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Old February 2nd, 2010, 04:40 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Fret Level and Crown: How Often Do You Get Them?

Okay, I wanted an Ash Strat with a 12" radius, so I bought a DLX players strat with the intention of modding to my personal tastes.

The neck is very straight and fretwork is fairly nice- and with the exception of the slightest amount of fuzzy buzz on the G and D strings below the 5th fret, it plays very well. If I raise the action it gets more noticeable and harder to play; but if I leave it where I like it - it's less of a buzz and more of a fuzzy tone. So I'm thinking about it...

Anyway, here's my real question, I've heard some people say they always get a fret level and crown on new guitars, while others say they don't do it unless they absolutely have to. So what do you guys think?

Is an after market level and crown just another expense that's well worth it if you want a guitar to play and sound great?

Or is getting your guitar leveled and crowned something you only want to do if you absolutely have to?

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Old February 2nd, 2010, 05:31 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I've only had my frets crowned once. I would only do it if I had to. If your neck is straight and truss rod is adjusted correct and your action is set right, than buzz could be corrected by lowering the fret that is cuasing the buzz. but moving the action up should have the same result. In your case you said it's a bit worse which makes me think the buzzing is coming from the nut. maybe the string is not going far enough into the nut and sort of buzzes out of it. If this is the case, raising the action would only make it worse.

I'd bring it in to get a professional opinion. You might be able to have the nut cut a bid deeper to solve the problem.
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Old February 2nd, 2010, 06:25 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Any time you do a level/crown job you are removing material off the frets. I certainly have seen new guitars that could benefit from a level/crown but I would not do it unless it absolutely needs to be done. Down the road I will have more fret material available for when I must get a crown.

I have to squeeze every penny pretty hard these days.
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Old February 2nd, 2010, 07:20 PM   #4 (permalink)
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never done it. except... on my sx tele my freind went over it because of buzzyness. the frets on those are pretty tall. Weird thing...I generally like big frets, but a guitar with low frets that have been gone over somehow feels prettty good too.

My friend went over mine lightly and went over his sx tele a lot and his feels better even though he took a lot off.
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Old February 2nd, 2010, 07:33 PM   #5 (permalink)
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If you're right near somebody who does fretwork right and for reasonable money, you're loony if you don't do one of two things:

Let them do the works on one of your players and check out the result; or

Get them to tutor you on how to do it yourself.

If you live somewhere where there's only hacks and con men, do without and just practice more. But if the spring is right there, drink that cool water and be thankful.
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Old February 2nd, 2010, 08:17 PM   #6 (permalink)
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My friend doesn't charge, but hes still learning. He learned from a very very well known guitar builder. Last name starts with a char and ends with a velle
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Old February 2nd, 2010, 08:21 PM   #7 (permalink)
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My last post didn't even come close to answering the question. Get a good set up and see if it still buzzes.. If so you may need a level and crown. Consult a pro. Maybe the nut is too low. Consult a pro.
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Old February 3rd, 2010, 08:35 AM   #8 (permalink)
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I just did that myself this weekend...not on my Standard, but on an old accoustic that was given to me. The frets were very worn from years of use by the previous owners. I got this guitar last year and just threw on a set of strings to see if it was worth even playing. This time I figured I'ld attempt my first fret job before changing out the strings (kind of had to since I had a fret that was loose anyway) I'm very pleased with the result. I was able to take about 1mm out of the action. Now this thing has better action than my electric! So I guess if you've got a lot of wear and's a definate improvement.
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Old February 3rd, 2010, 10:16 AM   #9 (permalink)
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As i've said in another post recently that I do the Level & Crown on newly acquired guitars, most are used and need a little play wear taken off anyway. The way I look at it is this: each time you wax your car, you take some of the finish that has oxidized off. I follow the same principal. On moderate wear, i'll just take some 0000 or 00000 steel wool and give the frets a good run over in both directions. It shines them up and can remove subtle string wear/indentions. I think this will help the life of the frets and make a better sounding guitar over time instead of waiting until they are worn way down and have deep indentions, then L&C'ing them.

When I do bring out the leveler and files, sometimes it's just a tiny minor job, a little bit of material, then lightly recrown, then polish again.

It helps that I can do this myself coz if I had to take it to someone...well, let's just say the reason i've taught myself to do this is b/c there is no one competent here in my area that I would trust with any of my guitars!

The internet and once again, I can't say enough good things about Paul Balmers book, let alone Dan Erlwine and Stewmac.
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Old February 3rd, 2010, 03:09 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Outlier73, I probably mispoke when I said it gets worse when I raise the action, but perceptually I guess it does since it only gets harder to play.

Anyway, I know how to set up strats pretty good. I've had to learn over the years since no $ for nonsense. I haven't bothered to raise the action enough to get rid of it altogether as I know I couldn't stand to play it that high. The truss adjustment and action is just about right. I just think the frets need a little touch up even though they are fairly new.

It's nice to hear everybody's opinions about fret jobs, it's the one thing I dread the idea of letting somebody else do. I've done a few myself with sand paper and files, but it's a tedius job when you don't have the crowning tools.

There's a guy out here that's asking about $100 which seems to be a good deal. Thing is I have no way of knowing how good he is and don't have the $ to test him out on a cheap guitar-

Oh yeh, my good guitars are my cheap guitars!
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Old February 4th, 2010, 03:42 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Keep in mind. A level and polish on a new guitar should ony affect the frets that are above level. All the rest would remain untouched. So its not a complete Level and Polish, but just a partial. All the luthier is doing it knocking down the high spots. Anything after that is a setup issue.

As for how many times do you get level and polish done, that depends on how much you play, how you play (lots of bends, capos, etc.), fret material, etc.
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