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Fret Dressing Tools


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I've decided to have a go at a few new things this year, and have been collecting cheap but interesting (to me anyway) things to experiment on. First up is a cheapish neck that could do with the frets levelling and dressing.

I've got an idea what's involved, not rocket surgery but it's going to need some care the first few times and some practice after. The only thing I need to do nowbis get tooled up... or do I? I get that sometimes you need the right tool for the right job, and if you were doing it a lot some specific tools would save time, but do I really need hundreds of pounds worth of diamond coated files and fret crowning things? I'm inclined to just go with a decent selection of small files and wet and dry, most of which I already have. Am I going to regret that? other than things taking a while which I don't mind at the moment

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something as a levelling beam (I used an new alloy beam type spirit level, checked against a straight edge) and wet and dry paper (400 and double sided tape) and a file with a safe edge (you can make your own) and some finer grit papers, and maybe some rubbing compound (or 0000 steel wool) is all you need plus a marker pen and a board protector; a fret rocker can be helpful but sometimes it can confuse the issue I found but if there's only spot levelingl of a couple of frets required then it does identify them accurately. I like the rolling the frets (dressing) once levelled with a file method rather than using a concave dressing file; you can also use a piece of wood suitably cut to an angle and paper, that is quite a neat trick see guns and guitars on you tube for a video demonstration of that method

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Posted (edited)

A notched ruler is essential to get the neck straight for levelling. One for bass on for guitars (Crimson).

A beam and abrasive paper - the self adhesive 3M Stikit Gold is the my favourite (320 + 600) . Short and long beams for bass and guitar,  (Guitars & Woods aluminium beams are excellent) .

Crowning files - these are the hardest to get right; all the cheap stuff is crap, maybe OK for a single neck. Diamond V files are the quickest (Chris Alsop Guitar ones are very good). Safe edge triangle files (Crimson) work well but are a lot of work for 48 fret sides...

Have yet to try StewMac diamond files.

For polishing it's micromesh pads 3200 - 12000, keep them wet and use moderate pressure...

Masking tape on a dispenser (StewMac) speeds things up too...

A 600mm straight edge for guitar, 900mm for bass.

A fret rocker. A string action guage (the black Stringtec one is good).

Better get some nut files - I like the UO-Chikyu - Hiroshima ones - the StewMac diamond ones look the business (10 files 0.010 to 0.135 cover bass and guitar).

All the above is not cheap, but once bought the hardware will last a lifetime and it means you can tackle mostly any guitar and bass.

 

So, the crucial question is, how much use will they get?

If you own multiple instruments it's a worthwhile investment, and you can turn s/h bargains into great instruments.

Some of the above will do for a single guitar... 

Avoid the cheap eBay options as they're mostly rubbish; buy the good stuff bit by bit and it will last.

Edited by Bigguy2017
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I would concur with maost of what is said above. Te Guitars and Woods levelling beams are not guaranteed flat, go for Crimson, more expensive but better made and really flat. A notched staright edge is essntial. As for re-crowning, if you are only doing your own instruments, Little Bone from Rectify Master, Japan although I understand that shipments from Japan are delayed at the moment.

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This is really helping, thanks people. I'm thinking that if I get a really good levelling beam, I can use that plus some self adhesive abrasive to make my home made aluminium notched straight edge absolutely flat, so that is a bit of a two for one. I've seen a lot with fret dressing files and load of useful bits and pieces (knobs, pots, washers etc) that would take ages to build up in an auction, so I'll have a bid on that and that might give me a bit of a head start. Fret rocker sounds like it needs to be dead on so I may spring for one of those as well.

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If you want a really accurate levelling beam, buy three lengths of good, straight bar, a scraper and some engineer's blue.

Label the bars A B & C.

Using tiny amounts of blue on one bar rub the face of another against it. The blue will rub off at the high spots. Scrape these down a tiny amount.

Scrape A using B as the test, then B against C, then C against A and keep rotating between them.

You will be able to get accuracy well below 1/1000".

Eventually.

 

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