Tips on smoothing sharp fret ends.

Discussion in 'Luthier's Guitar & Bass Technical Discussion' started by jockman, Feb 9, 2008.

  1. jockman

    jockman Member

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    Can anyone tell me how to smooth the fret ends on a guitar I just aquired, great guitar, frets in good condition, but the ends are pretty sharp and noticable when playing. I will add that I am a complete novice at this type of thing.
    Any help will be happily accepted.

    Jon
     
  2. Rosewood

    Rosewood Member

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    I use a combination of a crowning file and a triangular file with the edges ground and polished to protect the fingerboard. You're probably not gonna have a crowning file but the triangular file will do. I would suggest practicing on a junk guitar before attempting the guitar in question. I start with the file parallel to the fret wrapping the file around the end as I go, one side then the other. Practice on another guitar to get a rythem down so all the frets look the same.
     
  3. David Collins

    David Collins Member

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    Leave them there - they serve as a good training tool to remind you when you're using an improper left hand grip. That and it's a built in meter to tell you when your guitar is too dry. :)

    Really though, they need to be filed down. It's tot terribly difficult, but if you haven't done any work and don't have the tools, it could be the safer choice to take it in to a luthier. Many folks just file them down, depending on the board I often prefer to round and reshape the ends a bit as well. It's usually a very very cheap job.
     
  4. jockman

    jockman Member

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    Many thanks for the replies. I may just take it to someone who knows what they are doing, the guitar is a 'keeper' so I wouldn't want to mess u
    Jon
     
  5. Luthierwnc

    Luthierwnc Member

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    There's sharp and there's protruding. In winter, fingerboards tend to shrink a little across the grain which makes the frets stick out past the edge. The bottom of the fret and the tang (the part that sinks into the wood) won't have been rounded and will catch your fingers. I have special files to even them with the board but you have to be very careful not to dig into the side of the board (or at least do it so you can retouch the finish). You might want a pro for this.

    If the top part of the fret is sharp, you can use a very fine triangle file. On mine, I pass one corner of the file over a grinding wheel lightly so it doesn't dig into the wood. Tape off the fingerboard. The blue masking tape works well. Use a light, twisting motion and use the same stroke on every fret. Tape a small shield on the body so you don't jab it for the upper frets. I usually use 600 grit wet-or-dry (used dry) to remove the file marks and then hit it with white scotch brite to bring up the sheen.

    Good luck, Skip

    PS If you don't have a file, the fine foam-core nail sanding boards in beauty shops work really well in a pinch.
     
  6. bluuzguy

    bluuzguy Member

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    I use a knife steel (sharpener rod). I run it up and down the neck as needed. It has served me well, taking the ends off cleanly.:AOK
     
  7. Chiba

    Chiba Gold Supporting Member

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    Like Skip alluded to - you may just need to humidify the guitar because it's winter.

    I have a Larrivee acoustic that has protruding fret ends for about 4 months every year. The rest of the year it's fine.

    --chiba
     
  8. Frenster

    Frenster Put your Rock Face on!

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    Separates the men from the boys doesn't it?

    Seriously, what I do is take a fine bastard file and run it along the edge of the frets, while being careful not to disturb the finish if possible. Then I take one of those sanding sponges and lightly go over the edge of the frets, just enough to dull it down a bit. Seems to work pretty well.
     
  9. Hargrett

    Hargrett Member

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    Respectfully, because you wisely admit to being a complete novice, I'd suggest letting a pro deal with it. Seems like "floating" frets could be another cause, at least partially... that can be a more complex problem to handle. Good luck.
     

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