Fret-ends are killing me

Discussion in 'Tech-Talk' started by mw13068, Mar 16, 2021.

  1. mw13068

    mw13068 Most Honored Senior Member Gold Supporting Member

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    No, not literally. I've Loved strats for many years, and I have a favorite, that I never play anymore. Why? Because my $200 SX-335 with a set bound neck feels so much better.

    I'm done with feeling the fret ends on my maple fingerboard strat neck. It doesn't bother some people, but it bugs the hell out of me.

    Are there bound strat necks out there with maple fingerboards?
     
  2. Triple Jim

    Triple Jim Guy Who Likes to Play Guitar Silver Member

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    Why not fix the fret ends? If you do that now, in the season of low humidity, you'll never have a problem with them again.

    But you can get a bound maple neck from Warmoth, etc.. The fret ends still show though.
     
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  3. Old Guy

    Old Guy Strat-Talker

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    Mask off the neck around the fret end and using a fine file remove excess material. I know that the maker should have done that before letting it out of the factory. Send him a bill for time and material.
     
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  4. mw13068

    mw13068 Most Honored Senior Member Gold Supporting Member

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    I've got Stewmac fret end files, I've watched videos, I've worked on them again and again. When I'm finished, the neck still feels like a POS compared to a much cheaper guitar with a bound neck.
     
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  5. Ruscio

    Ruscio Senior Stratmaster Gold Supporting Member Silver Member

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    It doesn't sound like you have anything to lose by keeping at it with this neck. There's some metal sticking out at the fret ends, it needs to be removed. Is it the tang extending out through the neck? Is it the fret atop the neck? Either can be filed off, and it sounds like you have the tools to get everything as smooth/rounded as you might like. I don't think there's any magic or mystery here, just patience. If you tried and it didn't work, you didn't go far enough.
     
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  6. Bob Spumoni

    Bob Spumoni Senior Stratmaster

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    It's an easy fix. I think of it as routine maintenance. When I change strings, I fiddle with 'em. The key thing is getting a file with a true safe edge that works for you, I picked up a little square thing at a junk shop 30 years ago, and that's my fret guy for life. His name is Nicholson.

    Fwiw, you can get fret sprout with some sorts of bound fretboards.
     
  7. Thrup'ny Bit

    Thrup'ny Bit Grand Master Curmudgeon

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    Wood moves after it leaves the factory, sometimes many years after it left the factory.
     
  8. Slunkboy

    Slunkboy Strat-Talker

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    You want what you want, but beware that bound necks can bulge due to low humidity too.

    I had sworn off my beloved glossy maple necks due to fret end issues, but I finally decided to take matters into my own hands and learn how to care for them.

    A plain vanilla flat file is sufficient to take care of minor fret sprout, but sometimes the ends still need to be gently rounded off. For that, a triangle file with a Dremeled flat side is just the thing. You can lay the flat edge on the neck immediately adjacent to the fret and work your way closer until the rough part of the file grabs the metal. It takes plenty of patience, but it’s absolutely do-able.

    9D283CEC-9F7E-4052-8CFE-812B27ED7070.jpeg
     
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  9. rolandson

    rolandson Dr. Stratster

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    Warmoth will produce one for you. You'll need to jump through their hoops but it is doable.
     
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  10. eclecticsynergy

    eclecticsynergy Senior Stratmaster

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    I have an old square file with one concave side.
    Works great for occasional smoothing.
     
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  11. cranky

    cranky Senior Stratmaster

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    I thought neck binding was more just decorative, aesthetic. Like foot binding.
     
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  12. SAguitar

    SAguitar Senior Stratmaster

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    Like playing the guitar, filing is a skill. Practice, and repeat until it's just the way you want it. You can do this.
     
  13. Paperback Rocker

    Paperback Rocker Do it or screw it.

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    I agree when it comes to Gibsons
     
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  14. Tele like it is

    Tele like it is Left is right!

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    Yes, a proper filing f the fret ends, combined with rolling the edges while in drier weather will help a lot.

    Also yes, Warmoth offers bound maple necks and they are awesome.
     
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  15. Handsome McClane

    Handsome McClane Senior Stratmaster

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    Yeah, none of my guitars have sharp fret ends because I filed them down if they stuck out. I couldn't take a guitar that scratched up my hand.
     
  16. StratUp

    StratUp Senior Stratmaster

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    Is it a rosewood fingerboard or a maple board?

    With unfinished rosewood, you can put a piece of 320 on a flat block and run up and down the sides of the frets the long way, slightly leaning inbound, and rounding the fret ends, and avoiding the wood itself). You might end up rolling the edges of the fretboard as you do it, which is a good thing. Hence the question about a finished or unfinished fretboard.

    Do a few strokes and check for any still sticking out and focus on those. Then go back with 400 and 600. Once they are rounded, some will probably need a little file work and maybe some sandpaper finishing as they will be sharp. But getting them all evenly below the edge is the initial key.
     
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  17. LeftCoast

    LeftCoast Strat-Talker

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    A timely thread for me!

    Working on my barre chords, I realized every time I made a proper F, my second knuckle was getting torn TF up. I swear, when it was shipped from Atlanta two months ago, there was no fret sprout...but inside the house with forced air heat, now it's a problem with my '93 Plus.

    And after checking luthier prices at the great, great House of Guitars, I've ordered the "Rough Fret Smooth & Shine" kit from StewMac.
    Dan Erlewine makes me believe I can do anything!
     
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2021
  18. Intune

    Intune Senior Stratmaster

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    Like mentioned, this is regular maintenance on any instrument that has a neck made of wood. My bound Gibson R8 has cracks in the binding now because of this. At least with a regular neck you can easily file, crown and polish the fret ends and you’ll never have to deal with it again. Seriously it’s nothing to do with the guy who put the frets in. It’s humidity so blame Mother Nature.
     
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  19. nadzab

    nadzab Play Don't Worry Silver Member

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    It definitely prevents (masks?) fret sprout, particularly on Gibsons where the binding "nibs" cover the entire fret ends. Guitars without nibs can still get scratchy, because the fret end above the tang may protrude when the wood of the neck shrinks.

    As mentioned above, you can still get some bulging on a fully bound/nibbed fretboard - but in my experience, it's less uncomfortable than bare metal sticking out.

    And as others have said, if you just keep at it with the file, you can eliminate sprout on an unbound neck. Do it when humidity is at it's lowest point in the year, check it and touch up over the course of a week or two, and you should have it eradicated for good.
     
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  20. Hairy Bear

    Hairy Bear Strat-O-Master Silver Member

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    How do you file protruding fret tangs that were lacquered over at the factory, without spoiling the finish around the fret end? I'm setting up a neighbours Cabronita that I suspect came off the production line just before knocking off time on Friday. I've fixed all the other dodgy bits, just have the neck to do. Both ends of every fret need attention, some of the tangs are so sharp that despite the lacquer covering you still end up with a shredded hand.