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How hard is it to file frets?

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by bassman1185, Dec 28, 2002.

  1. I got a Fernandes Retrorocket for Christmas (yeah, I know, it's a guitar...) and it's nice but the frets need filed down. I was wondering if this would be something I could do myself, and if so, how should I got about doing it? The frets are fairly level, but they're a little jagged on the edges of the board.
  2. poppamies


    Dec 15, 2002
    You can smooth the ends until they're flush with the wood by using a 6" file held flat but lightly against the edge of the fingerboard. Aviod filing the finish any more than you must! If the fretboard edge is straight the file will ride smoothly against the finish and cut only the fret ends. If the fretboard edge is irregular use a shorter file. If you start removing finish stop! Finally lightly sand with 1000 and 2000 grit wet paper.
  3. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Bettendorf, IA USA
    The above reply is a good desciption of how to dress the frets if they extend beyond the edge of the fingerboard. Is that what you need to do?

    Or are you talking about filing the frets along the top edges to get them all even and/or lower the overall level of the frets?

    If you are talking about filing the tops, you'll need a set of fret files. They come on various shapes and sizes and allow you to file without detroying the crown of the frets and have different shapes to allow you to change the crown if that is what you are talknig about.

    Filing them isn't really super hard, but requires experience. If you go too far, you're screwed and will have to replace at least that fret.

    Do they need to be re-crowned to do you just want them all lower?

    Either way, you'll need the files and a very good metal straight edge to make sure you are keeping them level.

  4. pkr2


    Apr 28, 2000
    coastal N.C.
    Leveling frets is a job best left to someone with the tools and knowledge.

    The most common way to level frets is to use a jig that will hold the neck dead straight while a dead straight/flat sanding board is used to bring all the fret crowns to equal level. The frets then have to be recrowned to insure intonation. This requires a fret file (expensive). The frets are then polished to remove any tool marks.

    Filing one fret at a time, using a straight edge can be done but I can almost guarantee that you will screw up the first few that you attempt.

    Good luck if you try it yourself. You'll need it. :)
  5. Agreed.
  6. Mazinger

    Mazinger Supporting Member

    Nov 9, 2002
    Also, don't use a file that's too wide. You can accidentally dig into the wood. Putting masking tape on the fretboard on each side of the fret will also help to avoid filing off some of the fretboard.