Fret Finishing Advice

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by Gas Hed, Feb 4, 2016.

  1. Gas Hed

    Gas Hed Member

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    Got a used guitar that looks like it had a fret leveling done, but the frets weren't polished. When I bend strings there is a lot of friction/drag. What should I do to get a mirror finish on them?
     
  2. Sawarow

    Sawarow Gold Supporting Member

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    tape the fretboard to protect it and use steel wool. I then use polishing compound on a Dremel cloth wheel to finish them up
     
  3. Gas Hed

    Gas Hed Member

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    That sounds good - 0000 on the steel wool? Can you recommend a polishing compound - something from Pep Boys?
     
  4. Sawarow

    Sawarow Gold Supporting Member

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    0000 works good. if you have a Dremel, they have some polishing compound that comes with the cloth wheel, that's what I use
     
  5. Lewguitar

    Lewguitar Member

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    I don't use tape.

    I use these thin steel strips that have a slot cut out that the fret passes through that StewMac sells.

    Then I polish each fret with 350, 400 and 600 grit paper across the width of the fingerboard.

    Don't polish along the length of the fingerboard and create new scratches that you'll feel when you bend a string.

    Use those shields I described and polish across the fret.

    Then I move to steel wool and polish them up with finer and finer grades until I end up with OOOO.

    That usually does the trick.

    But polish across the board...not in the direction of the length of the board.

    And get some of those fingerboard shields or whatever they're called that protects the wood but allows the fret to stick through from StewMac.
     
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  6. VaughnC

    VaughnC Supporting Member

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    If the frets have been leveled but not recrowned, you should recrown them before polishing to ensure proper intonation.
     
  7. Brian N

    Brian N Member

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    Agreed - just tape up the board with painters tape and use 0000 steel wool. Make sure you cover up the pickups, as the magnet will want to grab the little pieces of steel wool and it will be hard to get them off.

    You would have a really hard time eating through painters tape with 0000 steel wool, so that's all you should need.
     
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  8. 9fingers

    9fingers Supporting Member

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    I don't use steel wool, can't stand all the little iron particles floating around electronics.
    Depending on how rough they are, I use 800 grit & up through 1200 grit sandpaper (autobody paint dept), then grey followed by white Scotchbrite. It gives them a real shine. (assuming they are crowned).
    I do either use painters tape or the stainless steel fingerboard guards.

    Try this question in the Luthier's section for more info.
     
  9. Ron Kirn

    Ron Kirn Gold Supporting Member

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    take something like 500 grit sandpaper,. 3M 77 glue it to a flat block... sand the frets laterally across the fingerboard.... that's it.. you do not actiually have to polish them becasue as soon as a string touches the fret it burnishes the surface... one or two sessions and they will be as smooth as they need to be where they need to be...

    Ron Kirn
     
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  10. Bryan T

    Bryan T guitar owner Silver Supporting Member

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    I like Micromesh.
     
  11. tonefart

    tonefart Member

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    Metal polish works for me. Tape up the fret sides you're working on.
     
  12. T Dizz

    T Dizz Member

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    this is what I do.. sans dremel. I tape off and steel wool 0000. The dremel might be a nice tough. I should try that.
     
  13. Sawarow

    Sawarow Gold Supporting Member

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    Using the Dremel creates a "mirror" finish on the frets, not sure if it makes it play better but it looks nice. You want to take your time and move from fret to fret as it creates a little heat.
     
  14. bob-i

    bob-i Member

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    I'd take it to someone who knows what he's doing. It sounds like a butcher job, now it needs a proper fret dressing.

    The frets need to be crowned, then polished.
     
  15. Eagle1

    Eagle1 Member

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    Sounds like the last two or three steps of fret work need doing.
     

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