Fret dressing question for Luthiers

Discussion in 'The Small Company Luthiers' started by drezdin, Feb 20, 2006.

  1. drezdin

    drezdin Member

    Messages:
    719
    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2004
    Location:
    Houston TX
    I just watched the Dan Erlewine fretting videos (yes, I'm a nerd) and he put fall away on just about all the guitars he worked on in the video. I was wondering how common the technique is. Do any of the luthiers here use this technique or have any opinions about fall away.
     
  2. meangene

    meangene Member

    Messages:
    195
    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2004
    Location:
    Arroyo Grande, CA.
    Every luthier and every manufacture that I have worked for or know uses different words for their company terminology descriptions, but I must admit I have never heard the term "Fall Away". Can you clarify or better describe what good ole Dan E meant by the use of the term? I can only guess that he's talking about neck relief and possibily adjusting the truss rod to where it needs to be prior to leveling the frets..... Which is a very important detail.
     
  3. drezdin

    drezdin Member

    Messages:
    719
    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2004
    Location:
    Houston TX
    He adjusted the relief, but pretty much made the necks straight. The "fall away" he showed referred to making the upper frets (closer to the body) lower than the rest of the frets. So the height of the frets descended as they got closer to the body. Hope that made sense.
     
  4. Soapbarstrat

    Soapbarstrat Senior Member

    Messages:
    2,065
    Joined:
    May 28, 2005
    I don't know if you have all three of those fretting videos, but if you have vol. 2, did you notice that Bryan Galloup doesn't seem to do the "fall away" thing ?
     
  5. Ian Anderson

    Ian Anderson Supporting Member

    Messages:
    5,244
    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2003
    Location:
    San Diego, California
    On the acoustical guitar boxes I build we put .015 fall off starting at the 15th fret to the 20th <last> fret right into the fretboard. The neck building process is engineerd out to produce a great playing guitar with no fret work needed.
     
  6. drezdin

    drezdin Member

    Messages:
    719
    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2004
    Location:
    Houston TX
    How do you determine how much fall should be on the board?
     
  7. countandduke

    countandduke Member

    Messages:
    1,268
    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2005
    FWIW, I have built around 4 guitars and 3 basses so far and I have never added any fall away. The tops of the frets are leveled and then dressed. I have never had any problems with buzzing or anything like that other than the occassional high fret but nothing more severe. It's one of those "cutting the end off the roast things...."

    Good luck..

    Chris
     
  8. fullerplast

    fullerplast Senior Member

    Messages:
    6,792
    Joined:
    May 5, 2003
    I don't think I've typically seen falloff built into bolt-on necks, or even many set-neck solid bodies like PRS or Les Pauls. It's fairly typical on acoustics because you don't have the neck extend the full length of the fingerboard. On an acoustic, you have the last several inches resting on the body and this is the part that will have some falloff.

    It's kind of a safety margin to prevent buzzing towards the end of the fingerboard since that's where the string has it's greatest excursion.

    BTW, when Dan does a level and dress, he has a neck jig that simulates the neck under the stress of strings so that any anomolies in the neck that only show up under tension will be accomodated. It's a pretty cool approach.
     
  9. Soapbarstrat

    Soapbarstrat Senior Member

    Messages:
    2,065
    Joined:
    May 28, 2005
    Which is why I think it's over-kill when he adds fallaway. I always thought of the neck jig as being a way to give the perfect amount of "fall away", just by holding the neck under simulated tension while leveling the board flat from end to end, but not adding more "fall away" after doing that.

    I mean even without "fall away" added, the action at the 22nd fret is a little higher than it is at the 12th fret. So, with level frets with a neck like that, it should be buzz-free, without "fall away".

    But leveling a fret-board without a 'neck jig' is another deal, and adding "fall away" is probably a good way to avoid any rising tongue, or body joint hump after the fret-work is done, and the guitar is strung up, and in tune.
     
  10. fullerplast

    fullerplast Senior Member

    Messages:
    6,792
    Joined:
    May 5, 2003
    Yeah, I would tend to agree with you. I've not seen the video but I was actually surprised at the comment about Dan adding fall away in the leveling process. I took a class for several days at Dan's shop, learning fret work, and he never mentioned fall away (IIRC) on the solid body guitar necks we put on the jig.

