Fender Antigua Fret Changes
I have an Antigua FSR Jazz bass that I have noticed that I am starting to feel like the end of the frets are getting pointy and sharp.
The bass was produced May 2012. Is the wood curing and shrinking?
The fretwork seems to be changing, like I have to bring it in to have the frets dressed.
My house is around 45% humidity, so I feel that I am not drying the heck out of the guitar.
Is this normal settling?
Filing the fret ends is a relatively simple job. If you are not handy, a local pro can do it for a small charge.
Fret dressing (level, crown, and polish) is recommended when frets are rutted and uneven on the playing surface, usually causing buzzes. If that is not the case, this is not the remedy.
Relative humidity is a sticky problem. On some accounts, RH over 50% promotes mould growth, which is never a good scenario. Others say that under 60% is dry for a wooden instrument. Certainly here in the "north" anything over about 45% is going to cause condensation on your windows in the winter which is an indication of the dew point. That certainly is a degree of humidity you don't want to promote in your environs.
Fret sprout, whiskers, or whatever you want to call those sharp fret ends, are a common occurrence on newish instruments. they are easy to correct, and should be addressed when they are at their worst (the middle of the driest season in your area). Wood always moves with respect to relative humidity, shrinking when it's dry, expanding when it's moist. So you address issues such as fret sprout when the wood has shrunk the most, then you will never have the problem again.
Sticky indeed. Back in the nineties, Fender, Gibson, Martin (if I recall correctly), and a few others sent letters to their franchised dealers stating that they would not honor any warranty if the store could not keep the guitars (and therefore the store) at sixty percent relative humidity. It looked like a conspiracy when the letters arrived. (Yes, letters. Snail mail.) The biggest complaint back then, as is now, was fingerboard shrinkage. Most stores did not have qualified personnel on staff to take care of the problem in house. That necessitated sending the guitar to an outside vendor. That vendor would charge for the repair. Who pays? There's the rub. The store did not want to pay for what they felt was a manufacturing defect. Neither did the manufacturer, whose product was now out of their control.
So much for the good old days.
Mold is a concern today since houses and commercial buildings alike have been tightened up. Back in the aforementioned good old days air leaks and loose ventilation took care of the mold problem. Not so now.
So what's the answer? Local humidification? Guitar humidifiers hanging inside the strings in an open room do a questionable job. Locking the same up inside a case takes careful monitoring to insure that mold doesn't rear it's ugly head. So what to do?
My personal opinion is to trim the frets and let the guitar learn to live in same environment you do, with the caveat that if you live in a particularly dry environment-or a particularly wet one-that some other choice may have to be made.
Well said, 202dy! I think you and I have some unresolved issues with the makers and sellers of wooden instruments.
I have a background in fine antique furniture preservations as well as in the area of musical instruments. And I concur with your view about letting the wood "learn" your environment, so long as it is within reasonable bounds. I never humidify an instrument case or the body of the instrument with a soundhole humidifier!
Thanks guys for your excellent advice.
I figured that was the issue.
Approximately how much to pay for a fret trim and file?
$25 in my shop to trim the fret ends. Another local shop charges the same.
Just got back my Antigua from my local guitar shop.
The neck feels like a million bucks!
Chris from Be Sharp Guitars in Shrewsbury New Jersey knows his stuff.
Great customer service with great skills.
If in Jersey and need some guitar work, look him up.
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