Fret leveling video!

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by Lazarevicmass, Feb 16, 2014.

  1. Technicality


    Feb 10, 2011
    I'm no expert, but my general impression of fret levelling is that the longer and straighter the bar you stick the sandpaper on the better.

    For example see the picture here:

    I really don't get the point of going to all the trouble to level the fretboard under string tension if you are only sanding a few frets at a time, as you aren't ever going to get it perfectly perfectly flat that way anyhow.
  2. Turnaround

    Turnaround Commercial User

    May 6, 2004
    Toronto Canada
    o/o Richard Bales Restorations, and Instrument Technician, Club Bass and Guitar - Toronto
    There's a good point to levelling the frets when the instrument is under string tension. But The method shown is certainly not how I would go about it.

    Lifting the strings at the nut makes sense, even de-tuning a half step. But levelling the frets starts with getting the neck as flat as you can, something I didn't see in the video. Then you need a long sanding/grinding tool, preferably the length of the fingerboard, and it needs to be dead straight. Then you can precede to level the frets. Short tools will too easily allow small dips and hills to be created along the fingerboard plane, and that rather defeats the purpose.

    Nor would I do the fret crowning the way it was depicted. Crowning should be done along the length of the fret with an appropriately shaped tool. The bumpy-bump method of going along the length of the fingerboard with a caul that has two ridges on it is hardly a precise way to go about it. Rather crude. And even if you managed to get the frets level in the first steps, you are likely to undo that using the suggested crowning method.

    Just the ticket for someone who thinks a proper job is a rip-off.
  3. +1 Thanks!!!
  4. Least precise method I've ever seen or imagined, and the scratchpad style abrasive will remove metal off all frets, not just high ones (albeit it will remove more off the high ones). The "crowning" step also continues to remove height off all frets.

    Looks like a method created by someone who sells fretwire, because it certainly puts a lot of wear on them.
  5. Stone Soup

    Stone Soup

    Dec 3, 2012
    That tool and method of leveling and crowning looks like a bad joke mixed with a pretty high probability of bad results. I've watched a few experts do the job. This method doesn't even get close to any of them. Fret finishing is never "a simple task that anyone can perform with ease". I find it incredible the website says that.
  6. Thanks for the advice!
  7. if youre doing a full neck level and not just a spot level, its normal to be hitting all the frets.
  8. Remus_Redbone


    Dec 27, 2010
    Western AR
    Well, all of the general steps are there except verifying the neck is flat before starting. I guess the assumption is that with 1/2 string tension the relief will be eliminated. It will probably help if you have a few ridiculously high frets, but could do more harm than good.

    Doing the leveling without a fairly long radius block is a good way to screw up the radius of the frets following the FB radius. It wouldn't be hard to get a significant flat area if you don't tilt the sanding plate back and forth uniformly. Perhaps all the sandpaper that comes with the kit is very fine grit so nobody will destroy anything very fast.....
  9. Not with with as much pressure on the low frets as the high ones it's not, and this was supposed to show how to level a few low frets, not level a new fingerboard (for which this would be an even worse technique).
  10. if youre using a long beam, youre going to hit all the frets. if youve got multiple problem areas in different registers of the neck, youre arguably better off doing the whole neck rather than spot leveling multiple areas imo. everyone's got the techniques they prefer though. and you are noticing that he's using 320 in that video right? youre hardly taking off any material with that.
  11. elBandito


    Dec 3, 2008
    Rotten Apple
    I won't be trading in my 24" beam and crowning file for this any time soon.
  12. funblefinger


    Jan 27, 2014
    All of the "pros" I've seen or heard verify the neck flatness, take the strings off, remove the nut, and then "level". This looks ridiculous. A way to sell something to those who aren't familiar with the proper process.
  13. Turnaround

    Turnaround Commercial User

    May 6, 2004
    Toronto Canada
    o/o Richard Bales Restorations, and Instrument Technician, Club Bass and Guitar - Toronto
    Not all of the "pros" take the strings off. There is good reason to do fret levelling under string tension. Sometimes I do the job under string tension, sometimes with the strings off, in a jig that simulates the string tension. It all depends on the nature of the job and the condition of the instrument. But it always starts by getting the neck as flat as possible while under real or simulated string tension.
  14. JLS

    JLS Supporting Member

    Sep 12, 2008
    Emeryville, Ca
    I setup & repair guitars & basses
    I need to have somebody shoot a video, or a bunch of stills, the next time I do a strings-on fretmill. Rick Turner and Bishop Cochran
    pioneered this method, with aluminum L stock, and u-channel respectively.
  15. Do it, I would like to see it! :bassist:
  16. Bottom line is results. My buddy who I've learned a ton from over the years builds guitars and does repairs at national resophonic guitars. When he does a full neck level he takes off the strings and doesn't back off the rod to get it flat. He visualizes the neck in thirds and hits each section with a file. No flat neck. No long beam. I was always happy with the outcome. I can't pull that method off but the results were always perfect.
  17. CapnSev


    Aug 19, 2006
    Coeur d'Alene

    Are you talking about the method in the video mentioned here?
  18. JLS

    JLS Supporting Member

    Sep 12, 2008
    Emeryville, Ca
    I setup & repair guitars & basses
    No, not at all.