1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  
     
    TalkBass.com has been uniting the low end since 1998.  Join us! :)

Need suggestions for fixing fret sprouts on a vintage Fender

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by armybass, Mar 10, 2013.


  1. armybass

    armybass Gold Supporting Member

    Jul 19, 2001
    OK, it isn't that vintage but I have a 75 P Bass that has a mild case of fret sprouts. It is a lacquered one piece neck and I am looking for options to running a file down the neck. I just am afraid that I will take some of the finish off of the neck and I do not want to do that. I assume the bass was stored in a dry place for some time. Just wondering if the process could reverse itself naturally. When I used to work in a gtr shop, we would run humidifiers at night and I could actually feel the sprouts retracting on certain guitars from day to day. But this is a finished neck and the sprouts could have been there a long long time.....

    Any advice or suggestions appreciated!
     
  2. One Drop

    One Drop

    Oct 10, 2004
    Swiss Alps
    A decent luthier will dress the fret ends nicely and you will never again have the problem if the work is done when the bass is at its driest and the sprout at it's worst. It won't damage the finish if he is competent v
     
  3. Bruce Johnson

    Bruce Johnson Commercial User

    Feb 4, 2011
    Fillmore, CA
    Professional Luthier
    Yep. If the metal is sticking out beyond the wood, then you have to file the metal down. There really isn't any other choice. When the wood shrinks, it generally will never return fully to its original size. It may come back partway, but not fully. Unless you soak the bass in the bathtub. Which will void the warranty.

    So, if the metal is sticking out, file it down. If the humidity does go back up, and the wood swells back partway, then at least the metal will be recessed into the wood. Which is less painful.

    The trick is to use a very fine tooth file. I like a Swiss #4, 6" long, half round, using the flat side. Unfortunately, a file like that costs about $25 and you aren't going to find it at the Home Depot. I get mine from McMasters.

    Use the file with a very light touch, just gliding over the metal ends. It will take down the metal, leaving it very smooth, and only slightly scratch the finish nearby. Don't get muscular with it. Then, lightly dry sand and buff out the scratches in the finish.

    That's how we do it. It also helps to have good light and smooth background music. Don't attempt it under a mirrored ball with pounding Disco. Or backstage at a metal concert. Or within 50 feet of a banjo.
     
  4. armybass

    armybass Gold Supporting Member

    Jul 19, 2001
    LOL. Thanks Bruce. Won't put on my Iron Maiden play list if I do attempt it.
     
  5. Bruce Johnson

    Bruce Johnson Commercial User

    Feb 4, 2011
    Fillmore, CA
    Professional Luthier
    What I'm describing isn't hard to do, and it only takes a few minutes. The key thing is having the very fine tooth file. As long as you don't press down on it, it tends to just slide over the paint. Work gently and patiently, and don't let the edges dig in.

    A #4 Swiss file is handy for a lot of things on a bass. It's also good for leveling a high fret, or knocking off a sharp fret corner. It can also smooth off the top surface of a nut, and flatten out a sharp paint edge. A worthwhile tool to invest in.
     

Share This Page