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Discussion Starter #1

It's out of stock, but normally is like 50 bucks, is this worth for taking of fret ends and polish? seems kinda expensive

What does @Rich use to the fret end treatment? That's what I want to know if is there a cheaper fret end file that is just as effective as the Stewmac one?

 

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Pretty much everything at stew mac is obscenely overpriced, and there are MUCH cheaper IDENTICAL OR BETTER alternatives.

I had a swiss file company custom make me some diamond "fret end files" (they are long and skinny and only have grit on the one side), as the ones from stew mac are steel; and well using steel tools on steel frets pretty much freaking sucks. I had to order several files, and man... the price was rough.... at stewmac. It cost me like 30$ to get 4 diamond files made and shipped from switzerland. That said; for normal fret wire; that is a good tool admittedly and they are like 25$ iirc, so its fine really. Its also the one tool they have that doesnt have an analogous part elsewhere (not a quality one anyway)

Those fret guard things are a ridiculous waste of time. They bend easy and dont really fit the fret wire exactly; and then you gotta do this weird dance of holding in place and then you just tape it up anyway... blah dont bother. Get a roll of blue tape like everyone has done for the past 50 years. It only takes a couple minutes to tape up a fretboard, and one roll will do like 30 guitars I swear.

Micromesh. Holy crap I have no idea how they got this crazy monopoly on guitar players. Foam backed sand paper that goes into single digit microns is available on amazon; for a stupid amount cheaper.

I genuinely detest stewmac's price gouging so so much. Dan Erlewine is a national treasure, but the company itself is one of the greatest sources of confusion for me with how they manage to have success. LMII offers very similar products at like half the cost. Part of my butt hurt at stewmac is they are renaming conventional tools to be a "guitar specific tool" for luthiery and raising the purchase price immensely. Their Z files are probably the only thing I think might be worth the cost of entry, but even then a proper crowning file is like 80$.
 

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OH yeah; while im on it, polishing with sandpaper beyond 2000 grit is just a ridiculous waste of time. Buy a dremel (or equivalent decent rotary tool; they arent super expensive), get some cotton buffing wheels that go with them, and a block of green polishing compound. Sanding in those grit increments up to what, 12,000? 15? whatever its a complete waste of time. Machine polishing ALWAYS comes out better anwyay. A 2oz block of compound is literally 5$ and will last you until you die. Seriously. PLUS you have a cool new tool. Probably spent less than what you would have a stewmac buying ALL of this stuf with amazon having free shipping. (no really).
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Pretty much everything at stew mac is obscenely overpriced, and there are MUCH cheaper IDENTICAL OR BETTER alternatives.

I had a swiss file company custom make me some diamond "fret end files" (they are long and skinny and only have grit on the one side), as the ones from stew mac are steel; and well using steel tools on steel frets pretty much freaking sucks. I had to order several files, and man... the price was rough.... at stewmac. It cost me like 30$ to get 4 diamond files made and shipped from switzerland. That said; for normal fret wire; that is a good tool admittedly and they are like 25$ iirc, so its fine really. Its also the one tool they have that doesnt have an analogous part elsewhere (not a quality one anyway)

Those fret guard things are a ridiculous waste of time. They bend easy and dont really fit the fret wire exactly; and then you gotta do this weird dance of holding in place and then you just tape it up anyway... blah dont bother. Get a roll of blue tape like everyone has done for the past 50 years. It only takes a couple minutes to tape up a fretboard, and one roll will do like 30 guitars I swear.

Micromesh. Holy crap I have no idea how they got this crazy monopoly on guitar players. Foam backed sand paper that goes into single digit microns is available on amazon; for a stupid amount cheaper.

I genuinely detest stewmac's price gouging so so much. Dan Erlewine is a national treasure, but the company itself is one of the greatest sources of confusion for me with how they manage to have success. LMII offers very similar products at like half the cost. Part of my butt hurt at stewmac is they are renaming conventional tools to be a "guitar specific tool" for luthiery and raising the purchase price immensely. Their Z files are probably the only thing I think might be worth the cost of entry, but even then a proper crowning file is like 80$.
what can you recommend though? I would like links if possible lol I cant find the foam backed sandpaper you mention

found this fret end file, even more expensive that stewmac
 

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I legit forgot about the fretguru one. sigh The stewmac wins this Im afraid .... I hate recommending them lol....

anyway... theres absolutely no "magic" to micromesh. Its fine grit paper cut in two inch squares that wears out fast as hell because its not stearated. Imma just move along, I can write a PhD thesis on the atrocities of micromesh....



