fret edges- how to file?

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by groooooove, Mar 13, 2014.

  1. i've never had this problem. i recommended SX to a guitar student of mine, and his guitar came in pretty sad shape. i did a basic setup (truss rod, string height, intonation) and it's in good shape now- except the frets hang over the edges of the fingerboard significantly.. to the point where he keeps cutting his fingers on it..

    what do you guys use? a file? sandpaper/sanding block? what grit?

    i know it's just an SX, and if it were mine i'd go ahead with any old sandpaper that seems okay, but since it's not my instrument i want to get some input first.

    thanks guys

  2. bobalu


    Oct 1, 2004
    above the 49th
    I use a diamond stone like this:,43072

    No damage to wood but takes sharp fret ends down flush in a few passes. My luthier showed me this secret..... (you probably don't want to invest this much for a 1 time use, but there must be less expensive knock offs out there...). i have the 600/1200 and wouldn't go below 600 myself.
  3. rojo412

    rojo412 MARK IT ZERO! Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2000
    Cleveland, OH.
    I use a rubber sanding block that I got at Home Depot and vary grits of sandpaper. I start with 320 and smooth it, then buff it a bit with 1000. For an SX bass, this is more than adequate.

    You can also glue a triangular file to a flat piece of wood and carefully run it along the edge of the board. I'd still finish that off with fine paper.

    These are techniques that work for me and I'm a hobbyist hack. But it turns out great in my experience. I just did it today, as a matter of fact. The tools are easy to find, cheap, and they work.
  4. mech

    mech Supporting Member

    Jun 20, 2008
    Meridian, MS, USA
    This is what I made for eliminating fret sprout and putting a radius on the tops of fret ends when necessary. It's a small flat machinist's file that is backed by .062" aluminum and has aluminum pieces on either side of the file that were block sanded to the same thickness as the file. The parts are held to the backer with transfer adhesive and wrapped with masking tape for good measure. Won't mark the finish at all. I use other machinist's files with no teeth on the edge for other fret end dressing. Sets of these "needle" files can often be found at pawn shops for very little $$ and inexpensive sets are at most hardware stores.

    The bottom pic is used when cleaning/polishing frets. Just two pieces of thin, tough plastic taped together with a space for the fret to poke through. It keeps the fret board from being marred.


  5. Bassamatic

    Bassamatic keepin' the beat since the 60's Supporting Member

    I have one old bass where the fret ends have started to sprout. I used a large, flat file about 8" long to file them.

    No file is perfectly flat. I used the side that curves out in the middle so the ends don't dig in. Holding it in the same direction as the neck, just carefully ran it along the sides of the neck until the frets are filed back. You might grab a little bit of the fingerboard when the frets are all the way down, so just be careful. And - its an SX!
  6. so in general we agree that sandpaper on a block will be okay?

    i'm off to ace right now to find some supplies- i'll be seeing this student / his guitar tomorrow morning.
  7. student canceled on sat.

    just did a test run on my squire guitar-

    400 grit sandpaper, then finish with steel wool.

    i dont know if i'd do this with high end guitars, but in general, this worked just fine.
  8. Hues


    Nov 27, 2012
    see Burn Notice
  9. abemo


    Feb 27, 2012
    Arvada, co
    Just watch out with the steel wool. The threads can get stuck on the pup magnets and it can be a huge pain cleaning them out.
  10. rojo412

    rojo412 MARK IT ZERO! Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2000
    Cleveland, OH.
    TRUE... I always use masking tape over the whole pickups and then also to remove the wool from the tape before taking the tape off of the pickups.
  11. yup, masking tape works fine over the magnets.
  12. stingray69

    stingray69 Talkbass Legit Supporting Member

    Aug 11, 2004
    St Louis Area
    Electrical tape also works well to pull steel wool shavings off of pole pieces if any shavings happen to get stuck to the them. Just lay a piece over the poles & then remove the tape, lifts right off.