Fret edge

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by fruitlabor, Jan 10, 2018.


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  1. bholder

    bholder Affable Sociopath Supporting Member

    Sep 2, 2001
    Vestal, NY
    Received a gift from Sire* (see sig)
    It's got a "safe" edge so sure, yeah, that'd work.
    Some of us just don't have the patience or the steady hands to do it with a regular edged file. ;) (Probably would work fine, I just tend to err on the side of caution, made enough "oopsies" already to know I need all the "good tool" help I can get.)
     
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  2. chinjazz

    chinjazz Supporting Member

    Sep 11, 2002
    Atlantic Beach, FL
    fruitlabor and bholder like this.
  3. bholder

    bholder Affable Sociopath Supporting Member

    Sep 2, 2001
    Vestal, NY
    Received a gift from Sire* (see sig)
    FretGuru is one of those "cheaper than StewMac" links I was looking for yesterday, thanks.
     
  4. This is the one I have:
    Fret End Dressing File | stewmac.com

    It wound up costing about the same as the ones from Pholiladelphia Luthiers with shipping...under $25. I do have a question though. On many of the videos I see where folks are using the fret end beveling block, they're doing it on an unfinished rosewood board. Is the process the same on a finished maple board? I know with the fret end file one needs to tape off and be particularly careful on maple, but what about the beveling block?
     
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  5. bholder

    bholder Affable Sociopath Supporting Member

    Sep 2, 2001
    Vestal, NY
    Received a gift from Sire* (see sig)
    I haven't tried it on a finished maple neck, but yeah, I'd be careful with the beveling block - although you can tell by feel when you've got the fret ends down and are starting to hit wood - by that time, it's too late in terms of scratching the finish (not as big a deal on unfinished boards).
     
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  6. There's amazingly very little info on this out there. I've been searching and reading up the last few days and almost every link I find pertains to brand new/unfinished necks or rosewood. I imagine there has to be a way the pros tackle such a thing with a finished maple board. I suppose just a single layer of tape and hope that it's just low enough to sit beneath the height of the protruding tangs?
     
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  7. bholder

    bholder Affable Sociopath Supporting Member

    Sep 2, 2001
    Vestal, NY
    Received a gift from Sire* (see sig)
    Yeah I think that would work. Depending on how much tang was actually sticking out, there will be some clean up work left after doing the bulk of it with the beveling block. If the tang end is even with the end of the fret (rather than undercut), the beveling block will actually leave the edge of the tang sharper than before - that 45 degree angle at the very end of it - but that's small and easily handled with a finish file.
     
    petrus61 likes this.
  8. I'm wondering if I'd even need to use the block then. The bulk of what my hand is feeling when sliding up and down the neck is definitely the fret ends themselves and I was planning to address it with the Stew Mac file. The tangs can also be felt, with a sharp one here and there and was wondering if after using the file on the fret ends, would it wind up making the tangs more pronounced, or noticeable since the fret ends would now be "smoother"? It's really the tangs that concern me. They're definitely not sticking out to the point where "trimming" them with any kind of clipping device would be remotely practical/safe, but noticeable separate from the fret ends nonetheless.
     
  9. Turnaround

    Turnaround Commercial User

    May 6, 2004
    Toronto Canada
    Independent Instrument Technician
    Seems as though there are a bunch of different files folks are suggesting for the job. Some are suitable for one king of fret work, some for another. Let's straighten this out...

    First there is the fret bevelling file. It is designed to put the correct bevel on the ends of the frets. Usually the file is held at a 35 degree angle in a block. It will not deal with any fret tangs that are protruding beyond the edge of the fretboard. And in case you don't know a tang from a crown here's the anatomy of a fret, as viewed at the end:

    FretParts2.jpg

    The fret bevelling file only cuts the crown of the fret, angling it back.

    Another file that is used on frets is one that crowns the fret - that is to say it rounds the top of the fret after fret levelling which puts flat spots on the top of the crown. Such a file is useless for dealing with fret sprout.