7 bucks. Goes up to 7000 if you REALLY want to hand sand it only. I can promise you on everything holy and sacred on this planet; that within 10 minutes of playing there is no difference between you finishing at 12,000 grit and 7000 grit. 7000 is gonna be absurdly shiny still. You get 18 sheets, so like... basically 100-120 pieces of micromesh. (no im not joking). Oh this paper is also stearated so its gonna last longer too. Like twice as long probably. So "effectively" ~200-250 pieces of micromesh. For 7 dollars.


"BuT MIcrO MeSH GOes TO 15000!!!!!!"
Yeah fine. 12,000 but here, lets go to 15k



Regular paper works just as well as foam backed paper. Like thats it; full stop. If you need the supple springyness of foam beneath your coaxing fingers to gently caress out that gleaming shine....

Yeah we can do that lol.

This is COMPLETELY analogous to micromesh. This is kinda the first one I saw, so there are probably better deals honestly; but even then this is twice as much pad for half the cost.




buutttt if you wanna see why stewmac pisses me off...


Oh now its a "pen sanding kit"... for far less money. Neato gang.

Understand these "mesh" pads are not stearated. That means they dont have special gunk put on the paper that lubricates and cleans the paper keeping it "alive" longer. You get basically 1 use from each pad. Thats it. The papers you can reuse a couple times at least. And they are cheaper... and theres more of them... and they are 4 times the size each... I HIGHLY recommend the papers lol



Anwyay, for machine polishing,



this will last you your entire life; no I am not exaggerating.




20$ for what appears to be a decent rotary tool.



A LIFETIME supply of felt polishing pads. Again not exaggerating here lol.



a life time supply of tape.... maybe. 20$ and its good tape for this stuff.


same stuff, 3 rolls, 12 bucks instead. Same great tape.

Cheap out on the rotary tool, use sandpaper you make from sprinkling dirt onto a sheet of paper you rubbed a glue stick on, buy the cheapest nastiest file you can find.... thats fine... but DO NOT cheap out on the tape! Lol Cheap tape is the bane of everyones existence. Its horrible and doesnt work well, comes up difficult, is harder to shape into place, its a right mess!!!





So if you look around at more papers and stuff, this is the thing you DONT buy. They dont hold up on the frets, and they fall apart and are very useless for this application, despite what they look like they would be. AGAIN, this is an example of what you DO NOT buy.


 

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Pretty much everything at stew mac is obscenely overpriced, and there are MUCH cheaper IDENTICAL OR BETTER alternatives.

I had a swiss file company custom make me some diamond "fret end files" (they are long and skinny and only have grit on the one side), as the ones from stew mac are steel; and well using steel tools on steel frets pretty much freaking sucks. I had to order several files, and man... the price was rough.... at stewmac. It cost me like 30$ to get 4 diamond files made and shipped from switzerland. That said; for normal fret wire; that is a good tool admittedly and they are like 25$ iirc, so its fine really. Its also the one tool they have that doesnt have an analogous part elsewhere (not a quality one anyway)

Those fret guard things are a ridiculous waste of time. They bend easy and dont really fit the fret wire exactly; and then you gotta do this weird dance of holding in place and then you just tape it up anyway... blah dont bother. Get a roll of blue tape like everyone has done for the past 50 years. It only takes a couple minutes to tape up a fretboard, and one roll will do like 30 guitars I swear.

Micromesh. Holy crap I have no idea how they got this crazy monopoly on guitar players. Foam backed sand paper that goes into single digit microns is available on amazon; for a stupid amount cheaper.

I genuinely detest stewmac's price gouging so so much. Dan Erlewine is a national treasure, but the company itself is one of the greatest sources of confusion for me with how they manage to have success. LMII offers very similar products at like half the cost. Part of my butt hurt at stewmac is they are renaming conventional tools to be a "guitar specific tool" for luthiery and raising the purchase price immensely. Their Z files are probably the only thing I think might be worth the cost of entry, but even then a proper crowning file is like 80$.
Yes, Stewmac is high on prices, but I'm sorry, the tools are extremely good. That's the same file I've been using for 25 years, now much harder, those things will melt stainless so you have to be careful on nickel. And the diamond crowning files I've been using almost as long.

Yes, those fret guards are the dumbest thing since unsliced bread. I buy 3M green in 3/4", 1/2" and 1/4" and use blue light tac on the back of the neck at the ends of the frets. And even with that you have to be careful pulling it off or you will pull clean off of a rosewood fretboard.

We'll have to disagree on micromesh. I love it. Not those stupid foam pads, the 3x6 sheets. It's the foam backing and foam pad that allows them to conform well on fret ends, I'll use 1500-2400 on the ends to rub out the file marks and I used to rub everything down with 0000 after but I got too sick of the mess. And for the playing surface I use 2400-6000. Anything after 6 is a waste of time, and the stuff lasts months, and that's alot of jobs. For personal use, it's a lifetime. SIS [Scientific Instrument Supply] single sheets, screw those overpriced sets. I switched to machine polishing, it saves no time but does give a mirror polish, but the dust is too much and once you give and ounce of flesh it's not a horse I feel like turning on again. So I went back to old school 0000 and I get my aerobic exercise again. Finish with a last pas of 6000 on the tops.
 

