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Frets loose?

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by Doodaddy, Jan 8, 2012.


  1. Doodaddy

    Doodaddy

    Jan 11, 2005
    West Monroe, LA
    Well, it turns out what I thought would be a setup problem, ended up being a much more major issue.

    I was having some really bad notes around the fretboard rattling out. Nothing major except in a few places where it was horrific. I thought it could be worked through with a bit of set up adjustments, but I noticed several (nearly all) frets didn't seem to be seated properly (I could fit my fingernails under them). In fact, I was able to pull a fret OUT of the fretboard with just my fingernails.

    IMG-20120108-01265.

    You can even see a lack of uniformity in the gaps of the surrounding frets.

    I would only assume a loose seated fret would cause a note to not sustain well at all, so is there anything I can do outside of refretting? This is a brand new SX and it's sold out and discontinued, otherwise I'd be sending it back. Is putting dab of glue in the slots and reseating the frets an option?
     
  2. fenderphil

    fenderphil

    Sep 1, 2006
    Houston, TX
    yes, but that neck is gonna need alot of fret work to get a perfect setup..
     
  3. Doodaddy

    Doodaddy

    Jan 11, 2005
    West Monroe, LA
    So you feel this is a neck problem instead of a fret fitting issue?

    I don't need a "perfect setup". I play with medium-high action anyway, so I don't think I'll need absurdly fine adjustments. I'd just like for my notes to not buzz out.
     
  4. king_biscuit

    king_biscuit Supporting Member

    May 21, 2006
    US
    If all of the frets lift as easily as the one in the photo, simply lift them one at a time and glue them back down -- super glue works, and you can get walkthroughs/instructions all over the internet on how to do this. After you are done, it may play ok, if not, grind/level, crown, and polish the frets and it should play great. None of this is difficult with a few proper tools.
     
  5. Doodaddy

    Doodaddy

    Jan 11, 2005
    West Monroe, LA
    I was concerned that the frets not being seating tightly that caused this rattling problem to begin with wouldn't be remedied gluing them in. I'll tug on the rest and see if I can get this sorted out. Super glue acceptable or is there a more suitable option?
     
  6. king_biscuit

    king_biscuit Supporting Member

    May 21, 2006
    US
  7. JLS

    JLS

    Sep 12, 2008
    Emeryville, Ca
    I setup & repair guitars & basses
    No no no no no no no.

    Seat each fret by either tapping it down as well as it will go, or clamp it down with a radiused caul, then wick waterthin superglue under the fret.

    You will need to level and recrown the frets, and set up your bass again.
     
  8. king_biscuit

    king_biscuit Supporting Member

    May 21, 2006
    US
    I agree generally. If he is able to simply flick them out with his fingernails, though, as he has stated, it would be easier to left them a bit and glue them in.
     
  9. tabdog

    tabdog

    Feb 9, 2011
    Now that's some shoddy workmanship.

    Tabdog
     
  10. Foamy

    Foamy

    Jun 26, 2006
    Sac Area
    That thing looks rode hard and put away wet - not at all like anything new.
    I wonder where it was stored and how it was shipped, etc...
     
  11. Zooberwerx

    Zooberwerx Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2002
    Virginia Beach, VA
    Greater chance of damaging the slots & frets in an already marginal situation. Clamp with a caul as suggested and wick with thin super-glue as the glue will fill any and all voids between the fret and supporting wood. StewMac sells the stuff along with whip-tips (capillary applicators) intended for this type of project.

    Riis
     
  12. refriant

    refriant

    Jan 6, 2012
    I agree with you.


    -----------
    r-236
    r236fa
     
  13. king_biscuit

    king_biscuit Supporting Member

    May 21, 2006
    US
    I wouldn't lift the frets out of the slots, merely enough to easily apply the glue, then press into place. However, you make a good point, and I will defer to your experience on this one. I think the link I posted for the OP shows the wicking technique.
     
  14. JLS

    JLS

    Sep 12, 2008
    Emeryville, Ca
    I setup & repair guitars & basses
    No, this is the wrong way to do this.
     
  15. fenderphil

    fenderphil

    Sep 1, 2006
    Houston, TX
    I wouldnt say its a neck problem... Its a setup issue. I think you will still be chasing fret buzz unless you put more labor into the neck.

    In my opinion, superglue would not be the best idea because that makes for messy, labor intensive repairs later on down the road.

    whereas spreading the fret 'tang' (lol) would be a better fix. theres a tool on stew mac site for that. (I didn't realize it is $80.00! link)

    after seating all the frets, more than likely you will have uneven frets. which will need to be leveled. Next, you'll need to adjust the nut string slot depth. Then, you adjust the bridge saddle height.

    its alot of work for an inexpensive bass, I know, but its the attention to detail that can make a 200 dollar bass sound and feel like a 2000 bass.
     
  16. king_biscuit

    king_biscuit Supporting Member

    May 21, 2006
    US
    I think I already agreed with you in my last post.
     
  17. Turnaround

    Turnaround Commercial User

    May 6, 2004
    Toronto Canada
    Independent Instrument Technician, and Contractor to Club Bass and Guitar - Toronto
    JLS is right. If you don't think so, you better check the real masters out there that have taught so many of us the best way to do repairs. I refer to Dan Erlewine and Frank Ford. Look them up. They have web presence and many publications to their credit along with a lifetime of experience.
     
  18. Doodaddy

    Doodaddy

    Jan 11, 2005
    West Monroe, LA
    At least this doesn't sound that terrible of a repair. I really did not want to do an entirely refret situation due to lack of proper tools and lack of funds to acquire them. I'll grab the tools needed to do this wicking properly.

    The bass is new and looks new. It does have the expected finish issues that SX has, but I'm happy with the instrument overall. No, I did not want this sort of repair immediately as I take it out of the box, but I did buy this bass for a project. Learning new skills and repairs is very interesting to me.

    Very appreciative of the help thus far!
     
  19. nervous

    nervous Supporting Member

    Jan 5, 2010
    Beautiful Central, NY
    The actual gluing/wicking is surprisingly clean and easy. And effective. The most important part I found was having an appropriate pressing tool to be sure you maintain even fret pressure across the fret. You get that down and the rest is simple stuff.

    With regard to the need to fret leveling and other major fretting issues my .02 is to do this first and see what you have after that. You might very well be pleasantly surprised once everything is where it's supposed to be. I had a bass with a few loose frets and thought I also had BIG problems, front buzzing, back buzzing, clackin, dead notes, the whole works. Once the frets were back in place all I really ended up with was a couple high frets that I filed a bit, polished them all up and was in great shape. One small step at a time. Good luck.

    Some of my favorite and most useful fret dressing tools:

    [​IMG]

    And a diamond crowning file as well.
     

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