Fret edge

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

  1. Turnaround

    Turnaround Commercial User

    May 6, 2004
    Toronto Canada
    Independent Instrument Technician
    I think I addressed what other files you need. As for protecting the finish - I don't. If you use tape it will prevent the file from cutting flush to the edge of the board. The secret is to us a really fine file and only light pressure when the file is riding flat along the edge of the board. The file will skip across the finish without cutting into it, while the file will snag the fret ends and cut them down. If there is any scratching of the finish it will be really minor and can easily be buffed out with super fine sand paper, abrasive pads, etc. It does require a delicate touch. The file should be pointing the same direction as the neck and is run along the edge. Do not try to do each fret individually - that's an invitation to gouge the board.

    After trimming to length, you can use the fret end dressing file to finesse the fret ends. You won't need to protect the fingerboard finish since the side of the file that touches the fretboard is smooth.
  2. Turnaround

    Turnaround Commercial User

    May 6, 2004
    Toronto Canada
    Independent Instrument Technician
    WOW!!! That's a lot of overhang!
  3. bholder

    bholder Affable Sociopath Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Sep 2, 2001
    Vestal, NY
    Received a gift from Sire* (see sig)
    Yeah, it was really rough - on a "non-stick" off-brand touch style thingie, I guess your hands aren't supposed to even get near the edges, but mine did, and after I cut myself a couple of times.... ...well, that's why it cost about 1/4 of what a real Stick does...
  4. 202dy

    202dy Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2006
    As Turnaround mentioned above, you don't worry about scratching the finish. Sometimes it happens. When it does it's just a little bit more work to do.

    Omelets require broken eggs!

    Micromesh abrasives are particularly good for taking care of incidental scratches. If you buy the kit, cut the sheets in half and mark one set metal and the other lacquer. Use the lacquer set for drop fills. Use the other for polishing frets.

    N.B. Don't use the sheets marked metal on lacquer or poly. The metal that embeds in the sheets will scratch the finish.
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2018
  5. mysteryclock

    mysteryclock Supporting Member

    Oct 3, 2010
    Franklin, TN
    ^^ Bronze this, or make it into a sticky. ^^

    I was terrified to try this myself, but being pissed at a local repair guy who managed to not fix it enough pushed me to give it a try. I bought a file someone had recommended, and used just enough light fingertip pressure to keep the file in flat position, and actually did one pass at a time on each side, then brushed off and felt them, repeating slowly until they were flush. You could hear it riding on the fret tangs...really! Only a very tiny amount of fingerboard dust ended up on the file, and the results were great.
    chinjazz, bholder and Killed_by_Death like this.
  6. Congrats! So glad it work out for you. @Turnaround is awesome!
    Joshua and bholder like this.
  7. fruitlabor

    fruitlabor Supporting Member

    Apr 6, 2007
    You learn a lot on asking one question.
    Lots of good dialog.
    Some people say "Google it". I say...ask TalkBass.
    Thank you all, you've been very helpful. I'm sure with patience and one of these tools that's recommended, I will get the job done....Blessing!
    petrus61 likes this.
  8. bholder

    bholder Affable Sociopath Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Sep 2, 2001
    Vestal, NY
    Received a gift from Sire* (see sig)
  9. jcsk8


    Feb 15, 2013
  10. DiabolusInMusic

    DiabolusInMusic Functionless Art is Merely Tolerated Vandalism

    The pros do not use tape. You will only file to the height of the tape that way. You use no protection for the finish other than care.

    (Wrote this before reading page three... great advice above)
  11. What I wound up doing was just going at the sharper ends of the crowns very cautiously with one of these:

    I went slow and carefully and kind of “rolled” toward the center of the fret end. It didn’t take many passes at all even for the worst offending frets. The file is so small and the teeth so fine that it made the job really easy...a little goes a long way and I was careful not to remove too much material (it’s easy to see how one could go too far and round the fret to the point where a string could slip off the fretboard). Just enough to smooth out the sharp edges. It was much easier than I anticipated and I didn’t mar the finish at all, partly from being careful and partly because of the smooth rounded edge of the file that didn’t gouge the finish. It took me less than 10 minutes. It made a huge difference and the bass is much more comfortable. No sharp edges!

    I did do a practice run on an old bullet strat I have here before attempting it on the bass that had some pretty rough edges and it now feels great too. I guess I could have gotten a little more involved using larger flat files to get it perfect, but the little fret end file did the job and allowed me to be as cautious as I needed. I don’t think it would have turned out well if I went at it right away with a large flat file (knowing me, it would have ended badly), but I am a little more confident now that I have an idea of the type of precision and pressure needed for such work. Thanks for the tips.
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2018
    bholder, chinjazz and fruitlabor like this.
  12. fruitlabor

    fruitlabor Supporting Member

    Apr 6, 2007
    Went with this one.
    Hope tit does the trick...Thank you.
  13. Killed_by_Death

    Killed_by_Death Snaggletooth Inactive

    If you have a bunch of frets hanging over the edge, that's not the right tool. It'd be great for finishing the job, but difficult to hold over several frets as you pass it over them...
    (this is just my opinion, of course)
  14. fruitlabor

    fruitlabor Supporting Member

    Apr 6, 2007
    I'm sure I need this as well.
    What do you recommend...I have a few bucks I can spend.
  15. Killed_by_Death

    Killed_by_Death Snaggletooth Inactive

    Read Turnaround's post at the top of this page. You want a file that can lay across multiple fret ends at once. That small fret dressing file may work, but I think it would be too narrow to keep it aligned across multiple frets.

    The files I posted earlier have only a 2" long filing pad on them, so even they wouldn't be very useful on the lower frets.

    I might be wrong about the fret dressing file, I just dislike seeing folks buy stuff from StewMac when they could probably get a better tool elsewhere.

    Here are the specs:

    "File dimensions are .062" x .125" x 6", with 3" cutting surfaces."

    0.125" sure isn't much to rest on multiple frets...
    That's only 1/8".
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2018
  16. fruitlabor

    fruitlabor Supporting Member

    Apr 6, 2007
    Thank you
    Killed_by_Death likes this.
  17. Its not meant to lay across multiple frets. It’s for filing the sharp edges of the crown one fret at a time. For someone like myself who had never performed such work, it was nice to be able to tackle it one at a time while being able to feel and see my progress before going any further. While I had assumed what I would wind up needing would be a large flat file like Turnaround recommended, in retrospect it would have been overkill and would have increased the chances of me harming the finish. It worked perfectly for me, though I could see how the more severe cases of overhang would require the “right” tool. As far as how much the file cost, I consider it $20 well spent.
    fruitlabor likes this.
  18. fruitlabor

    fruitlabor Supporting Member

    Apr 6, 2007
    I believe this will work but it doesn't hurt to have more tools. I might do this type of work to doodle when I retire if God's willing
    petrus61 likes this.
  19. Killed_by_Death

    Killed_by_Death Snaggletooth Inactive

    I almost went over to my parents' looking for a fine bastard file, but when the humidity bumped up a little so did the wood on my necks.
    Unfortunately they're heading back down again with the dip in temps..
  20. Had it been a rosewood neck I was working on, I would have tried the flat file myself.