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Yes, Stewmac is high on prices, but I'm sorry, the tools are extremely good. That's the same file I've been using for 25 years, now much harder, those things will melt stainless so you have to be careful on nickel. And the diamond crowning files I've been using almost as long.

Yes, those fret guards are the dumbest thing since unsliced bread. I buy 3M green in 3/4", 1/2" and 1/4" and use blue light tac on the back of the neck at the ends of the frets. And even with that you have to be careful pulling it off or you will pull clean off of a rosewood fretboard.

We'll have to disagree on micromesh. I love it. Not those stupid foam pads, the 3x6 sheets. It's the foam backing and foam pad that allows them to conform well on fret ends, I'll use 1500-2400 on the ends to rub out the file marks and I used to rub everything down with 0000 after but I got too sick of the mess. And for the playing surface I use 2400-6000. Anything after 6 is a waste of time, and the stuff lasts months, and that's alot of jobs. For personal use, it's a lifetime. SIS [Scientific Instrument Supply] single sheets, screw those overpriced sets. I switched to machine polishing, it saves no time but does give a mirror polish, but the dust is too much and once you give and ounce of flesh it's not a horse I feel like turning on again. So I went back to old school 0000 and I get my aerobic exercise again. Finish with a last pas of 6000 on the tops.
Honestly, at this point I would make a wager that a huge amount of our "disagrees" are probably just more differences in approach really. You're operating from a business perspective; I am not, efficiency in some areas is probably a whole lot more important to you than it is for me.

I will say, youre the first person I've seen speak of the "longevity" of micro-mesh; but youre also the first person ive seen to not use those silly pads either lol. Are they an identical product; just different size? (i.e. I can say I use "3m sandpaper" but they have a ton of different types). Im with you on the stopping at 6000; main reason I addressed going to 12k is because certain "influencer(s)" in our social media realms have dictated that going up to the 12k provides a "superior feel, better tone, and longer lasting shine" and I really just dont wanna deal with that today lol.

For the polishing; Im assuming youre using wool pads and rouge compounds given the comment on the "mess" part. If the dust is really troublesome for you, have you tried going to a foam pad with a liquid polish? A stiff foam pad with medium cut compounds gets you to the same "shine" level as a fine rouge; with none of the mess (well, none of the "powdery" mess anyway). Only concerns for that is operating costs of that are a fair amount higher; but a 50$ gallon of meguiars will still do an immense amount of guitars lol.


For the taping; id have to imagine youre leaving the tape on a fair amount longer than I am for that to be any kind of concern. Since youre discussing all those sizes, I now have to wonder if my tape "trick" is just something I do ... Silly question, but would you mind a quick rundown on how you do your fretboard taping?
 

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I certainly agree, I'm doing this for a living and you're a passion project so how long something takes doesn't factor in as much as it does to me.

Yes, those pads are the same mesh just in a small foam backed and double sided pad. Micromesh is supposed to be used in cross hatch pattern though. 90* to the last pass, those pads you use all in one direction.

Taping I tape the whole board at one time, you tape the sides first with the lo tac otherwise when you're rubbing down the fret ends you'll get little stripes of finish damage where the fret are. But clear does not like to seal well to rosewood and you have to carefully remove it or it will pull clear, I don't care how low a tac it is. 3/4" up to? 8? 9? I never count, then 1/2" until you have to go to 1/4". I'm going to oil the board after I pull the tape and then one final pass of 6000 on the tops because oiling takes off just a little shine.

I'm talking Eastwood buffer with 10" wheels. Builds lots of heat so you can only make one pass, then go back thru and make another pass, wipe down all the rouge and turn it around and repeat from the other side. Cleaning up the rouge at the corners of the frets and where the tape doesn't perfectly meet to the fret end is just more time consuming. The polish is a mirror after using the white for toning, but the problem with that is once I play test it I chew that mirror up everywhere a string touches it. In the war of steel or nickel, nickel always looses. So you loose so much of that mirror to ugly score marks from the wounds. I never get that with 6000 micromesh and nobody has ever complained they aren't polished enough. Stainless, that's another ball of twine.......
 

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Oh dang I always took you for a dremel buffer kinda guy lol.