    Dan checking my work....
    [​IMG]
     
  11. fullerplast

    fullerplast Senior Member

    Messages:
    6,792
    Joined:
    May 5, 2003
    I'm not quite sure I follow your neck jig comment, John...

    As I understand it, the whole purpose of the jig is to allow you to level the frets with the neck straight while the truss rod is under actual tension. In fact, you even accomodate gravity and the playing position of the guitar by setting it up in the playing position.

    I have no doubt the Plek is as good as you can get, but (as an example) how does the Plek accomodate something like a slight rise at the neck/body area differently than traditional leveling? I would think that short of re-leveling the fingerboard, it would simply grind those particular frets more than the ones above or below it, same as a normal leveling would.
     
  12. fullerplast

    fullerplast Senior Member

    Messages:
    6,792
    Joined:
    May 5, 2003
    Thanks John, that makes sense.

    It sounds like one critical point is the original measurement of fret height while strung up. For a new guitar, with uniform fret height, that's not too big a problem. What happens with a worn neck with frets that are lower in the middle, or that have valleys near the nut? What height does the Plek read?
     
  13. Scott French

    Scott French Member

    Messages:
    124
    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2004
    Location:
    Grass Valley, CA
    Hey John, is it possible to adjust PLEK for alternate tunings? I'm one of those hand guessers out there, but it would be cool to know that the machine has the ability to plan for funky way-dropped tunings. No matter how good I guess things out I'm always worried my players will have trouble when they use a crazy tuning and the relief/nut height requirements change. Thanks!
     
  14. fullerplast

    fullerplast Senior Member

    Messages:
    6,792
    Joined:
    May 5, 2003
    I'm not John, but it sounds to me from his description that the Plek will read the neck for whatever gauge strings you have it strung up with, in whatever tuning you typically use.

    Offhand, I don't see how it could accomodate multiple setups, i.e. different tunings or strings, and still be "perfect" for each, but I bet it's not much of an issue in reality.
     
  15. EBGB

    EBGB Member

    Messages:
    725
    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2005
    Location:
    NYC
    I recently had a maple board strat refretted. Because of the nice wear/relicing/collector value of the original fingerboard finish, I didn't want any planing or refinishing. I know many say that's the wrong way to do it, but I've had good results if the tech is willing to put in the effort on leveling the frets.

    Like most Fenders the end of the board did raise a little. With a 7.25 radius and 6105 frets, bends up the neck were choking. "Fall away" was the answer to making it play right and lower than before.
     
  16. drezdin

    drezdin Member

    Messages:
    719
    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2004
    Location:
    Houston TX
    So if you wanted to even string action across the neck and wanted to put the fall on the fretboard to minimize the fret leveling would you actually need more fall on the bass side? Instead of an even amount of fall?
     
  17. fullerplast

    fullerplast Senior Member

    Messages:
    6,792
    Joined:
    May 5, 2003
    Thanks again John. It sounds like if it reads under each string that would accomodate any wear. I'm asking about the wear because I usually assume at least a few level/crowns between re-frets and that wear is never uniform. The plek would need to know the lowest point at each fret.
     
  18. Soapbarstrat

    Soapbarstrat Senior Member

    Messages:
    2,065
    Joined:
    May 28, 2005
    It would be cool to see the measurements of a guitar that's been pleked for the lowest string action possible : Relief amount, string height at both ends of the neck, "fall away". Maybe it's secret stuff, I don't know. I do know I've had people go totally Wacko on me for bringing it up in other threads about Plek.
     
  19. AJ Love

    AJ Love Senior Member

    Messages:
    4,372
    Joined:
    May 5, 2005
    Location:
    Madison WI
    I might be very old school (sometimes to a fault) but, even to me, the capabilities of a Plek Machine as you've described them sound pretty freakin' amazing
     
  20. Vince

    Vince Member

    Messages:
    1,551
    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2004
    Location:
    St. Louis
    Amen. We're using it for all of our necks as well for all the same reasons John loves it. The difference is I'm not a millionairre like John ;) so I haven't bought the machine yet. I'm bumming off someone else for awhile!
     

Share This Page