isnt my wallet either.
 

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Fall off [hate it] ;)

You can actually crown a fret with sandpaper, 300 to 600 to 800 and polish. 300 to crown, the rest to just take out the scratching down to where the polish is acceptable.
 

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Fall off [hate it] ;)
REALLY? Man, I actually have you sorted so so so wrong lol. I Picture a hobbled old man in a dark workshop using a dremel to polish frets after his careful fadeaway job is completed... NOPE, "GIANT BUFFAH WHEEEEL WITH MAH FLAT FRETSSS" lol.


That said, Im a guy that thinks Satch's action is a touch too high haha. No but really I do like the "almost buzzing" height with my playstyle. Low as possible without actually buzzing and no fretting out of 1.5 step bends. I dont think I've measured action a day in my life aside from my friends directly asking so they could compare and be sad. (Unless they opted for Richs SILVER PACKAGE ™, no beating that ;) )
 

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Joe's actually raised his action a bit over the years, I think when he went to 10's in Eb. Which actually buzz less though.

I don't set super low, 1.3/1.4, bronze at 1.5 because I know the frets aren't perfect.

I've always hated the thought of taking perfectly leveled frets and intentionally making the action greater at the end of the neck. You already have greater string angle to the bridge because it's closer and less frets to buzz on, I've just never believed in it.
 

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I'd imagine my penchant for doing it is ... well thats how I was taught. But I also run like zero relief as well. Having no**** fall away with no relief makes for bzzzzzzzzzzzz

That said, I do tend to dial it in per guitar. I prefer my necks flatter (THAT I can't really tell you why) and I dont even start fall away until the around where heel meets the body. I guess my idea behind that is the truss rod cant adjust the heel; so Im buiding relief into the frets the truss rod cant have any effect on. But I've seen some guys do crazy amounts of fall away to the point I have to question what the heck they are doing honestly; like starting on the 12th fret and just hoggin away... no way. Strings have a set axis of rotation and Im not a particularly heavy picker. I have experimented with this both ways, and it is my genuine preference, but I do also have a "sensible" approach to it as well. Might be placebo, but I feel like the sustain is better on the higher frets when I do it this way.
 

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Honestly you really don't get any to much on some necks, relief past the 15th. It's usually a straight run from there. But geometry raises the angle of the string to the next fret the closer you fret to the bridge, so I don't know why I would want to add more. Even a straight neck [which is buzzier below the 12th] the angle is still increasing up to the last fret.

That's where most teach you start fallaway, from the 12th on because that's where the neck pretty much starts to get really flat.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Jackson's stock humbuckers are sweet, JC 90? JC60? Been a while... But yeah its like a hot rodded PAF; nothing AMAZING but its also just a generally good pickup too.... like ... a hot rodded paf style hahaha. Never was wild about those rail necks tho, but its not my ears that thing has to satisfy :D

I mean your move on the fretwork; on one hand if youre planning on doing this 1 or 2 times in the next 30 years? Yeah just take it in; the tools are kind of barrier to entry here. If you enjoy doing it, have a few guitars that could use some work, and imagine getting yourself a new guitar in the future? Id strong recommend learning. Its really not that hard. If you have a proper crowning file that takes a LOT of the "crap" work out of it. There are definitely some "Tricks of the trade" to some degree; i.e. I LOVE fall off, others hate it. Learning how to round over your fretboard, and doing a proper fret job alone can take the playability of a 99$ squier affinity strat and put it on par with a Strat Ultra. Im not exaggerating about that either. SOUND? Thats another can of worms tho lol. Another fringe benefit of knowing how to do fret work is OMG the deals lol. Think about how you feel right now, and then think about going to buy a guitar with dead frets. Youre not exactly motivated to shell out top dollar; but its probably likely this guy also knows that and wont expect much either. It also opens up a lot more guitars to be available in your arsenal. Ever have a guitar "man this sounds great, but eh, it just doesnt play the best"? Well you can fix that in most regards.


Anyway, your call boss; Id mostly make the decision based on how often youd picture yourself doing it personally, but it also isnt my wallet either.
J90-C bridge and J200-R neck... They do sound pretty good after playing it more over the weekend. I had to change my eq pedal and a couple presets in my multi-fx pedal to suit the bridge though, very midrangey. I like the neck pickup... I usually don't use the neck pickup much because the sound of most get too fat/bassy, but this one doesn't do bad. Recently I started tuning with the neck pickup (more stable readings - less harmonic interference... who knew?) and a couple days ago I played for quite a while before I realized I had left it on the neck pickup... lol. Great for clean stuff!

I do like to work on things myself... I have a philosophy of "if another human can do it, so can I" which prompts me to learn things all the time. Doesn't apply to my guitar playing as much as motorcycle racing, mechanic work, plumbing, or whatever. I buy motorcycles with clogged carb jets that have sat for years on the cheap, knowing that I can probably clean the carb and get it running. So yeah, I'm a cheap [email protected] and like a good deal, so you hooked me there!

I saw a video of a guy using a file to crown a fret by marking the top with a black marker and then filing the sides until he had a fine black line left right in the middle. I tried this method before sanding and polishing the frets I did, and the guitar plays pretty well, but you can tell by looking that the frets are not crowned like the rest.

So how about this... Is there a good quality fret file that will do "most" frets? Like the "medium" file you mentioned in a previous reply? Most of mine a probably in the jumbo range...

@Rich - Thanks for mentioning the sandpaper method, I'll try to look that up regarding the technique... Any tips would be appreciated!
 

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@Rich - Thanks for mentioning the sandpaper method, I'll try to look that up regarding the technique... Any tips would be appreciated!
Same as taking off crowning file scratches except starting with crowning file grit. Sharpie the tops of the frets and sand the crown on both sides until you get the line under 1mm and blend it into the curve of the side of the fret. The rest of the grits are just for refining and taking out scratches to where you can use steel wool to get an adequate polish, or Dremel, or polishing erasers, of whatever method you want to use from there.
 
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