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How do you fix "fret sprout" ?

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by Hoover, May 7, 2010.

  1. Hoover

    Hoover Banned

    Nov 2, 2007
    New York City
    One of my basses has developed an annoying case of fret sprout on the upper end of the fingerboard (G-string side). Basically the ends of frets #12-20 have started to protrude away from the neck.

    I have no intention of fixing this myself, I plan to bring it to my local repair guy, but I'm just curious as to how this is usually remedied. Are the protruding ends of the frets filed down to be flush with the side of the fingerboard, or do they get ground off, or hammered back into the neck, or what?
  2. JTE

    JTE Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2008
    Central Illinois, USA
    Filed down carefully to be flush with the wood. That's how you fix the problem after it rears its head. To prevent it, you age the wood properly. It's not really fret sprout, it's wood shrinkage. The fret's the same size it always was, but the wood has shrunk, exposing the end of the fret wire. So they have to file it down to the wood's new dimension.

  3. Mr.Bassie720


    Feb 5, 2005
    Washington DC,Silver Spring,MD
    Endorsing Artist: Spector Basses
    I have seen some high end basses with some mild fret sprout. I can't tolerate that because I have small hands and it bothers me as I change positions. All my basses have had the fret ends rounded/ground down. If your frets are not loose this is all that should need to be done and you can wait while your repair person does it. 10 minutes max.
  4. sevenyearsdown

    sevenyearsdown Supporting Member

    Jan 29, 2008
    Sanborn, NY
    Oil the fingerboard as needed, and dont be afraid of a little humidity here and there. Wood doesn't like dry, sterile environments.
  5. mikeyswood

    mikeyswood Banned

    Jul 22, 2007
    Cincinnati OH
    Luthier of Michael Wayne Instruments
    Are they coming up or out? Up is a problem. Out is a piece of cake.
  6. RTL

    RTL House Chicken Enthusiast Supporting Member

    Jul 20, 2008
    Leander, TX
    The best way to keep frets from sprouting?

    Don't water them :D
  7. I had a Gibson 335 clone (don't kill me - I'm reformed!:D) that had fret sprouts that put scratches on my fretting hand. I just put masking tape on the wood surrounding the fret ends, bought a fine file from Home Depot and filed away.
  8. Hoover

    Hoover Banned

    Nov 2, 2007
    New York City
    They're coming out, not up. Glad to here that's an easy fix!
  9. 251


    Oct 6, 2006
    Metro Boston MA
    It is Seasonal & has a lot to do with the time of year & the weather when/where the bass was made. Wait for the warm humid weather where you live. The neck will swell again & the frets will not be sticking out. If you file them down when the wood has shrunk, you will have a problem with the slots in the wood being rough on your hands in dry season. How would you fix that? Timing & patience is important.
  10. Joe Smithberger

    Joe Smithberger Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2002
    Canton, Ohio, USA
    FWIW I keep an emory board (like you use on finger nails) in my bag and hit the sharp edges when they bug me. It's a little slower process than a machinists file, but I just consider it part of my maintenance regimen. You'll find that after a full year of temperature and humidity changes you'll have it all sorted out.

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