    Another file that gets mentioned regularly is the fret end dressing file. It is designed to ease the edges of the crown after the bevelling has been done. It too only deals with the crown of the fret.

    Often when we talk of "fret sprout" we are describing a situation where the entire fret is protruding slightly beyond the edges of the fingerboard. That includes both the crown and the tang. So to treat this condition you will need, (at a minimum) a flat file that will trim the tang down to the edge of the board. Such a file will also trim the lower edge of the crown so it does not protrude. That will create a small flat spot on the crown right where it meets the fretboard. To get it perfect you need to use the bevelling file to cut a tiny bit off the ends of the frets at the correct angle, then the fret end-dressing file to ease the edges of the crown. Often these last two steps are skipped - only the fussy ones go to the bother of re-bevelling and re-dressing the ends.
     
  10. bholder

    bholder Affable Sociopath Supporting Member

    Sep 2, 2001
    Vestal, NY
    Received a gift from Sire* (see sig)
    If the fret sprout is severe enough, the beveling file will take down some of the excess tang too, but yeah, I guess not really the right way to do it. Thanks for setting us amateurs straight! :thumbsup:
     
  11. Killed_by_Death

    Killed_by_Death Snaggletooth Inactive

    I'm considering doing something myself, as well, on my cheapest guitar. It's not worth sending it to the luthier for $100 & I wouldn't break my own heart if I scuffed the fretboard a little.



    The guitar was fine until the humidity in here dropped to the teens.
     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2018
    jcsk8 likes this.
  12. jebmd

    jebmd

    May 4, 2009
    Lothian, Maryland

    This is the method I use. I also run a length of blue painters tape under the frets to protect the edge of the neck/ Fingerboard. It's gotten the job done every time. 500 and 1000 grit sandpaper work well for polishing the fret edges post filing.

    Patience is indeed helpful and the trick is to file at least two or more fret edges at the same time to keep the file off of the fingerboard.
     
  13. 202dy

    202dy Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2006
    These are the tools to use to do this repair. This is the correct method.

    Be fussy. Don't skip finishing the bevel and easing the edge on the crown. It's the next best thing to a rolled edge.

    Special thanks to Turnaround for fifteen minutes of typing and editing based on decades (more than he's willing to admit) of experience.
     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2018
  14. JLS

    JLS

    Sep 12, 2008
    Albuquerque, NM
    I setup & repair guitars & basses
    Fret End Dressing File | stewmac.com

    I've used this file for 15 years.
     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2018
  15. How does one go about protecting a finished maple board during the process and are there any specific size or type of flat files you can recommend? Also if a flat file is the "minimum" one needs, what else do they need? Some pics would be great if you have the time, so as to provide some context to the application of the tools and methods you're mentioning.
     
  16. Killed_by_Death

    Killed_by_Death Snaggletooth Inactive

    I'm wondering why the plain flat file can't be used for the bevel as well.
    Ah, I guess you'd want them all the same angle if you're doing a bunch of frets.

    In my case there's only one real problem fret, you can't slide a pen perpendicularly across the side of the neck w/o snagging it.
     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2018
  17. I did see a couple videos where a plain flat file was used for beveling instead of the block.
     
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  18. Turnaround

    Turnaround Commercial User

    May 6, 2004
    Toronto Canada
    Independent Instrument Technician
    If the bevel file is taking down the tang, it's also cutting into the fretboard edge.
     
  19. Turnaround

    Turnaround Commercial User

    May 6, 2004
    Toronto Canada
    Independent Instrument Technician
    I have an angle block to hold a bevel file. I rarely use it - just a flat file.
     
    petrus61 and Killed_by_Death like this.
  20. bholder

    bholder Affable Sociopath Supporting Member

    Sep 2, 2001
    Vestal, NY
    Received a gift from Sire* (see sig)
    Normally sure. These were sticking out far enough that that wasn't the case (not just fret sprout, basically unfinished fret edges that overhung the fretboard by 1/4" or more, nasty). Not quite enough to use nippers on though...
     
  21. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

     
    Sep 25, 2021

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