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donslow

Fret Levelling Question

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So, I can carry out MOST basic maintenance tasks on a bass to keep them playing nicely...

I have never attempted fret levelling before because, quite honestly, touching frets, well, that’s a bit scary...

In an attempt to master more maintenance tasks I’ve decided to give fret levelling a go.

ive been reading up, looking at videos and still have a bit of learning to do before attempting such a thing which leads me to my question...

Can a successful fret levelling job be done using just a radius block and a fret crowning file? (pictures for reference) in my minds theory, yes, level the frets to the right radius with the block, crown using the file

im left thinking it can’t be that easy can it? What am I missing or am I missing everything?

any advice from the BC fountain(s) of knowledge greatly appreciated 

 

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58697B93-E8E6-406C-B4A7-EAEE5C6F1B1B.thumb.jpeg.770c3e4ee829dd6bd5b3ff1c775941f3.jpeg

Edited by donslow

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With a few provisos, my personal opinion is:

 - for a fretboard that you know is basically OK but has a few high spots from place to place then yes.  Go for the longer blocks though if they do two lengths

- for a fretboard that has a more serious issue along the whole length or has had a full refret, then using a longish levelling beam first is pretty essential.  That doesn't have to be a fancy luthier one - a DIY store long spirit level, a length of aluminium box section from ebay, etc, with some emery stuck on with two sided tape will work fine

 

For the crowning, I have used something similar (although the teeny diamond file ones in wooden holders from Chris Alsop are MUCH better).  The ones pictured above do tend to leave quite deep ripples from time to time which are difficult to get out.  The diamond file ones give a much better result.

What I personally do is:

- form the crown with the file using the 'sharpie' trick to know how far to go

- then use the file as a curved former and wrap a small piece of 400 emery over it to take out the scratches

- repeat with 800 emery

- repeat with varying grades of microweb (a single mixed pack will last years)  I generally go 3600 grit; 6000; 8000; 12000

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1 hour ago, Andyjr1515 said:

With a few provisos, my personal opinion is:

 - for a fretboard that you know is basically OK but has a few high spots from place to place then yes.  Go for the longer blocks though if they do two lengths

 

Pretty much this, literally three or four frets up and down the neck are, I assume, higher, choking notes, horrendous buzz, same note over two frets

thankyou for the advice, still have a bit of research into the “how’s” before I do tackle it as I want to be certain I know what to do before I start a “help! I need a refret” kind of thread ha ha

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, donslow said:

Pretty much this, literally three or four frets up and down the neck are, I assume, higher, choking notes, horrendous buzz, same note over two frets

 

31 minutes ago, Grahambythesea said:

So to check for proud frets with a long level, do need to “flatten “ the neck relief?

Easiest way to find out if you have a general or specific problem is to use a rocker.  For a guitar, you can make one out of an old credit card or store card.  With a bass, I have in the past used an old plastic ruler (once with an undented edge) cut into 100mm; 75mm and 50mm lengths.

What you do, three frets at a time and at each string position across the fretboard is hold the straight edge across the three frets with both hands and see if the straight edge rocks on the middle fret.  If it does, you have a high spot.  If it does the same at the other 3 (or 4) string positions, you have a high fret.

Start with the 100mm length over the 1st, 2nd and 3rd frets at the G string position.  Repeat at the D, A, E positions and for 5-stringers the B. 

Make a note (trust me, after 20 frets over 4 or 5 positions each, you will never remember without writing it down) then move up one fret and do the same with the next trio of frets.  At the point that the straight edge is too long for covering just three frets, change to the shorter piece.

Repeat all the way up the fretboard, changing to the 50mm length at the upper frets.

In this photo, I'm only holding one side because I'm holding the camera with the other - to accurately feel the rocking, you need to hold both sides.  Also, I'm using an old credit-card size - these are not long enough for the lower frets of a bass, hence the suggestion of using a cut-up old plastic ruler:

ZKsnPnrl.jpg  

And no, @Grahambythesea.  For checking individual high frets with a rocker or taking a few high-spots off with a sanding block, generally you can do it with the truss rod not adjusted.  But if you are into using a levelling beam to level all of the frets, then yes, you need to straighten the neck first.

Edited by Andyjr1515

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