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Polishing Frets

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by bigbassman75, Mar 9, 2013.


  1. bigbassman75

    bigbassman75

    Sep 25, 2011
    I was wondering if anyone knows a product or way to polish up your frets?

    I have been playing My P Bass for almost 10 years now and just noticed yesterday the frets are forming a black goop on them past the 12 fret. The goop is easily scrapped off but the frets have lost their brass shine. They look very lackluster compared to my new Jazz Bass.

    Is their any techniques or products out there i can use to restore them to their natural shine?
     
  2. HaMMerHeD

    HaMMerHeD

    May 20, 2005
    Norman, OK, USA
  3. daveman50

    daveman50 Supporting Member

    Feb 24, 2007
    Westchester County NY
    #0000 steel wool. Just make sure you tape off the area around the pickups - you don't want the little bits of steel wool gettin' in there - and clean up real well right away. You can tape off the fingerboard as well (use two strips of painter's tape and just reuse them, moving from fret to fret).
     
  4. Liam76

    Liam76

    Dec 28, 2012
    I got ambitious one day and polished the jumbo frets on my 5-string. I did like above and taped off the wood, used 0000 steel wool and polished with 3M rubbing compound with some mild buffing.
     
  5. Mtnman

    Mtnman

    Jun 5, 2012
    Pittsburgh, PA
    I use a Dremel with a little felt polishing wheel with some polishing compound on my frets. They come out gleaming like the sun. Also, like was already stated, make sure you tape off the fretboard. I use the blue masking tape that doesn't leave glue residue behind.

    I've tried using steel wool, but the little wool boogers get all over the magnets from the p'ups and can be a nightmare to get rid of. Plus you get those little steel splinters in your fingertips. OUCH!!!
     
  6. Works like a charm!!!
     
  7. Growly Lytes

    Growly Lytes

    Dec 4, 2009
    Downunder Oz
    Bass player
    Nevr-Dull Magic Wadding Polish - Made In the U.S Its great !
    Autosol Cream Poilish - Has won many awards , Made In Germany.
    Thats what i use.
     
  8. audioglenn

    audioglenn

    Jul 14, 2012
    Pennsylvania
    All of the above are good suggestions. You can also find some good videos on youtube. Worth watching.
     
  9. droskobass

    droskobass

    Oct 8, 2007
    Montreal, Canada
    Former Part-Time, Non-Commission Employee MOOG Audio
  10. Tom Cat

    Tom Cat

    Jun 4, 2011
    +1 #0000 Steel wool
    Might want to tape off your pick ups as well.
     
  11. ddnidd1

    ddnidd1 Supporting Member

    If you use steel wool, just hold the bass vertically - body up and headstock down. No need to tape off the pickups. The filings drop to the ground.
     
  12. DiabolusInMusic

    DiabolusInMusic Functionless Art is Merely Tolerated Vandalism Supporting Member

    This to a T. Don't forget the tape.
     
  13. SamanthaCay

    SamanthaCay Supporting Member

    Nov 16, 2008
    Denver, CO.
    I never got why people use steel wool.
    In the time it would take for me to do a good job of it and clean up the mess left behind, I could already be done using fine grit sandpapers.

    The way I like to do it is to tape off the board, and using a piece of 220 stuck to one side of a 1/4" X 1/4" stick, I then use that to sand the entire fret starting on the side and rolling the stick to the top as I sand back and forth, then move to the other side and repeat.

    Once that's done I move through the grits up to 600 using the same technique.

    Last I take a rubber strop and aluminium oxide powder to apply a final polish.
     
  14. Randyt

    Randyt RAAPT Custom Wood Productions

    Jul 21, 2010
    Barrie, Canada
    I have used many different techniques with great success, but I personally wouldnt use anything heavier than 800 grit (wet sandding paper) IME...i usually use 1000 to 1500 grit paper...
     
  15. rmars

    rmars

    Jan 2, 2004
    Bettendorf, Ia
    I use 320 for leveling frets.... would never used 220 for polishing. Your going to take off too much too quickly. I really like 3M Polishing paper from Stewmac but steel wool works fine. Highly recommend you tape off the pickup no matter what anyone else says because any material from the steel wool or the frets can and will work it's way into the pickup.
     
  16. jnumme

    jnumme Low End To No End

    Sep 19, 2010
    Muskegon, Michigan
    been wanting a Dremel now I have an excuse...lol
     
  17. Hopkins

    Hopkins Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 17, 2010
    Houston Tx
    Owner/Builder @Hopkins Guitars
    If using steel wool, I would personally completely remove the neck. Some of those pesky fibers will get stuck to the pickups no matter how careful you are.

    For just a quick polish with out doing any leveling, I mask off the board and hit the frets with mothers polish and a felt polishing cone on my Dremel. It takes way longer to get the frets masked off than it does to polish them.

    Just rub a light even layer over the fret and and run the polishing cone over it using light even pressure. When the mothers polish turns completely black, just wipe it off with a micro fiber cloth. You will have mirror polished frets.

    5097323-11.
    r19788v15.
     
  18. Jonithen

    Jonithen

    Dec 3, 2012
    Seacoast NH
    Noxxon 7 is similar, I think possibly less abrasive than Mothers. Same technique applies. If you just want them looking nice again and otherwise leave them alone, either of these should work.
     
  19. Musiclogic

    Musiclogic Commercial User

    Aug 6, 2005
    Southwest Michigan
    Owner/Builder: HJC Customs USA, The Cool Lute, C G O
    A neat trick I learned when I was at Gibson is to tape off the fretboard, wipe some chrome polish onto the frets, take a 1/4 sheet sander with a couple layers of old T shirt material stretched across the pad, wipe some chrome polish on the t shirt material, and use the sander with t shirt to polish the frets. Frets done in about 1 minute.
     
  20. Scott in Dallas

    Scott in Dallas Commercial User

    Aug 16, 2005
    Dallas, north Texas
    Builder and Owner: DJ Ash Guitars
    For black goop, I'd try a touch of Windex on a rag and a finger. Might not be any harder than a little elbow grease.

    My method is similar to Hopkins. A SS fingerboard guard from Stewmac saves time having to tape things off. I use a wheel instead of a cone because it conforms to the shape and polishes the whole thing quickly. A stick of buffing compound has lasted me forever.

    As mentioned, steel wool is not a great idea to use near an instrument with pickups attached.

    Severely scratched frets need to be sanded before polishing.

    Also, "brass shine" means possibly gold frets? If so, that may change some of the steps that we use on nickel fretwire. Might need a different compound, but might just be discoloration from strings or sweat.
     

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