Ok I see what you mean by the tape bit now; when I get any guitar that Im planning on playing I wind up doing a fairly "vintage" feeling round over on them, so the whole tape pulling up clear doesnt ever become a factor for me. And Im dumb; youre just doing my "tape trick" with just using smaller sizes lol. Basically, I hate buying multiple sizes of tape that only has the one use. I basically work my way down, and when the tape is too thick; just rip it in half; align the clean edge to the fret, and the other clean side to the other fret and they over lap. Im pretty quick about it; so its pretty mindless for me, but I can see that being perceived kinda strangely I suppose.(EDIT: In some context; I basically always see people apply tape OVER the fret, then use a razor to line it off; peel it back and repeat this process 48 times... no thanks lol)


Have you ever tried those .... Im confusing the name with something else in my head, but its basically a metal polish cloth that comes in a metal tin. You rip off pieces and it polishes metal real well. ... I know as soon as I click "reply" the name is gonna jump in my head lol... Wondering if you could squeeze one those under the strings maybe clean up some of the ruined effort? I have no clue, idea just popped in my head though.
 

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If you're talking about Nevrdull it doesn't polish but it removes oxidation and corrosion very well, I use it all the time.

Yes, speed is why I use 3 sizes of tape, and at the rate I go thru them you would do the same. I'll buy 10 rolls of each when I restock
 

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If you're talking about Nevrdull it doesn't polish but it removes oxidation and corrosion very well, I use it all the time.
Oh no, I was thinking cape cod cloth. For some reason I had renaissance wax stuck in my head and couldnt spit it out. Cape Cod has just the smallest amount of abrasive in it; never dull Im fairly sure is just an etchant.
 

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Now that I've seen it I have a dejavu of long ago, but I've never tried it. It might be good for that final polish after oiling the board but the "wet" gives me pause. I don't see it as the way to bring 800 grit scratching up to shine replacing micromesh.
 

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Its stupidly popular in the rolex community; lot of watch owners use it to buff out light scratches in their metal bands and stuff. If it can get scratches off 904, I'd think nickel frets would be alright. I've never tried it either; but I need to get some any way; so I can guinea pig that one and let you know. I feel like we should have a similar standard of "a mirror shine is a mirror shine; not a mirror appearing in your hallway with dim lighting holding the guitar at a 36.43 degree angle that manages to photograph no scratches" type thing at any rate.


"Now that I've seen it I have a dejavu of long ago, but I've never tried it. It might be good for that final polish after oiling the board but the "wet" gives me pause. I don't see it as the way to bring 800 grit scratching up to shine replacing micromesh. "


Lol this stuff I think might surprise you. The lubricant is mineral oil; wouldnt cause any issues with any wood ever. Certainly not rosewood nor a clear coated fretboard.
 

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6000 MM doesn't give you mirror, 10" white rouge toning gives you mirror. But this is worth investigating as possibly using it after the last 6000 pass just to see. I'll pick some up too just to see what it'll do, thanks for bringing it up. I'm not so old I can't still learn new tricks ;)
 

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Lol and sanding up to 6000 with buffing is a waste of time :D (Im not sure if I made it clear, I ALWAYS buff, sanding takes too long)

No problem dude; I want to say this stuff lasts a REALLY long time as well. And Im also 100000% sure about the "mineral oil" bit, nothing silicone, no oxidizers (well id hope not lol), etc, just mineral oil and the abrasive bits; whatever they are.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
I'll probably buy that Stewmac fret end file, but is out of stock for some reason, then get some of those sanding papers and the painter tape.

Stewmac is overpriced for a lot of stuff. No free shipping, everywhere else on the internet, they add the shipping to the original price but keep the original price on their website to give the illusion of affordability.

Would be nice if there was a sticky post on this thread with all the tools recommended by the experts of this forum.
 

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Lol and sanding up to 6000 with buffing is a waste of time :D (Im not sure if I made it clear, I ALWAYS buff, sanding takes too long)

No problem dude; I want to say this stuff lasts a REALLY long time as well. And Im also 100000% sure about the "mineral oil" bit, nothing silicone, no oxidizers (well id hope not lol), etc, just mineral oil and the abrasive bits; whatever they are.
I never used MM and then the buffer, you could go straight from 500 on the sides and 800 on the tops to the 10" wheels but again, it saved no time. You have to make so many passes to keep the heat down, cleaning buildup off after all, then after unmasking everything the rouge cleanup in all the corners is another 20 minutes. Time was about the same, it's just lazy work instead of getting a workout doing the polishing. Then again I never had MM rip a neck out of my hands and throw it on the floor like a 10" wheel will, even if you think you've got a vice grip on it. Sh!t happens.
 

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Discussion Starter #19

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I've always bought single sheets in the quantity and grit I want but at 19 sheets that really is a great price. Singles run $3 each. I added that to my shopping list for the next time I need some.

If you're JUST doing the fret ends that isn't what you want. A sheet of 600 to smooth out the file marks and 1 piece of 0000 steel wool and masking tape for the fretboard is all you need.
 
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