Bass Has Tall Frets, How to Sand Them Down and Lower the Action?

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by chronrondo, Apr 17, 2012.

  1. chronrondo


    Dec 2, 2011
    I have a used Boulder Creek acoustic bass guitar (5 string). It is a big tank, but it has a huge sound. 2 Problems. First, the action is too high. Second, the frets are very tall, so that when I have the action lowered, I will definitely need to have them sanded down. Would it make sense to have them sanded way down, almost like a fretless? I have chrome flats on the bass, and I wish it was a lined fretless anyway. What are the prose, cons, and hazards of fiddling with the frets?
  2. JLS


    Sep 12, 2008
    Albuquerque, NM
    I setup & repair guitars & basses
    If you have to ask that question, you should not even be considering taking this on yourself. Hint: repairs are more expensive, when the repairperson has to fix screwups.
  3. Mushroo

    Mushroo Guest

    Apr 2, 2007
    Take it to a pro for setup, your notions of proper setup are not grounded in reality I'm afraid. :(
  4. famousbirds


    Aug 3, 2009
    This is how I learned fretwork:

    Fret leveling yer tele.......101 - Telecaster Guitar Forum

    That and doing a lot of fret jobs, very, very carefully. I would second having a tech do it. If you'd still interesting in doing it, there's a considerable investment in tools:

    • Crowning file
    • Sanding block (stewmac metal block is fantastic)
    • Sandpaper
    • Some form of fret protection (stewmac fret covers are great)
    • That notched ruler to check neck flatness - made it myself

    That being said - learning to do my own fretwork has had, by far, the biggest impact on the quality of my setups. Really amazing what perfect frets can do for playability.
  5. famousbirds


    Aug 3, 2009
    Rereading your post though - it sounds like you want a fretless. In that case, the typical thing to do is to pull the frets out and fill the slots with wood filler. Or just buy a new neck, so you can go back to stock if you change your mind ;)
  6. Dave W

    Dave W

    Mar 1, 2007
    Westchester, NY
    Why do you think the frets will need to be filed down?
  7. Use a belt sander with 80 grit. :bag:
  8. OnederTone

    OnederTone Aguilar Everywhere Gold Supporting Member

    Aug 15, 2002
    Thornton, CO
  9. darkstorm

    darkstorm Guest

    Oct 13, 2009
    Theres no reason at all for not getting very low action with jumbo frets unless you have bad fretwork with uneven frets etc.
  10. eddododo

    eddododo Supporting Member

    Apr 7, 2010

    Ask a pro!

    Because even if you sand the frets without damaging the instrument, I doubt you could get them even enough to play.
    IE: if c# fret is higher than c fret, your c is screwed. Then youd try to fix the c# , then its too low behind the d.. Keep going til you have frets WAY TOO LOW to play on, or worse.

    Keep in mind an acoustic BG pretty much requires higher action and thicker frets to produce the proper resonance for an already-too-quiet instrument.
  11. walterw

    walterw Supportive Fender Commercial User

    Feb 20, 2009
    to distill:

    action has nothing to do with fret size!

    your string action is measured from the string to the top of the fret; the height of that fret off the fretboard is irrelevant, as you're just pressing the string down to the fret top, not the wood.
  12. You can just pull the frets out with needlenose pliers and a handsaw with some crazy glue for will be much better than sanding anything down anywhere on your bass, if you are in that much of a rush. Otherwise, leave it alone!
  13. JLS


    Sep 12, 2008
    Albuquerque, NM
    I setup & repair guitars & basses
    Please tell me that this is not serious...
  14. 96tbird

    96tbird PLEASE STAND BY

    Serious or not, it makes no sense.
  15. Mousekillaz


    Nov 25, 2009
    Anacortes Wa.
    One word of advice. Don't touch them.
  16. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Supporting Member

    Better idea - cut them out with a chainsaw. It won't do much more damage, and it will eliminate the impulse to try and play the instrument later. :eek:

    Seriously - stop what you're doing and get advice from a good tech. You should start with a good setup. Chances are the frets are fine. If you want a fretless bass, it's much less work to go buy one.
  17. mikezimmerman

    mikezimmerman Supporting Member

    Apr 29, 2001
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Actually, since this is an acoustic bass guitar, one big reason for not getting "very low action" might be that it's going to seriously reduce the amount of acoustic volume you can get. For maximum acoustic volume, you need fairly high action so you can pluck the strings hard and get as much vibration of the top as possible.

    If acoustic volume is not a concern, then get the action as low as you want.
  18. JLS


    Sep 12, 2008
    Albuquerque, NM
    I setup & repair guitars & basses
    Acoustic volume better not be a concern with an ABG, because there ain't none!
  19. 202dy

    202dy Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2006
    So true.

    High action isn't what creates more volume. It is a tall saddle. When the neck angle is correct the guitar will have a solid bridge, a tall saddle, and low string heights. The guitar will also be louder. But as noted above, it won't be very loud.
  20. Quoted for emphasis.