Question for those who build their own necks (fret install)

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by funkinbottom, Jun 11, 2020.

  1. funkinbottom

    funkinbottom Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 23, 2006
    Northern CA.
    I'm getting ready to put frets on a rosewood board I have, and want to roll the edges of the board. So, what do those with experience at this recommend, roll edges first, or after frets installed?
  2. Gilmourisgod


    Jun 23, 2014
    Cape Cod MA
    Install the frets first. Otherwise the fret ends wont have a level surface to sit tight onto. Then roll the fretboard after the frets are in. That's how they'd wear naturally, right? They aren't "rolled" at the fret ends, because the fret wears a lot slower than the wood.
  3. funkinbottom

    funkinbottom Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 23, 2006
    Northern CA.
    Excellent, thank you. That's kinda what I thought. I've only done one other neck, and that was a year ago and couldn't remember the exact order of steps I took. Thank you again sir..
    Gilmourisgod likes this.
  4. Arie X

    Arie X

    Oct 19, 2015
    for clarity, allow me to man-splain' :) install frets, carefully crown the edge of the fingerboard and frets from the neck shaft to the fingerboard surface, add fret edge bevel- carefully!, then dress fret edges to suit.

    the reason to do the bevel carefully will be evident when you suddenly loose too much playing surface from careless filing. i nearly did this once to great shame. they make special files for this but i do it by hand and check with a protractor.
  5. It’s probably worth a mention that Bruce Johnson’s combi-flap wheel method might work for you.

    I started this thread a bit back (it has the wrong subject name, regardless I think it’s worth a read):

    Perfectly Rounded Fret ends
  6. cholyoke

    cholyoke Supporting Member

    Oct 1, 2016
    Rubber City
    The combi-flap is fantastic.
    funkinbottom likes this.
  7. Bruce Johnson

    Bruce Johnson Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 4, 2011
    Fillmore, CA
    Professional Luthier
    There's a big difference between a guitar and an electric bass. Most guitarists prefer the edges of the fingerboard to be pretty sharp; only a tiny radius on the edge of the wood. On guitars, leave the fingerboard edges sharp, press in the frets, and then very slightly round the edge of the wood as you are rounding and polishing the ends of the frets.

    The bass is different. Most bassists prefer a moderate roundover to the edge of the fingerboard. In this case, it's better to round the edge of the fingerboard to get it pretty close to the final radius you want, before installing the frets. Put in the frets, and then carefully file the ends of the frets to the depth and angle to fit that radius. Then do the final smoothing to blend them together and polish the fret ends.

    If you don't radius the fingerboard before installing the frets, and try to file the fingerboard edge and fret ends at the same time, there's much more chance that you are going to gouge the fingerboard deeper than you want. In my experience, anyway.

    Yes, my technique with the Combi-Flap wheel is a simple effective way to do the final blending and polishing. Read all about it on that thread.
    Beej, funkinbottom and chinjazz like this.
  8. funkinbottom

    funkinbottom Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 23, 2006
    Northern CA.
    I have a couple fret files from StewMac, a little pricey but a quality tool.

    Simple and effective sounds like the perfect combi (see what I did there) I'm off to read that thread now.

    Man this is why I love TB. Thanks guys.
    Joshua and Beej like this.